The Grand Opening and Dedication of LOTUS began on Saturday, July 19th, with religious leaders and dignitaries from around the world joining Swami Satchidananda for the World Faiths Symposium at the Charlottesville Performing Arts Center. Over 1500 people attended the morning program where thirty-two speakers addressed the theme: “Truth is One, Paths are Many.” Sant Keshavadas summed up the feeling of the morning so perfectly when he said, “The flower garland represents the unity of world religions. The group of speakers sitting here is a flower garland to God.”
July 1986 also marked the twentieth year of Swami Satchidananda’s service in the West. In a gala program on the evening of the 19th, devotees and friends paid tribute to this great servant of all humanity.
To introduce “One Small Voice”-one of the many wonderful songs she sang that evening-Carole (Karuna) King said, “This song is about one small child who spoke up for what he believed in. And Gurudev is kind of like that child. He was one person with a dream, a vision. Then more and more joined in, more will join . . . It’s a song about how every one of us can make a difference .. . If it weren’t for every one of us there wouldn’t be a LOTUS. But there is one!”
That evening, Swami Satchidananda spoke about God’s guidance in everything. “I have heard many beautiful prayerful songs written by great saints. But one always stands out, continuously haunts my heart. The mean ing of it is: ‘Lord, you are the in dweller of all beings. You are omnipresent. You make things move, you make people move. So, who am I to do anything? How can I do anything? It’s You. You feed me;
I am getting fed. You make me sleep; I sleep. You show me; I am seeing. You make me happy; I am happy. You make me dance; I dance. And not only me, but the entire universe. Therefore I know that without You I am nothing.’ That prayer has become my guiding light. I never planned anything. I never wanted anything. I’m not an ambitious person. God has simply moved me from place to place. This is all God’s work, not mine.”
Swami Satchidananda presented special Awards of Merit to Mr. Hari Harilela, Sri N. Mahalingam and Karuna King. Then Sri Gurudev himself was surprised with an award. Mr. William Veprin, National Commissioner of Appeal and Director of Development for the Anti-Defamation League, presented Sri Gurudev with an ADL award. He was proclaimed a Trustee of the Society of Fellows of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, “In recognition of distinguished leadership and dedicated service in advancing the cause of human rights, dignity, and equal opportunity, preserving freedom, counteracting bigotry, and promoting brotherhood for all.”