A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the Sivananada Yoga Ashram on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I had been invited to be one of the presenters at an interfaith symposium, “Prayer as a Path to Bliss.” What a lovely opportunity this was – pretty blissful, I must say! (And many thanks to Elena Erber for making this shidduch (match) for me.)
The ashram is part of a worldwide network of Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, founded by Swami Vishnudevenanda (1927-1993) and named for his guru, Swami Sivananda. Swami Vishnudevananda left India in the late 1950’s and became one of the influential teachers and promoters of Hindu philosophy and practice in the West. During the 1970’s and 80’s Swami Vishnudevanda came into the public eye as the “Flying Swami”, as he piloted his small plane over conflict zones all over the world, challenging all man-made borders and promoting peace. He would drop flowers and peace pamphlets instead of bombs. He flew a plane painted by Peter Max from Boston to Northern Ireland. He flew an ultra-light glider across the Berlin Wall. He even flew over the Suez Canal in 1971 during the height of tensions between Israel and Egypt.