The stay…… Ashram’s guest house….The guest house was self sufficient…more than an average house! The furnishers of the room had not overlooked even a small thing. Right from a platform to leave your foot wear , a stand to hang clothes , taut ropes to dry small clothes in the toilet, study table with a draw many of these are not found in some homes and star hotels!?! The others things like cots with stainless white sheets and a cupboard to store …etc.,
That the room was meant for serious study was evident with a neatly folded mat kept on the hanger stand! A room fit for an aspiring sadhak! So every thing in its place… austere .. simple and decent! No TV and telephone! So the inmate gets into the mood or ambience of study/sadhana just by being there! The walls are neat with a lone picture of the Mother..with the words.. 'the world is ready for a change, do you want to help?’
The ashram dining room…. The dining place of the ashram ( a few blocks away from the guest house), is unique in many ways…it is not one big hall but a mansion with many rooms some used as serving bay, dining place, washing area, storage etc., It is amazing how 2000 people are served in orderliness (not at the same time though) and the place isn’t messy at all!!
A lot of experimentation must have gone in to finally evolve a system that has brought in quality both in service and maintenance of the place while in use. The quietness has to be heard to be believed! What also impressed me were the long mats spread dispersed with low stools… and tables and chairs placed appropriately for people who find it difficult to squat.The new comers have to just be observant to quickly fall in line to help maintain the discipline. The food that is served is sumptuous and sattvic in nature to be in tune with the sadhak’s life. One just falls into the routine of eating meditation without much ado! The familiar sight of volunteers serving, washing, wiping vessels (as in ashrams), here , has an uniqueness of its own.
Why pondy? My visit to pondy was in connection with the education camp / workshop held by Sri Aurobindo society. I had no clue as to what was in store for us.. except that we were expected to be familiar with the book ‘On education’, authored by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
The sessions were held from 8.30-12 noon and from 3-6pm. They included an hour and half discussion on the principles of integral education and the rest of the day we were made to experience this in practice in simulated class rooms. The group of 60 teachers from all over India were divided into 5 groups of 12 representing the north, south , east, west and the central zones. We named our groups according to the major river of the region. Each group was immersed in activities related to the topic “ INDIA” . We had to perceive India through our senses, art, music, EVS language, art and math.
The facilitators of each theme were young girls around 18-20 years of age, with a pleasing personality. The atmosphere was non threatening , non judgmental in which we had no choice but to give up our inhibitions. There were many in the group who sang, drew and spoke ( public speech in English) , and even danced for the first time. The variety of activity they did for different groups facilitated to locate the participants inner strengths.
What was visible in the facilitators was the authenticity with which they stood before us and the realness they exhibited. All this sent messages to us teachers to feel a classroom of such kind where learning took place spontaneously. The idea was to give us such an experience and compare that with the one we offer our students back at school! It was all learning by doing. As the Mother says... "No words.. ACT”.
The venue of the meet….Living in a place far away from the sea.. it was a privilege that the sessions were held in a hall overlooking the sea. I lost no moments to take in of that as much as possible. When it rained one evening I ran to the terrace to watch the rain on the sea as the clouds engulfed it at the horizon.
FINAL WORD…I call this a spiritual experience as everything .. was important…. Was cared for .. with utmost empathy. There was beauty everywhere. The early morning sky watch, the quiet nature walks, the solemn chanting sessions, the yoga time, the meditating breakfast and lunch sessions set a queer silence inside .. to let absorb everything but yet feel untouched! It is no surprise that the seventh sense of aesthetics was awakened in us all! Posted by Lalitha at 4:59 AM