On the evening of the 7th of December in Melbourne, Swami Shankarananda (left) of Shiva Ashram threw a dinner part in Bodhinatha's honor at his center near Melbourne city.
The center is actually the home of one of his devotee families. Our hosts were so delighted to have visiting swamis in their home.
Before dinner, Swami and several Swaminis who live at his ashram sat with us to discuss light topics. We always enjoy spending time with Swami Shankarananda because we come from such similar philosophical traditions. He is a Kashmir Saivite, a disciple of Baba Muktananda. Bodhinatha and Palaniswami shared stories of their early meetings with Baba at his ashram in Ganeshpuri and later at Diamondhead.
Dinner was a delicious Italian feast. Swami was the conductor of conversation at the table, and he did a marvelous job. He had some great topics in mind, which we'll tell you about below.
This is Swami Bhairavi Ananda, known to all as Devi Ma. To her right, Swami Girijananda and Steven, fellow ashramites.
The dining room was bustling. Everyone enjoyed the philosophical discourse and the meal, which were equally delicious.
A healthy philosophical debate ensued, with many swamis piping in with their perspectives on the difference between bhakti and jnana yoga as paths to the Divine, among other challenges one of the ashramites posed.
Andrew Cohen, a long-time friend of Swami Shankarananda, was also at the table. He was intrigued by the swamis' confab and attempted to add his thoughts to the mix.
Another discussion Swami introduced was whether his shishyas should call themselves Hindus. Palaniswami asked if they believe in an all-pervasive divinity. Yes. In karma and reincarnation? Yes. In the guru-disciple relationship? Yes. In moksha as the goal of life? Yes? Then, he suggested, you're already Hindus. All laughed heartily. Swami seemed to also love the exchange, as it is an ongoing conversation among the group.
Thank you, Swami Shankarananda, and your wonderful team for a beautiful evening.