Workshops - General Information
Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Namadeva Acharya) (1940-2010) was the author of Healing Mantras, Shakti Mantras, and Chakra Mantras as well as The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony in three volumes, and more than a dozen other audio and video programs. After searching for a spiritual home, he met Satguru Sant Keshavadas in 1973, moved into his temple and shortly thereafter became an ordained Vedic Priest, practicing and teaching mantra practices and performing Sanskrit ceremonies since 1973. He wrote the workshops listed below, and since his passing, his widow, Satyabhama (Margalo Ashley-Farrand) has been traveling and presenting them.
A standard workshop is two days in length with a preceding Friday night puja open to the general public. The cost of the workshop is $175.00 per person. For those who cannot attend both days, a single day rate is $95.00. While the Friday night puja is included for attendees of the workshop, the requested donation from the general public is $25.00.
The Friday night pujas are often 1,000 Names and Powers ceremonies with some variations. Those usually conducted are for Lakshmi, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Dattatreya, the nine planets, Lalita, and Gayatri. Attendees are given an opportunity to participate in the ceremony which is a departure from traditional Hindu pujas where the priests alone conduct the ceremony with minimal participation even by sponsors.
To schedule a workshop in your area, you will need to have a minimum of twenty-five (25) paid attendees. Satyabhama arranges and pays all of her own travel and accommodation expenses, including travel, accommodation and workshop materials expenses.
One day workshops must have thirty-five (35) paid attendees at the rate of $95.00 each unless two, one-day workshops are scheduled back-to-back on the same weekend in the same location for a joint fee of $175.00. Then the number of attendees can be cut back to 25 required paid attendees.
Any scheduler of any workshop has complete authority to award partial or full scholarships to those who need it.
Each workshop attendee receives a detailed handout and an audio product with all mantras chanted during the workshop.
The first workshop below provides a good foundation for those for whom mantra practice is new. Although it is not necessary to start with it, many basic questions are addressed in this workshop. Thereafter, any workshop can be scheduled for groups of a varying levels of experience.
Mantra - A Path to Abundance and Spiritual Evolution
The mystical Sanskrit language works directly through the chakras. Directing energy into the subtle body, Sanskrit mantras prepare us to receive higher amounts of kundalini energy into the spine. This energy solves problems, eradicates karma, and aids us in fulfilling our desires. During the workshop, you will learn mantra methods for addressing life’s problems in the areas of health, relationship, abundance, employment, family issues and others. In addition to solving problems, most us want to advance spiritually. Mantra methods for quickening spiritual evolution will be presented. Group Mantra practice will take place at all sessions.
Highlights: Participants will…
The Adventures of Sita and Rama, Co-Starring Hanuman
Seven thousand years ago, the Seventh Avatar of Vishnu arrived on Earth to restore divine order by defeating two demons repressing saints, sages and the general population. Rama and Sita, representing the Divine Self and the Pure Kundalini Shakti, manifested to defeat the evil ones and show the way for individuals to live a truly spiritual life while living in the world. This workshop will give the set-up of Rama's appearance that occurred thousands of years before his arrival and then convey the adventures of these Divine Ones.
The allegorical lives of Sita and Rama, with Divine Servant Hanuman, are filled with adventure, mystical mantras and dramatic struggle. Rama is the Self within. Sita is the Kundalini Shakti. Ravana (the villain) is negative, selfish ego. Bharata, Rama's brother, is the mind. Hanuman is the Prana, or life force within.
The entire program is a fun, entertaining way to learn many new mantras and solve problems.
Mantra Discipline Taught to Attendees
Attendees will learn the Secret Bala Atibala Mantra Discipline for great strength of spirit. You will not find this mantra in books about the Ramayana in English. Texts by saints, sages and scholars refer to it, but do not divulge it.
This workshop is usually second in a series after: Mantra - A Path to Abundance and Spiritual Evolution. The story is terrific and the mantras especially healing.
Myths and Mantras of Ganesha
Ganesha is the pot-bellied, benevolent son of Shiva and Parvati that is a favorite among many who read or are told the mythical stories from India. For the advanced sages and mystics, he takes on epic proportions.
He is the entire universe contained in a single form. He is Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva unified into one figure. In some of the Puranic scriptures, he is an aspect of Krishna as Parvati's older brother. When Brahma can't create the universe, Ganesha comes to his aid. When Vishnu is asked to destroy demons, it is Ganesha who shows him how to accomplish the task. In us, he sits at the base of the spine where every energy channel in the subtle body is connected to his location there.
This workshop will teach Ganesha mantras that even experienced practitioners have never seen before. These mantras to invoke his help in every aspect of life will be taught while folded into enjoyable myths and stories from a variety of scriptures, along with Bhajans and Kirtan.
Here is a sampling of what kinds of mantra attendees will learn:
Gurus, Avatars, Siddhas and Masters
All the great gurus and teachers want us to reach our highest potential. They dedicate their lives to our advancement. And they teach that we are divine. But what do we really know about these beings? By popular request, this program will address this topic.
