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It was time to say goodbye! A Guru Pooja at 5:30 am was followed by an emotionally-charged and humor-laced session by the participants who spoke about what had turned out to be their pilgrimage of a lifetime! They expressed their gratitude to the front-end team, the station (back-end) teams, the Sherpas, the all-too-important medical A-team of volunteers (the lifeline), the group leaders, the sathsang setup team, the e-Media team, and most of all to Swami, who was their fearless and affable leader throughout! After a closing Guru Pooja by Swami and a hearty breakfast, it was time to bid farewell to everyone, check out of their hotel and start boarding the shuttles to the airport! There were tears of joy and sorrow as co-ordinates and contacts were exchanged. The participants who underwent such an incredible experience together, just didn’t want to say goodbye to each other! The final leg of the journey to the airport proved to be quite an adventure for some of them. They were pretty close to the Tribhuvan International Airport, when there was a stationary blockade of trucks ahead of them! With just an hour and a half before all the flights would take off, the participants decided to collect their luggage and walk the rest of the distance to the terminal. Carrying their bags (some had up to four pieces!), they walked and even ran to the terminal, making it just in time for check-in and immigration. The Kailash Manasarovar Sacred Walks came to a close with a spectacular view of some of the highest peaks of the Himalayan range from the windows of the airplane. The beauty of this magnificent sight humbled everyone as their yatra ended on a brilliant note. Group S1 offers their immeasurable, collective gratitude and pranams to Sadhguru for shepherding them through this truly transformational journey to the greatest pilgrimage — the mystical Kailash Manasarovar!
The group began the day with morning practices and breakfast in Tatopani, after which the participants packed up their bags for their journey to Kathmandu. After travelling in the bus for an hour and a half, they reached the spot from where they would have to trek for the next three hours. The original road route had been washed away by a devastating landslide earlier this month. Around 36 participants stayed back due to medical reasons and availed of the helicopter service (transporting six at a time) to make it back to Kathmandu! The rest of the 100-odd participants trekked down with their backpacks, braving steep and muddy downhill terrain to reach their buses. Once the team of porters carrying their duffel bags arrived, the group resumed the final leg of the journey to the Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel. There was an air of contemplation in the bus as participants reflected on their surreal experience of the past two weeks. As soon as the group hit the hotel, everyone rushed to have their first real shower in weeks. By late noon, the whole group was settled into the hotel. Swami decided to let them unwind for the rest of the day and rescheduled the closing session to the next day before the participants depart to the airport. This gave them an opportunity to relax in the hotel, do last minute shopping, indulge themselves at the spa or head out to the Maha Kali, Kala Bhairava or Pashupatinath temple for one final darshan! Some of the participants travelled to Darbar Square in the heart of Kathmandu to get a deeper insight into the making of the beautiful Thangka paintings, which are known to have the power of the yantras! They learnt that each of these intricate works of art, created mostly by monks, take around 2-3 years to complete! After a relaxing day, the group met up informally and relived their Kailash Manasarovar experience over dinner. The day ended with the participants going to bed in luxury after days of staying in tents and dorms!
After a Guru Pooja in the morning, a thanksgiving ceremony was held, which honored the incredible service of the Sherpa team and the car, bus and truck drivers, who made this journey possible. The participants then made their way to the Friendship Bridge as they were determined to reach before it closes at 5 pm. This proved to be quite an adventure for the group, as they kept getting stuck at various checkpoints and had to battle heavy traffic throughout. Thankfully, Group S1, which has participants representing more than eight different countries, managed to make its way through the immigration line soon enough. They walked across the bridge and got their passports stamped at the Nepal border before heading to the Kailash and Manasarovar Hotel and Lodge, where supper was waiting for them. After they ate to their hearts’ content, many participants decided to hit the Tatopani hot springs to enjoy their first shower after almost a week! The mineral-rich hot water soothed their tired bodies and rejuvenated them completely. Needless to say, each of them slept like a baby that night!
As the group travelled from Darchen to Manasarovar, the participants encountered multiple checkpoints due to a revised law regarding passenger capacity in buses. After they reached Manasarovar, they stopped for lunch. Thanks to the clear skies, they enjoyed an uninhibited view of the Southern face of Kailash and for the first time, even the triangular Eastern face! At Manasarovar, they met up with Batch A1, which was on its way to Darchen to join Sadhguru and his group. Group S1 resumed its long journey to Saga, only to arrive at 3 am. The tired participants only had a couple of hours of rest before they would head back to Zhangmu.
Once again, the weather was spectacular as the group packed their bags and gazed upon the North ace of Kailash one last time. Even though Sadhguru always insists that one should experience Kailash as a pilgrim and not as a tourist, everyone felt this tremendous
urge to click last minute pictures of Kailash as the sun gloriously shone on the gorgeous snow-capped peak! In no time, the entire North face of Kailash was bathed in gold, an indescribable sight to behold! After Guru Pooja, about 135 Sacred Walk participants bid farewell to this sacred space, each in their own personal way, and started their trek down to Darchen. Some rode ponies, others used the help of porters and the rest walked in groups of four with their backpacks. It took about an hour less for the descent, and while on their way though the mountains, they were pleasantly surprised to encounter Sadhguru himself, who was setting the pace for his group’s trek from Darchen to Dhirapuk! Sighting Sadhguru and having the privilege of offering our pranams to him made for a fitting finale to the Kailash yatra. The group then made their way to Mansasrovar.
