[Listen to Asha read this story]
Several hundred people came to Ananda Village that weekend to celebrate Swamiji’s 77th birthday. Many had been with Swamiji for decades. There was a concert, a festive dinner, Sunday Service, and several smaller gatherings hosted by Swamiji at his home. The culminating event was a garden party at Crystal Hermitage.
Once again, we sang “Happy Birthday” while Swamiji blew out the candles on yet another exquisitely decorated cake. When the refreshments had been served and the entertainment was over, Durga stood at the microphone. Speaking for all of us, in a voice choked with emotion, she expressed gratitude to Swamiji for all he has done to bring Master to us and to help us realize God. The applause went on for several minutes. When it finally died down, he responded.
“If I thought you were celebrating me,” Swamiji said, “I would be quite embarrassed. It is not me, however, that we are celebrating. It is all of us and all that we have done together.
“Master told me many times that I had a great work to do. After he died, Rajarsi Janakananda, his spiritual successor, repeated the same words to me, ‘You have a great work to do.’ Then Rajarsi assured me, ‘And Master will give you the strength to do it.’
“Rajarsi was speaking about all of you. You are the strength Master has given me. Master saw you, he knew you would come, and that through you, this great work would be done.”