Life brings with a plethora of experiences, each with a flavour of its own. I wish to share with all my readers these various experiences and observations that I have made during my time here on this planet. They may be funny, thought-provoking or simple reflections. I do hope you will find these enjoyable and interesting.

Monday, 24 September 2012

A Getaway To An Unusual Destination In Search Of Inner Peace

Life was getting too monotonous and I was craving a change.  A break was in order and I needed to head out to some destination where I could snatch a few days of peace and tranquility.  While a beach, a historical place, temples or a holiday resort would seem to be the obvious choices, that was not what I wanted.  I seriously wanted to get away from everyone and everything to some place that could calm me down and let me be just by myself and with myself.  A degree of solitude was what I craved.

Although the banks of the Ganga would be a good spot to do "Hari Hari" (chanting the Lord's name), it did not appear to me that I would get much quiet or peace there.  So I decided that I wanted to get away to some ashram where I could do all of the above.  The first choice was the Chinmaya Vibhooti ashram (an ashram of the Chinmaya Mission) located in the Western Ghats in a place called Kolvan (Mulshi district, Pune).  It is about an hour away from Pune by car.  I was anyway planning to visit Pune and this was such a convenient option.

Add to that they were organizing a 5-day Meditation camp beginning on the 4th of September.  Since I love meditating, have already been introduced to the kind of activities and talks at the Chinmaya Mission, I decided to take this on.  This, however, was the first time I would do anything like staying 5 days in an Ashram.  

With many apprehensions (who does not have them when one embarks on something entirely new?) and some excitement I set off to the Ashram on the evening of the 4th.  It was a cool, cloudy day and the drive was absolutely heavenly.  The hills were lush after the recent rains.  I stopped en route for a few pictures.  Not having ever been in this direction, the cab driver stopped a couple of times to ask for directions and to confirm we were headed in the right direction.  The last bit of road was more than a bit "hol(e)y" but we got there with no major problems and in time for the registrations.

Enroute to Kolvan
Chinmaya Vibhooti - A front view
The programme of the day was to start off with Swami Swatmananda's introductory lecture.  However, he was stuck with some programme at Mumbai at the Sandeepani ashram.  So we were shown a video recording of a lecture by Swami Chinmayananda on Chapter VI of the Bhagavad Geeta which he had given in the U.S.  It felt so good to hear his talk after so long.  It was his lectures that drew me towards spirituality.  It was a very nostalgic evening and I could not have asked for anything more on my birthday.  This is something that will stay with me for life.

The next few days were spent practising meditation, listening to lectures on Chapter VI of the Bhagavad Gita and practise of Sadhanas (spiritual disciplines) in daily life, practising solitude, using every spare moment to take pictures of various birds that I saw (some of them for the very first time).  It was also an opportunity to meet many new people and make some new acquaintances and friends.  In short, it was an idyllic 5 days that I got to spend in the lap of Nature.  

Here are some pictures of the place that I would like to share with you.

Chinmaya Maruti Mandir - A front view
Chinmaya Maruti Mandir
View of Chinmaya Vibhooti on the banks of the Walki river
A path leading from the ashram to the river
A view of the central square of the ashram
Ganesha Mandir
View of the mountains covered in clouds from the Ganesha Mandir
It couldn't get more peaceful
The river Walki
Mountains in the mist
As you can see, it could not possibly get more peaceful and tranquiller than this.  This was the perfect antidote to the bustle of daily life, the stresses and strains of routine life.  The fresh air, cool , lush surroundings, the pure and pristine atmosphere were all sufficient to bring a semblance of one's real self to oneself.  I always maintain that being with Nature, observing and appreciating all that has been put here by the Creator for our benefit is the best worship we can render unto Him.

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