With the Sacred Walk participants at Kailash with Sadhguru, we look at a recap of their journey so far…
August 10: Members of Group Sadhguru started their trek from Simikot to Dharapani. Sixteen members of this group who were still stuck in Nepalgunj due to bad weather also managed to catch up by the end of the day. The trek to Dharapani was a strenuous one, but Sadhguru promised them they will be treated to astonishing views.
August 11: The day started off with a sathsang conducted by Sadhguru, where he gave everybody a chance to introduce themselves and express what they seek on this yatra. They soon trekked their way to Kermi, where they were greeted with breathtaking views of the mountains, with the campsite situated right at the edge of a steep cliff!
August 12: The group then set off on a beautiful but long trek through stunning vistas and waterfalls to reach a valley called Yalbang right next to a river, where they pitched our tents. Sadhguru said this area is known for its occult practices and also taught them a sadhana to practice by the river. They were to stay here for two nights.
August 13: After starting the day with a process offered by Sadhguru, which he said was designed to help them experience something beyond the physical, the group participated in a sathsang and learnt of ways they can prepare themselves to receive the grace of Kailash.
Aug 14: After a rejuvenating two-day stay at Yalbang, the group was all set for the last leg of their journey to the mystical Kailash.
August 17: The overseas participants of this group who were still stuck in Kathmandu due to some technical issues were thrilled to learn that they got the go-ahead to proceed to Kodari and cross the border to China. The excited participants were all geared up to resume their journey to the Kailash and reach the destination on time to meet Sadhguru!
The North face of Kailash welcomed the group with its unlimited grace and beauty when they woke up. In fact, all through the night, the mystical Kailash was vividly visible against the clear, starry night sky. The two mountains on either side of Kailash provided a stark contrast to its sheer magnificence. But those are just physical aspects of this breathtaking creation. The intangible facet of Kailash, which is a repository of almost infinite mystical knowledge, was yet to be explored. Sadhguru had earlier given the participants a mantra to chant that would help them attain a certain state of being while approaching this mountain of knowledge! After their spiritual practices and breakfast, the group walked for about 250 meters to a reasonably flat area next to a downward stream, flowing down from Kailash. It is here that their initiation process began, and it was intense to say the least. It was an extremely emotional moment for the participants, who had realized their life’s dream of being in the presence of Kailash. They felt like they were sitting in front of an all-knowing, giant guru! After this powerful process, the participants collected water from the pristine mountain stream in water bottles to carry back home. After lunch, everyone participated in a sathsang, where they watched Sadhguru’s videos about the significance of Kailash, followed by a sequence of chanting and veneration of the mountain all through the evening. The weather cooperated with them and everyone was feeling a wonderful sense of peace and gratefulness for this wonderful experience they were empowered with, under Sadhguru’s grace. There was a Sounds of Isha session with Tamil and English songs being played. After dinner, the mood of the group was mellow, as they enjoyed their last moments in this incredibly charged space before they leave the next day!
As the Sacred Walk participants embark on the final leg of their sojourn with Sadhguru, here are a few interesting factoids on Kailash, as a part of our ‘Kailash Chronicles’ series.
The participants managed to squeeze in a group photo-op session with Sadhguru before they boarded a bus to Darchen, the starting point of their trek to Dhirapuk, the gateway to Kailash. Towards the end of the 80-km ride from Manasarovar to Darchen, they had a view of the glorious, snow-laden Southern face of Kailash in its full glory! After the checkpoint at Darchen, they began a 12-km trek to Dhirapuk. While some chose to ride a pony or engage a porter to carry their backpacks, others walked the whole way. The trek took them through some breathtaking canyons and a stunning natural river formed by the melting snow of the mountains. Even though the trek went on for six hours, there was no sight more comforting and awe-inspiring than Kailash. As they walked, the South face of Kailash gave way to the West one, which was a stark contrast to the former, with not as much snow, but equally magnificent. The participants halted mid-way to indulge in some noodles and refreshment and soon trekked up to the only hotel in Dhirapuk. From there, the North face of Kailash was an absolute treat that no one could stop looking at! Imposing and grandiose, it gave them a glimpse of the sheer magnificence that they were to encounter the next day! Everyone settled down in the Dhirapuk Hotel – which is more like a hostel with multiple beds in each room and common bathrooms – but the gorgeous view of the North face of Kailash that it offered, without having to even step out, was priceless! The night sky was enchanting, just like it was at Manasarovar, but what each participant felt in the presence of Kailash is a feeling that cannot be described!
