Samanvay March 19
40 of us from 20+ development organizations from across the spectrum came together in the spirit of cultivating harmony. Sanchi opened the circle quoting Sheela Didi from BrahmaVidya Mandir that when five sticks come together, it’s difficult to break them. When there is strength in togetherness in lifeless sticks, imagine five conscious beings with their full conscience coming together! Remembering Ishwar dada and the broom- symbol of internal and external sanitation, another volunteer reflected –a single broomstick on its own is of negligible worth, when they are tied together, they make the broom that is used to cleanse the garbage and creates the space while nurturing the soul of cleaner. In the same manner we all have coming together with our negligible and/or huge worth to experience collective harmony while cleaning inner selves.
Christopher shared a profound story from epic Ramayana, when asked by Ram, "Who are you? “ Hanuman bowed his head reverently, folded his hands and said, "When I do not know who I am, I serve You, and when I do know who I am, I am you. “And Chris shared in a space like this he resonates with both responses - the spirit of servant in process of knowing self. As Gandhiji said once, the best way to find yourself is to lose in service of others.
One of the participant, Mangeshi from Wardha, shared that on the way to Ahmedabad, right before she boarded the train, she lost her purse which had all her identity cards and all the money she had, yet with Amey’s conviction (who invited her to attend the retreat) she boarded the train believing she will be taken care. Two years back she met someone asking for alms on a streat, that lead her to start a shelter home in Vardha.
She expressed gratitude to those 40+ children who bless her every day and to all her friends and well-wishers who are providing strength and support. She was spell bound when she learnt about BrahmaVidya Mandir, at times it takes one to travel miles to find pilgrimage in the neighborhood. On completion of the retreat with tear drops of compassion she found that someone tagged her anonymously with money for her journey ahead. She is resolved to send her daughter 15 years Rutvija, who assist her in running shelter home, to attend next Samanvay retreat.
Amey, who visited ESI in January with brother Arie and few friends from Animal Equality, was deeply moved by his first visit. In opening circle he shared his near death experience when he was placed in Siachin working as captain with Indian Army with three other soldiers. All four were trapped in avalanche and their tent was covered with ice and they had to decide collectively whether they would like to die with smoke or cold. And in those six minutes they operated like a single harmonious entity dropping all identities resulting in no casualty. Ever since then, feeling unison they didn’t have to utter a single word to hear each other’s heart. On completion of Samanvay he reflected: First and foremost, let me thank Jayesh Bhai and ESI team for providing such a wonderful platform for people serving in various fields to come together and build everlasting friendships/Maitri. I was looking forward with excitement to participate in Samanvay retreat as I knew I will be meeting new people and learn new things, and I must say that I got more than what I had expected. In fact Samanvay was a life changing experience for me and I will cherish those moments forever. The best thing about this retreat was that it was without any agenda. There was so much openness in the environment and all kinds of views were heard and accepted. I could literally feel the positivity oozing out from all participants that at the end of three days all of us were deeply connected to each other. The compassion and Maitribhava has been ingrained deeply within every person at ESI that it has actually become contagious. I must say that the retreat stood true to its name and deeply affected every participant.”
Ramesh bhaiya, in his youth met Vinoba Bhave and dedicated his life for village upliftment. Along with his life partner Vimala Ben, with 1100 Karyakartas, through they served thousands of families in last 30+ years. Inspired by Vinobaji he walked 30000+ kilometres across the country, connecting hearts. Planting seeds to celebrate 125th years of Vinoba Bhave, he invited 12 people from hinterlands who resonates with the same spirit. Every individual is a walking institution in him/herself. Secretary of Swami Chidanandaji from Parmarth Niketan (with 1000 rooms, largest Ashram in Rishikesh) shared towards the end, he has been to many retreats and spaces and never he came across a space that melted his heart with love. Now Parmarth Niketan wish to host Samanvay retreats in Rishikesh so that thousands of hearts can imbibe the spirit of harmony.
Another incredible heart, Ram Bharose bhai, from a small village of Bihar shared that ever since he witnessed a life lost in his village because of lack of basic health amenities, he resigned his railway job and started serving as walking nurse generating awareness and addressing fundamental health needs. He expressed how he loves even cows and buffaloes and that he trained himself to be a vet doctor providing health services even to cattle in distress.
