Bhaav Yatra Update: Kerala- via Puttur
On our way to Anandashram we are hosted by Konark Rai’s parents in their farm. As we enter the farm we read the words “Fatherland” that caught attention. Upon asking Rai uncle shared that this word is given by Adolph hitler, it means a land with created with vigour and hard work. Rai uncle’s father was a well-known freedom fighter of south. And hence he is named his farm fatherland. He shared some stories about their life and Konark’s mom fed us the most delicious cashew curry made from the farm fresh cashews!
AnandAshram, Swami Nithyanand Ashram, meditation caves and to Wayanad retreat.
We reach another small town Kahnangad at Anand Ashram. This Ashram was started by Swami Ramdas fondly known as Pappa. At the Ashram there is a 24-hour chanting of Sri Ram that goes on. Everyone is considered equal here and are offered food and shelter at all hours. We met our dear friend Datta, he is a monk without robes, a yoga teacher and a seeker. He is associated with a movement that Ashram runs for schools called VITAL- Value Integrated Teaching and Learning. The concept clearly talks about Value education to become a part of academia and going one step further of its integration with subjects. So the team VITAL is trying to teach subjects like Maths, Science, Social science etc. by using anecdotes that signify a value. We attended a three day retreat at Wayanad to learn this process of integration. Pratik did some vibrant Rangoli and retreat became a MBL space.
Some of the highlights included welcoming all participants with a hug as this is not a common thing done in this part of the world. We visited the Gandhi Ashram here where Gandhiji had stayed and we listened to Gandhiji’s voice through an audio lecture. As a part of three day retreat we visited an old age home that the Ashram supports. We met and spent time with inmates. On the last day we shared about service space and MBL and together all of us focused on our own values and wrote gratitude notes and tied it at a space and hugged trees. We connected with some beautiful souls who participated at the retreat. One such couple was Sharada amma and Appa. They lovingly took care of us and shared the importance of “Japa-chanting”. She said chanting enables kindness in word, thought and action.
Datta took us to mystical caves created by Swami Nityananda who was a saint around 1940’s. He remained mostly silent and unaware of worldly happenings. His Ashram is in a forest called Guruvan where he stayed and meditated in a cave. He then created 40 meditation caves with his hands for people at Kanhangad, we were blessed to sit an hour there. Swami Nityanand passed away at Ganeshpuri near Mumbai in 1961 but the aura of his practice and presence is something no one can miss.
From this mystical place we were drawn to another forest valley named Chaka Manga Katiel. Which translates being amidst jackfruit and mango forest. This is an organic forest farm owned by a friend named Roy. He is a person who sacked his job at Eneron US to becoming an organic farmer. He stays on the farm without any electricity and uses solar energy, cooks his own food mostly what the farm supplies and is determined to go strong against tropical rains while sipping hot coffee in his shack made from Arecanut wood. The commitment to their vision gives boost to the hope for a better tomorrow and I am reminded of the quote “we manifest what our tomorrow is going to be as today is product of yesterday and tomorrow will arise from today’s thought (shared earlier in my reflections on Ashrams near Baroda and Narmada). “
We spent a day with him in the forest enjoying rains, sounds of crickets and birds and lot of jackfruit and mangoes. This was the first time I slept in a tent a little scared of insect biting me but the experience was otherwise and hearing the pitter patter of the rain I slept peacefully like a baby.