Swami Sarvadevananda Retreat Nov. 28-29 : “The Nine Types of Devotional Practice”

Swami Sarvadevananda is the Head Minister of the Vedanta Society of Southern California, which also includes Ridgely as one of it’s sub-centers. Most of you already know him as he has visited Ridgely many times. He will be accompanied by Swami Atmajnanananda, the Minister-in-Residence of the Vedanta Society of Washington DC. The two swamis will share the talks on this wonderful topic.

Our topic, the nine types of devotional practice, comes from the Srimad Bhagavatam (7.5.23). These practices are important for anyone following a spiritual path and essential for those practicing the path of devotion to the Divine in any form. Do you know the list? It begins with shravanam/hearing about the Divine, and kirtanam, offering praise. We will keep you in suspense for the rest!

We will follow our usual retreat schedule. Saturday the retreat will be from 10:30am to 4:30 pm, lunch included. Sunday the retreat will begin at 10:30am and last until lunch. As always all are welcome to attend all or part of this retreat. If you wish to stay overnight, please fill out the online form found at ridgely.org and send it to us asap. Spaces will fill up fast as this will be Thanksgiving weekend.

Kali Puja Nov. 10 10:00pm

We are inviting you to our annual worship in honor of the goddess Kali Bhavatarini, the form of the Mother intimately known, loved and worshipped by Sri Ramakrishna at the Dakshineswar temple in Kolkata. This worship consists of a very elaborate ritual and homa fire, traditionally done at night. During the worship we invoke the presence of Dakshina Kali in our little image and then honor Her with many kinds of gifts, chants and songs. At the close of the ceremony we invite Her to return to the formless and distribute Her “blessing” in the form of shanti jal/peace water. In the early hours of the morning, most likely around 4 or 5 am, we share a prasad “breakfast”. You may attend all or part of this wonderful celebration; coming and going is part of the night as many people must work the next day. We don’t keep to a timetable; here is a rough schedule:

10:00pm a short description of the puja given by Gitaprana
the puja begins
2am homa fire
3am flower offering, conclusion of puja, shanti jal
4am prasad
We encourage you to bring gifts for the Mother. What gifts would you bring to your mother? The ritual requires gifts like jewelry,cosmetics, perfume, clothing and flowers. You can also bring food to be offered. With all these gifts and offerings bear in mind that the Mother should be the first one to enjoy them. Please don’t taste the for, sniff the flowers, wear the jewelry etc.

As always we are extending a special invitation to our “kirtan-wallah” friends and all other singers to come and offer song to the Mother. In many ways, devotional music is one of the most special offerings of all.

We will make our overnight spaces available to all-night puja attendees who wish to rest after the festivities. We will not be asking the usual donation for this.

We hope to see you at this wonderful celebration.

Durga Puja Sat., Oct. 17 11am

Join us for the worship of the Divine Mother in the form of Durga. There will be a puja, flower offering, homa fire and prasad meal. All are welcome to attend any part or all of this celebration.


Kali Puja Wed. Nov.11 10pm

This is our annual very elaborate worship of the Mother as Kali Bhavatarini, the form worshipped by Sri Ramakrishna at the Dakshineshwar temple in Kolkata. There will be the traditional puja, flower offering, homa fire, shanti jail (water of peace) blessing and, finally, a prasad meal at around 4am when the celebration concludes. All are welcome to attend part or all of this event.

Durga Puja (10/17) and Fall Foliage (10/12-10/26)

This Saturday (10/17) Durga Puja at 11am

We will be celebrating Navaratri on Saturday with a traditional puja,flower offerings, homa fire and prasad meal. Festivities begin at 11am but you may arrive at any time. We are inviting our bhajan and kirtan singer friends to make offerings.If you do,please choose songs that all may sing. All are welcome to attend. This year we are short-handed so we are looking for friends to volunteer during both Durga and Kali Puja in November. Please let us know if you wish to help out.

Fall Foliage for the next two weeks

Fall is possibly the most beautiful time here at Ridgely. This week and next the fall foliage will be at its most beautiful. Fall is also one of the most busy times for us as we prepare our grounds for winter. There are many tasks to be done in October and November-raking leaves, setting up deer fences,putting up storm windows, cleaning roof gutters etc.This year we are quite short-handed thanks to injuries, absences and departures of our staff members I am looking for able and willing volunteers to help me (Gitaprana) with these tasks. Please let me know if you would like to help out.

Ridgely featured on the BBC

In January, 2013 the BBC produced a short documentary piece on Ridgely, along with a feature piece on Swami Vivekananda.  This post contians an excerpt, and you can find the full piece (including video) below:

Few in the west have heard of Swami Vivekananda, who was born 150 years ago this week. Yet this Bengali intellectual, still revered in India, introduced many people to yoga and meditation.

The crunch of car tyres on gravel, the heavy smell of an imminent thunderstorm, swaying elm trees – random childhood memories of my grandmother’s house, Ridgely, in upstate New York.

