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Yoga Dharma Sadhana 2021 — Living Liberated

Let me ask a ques­tion to start with. What does Bharat — the Sanatana Bhoo­mi promise us ‑Blessed by the pres­ence of so many mahat­mas and with all the Innu­mer­able Panths, Tra­di­tions, Shas­tra, Iti­hasa, Purana while hold­ing seem­ing­ly oppo­site Dar­shanas togeth­er? Doesn’t it all con­verge into the Self and for a Divine life here and Beyond?

Look­ing to enrich the knowl­edge of the Self, we the Yoga Dhar­ma Sad­hakas from diverse back­grounds came to live at Anaa­di Foun­da­tion ashram for 108 days. On the aus­pi­cious day of Makara Sankran­ti — Mat­tu Pon­gal start­ed our jour­ney.

The ashram is locat­ed at the feet of Periya ivyar malai. The Majes­tic look­ing hill, wor­shipped as Shi­va, accord­ing to the leg­ends has seen the Pan­davas dur­ing the Vana vasa. Just a few hun­dred meters from the ashram we also have Chin­na ivyar malai a twin hill that has the alayams of Gane­sha and Muru­gan with huge caves which are home to a shrine of Drau­pa­di Amman and not­ed by the arche­ol­o­gy dept to be the tapastali’s of many Jain monks.

The day at Anaa­di starts with pea­cocks danc­ing around the ashram to nature’s tunes. The Bha­gavad Gita parayana starts much before sun­rise and we all con­verge at 6:00 am to per­form Guru puja at Kriya Dhyanalayam, seek­ing the bless­ings of Adis­hankaracharya, Kriya Baba­ji, and Agastya Peru­mal, pro­ceed­ing with the aar­ti to Vigna Har­ta in the form of Yoga Vidya Gana­p­athi (the mas­ter of all the 32 vidya’s) and end­ing with aar­ti of our earth­ly moth­er Gau Mata at the ashram’s Gosha­la.

In a weeks time of our stay we all got an oppor­tu­ni­ty to seek the bless­ings of Palani Muru­gan, on the occa­sion of Thai­pusam, when peo­ple from across the states of Tamil­nadu, Ker­ala come over to pay their obe­di­ence to the Devase­na­p­athi in his beau­ti­ful Nava­pashana rupa (made of 9 poi­sons) con­se­crat­ed by the leg­endary Bhoga sid­dar. It was a 17-mile walk from ashram which was total­ly new being the city-dwelling young­sters that we are… but along the path we were charmed by the ener­gy of devo­tees who were walk­ing for days togeth­er to fall in the eyes of the glo­ri­ous Vel dhari, this was a sight of inspi­ra­tion for us, many devo­tees set up pan­dals offer­ing us prasad all along the path, soon did the strain of walk­ing turn into an Infec­tious joy­ful stride with melo­di­ous bha­jans & gra­cious dance. Fill­ing the air of Palani with the glo­ries of the Mighty Lord Vel vel Muru­ga.. Vetri vel Muru­ga… Gnana vel Muru­ga… Shak­ti vel Muru­ga …Skan­da vel Muru­ga… Vel vel muruga…we reached the tem­ple with even more ener­gy than we start­ed.

In this yoga dhar­ma sad­hana we went to the core of every­thing look­ing at the tatt­va behind it all, and build­ing it up from the core with the guid­ing prin­ci­ples in view, adapt­ing to our present con­texts guid­ed by Matrushree Smrithi Maa and Shri­maan Adi Narayan Ji patient­ly ever-smil­ing to our innu­mer­able mus­ings… with the dai­ly Gnana ses­sions, a clear and strong vision for the future was pre­sent­ed to us. A great part of our stay was focused on Gnana look­ing at the wide spec­trum of Bharatiya gnana parampara (Indi­an Knowl­edge sys­tems) with a very mod­ern and sci­en­tif­ic rigour while always hold­ing the tra­di­tion high in esteem.

