Bhaktivana Yoga Center

This profile was last updated in 2005

Description

The Bhaktivana Yoga Center has brought the Vaishnavite mode of Hinduism to the outskirts of a small northeast Kansas town. The center comprises three buildings, the main building being a two-story adobe-style house. The worship location rotates from week to week among the three buildings. A shrine displays images of Krishna and other important gods. The shrine has candles and offerings set around the gods’ images. In another building there is a place for yoga instruction. Besides offering places for worship, the center includes residential space and cows live close by. The center serves ten to fifteen people, a number that is growing. Public worship is on Sunday evenings. During the week yoga sessions take place in the mornings and evenings. Everyone is welcome to join the worship and yoga sessions.

Worship

Worship typically involves Ankotta as leader; his wife Gopi prepares the vegetarian feast shared afterwards. People remove their shoes when they walk through the door before worship. Participants sit on the floor in a circle as incense burns. Worship includes chanting a prayer to free the mind, music from a drum and a floor accordion, readings from the Bhagavad-Gita, and an invitation to God. After the ceremony, participants share a potluck vegetarian feast, and a social time follows.

Beliefs

Ankotta and Gopi trace their beliefs to the eleventh-century teacher Ramanuja and concern themselves with doing deeds from the kindness of their hearts while looking for nothing in return. A second emphasis is offering songs, food, and chants to God. The beliefs of members stem from the Bhagavad Gita, the main scripture read at the center, which contains “the beautiful message from God.” Important aspects of belief are the worship of Krishna or Vishnu and saying or chanting of the names of God, which purifies heart and mind. Another belief is that people are eternal spiritual souls who need to uncover their love for God. Four principles or anchors of faith are abstention from meat, intoxication, illicit sex, and gambling. Devotees are to chant sixteen rounds on their mediation beads daily, an activity that would take about two hours a day.

Location and Directions

From Baldwin City take U. S. Highway 56 west to U.S. Highway 59. Go left or south, then turn right or east on county road 200 N. The house is on the right-hand side.

Activities and Schedule

Please phone the center for specific dates and times.

Demographics

The center has a very diverse congregation, mostly middle-aged Caucasian women and men. The language of the ceremonies is Sanskrit. Children attend if they want to; they can participate in story reading and discussion.

History

The founders of the Bhaktivana Yoga Center are Gopi and Ankotta Sandal, who started it in 2001.