I also dimly remember casual references to a Swami. “That was Swami’s sofa.” “The end room – that is where the Swami used to sleep.”

Click here to see it. (opens in a new window)

Ridgely Concert Sat. Oct. 3, 2015

Thumri Ki Kahani: a musical journey since 18th century

Featuring Pandit VIJAY KICHLU & Vidushi SUBHRA GUHA

Date: October 3 (Saturday) , 6 – 9-30 pm
Venue: MAMA (Marbletown Multi Arts)
3588 Main Street, Stone Ridge, NY 12484

Pandit Vijay Kichlu is a recipient of “Sangeet Natak Akademi Ratna” – the highest award for a performing artist by the Government of India. He is internationally recognized for promoting Indian Raga music for decades. He belongs to Agra gharana style of gayaki.

Vidushi Subhra Guha is one of the finest exponents of Agra gharana. She has been teaching & performing internationally since early 80s. Recently awarded the “Girija Shankar Purashkar” by West Bengal govt.

Suggested Minimum Donation – $25 per person
($15 for Students – ID Required)
Sponsors & Donors Welcome!
Please write checks to: “Vivekananda Retreat, Ridgely”
(all contributions are tax exempt)

For more information, contact:
845 687 4574 / 845 478 2042 / 347 496 3062
info@ridgely.org / chandisanyal@gmail.com / sweetroad@gmail.com

Ridgely closed from Sept.12-19

We will be very short-staffed during this time, so we will not be accepting overnight applications or giving tours. We will hold our Saturday and Sunday classes during this time.

Please join us at 7:30pm on Sunday, Sept. 20 for the satsang to be given by Rev. Swami Suhitanandaji, who is the General Secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in India.

Welcome to our new website design

Our webmaster, who goes by the online name Bhairav Jr. (!), and I have redesigned Ridgely’s website. We wanted it to be simple to use for those who are viewing on smartphones and tablets as well as computers. We analyzed the data from our previous website and our other social media platforms to see which pages and platforms were the most popular. We kept those and either deleted or moved the others to a subsection of another category. As an example of that, you will now find most historical information under the About Ridgely section. You will find those sections and subsections listed in the column on the left of the main post.

One of our most important changes was to create a user- friendly blog section. We will be posting to the blog regularly along with photographs from Ridgely. We will also post podcast episodes every other Monday starting September 7, 2015. Be sure to check in every week to see new content, and to subscribe to our podcast.

Vivekananda Retreat has a busy presence on Facebook. We are hoping to move at least part of that audience to our blog and are working on a way to enable comments to be posted to our new blog after registering. We hope you will take the time to read, listen and comment on some of our blog posts.

A link to our overnight retreat application can be found on the Visit page in 2 places. Please read the information carefully before applying.

Enjoy our new simplified website. If you have any feedback about how it could be improved or would like to help us maintain some our of online platforms, please let us know.

Labor Day Weekend Retreat Sept. 6-7


Due to fatigue Swami Sridharananda has been compelled to cut short his US tour.



Sunday, Sept. 6 9:30-5:30 retreat sessions with lunch included. The topic to be announced later

Monday, Sept. 7 9:30-noon retreat sessions


History of Ridgely

Ridgely Manor, circa 1900

The estate was created by Francis Leggett in the early 1890s; he later became a friend of Swami Vivekananda and the first president of the Vedanta Society of New York (founded by Swamiji in 1894). Ridgely has been the home of Leggett’s heirs since his death in 1909.

While visiting America in 1993, Swami Gahanananda, vice-president of the Ramakrishna Order encouraged the Vedanta societies to purchase the Ridgely property. After some time the newly formed Sri Sarada Society worked for several years to acquire it.

A portrait of Francis Leggett from a family album.

In March 1997 the Trustees of the Ramakrishna Math & Ramakrishna Mission(Belur Math, India) decided to seriously pursue the acquisition of Ridgely.Persistent efforts included a thorough feasibility study, which enabled Swami Swahananda to authorize the purchase of Ridgely. A large downpayment, offered by devotees in America, was accepted in August, 1997, and by May 1999 a total of over $1.2 million was raised. With the help of an interest-freeloan of $400,000 that was given to the retreat, the mortgage was paid in full by mid summer 1999.

As of January 2005 the interest-free loan was also paid back in full. This was made possible through a bequest of Sister Gargi (Marie Louise Burke) and the generous donations of many people. Since 1997,we have raised over$2 million that has permitted us to purchase the property, convert the property from private to public use, pay off the loan,and make needed renovations and improvements.

Going forward, our fund raising efforts must be directed toward the establishment of an endowment fund to ensure Ridgely’s long-term security!

You can read a detailed account of Swami Vivekananda at Ridgely in a chapter titled “The Great Summer” in Swami Vivekananda and the West: New Discoveries by Marie Louise Burke. Please also see the history of Vivekananda Retreat Ridgely.