A Brief History
A Prayer Answered
The Dhyana Mandir at Garpar Dhyana Kendra was the first mandir Gurudeva Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda started, to meditate with his friends.
Divine Mother had answered the prayer of child Mukunda (the childhood name of Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda) who was in search of a suitable place close to his home at 4, Garpar Road where he could meditate along with his friends. A boy of around Mukunda’s age, Sri Tulsi Narayan Bose made the premisese at 17/1, P. B. Lane available for Mukunda’s spiritual activities. The property was formally procured in 1911.
Upon receiving sannyas from his Guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, in 1915, Mukunda formally adopted the name Swami Yogananda. Sri Yukteswarji nominated Swami Yogananda as Director and Secretary of the Satsanga Sabha, which was founded by him and was subsequently relocated to this site. Gradually, a spacious three-room cottage was constructed at this site. The cottage served as a centre for Yoganandaji's spiritual programmes. This centre came to be referred to as Satsanga Ashram.
Weekly satsangas, under the banner of Satsanga Sabha, were held at 17/1, P. B. Lane that was attended by many ardent and illustrious devotees of Swami Sri Yukteswarji. The main activities of the Satsanga Sabha consisted of readings from the scriptures, devotional singing and kirtan, spiritual discourses, and group practice of Kriya Yoga meditation. The Satsanga Sabha hosted programmes during the annual Autumnal Equinox and on other auspicious occasions, which were usually held at prestigious public auditoriums in Kolkatta, such as Town Hall, Albert Hall, and Raja Rammohan Roy Hall.
Establishing an Ashram School
Swami Yogananda conceived the idea of imparting education to youth along the lines of India’s ancient spiritual ideals. To begin with, he established an ashram school with two small boys who were residents at the Satsanga Ashram. Swami Sri Yukteswarji would often attend the Satsanga Sabha celebrations and was a great inspiration to the boys and sevaks at the ashram school. Yoganandaji’s former Sanskrit tutor, Shastri Mahasaya (Hansa Swami Kebalananda), an exalted disciple of Sri Sri Lahiri Mahasaya, closely supervised the daily schedule of the boys and often stayed at the school at night.
The Maharaja of Kasimbazar, Sri Manindra Chandra Nundy, who in later years acted as the chief patron for the Brahmacharya Vidyalaya at Dihika and Ranchi, was motivated to help Yoganandaji’s work mainly because of the positive impressions he gathered after visiting the Satsanga Ashram and witnessing the ideal nature of the Gurukul style of training being imparted by Yoganandaji and the saintly Shastri Mahasaya.
It was as a representative of the Satsanga Sabha that Swami Yogananda was invited to attend the International Congress of Religious Liberals held in October 1920 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Even after Gurudeva left for the USA, weekly satsangas and Sabha meetings continued to be held here. Though modest in nature, the Satsanga Sabha drew many earnest spiritual seekers. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a loved and admired public figure and a Kriya Yogi himself (in the lineage of Sri Panchanon Bhattacharya, an advanced disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya), had also felt inspired to participate in group meditations held at the Satsanga Sabha.
In 1937, a Yogoda Satsanga girls’ school and a meditation centre for women was established here that continued to function until 1943.
Extensive Remodelling and Reopening
Paramahansaji sent funds from America in 1951 to purchase the 17/1, P. B. Lane property and to construct a larger building here. Later on, extensive remodelling of the building was undertaken and it was formally reopened on September 25, 1957 by Sri Jotindra Bimal Chowdhury, Secretary of the Bengal Sanskrit Association, for weekly group meditation and other spiritual programmes. In 1957, this Yogoda Satsanga heritage site was renamed Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Kendra — Garpar.
Sri Sri Anandamoyee Ma, whom Yoganandaji in his Autobiography of a Yogi described as the “Joy-Permeated Mother,” also sanctified this place with her presence.
Sanctified by Sri Sri Daya Mata and Sri Sri Mrinalini Mata
During their visits to India since 1958, our then Sanghamatas Sri Sri Daya Mata and Sri Sri Mrinalini Mata, conducted many satsangas and meditation programmes at Garpar Dhyana Kendra.
Regular Spiritual and Service Activities
At present, long meditations are regularly held at Garpar Dhyana Kendra on Saturdays. A colourful Prabhat Feri is taken out on the occasion of Gurudeva's Janmotsav celebrations.y This is followed by a public function held at a nearby hall to communicate Gurudeva's immortal teachings, which can be applied in daily life for all-round development of body, mind, and soul. Commemorations are conducted by YSS sannyasis on the occasions of Janmashtami, and Avirbhava, and Mahasamadhi days of the YSS line of Gurus. Devotees and local residents participate enthusiastically in all these programmes.
Group reading of the Autobiography of a Yogi in English and Bengali is conducted on Thursdays.
A charitable homoeopathic dispensary has been running at Garpar Kendra since 1991. In 2010, the dispensary was expanded due to its growing popularity in the locality.
Daily morning and evening meditations as per the given schedule:
Mornings (Monday to Saturday): 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.
Evenings (Monday to Wednesday and Friday): 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. .
Every Saturday (except last Saturday of the month): 4:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Children’s Satsanga: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Weekly Meditation with Reading
Every Thursday: 5:15 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
All days: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
17/1, Pitambar Bhattacharya Lane
KOLKATA - 700009
Tel: (033) 23505380
E-mail: [email protected]