My first trip to Swami Rama’s Rishikesh Ashram took place early last year, a check out day trip. I had accompanied my Yoga teacher, to visit his Guru. One visit and I could not get the Ashram out of my mind for days. Within a few months of practicing meditation, I decided there was something in it that went “beyond.” There was a qualitative change; it was slowly opening my mind to a whole new world of spirituality. I made a “sankalpa” (resolve) to go in for Mantra initiation.
Hence my six day trip to Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, a meditator’s paradise. There is such an overall feeling of calm and clean, beauty and bliss, a method and educative atmosphere. One is transported to a different world, unaffected, away from chaos. The architecture is in line with the philosophy: ultimate, earthy and purely Indian. The layout gives a feeling of a commune with little cottages and walkways in between. What stands out are the natural looking lawns adorned with a variety of colourful flowers amidst healthy shrub. It all blends into such a harmonious picture giving the feeling that God Lives Here.
Day breaks at 5:30 am, and it’s time for a rejuvenating session of intense hatha yoga. This is followed by a light breakfast and the its meditation time. Everyone on campus gathers at the spacious hall for a one hour session, all in pin drop silence. A novice like me could sit through making her efforts in and out of meditation. The rest of the day is tailor made to fit your requirements: lectures, video recordings, “contemplative walk,” or other activities. The only commercial feature is a bookshop with a good selection of spiritual literature. A lot goes to discipline you, and you don’t want to miss the boat.
The staff, students and volunteers are all equally warm and positively helpful. There is a certain spirit of commitment. They ensure you are put to comfort, and as in my case, I had a lot of curious questions. I came back convinced and much wiser. Compared to metros, like is slower, but then as a resident told me, they want you to get away from the rush of life.
And then came my Mantra initiation day. Again, it is a simple practice devoid of rituals. Interestingly, I was asked to go through two days of silence and direct myself to Mantra and introspection. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but by the end of it you want to do it again! All in all, the mantra has brought in a fresh breath: it has made me positive (despite the recession), and of course, stepped up my practice. It’s challenging and testing. But somehow it affects you. The key word to all this is practice.
The trip ended will with a last minute meeting with Swami Veda, force behind the organization. It was remarkable how he lit up when relating an anecdote about his Guru, Swami Rama. It speaks of the in-depth Guru-student relationship, an inherent Indian tradition. My too short a trip came to an end, and I had at least set on a sacred voyage.