Mother Claps

Mother Claps – Niranjan’s initiation

motherclap35In an earlier introduction of a new SRV initiate for this newsletter, we noted how in chapter 6 of the Bhagavad-Gita Sri Krishna teaches that it is most difficult to obtain a birth in which one is born into a family of wise yogis. The boon in such a birth is that “he regains the knowledge acquired in his former body, and he strives more than before for perfection.”

We now have the pleasure to introduce another member of this auspicious yogic family, Powell Fansler, the elder brother of Sarasvati Fansler and Yogin Fansler, and the nephew of our dear SRV President, Annapurna Sarada. Powell was initiated by Babaji at the most recent Durga Puja and received the name “Niranjan,” which means eternally stainless and ever pure.

Growing up in Fresno and Oakland, California, he, like his siblings, always had the Vedanta teachings in his periphery through his contacts with Annapurna. He recalls being exposed to meditation at an early age, and that Annapurna’s presence and qualities of spiritual devotion made a great impression on him.

From as far back as he can remember Niranjan has always had a sense that he can do whatever he sets his mind towards doing. He remembers that as a very young child of four years he was skating about the periphery of a swimming pool when he noticed that his younger brother had jumped or fallen into the deep end of the pool. Without hesitation — and without the ability to swim — he dove into the pool with skates on and lifted his little brother above the water while he skated underwater to the shallow end! This heroic childhood act presaged a future in which he would always attempt to rise to a challenge and give his best effort in any endeavor, along with the confidence that he could indeed do so.

Niranjan now recognizes that this positive attitude marked the beginnings of the practice of the teachings of “Manasana – The Superlative Art of Mental Posture,” as taught by Babaji in his book of the same title. In this practice, one assumes the position of striving for, attaining to, and possessing ennobling qualities and characteristics.

When he was in fifth grade both his parents worked, and he felt a responsibility to step up and help care for his younger siblings. Again, he had the self-assurance that he could tackle any problem, and with characteristic seriousness of purpose got up at five in the morning to take care of family responsibilities.

Sports began to play an important part in his life. He was a baseball pitcher in school and became an avid rock climber and mountaineer. This athletic training in which he needed to develop mastery of the physical body began a valuable training in discipline, concentration, clarity of purpose, and character building. Eventually, the intensity of these sports took a toll on his body. After numerous surgeries, he realized that it would be necessary to curtail his athletic activities. Ironically, he devoted his efforts more towards his college engineering studies during this time of recovery, and realized that he enjoyed the act of studying. The concentration that he had developed in sports he now transferred to his academic studies, and later towards study and memorization of scripture.

Niranjan had his first encounter with Babaji and the teachings of Vedanta at the American River retreat in 2010. Upon hearing Babaji teach, there was an immediate recognition that this was the truth, and that as soon as his career in sports was a success he would devote himself to these spiritual teachings. The next retreat that he attended was not until the winter of 2016, at Wind River. This event was the final confirmation that Vedanta would be his spiritual path. Through the classes and the meditations he recognized that he was different from his body, and that life in relativity is merely a surface play.  He further realized that if he failed to take up the challenge to find his true nature, he might get caught up in the web of Maya. At Babaji’s suggestion he began to read Jnana Yoga, by Swami Vivekananda.

Niranjan’s next retreat was summer of that same year at the American River. It was here that he began to understand the importance of the Guru-shishya relationship. He also had an experience of Holy Company amidst the SRV sangha, and especially with his new found friends and aspirants Tadrupa and Abhinaya, with whom he developed a close bond.

Niranjan began to feel that whenever he was around Babaji, the veils of ignorance were simply pulled away. The idea of going back to the world and worldly people lost its appeal for him. He did not want the summer retreat to end and decided to cancel a planned trip to climb the Tetons. He asked Babaji if he could go to Portland for the next series of classes, and of course the answer was “Yes.”

After a short but beneficial stint at the SRV San Francisco Healing Center, he heard about an opportunity to live in the SRV Portland ashram. Auspiciously, a room in the ashram became available and Niranjan had no hesitation about this being his next course of action.

Since then he has taken to ashram life with characteristic intensity, sincerity, and discipline. In the ashram, he says, spiritual life reigns supreme. It is an experience of always living in the Dharma – like being on retreat all of the time.

Around the subject of initiation into the path, Niranjan took the attitude, as he does in all his endeavors, that he needed to qualify himself, and that if he did so the right time would come. That time did indeed come last October. Since then spiritual life has deepened. At a recent class he heard Babaji say that we must give 100% to Divine Mother. Niranjan has taken this to heart and has come to the conclusion that spiritual life requires full surrender. He has resolved to control his mind so that his worldly desires are rendered unobtrusive, and to view his work as worship. Moving full speed ahead towards the goal supreme, Niranjan finds himself inspired by the following quote: “it is only when you give away everything, that you gain everything.”

We welcome him with great love and anticipation.