Gautam from love India fellowship, towards the end of the volunteer circle reflected, I regret that I missed the first volunteer circle. Another volunteer brought out that during that time Gautam cooked for two participants from Lok Bharti Gram Vidyapeeth, Sanosara and fed them with immense love and care, he missed volunteer meeting but lived the spirit of volunteering. Matt shared that his journey of service begun when he first enrolled to volunteer at Karma Kitchen and it’s no co-incident that he is attending this retreat with his partner Roxana finding harmony in his life. Later Matt shared that he is full of gratitude and this space was like a washing machine cleansing him inside. Today Matt left for a 10 days silence, (Vipassana) retreat, deepening Samanvay with inner being.
Pratiksha works with Teach for India, resonated with “Ubuntu- I am because we are”, in first few minutes of being in Maitri Space, she was elated- I found my tribe and I am safe. Ankush from Pahal shared that in this circle he finds himself in EC- energy conditioner. Our rockstar Udaybhai also shared that he finds himself in his Mayka (mother’s home). Suresh from hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh, dedicated himself to make his state tobacco free, shared how the whole state’s police force has joined hands with him in this noble cause.
Madhu reflected how his life is moving from Mai (I) to Mayy (us). While Rajendra supported by The Pollination Project shared that since last 50 years he always wanted to visit Sabarmati Ashram and through TPP, not only he fulfilled his wish but found a community that resonates with his heart. Pratyush shared that the life forces (beyond our comprehension) want us to meet and here we are in this space. There must be subtler reasons being together.
Resonating with the diversity of jungles, as “divine treasure” we all came together celebrating harmony, shared Jayesh bhai. In the spirit of “Paraspar Devo Bhavah” (we are angels to each other), there is no other when internal and external journey is one.
Recently, Gautam from reap benefit shared that, reading his reflection from first Samanvay retreat, one of his friend connected with him after 8 years, and this was a connection of hearts. While Smita didi shared that Ramchandra, from Drishti network met her and shared that he feels he is more authentic and not afraid to admit his weaknesses and he feels this change has come in him since Samanvay. He showed his keenness to volunteer for next Samanvay. Anisha from Youth Alliance shared that she felt that working in development space, at times her role is of a healer, while being at Samanvay she felt that the healer in her got the healing.
Anis, from blue ribbon wished five years back to visit Maitri space, and she shared that her intentions arrived to this space before her physical presence. Reflecting on three days, she summed up: The “Samanvay” retreat for me was a harmonious get-together of various spices that may have their unique flavours but when put together creates nothing short of magic. Through the 3 days, we witnessed various spaces for reflection on our personal, collective and societal practices - that enable us to "bring change while being the change." We realised how in changing times, when our tantra (system) is constantly evolving, it is our tattva (essence / values) that keeps us grounded. What was most fulfilling was to see people connect heart to heart by dropping their usual narratives. Something that deepened this process for me was a question of "What is my story without my story?" - interesting as it may seem, it really helped me look within and connect more deeply with myself without any external labels or filters. In a nutshell, Samanvay for me was an experience of pure love that stretched far beyond the diversities and individual differences in the room. It was a space truly dedicated in cultivating the spirit of Maitri that further reaffirmed my belief in “When all else fails… love prevails.”
Some of the NGOs/institutes that got together in harmony:
Teach for India, Blue Ribbon movement, Love India Fellowship,Youth Alliance, Pahal, Youth4jobs,Maher,LokBharti,Animal Equality, Umed Education trust, Akar, Jivan Vidya, Nalantha Educational Trust, The Pollination Project, Community Care Solutions, Ghoghardiha Prakhand Swarajya Vikas Sangh (GPSVS) Bihar, Art of living, Sarvoday, Samagra vikas sewashram Garha Maudaha District Hamirpur Bundelkhand UP, Parmarth Niketan etc.
click here to see Pictures of Samanvay Retreat March 2019.
Ramesh Bhaiya on his intentions to celebrate 125th year of Vinoba Bhave: http://mammovies.com/ramesh-bhaiya-ji/