Our jour­ney into Ady­at­ma vidya start­ed with Tatt­va Bod­ha, a prakarana grantha by shri Adi Shankaracharya We were intro­duced to the Mahab­hara­ta Par­vas, Puranas — Devi Bha­ga­vatam, Shi­va puranam, Patan­jali Yoga sutras — Intro to Vedan­ta — Prin­ci­ples from Ayurve­da — Yog­ic neu­ro­science — Indi­an Astron­o­my and Astrol­o­gy through crisp ses­sions that pro­vid­ed an overview and kin­dled our curios­i­ty to explore fur­ther.

Look­ing at it seems as if we are exposed to life­times of knowl­edge in such a short span. We were able to see that root­ing one­self in Iti­hasas and Puranas can give us guid­ance on what to and what not to, the abil­i­ty to decode life events in their cause, and clear­ly gauge their effect guid­ed by Indi­an val­ues sys­tems — Purushartha frame­work.

Being intro­duced to Indi­an astron­o­my and astrol­o­gy we became curi­ous than ever towards the night, there was noth­ing that could stop us from reach­ing the stars, catch­ing a glimpse of our Sap­tar­ishis, the sto­ries of Chan­dra deva and his wives, cal­cu­lat­ing the time of sun­rise and sun­set, we were left stunned by the mar­vel and how these infi­nite­ly com­plex co-rela­tions unfold­ing through plan­e­tary motions over 1000’s of years are not­ed — made sense of and pre­sent­ed in a sim­ple way for prac­ti­cal dai­ly appli­ca­tion, the sharpest of our minds felt blunt before the vast­ness and rich­ness of Indi­an knowl­edge. There was a con­stant inner churn­ing that was hap­pen­ing: a pere­nial Samu­dra Man­than.

Under the trees, shall the Uni­ver­si­ties of tomor­row unfold. It felt like what Shri Rabindranath Tagore imag­ined through Shan­ti­nike­tan, we are wit­ness­ing it shape up here at Anaa­di. With the upcom­ing Guruku­lam and con­tin­u­ous and thor­ough reflec­tions on Indi­an knowl­edge sys­tems, it doesn’t seem long before it mate­ri­al­izes. We also devot­ed our­selves to Gita Adhyayana & paarayana — we are all now con­fi­dent of chant­i­ng Gita shlokas with ease, some of us have mas­tered chant­i­ng few chap­ters from mem­o­ry too. Like­wise, an under­stand­ing of Ayurvedic knowl­edge of Vata Pit­ta Kapha Doshas in Prakri­ti, mak­ing us inward­ly more aware and com­pe­tent in ana­lyz­ing one’s own body’s Prakri­ti and how it is being affect­ed by the nature of food that goes in, the time of the day, and the Ritu (season/weather), our health is now in our own Hands!

Ses­sions on Yog­ic neu­ro­science and Yoga sutras were the most reveal­ing in terms of how can our shas­tras guide the lead­ing-edge research, guide a sad­hak in the inward jour­ney, aid a stu­dent in the Mod­ern age of Infor­ma­tion over­load & hyper cog­ni­tion

An unfor­get­table expe­ri­ence was to be a part of the con­se­cra­tion of Ash­ta Dik lin­ga around the Periya Ivyar malai in a sim­ple and glo­ri­ous cer­e­mo­ny, this malai is held sacred by vil­lagers, leg­ends say that it has been home to a lot of Sid­dhas and is con­sid­ered to be Shi­va him­self also called Turiy­a­tee­ta malai, being right at the feet of the malai gave us the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do giri­vala pradak­shi­na very often,the pradakshina’s were always very refresh­ing giv­ing us a sense of trip­ti and ful­fil­ment.

We also reg­u­lar­ly went through Mouna Sad­hana every month, these were phas­es of deep reflec­tion and dhyana, they have thor­ough­ly laid a strong foun­da­tion for the adver­si­ties this life­time has in store for us!

