Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Teachers’ Training Course (TTC), Sivananda Kutir, Netala (Uttarkashi)

When I sit in padmasana and closed my eyes to meditate, I visualise fast flowing holy river Ganga (Bhagirathi), Sivananda Ashram, my teachers (Guru) and sometimes batch-mates. I slowly try to drag my mind to my object of meditation but surprisingly it jumps back to the serenity of river Ganga. My mind remains calm while meditating on the river Ganga and the ashram situated near it, may be the time I spent there was the most peaceful time of my life!

Spending one month with the persons of different cultures, age groups, professions and countries was an experience of its own kind. But we all had one thing in common- a very strong desire to learn yoga which might be the reason that we stayed together for 30 days.

The yoga teacher was nice and caring. She explained everything in detail and tried to clear all our doubts. While practicing difficult asanas she encouraged the student to do it in its best possible way, only gave the required support and never let the student fall off even if the student’s weight is too much and the body is too rigid. I was impressed with her on the day we practiced 108 Om Surya Namaskar, she spoke continuously without making a single mistake of left and right side. As I yoga teacher myself, I found it difficult to do.

The teacher who taught Bhagwat Gita always told stories, shared experiences and solved life’s complicated problems in a very simple way. He always encouraged the students to ask more questions. One day a student asked, “If a person moves while doing meditation, does it means his Kundalini is awakened?” He replied, “It means the person is going through a mental or emotional cleaning process and you should help that person.”

The food was sattvik without onion and garlic. Mostly they give south Indian food like idli, appam, idiyapam, rice and sambhar. Sometimes they give north Indian food like rajma rice, chickpea rice and parathas with pea potato veg. On the last day of the course, delicious treat was given which include samosa, gulab jamun, palak paneer, fried papad, ice cream, kheer and rice.

I was proud of my knowledge about yoga and Indian philosophy before joining the course. One of my batch-mates, a foreigner guy could perform much better yoga asanas than me. Not only that, he knew Indian philosophy much more than me. May be God sent him in my life to annihilate my ego!

The air was clean and environment was serene. The mountains, waterfalls, clouds, stars, moon, sun, rains, rainbow were mesmerising. The silent walk in the nature helped me in understanding myself better. The desire to eat delicious food and to surf on internet brought me back in this materialistic world otherwise I would have stayed there forever.
Dear readers, you can read my experience of Sadhana Intensive course here

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A lost card

On the last day of Teacher Training Course, Netala one of my roommates gave me a handmade card. I kept it in my bag and decided to write a blog post about it after I returned home. I was registered for the next course, which was to start after 5-6 days. As I had some free days, I decided to go for trekking to Dayara Bugyal and Gaumukh.
I divided my belongings in two parts. One I took with me and the other I left in the ashram. After I returned to the ashram, I became busy with the tight schedule of studying and practicing yoga and sadhana. On the completion of course, when I returned home, I unpacked my things but could not find that card. I searched my notes, clothes and other items thoroughly. I even searched different pockets of my bag but could not locate it. I undoubtedly remembered that I did not throw that card but safely placed in my bag. Even on repeated searches, there was no success. At last, I dropped the idea of searching it and thought that it might be lost somewhere in the journey.

Today, I finished Samadhi Yoga by Swami Sivananda. I placed that book in my book self and took out another book for reading. As I opened it, to my surprise I found that card lying in between page no. 28 and 29. How it reached, there is still a mystery for me!

Swami Sivananda’s sayings were creatively scribbled on the front of that yellow coloured card. Inside it was written beautiful messages and some nice words about me. Although I am not that good as she had mentioned but it is polite of her to say so. I thank her sincerely. It wasn’t a card but a hug folded in it!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary

During winter season, most of us have visited Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary which is near Gurgaon. It is popular because of its easy accessibility, nice restaurant and good connectivity with roads. There is one more bird sanctuary lesser known because of not that good roads, non-availability of food and water. In Jhajjar district near about fifteen kilometres from the Jhajjar city, Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary is one of the most wonderful bird sanctuaries of North India. It is located near Delhi and Gurgaon just an hour or so run by car. It is a great picnic spot!