What is a guru? How does a guru work with us? How do I know a supposed guru is genuine and not a fake or pretender? What are differences among gurus, sadgurus, and jagadgurus? What is an avatar and how is this being different from the others? And how are all of these different from siddhas (perfected beings) and masters?
As part of it the activities of the workshop, the life and teachings of Avadhuta Sadguru Dattatreya, reputed to be the very first Sadguru, will be discussed. There will also be material drawn from the works of Sadgurus Maher Baba and Sant Keshvadas, as well as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Here are some of the other topics also covered:
As is the custom with workshops created by Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Namadeva), there will be extensive group chanting of mantra formulas and kirtan (devotional singing). One of the highlights of the program will be chanting and discussion of the Avadhuta Gita by Dattatreya in Sanskrit with English translation. Satyabhama will teach the Guru Spiritual Discipline.
The Mysterious Kundalini
Coiled three and a half turns at the base of the spine is the power of the universe operating under deep cover within each and every one of us. Silently, blissfully, intelligently and purposefully this feminine expression of immense power operates every aspect of our lives. From the movement of the planets to the cry of a baby, Divine Mother calls out to us. She is Maha Lakshmi, Maha Saraswati and Maha Kali or the incomparable Parvati. She is the sweetness of a smile and the ferocity of a tornado.
Both the Shiva Sutras and the Laksmi Tantra resound with the concept that in our state of ignorance, the kundalini is She who binds. But she can also be She who sets us free, if we will but become aware of Her. In this workshop, we will explore the subject of kundalini shakti from the esoteric point of view with the objective of increased empowerment for all attendees. There will be mantra chanting, teachings, and meditations to promote greater understanding and increased depths of spiritual attainment.
The workshop begins with a Lalita Puja Ceremony (Invocation and Celebration of She of a Thousand Powers). Experience the 1,000 names and powers of Lalita through her ceremony. It has been taught for centuries in the East that the very nature of power is feminine. Called Shakti in Sanskrit, this great universal feminine power has it counterpart in each of us, sitting as an atomic-like power cell located at the base of our spine. For millennia, methods for invoking this power into our lives have been taught through the use of Sanskrit Mantra and ceremony. In tune with these ancient methods and traditions, the Lalita Puja Ceremony helps awaken and invoke this power into everyday life.
Celebrating the primal power of the kundalini shakti at the base of the spine, this ceremony involves participants in mantra chanting and other ceremonial activities. During the ceremony, the chakras become charged with more energy and the depth of one's consciousness increases. Subtle changes take place in attendees that will continue to accelerate spiritual growth for months after the ceremony.
Other workshop highlights:
(This workshop has no sexual teachings or practices)
Hindu texts agree that that nature of power is feminine. Shiva has Parvati (with Durga and Kali as well). Even the venerable Shiva Sutras state that all power derives from the Matrika, the Sanskrit Alphabet: She who binds and She who sets one free. Brahma's power comes from Saraswati. Vishnu's power is Lakshmi. Just as Vishnu is the Beingness of this cosmos, yet lies beyond, Lakshmi is the power of His Becoming, the primordial Kriya Shakti whose activity leads souls back to their source.
This workshop presents easy to grasp mystical underpinnings for the creation of the universe. Not just philosophically oriented, the workshop will teach ancient and practical mantras and techniques for addressing life's difficulties. Disciplines for spiritual advancement from the Lakshmi Tantra also will be covered in detail.
The first part of the workshop will focus on development of a platform of understanding for the ideas and methods of the Lakshmi Tantra. This will be accomplished through examination of the philosophies and practices of three great thinkers from India's rich history: Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya and Madvacharya. Then the philosophy of Pancharatra will be summarized. With this as an in-depth preparation, study of the Lakshmi Tantra will commence.
This workshop will teach and include group practice of mantras rarely seen in print. Attendees will receive a workbook and extensive practice in these powerful mantras, as well as background understanding of the inner meanings presented in the Lakshmi Tantra. Finally, a Lakshmi puja incorporating mantras and special Lakshmi chants will be performed.
Lakshmi: Shakti (Power) of Success, Abundance, Royalty, and Realization
The ancient rishis of eons past and present-day sages worship the Great Feminine. It is She who powers and empowers everything and everyone. There is no dispute about this among all the diverse Eastern paths to spiritual and material attainment.
Today, we seek to improve our lives in every way. Why not go directly to the source of all improvement? Whether it is spiritual or material abundance, success in running our lives or a corporation, protection of ourselves or loved ones, healing though elimination of obstructing agents, or realization of the Supreme Truth, Lakshmi mantras present an easy, expeditious, pleasant and effulgently fulfilling way to achieve whatever end we have in mind.
In the Laksmi Tantra, Laksmi teaches us in the first person. There she makes an amazing statement: “When you look out at the world, it is really me looking at myself through your eyes. So why not identify with me and become . . . everything?”
Attendees will learn:
The Kalki-Krishna Connection: Strategies For Protection
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