Towards the end of the pro­gram on the aus­pi­cious Chi­tra Poorn­i­ma day, we trekked onto the top of the malai and spent the night under the Bright moon­light with an umbrel­la of stars, with the devas look­ing over us, we were singing the glo­ries of shi­va. Ear­ly in the morn­ing we were sur­round­ed by vanara sena (the mon­keys of iyvar malai) look­ing at us in amuse­ment while we do our dai­ly Yoga asanas — We could see how being bound by an asana rou­tine for just 15 min­utes a day, lib­er­ates us from most ill­ness­es of the future, and also fill’s us with ener­gy for a bright day, That was the core of our learn­ing, being bound by tra­di­tions is to Lib­er­ate you ! Through these 108 days, we were also able to mas­ter some of the tough­est asanas like Mayur asana, shir­shasana , which was unimag­in­able just a few months ago.

Palani being a Sid­dha Kshetra, we got to meet tra­di­tion­al reciter of Thiru­mu­rai which has been passed on from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. We also met sev­er­al vaidyas who are spe­cial­ists and keep­ers of the knowl­edge of herbs used specif­i­cal­ly for spir­i­tu­al, agam­ic and Ayurvedic pur­pos­es, they were able to show us the small area around the ashram has a lot of very potent herbs. We were very pleased to know of our tra­di­tion­al knowl­edge from the very sources, but they were all on their last foot, with new­er gen­er­a­tions turn­ing away due to migra­tion and less sup­port for tra­di­tion­al knowl­edge.

Go sha­la being a big part of Anaa­di hous­ing 13 cows, We got a chance to also learn the foun­da­tions of sus­tain­able life and organ­ic farm­ing cen­tered on Goma­ta. We made Jee­vam­ri­tam, Pan­cha­gavya, which we per­son­al­ly wit­nessed are soil-enrich­ing & have life-giv­ing essence in them, few plants which were mor­dant since the time we came to ashram began to spring back to life with­in days after giv­ing them Jee­vam­ri­tam.

We also did a lot of exper­i­ments with cow dung as it is one of the main ele­ments of our Gosha­la and it is proven suc­cess­ful­ly to be a bind­ing agent and use­ful for mak­ing cow dung bricks, logs for the fire, Varatti’s for Agni Kriya-Homa. We have grown a spe­cial rela­tion with the cows at our ashram, going back home they would be the most missed, their gen­tle lov­ing feel, calm and com­posed nature can nev­er be replaced, maybe we shall look­out for the near­est Gosha­la in our cities- go feed them and spend some time with Goma­ta.

A con­fi­dent space to express this Poor­na­ta was also pro­vid­ed to us. Var­i­ous activ­i­ties took shape, few took to Gau Seva with rig­or, few have devel­oped an inter­est in research on yoga and cog­ni­tion how they can help us dur­ing the online world of covid, also con­duct­ing work­shops to empow­er youth on sus­tain­able devel­op­ment goals, Bod­hi — a first-of-its-kind pro­gram on Indi­an per­spec­tive to Edu­ca­tion Psy­chol­o­gy also took shape from our mus­ings at the ashram. The Ashram space gave us clar­i­ty of thought, ener­gy in the body while also pro­vid­ing ample scope to express our Swab­ha­va with inten­si­ty. Not only the clas­sics, but we have also learned the basics of web design, poster mak­ing, research process — sim­ple and straight ways to reach out to the world and prove your met­tle!

I can go on and on! But still, my Anaa­di mates would say I have missed out a lot more than i have cap­tured about the time here What we have expe­ri­enced here is invalu­able, the best way I could describe it is through the time­less mantra ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पूर्णमुदच्यते । पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥

Om, That (Out­er World) is Pur­na (Full with Divine Con­scious­ness); This (Inner World) is also Pur­na; From Pur­na is man­i­fest­ed Pur­na

A very fun­da­men­tal shift in actions…. From a lack to com­plete­ness — By being in the pres­ence of Gurus, a glimpse of Atma Trip­ti is felt and thus we jour­ney back with a heavy heart into the world, root­ed more firm­ly in our Swad­har­ma and with con­fi­dence to strive for Loka San­gra­ha.


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