One can reach Bhindawas by following Google maps to some extent but there is no need to take a long round about as Google maps shows. When one is close to the sanctuary, one can follow road maps or can ask villagers for short and good roads leading to Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary. It is man-made wetland. It was constructed to store excess water from JNL Feeder and its channals at the time of power failure of Lift Canal System. It spreads over 1074 acres. Around the lake, it has 12 kilometer long vehicle track. The road is kachcha at few places. There are small islands, which enhances its beauty. 

While travelling through the nearby villages, one can spot quite good number of birds like jungle babbler, black drongo, Indian roller, woodpecker, white throated kingfisher, parakeets, common hoopoe, shikra, laughing dove, greater coucal, blue peafowl and spot billed duck.
The migratory birds one can spot there is flamingo, great egret, comb duck, northern shoveler, ruddy shelduck, whiskered tern, Earasian marsh harrier, Palla’s gull and common teal. Along with birds one can also spot neelgai, jackals, jungle cats, monkeys, cows, buffaloes, goats and sheep. There are two watch-towers with great view. There are many picnic spots with the beautiful view of lake and islands in it.

This year there are many attractive birds there. If you are planning to visit then take the food and water with you. And do not forget to take binoculars for better view!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Book Review : Stand Strong by Shubha Vilas

Stand strong is the fourth book in the series of Ramayana – The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas. The author has written Roar with Courage, Conquer Fear and Adopt Patience based on Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda and Aranya Kanda of Ramayana epic respectively. Stand Strong is the modern retelling of the Kishkindha Kanda of Valmiki’s epic Ramayana. It is an excellent read for mythological readers. And it is a very special book for the spiritual aspirants. Author compared a spiritual aspirant to lotus, black tulip and fish.

It tells about Lord Ram and Lakshman meeting near Rishimukh mountain, Lord Ram’s friendship with Sugriva, killing of Vali, brother of Sugriva by Lord Ram, Lakshman’s anger for delay in search of Sita kidnapped by Ravana, sending of monkey-army in all the four directions to look for Mother Sita by Sugriva, returning of three armies without any information, in the south the fourth army reaches near the sea and Sampati, brother of Jatayu helped them in their mission. The language is lucid and simple to understand. It inspires to find out simple solutions to the complex problems and to stand strong in difficulties by conquering fear. The narration is gripping and one can easily relate it with one’s life and its experiences.

Author has embedded the story with beautiful gems. Some of the quotes which I liked are as follows :

1.      Accepting other’ imperfections gracefully is the sign of perfection. Accepting one’s own imperfection honestly is the sign of progress toward perfection.

2.      When one competes with oneself, one invites celebration instead of competition. When one compete with others, one invites competition instead of celebration.

3.      When life is peaceful, one goes to buy challenges. When life offers challenges, one goes in search of peace. Between looking for challenges and running away from them lies the art of facing them with courage.

4.      If in the beginning and in the end, we are nothing, why then in the middle do we think we are something?

5.      When one is proud of being detached to attachments, one is in fact attached to detachment.

Near Rishimukh Mountain, the description of meeting of Lord Ram with Hanuman brings tears to my eyes as the disciple meeting his Master is depicted admirably. Physical, mental and emotional changes one goes through after meeting the true master are explained so well. Lord Ram thought that what an old, fragile sanyasi is doing in this uninhabited forest? And Hanuman thought that why these two princes whose bodies should be adored with jewellery were wearing the dress of sanyasi and were carrying bow and arrow like warriors?

Lord Ram, his real Master come to meet Sugriva and his companions. Hanuman’s mother once told him, “You will never have to go looking for your master and that your master will come looking for you!” How right she was!

Author has described all the characteristics so well. But his description of Lord Ram is beyond words. He described Lord Ram as You are so beautiful that no painting can ever do justice to Your beauty.

This book is the must read for motivational readers and spiritual seekers. The part of the book that describes about the meeting of Lord Ram and Lakshman with Hanuman near Rishimukh Mountain should not be missed. I must say it is one of the best creations by Shubha Vilas. Hats off to the author!