During his fourteen years of service in Sri Lanka, Sri Gurudev often mediated disputes between the Hindus, Buddhists and Christians. Sri Gurudev was instrumental in bringing many clergy members together and in organizing an All-Religion Group.
On Sri Gurudev’s first world tour in April 1966 he had a private audience with His Holiness Pope Paul VI in which they discussed the idea of trying to unite all the people of the world, regardless of religion or race. In Jerusalem he visited the Holy Sepulchre and stayed in a Benedictine monastery. While there, he attended Mass and held discussions for the mission fathers, teaching Hatha Yoga techniques to a number of monks.
In May of 1967, he also visited with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, at Dharmasala in North India and with Lama Govinda, a well-Known scholar of Tibetan Buddhism. His contacts with religious leaders from the various faiths were quickly expanding, and as he went along, Sri Gurudev was laying the groundwork for his interfaith dream in the form of the Light Of Truth Universal Shrine.
A Global Interfaith Mission:
In 1968, Sri Gurudev began to spend more time in America. Together with Rabbi Gelberman, Brother David Steindl-Rast, and Eido Tai Shimano, he co-founded the Center for Spiritual Studies, in which the clergy of different faiths would meet once a month to engage in interfaith dialogue. The Center grew into the Yoga Ecumenical seminar that would hold weekend retreats, encouraging followers of different religions to come together for prayer and meditation, and to share ideas.
During these interfaith retreats and symposiums, Sri Gurudev had another innovation: the Yoga Ecumenical Service (now known as the Light Of Truth Universal Service), in which representatives of different faiths gathered together around a circular alter and performed a worship service to a central light. This Light –in the form of a lit candle – was adopted as the universal symbol of the Divine. Performing the service were celebrants representing their respective faiths, and offering worship to the central light from their own religious traditions.
Over many decades, Sri Gurudev’s motto, “Truth Is One ; Paths Are Many” was celebrated around the world. He organized many interfaith programs, retreats and conferences. For over twenty-five years, he lent support to many organizations, including the Temple of Understanding, Thanksgiving Square, The Parliament of World’s Religions, The International Interfaith Center, The Interfaith Center of New York, and the United Religions Initiative, among others.
On April 14, 1973, Sri Gurudev officially dedicated Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville East, located on 60 acres of land in Pomfret Center, Connecticut. Eventually it was clear that the ashram needed to relocate to a warmer climate without such harsh winters, and on a site with more land on which to build LOTUS, and in September 1979, 750 acres of land was acquired in Buckingham, Virginia, which would be home for the new Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville. Based on his teachings, it is a place where people of different faiths and backgrounds can come to realize their essential oneness. Yogaville is the home of The Light Of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS). This unique interfaith Shrine honors the Spirit that unites all the world religions, while celebrating their diversity. People from all over the world come there to meditate and pray.
Integeral Yoga Institute Coimbatore is functioning since 1974. It is situated in R. S Puram, Coimbatore where they conduct daily yoga sessions in Beginners Level I and II, Morning, Mid-day and Evening. Also classes on yoga for pregnant women, elders, children and yoga therapy are taught. During holidays, children have daily yoga sessions and summer camps. It under takes private and group classes at various institutions and corporates. The facility includes a library, book stall, nature cure treatment center and a health food store.