Some of the Sacred Walk participants had to stay back in Kathmandu for a few extra days due to some technical issues. Today, they were thrilled to learn that they got the go-ahead to proceed to Kodari and cross the border to China. The excited participants were overjoyed with the news and were all geared up to resume their journey to the Kailash. They are now hoping to reach there on time to meet Sadhguru!
Sadhguru sends a message from Manasarovar during the 2014 Kailash Sacred Journey…
“We are here at Manasarovar. This is a piece of Thetis Sea which has been credited as the crucible of human civilization.
Manasarovar is a phenomena that defies human logic. There are not many things I can say about it. I think every human being who is interested in the nature of life; in the nature of life beyond us; in the nature of intelligence beyond us – must make a visit to this place because here is… it clearly defies our logic and intelligence.”
There was an air of unbridled excitement as the group checked out of Hotel Saga around 8 am and were all set to head to Manasarovar. In four buses, they made their way through the incredible Tibetan landscapes, stopping only at border checkpoints and for loo breaks. Along the journey, the participants indulged in various meditative processes such as chanting Brahmananda Swaroopa and doing Sukha Kriya to normalize their breathing patterns and energy levels. There were enough talented entertainers among the volunteers who kept the pilgrims engaged, and in splits! Before we knew it, we had arrived at the most anticipated destination — Manasarovar! The first glimpse of the sacred lake took their collective breath away with its pristine beauty. Tomorrow the group will get to meet Sadhguru, who will hold a sathang on the banks of Manasarovar after a spiritual process conducted by Swami and an early morning dip in the mystic lake! As destination Kailash too draws closer, the excitement level of the group has reached fever pitch!
The participants spent the day in Saga, acclimatizing themselves to the high altitude (Saga lies at an altitude of more than 15,000 feet above sea level!) and low barometric pressure. The day started off on a tranquil note with a Guru Pooja at the Hotel Saga. The overall mood of the group was very positive. The Isha medical team of volunteers have been doing a stellar job of checking everyone’s vital parameters on a regular basis. The group was also treated to a wonderful Sathsang, where Sadhguru spoke about Tibet being a laboratory for human consciousness, and emphasized on the phenomenal work done by Milarepa (a renowned Tibetan saint) in Tibetan Buddhism. Later in the afternoon, the entire group walked down to the Brahmaputra River, whose source is in Saga. After they recited the ‘Aum Namah Shivaya’ chant on the banks of the river, they spent some moments gazing at the beautiful river. This spiritual process led by Swami left everyone feeling rejuvenated. The participants are now back in the hotel and are waiting with bated breath for daybreak tomorrow when they will continue their yatra to the mystical Kailash Manasarovar. Over 30 Chinese meditators will be joining them at Manasarovar from Beijing and other parts of China. They have already arrived in Saga and are just as excited as the rest of the group about the journey ahead!
What a day! The group climbed around 8,000 ft in a matter of 8 hours! The journey started in Zhangmu, where around 189 participants hopped on to five buses and hit the highway to Saga, the gateway to Manasarovar. They made their way through incredibly diverse terrains — mighty mountains with lush green forests and breathtaking waterfalls suddenly giving way to stark, moonscape-like rugged stretches with panoramic vistas of the Tibetan plateau. It was a feast for the senses as the group stopped for lunch at a scenic location with full view of the beautiful mountains. Throughout, the participants ensured they were properly acclimatized to the rising altitudes they were climbing. As they drove to Saga, they passed by the gorgeous Peko Tso (lake) and were greeted by the sight of the River Brahmaputra as they reached Saga safe and sound in the evening. They will stay in Saga for the night.
Excitement was in the air as the group crossed the Friendship Bridge, bringing them one step closer to destination Kailash! The bridge may divide China and Nepal, but the participants had the profound feeling that the mountains around them and the air they breathe are still the same even when you cross borders! The long wait for the bus that would take them to the hotel in Zhangmu was made bearable by the friendly atmosphere in the group. Participants from Europe, India and the US decided to open up their stash of snacks and share them with each other. The peanut butter pretzel was the biggest hit! Once they hit the road, the number of vehicles lined up on the roads of Zhangmu, highlighted the importance of the town as a major pit-stop in the Tibetan plateau. When they checked into their hotel in Zhangmu, everyone wore a look of delight as the duffle bags arrived, allowing participants to restock their supplies. They were also thrilled to make the most of the hot shower, which could be the last one until their journey to Kailash completes. The views from the hotel in Zhangmu were breathtaking, with the clouds completely embracing the mighty mountains.
As the participants trekked across the breathtakingly scenic Kodari, here are some photos giving us a sneak peak of their journey through its picturesque landscape.
The participants had to trek their way to Kodari yesterday as a massive landslide had blocked a few kilometres of the road route to the Friendship Bridge. The trek to Kodari may have lasted for four hours, but the group was too busy being distracted by the scenic views around them to feel tired. The steep mountain-side route took the wide-eyed participants through beautiful streams and gave them views of mighty mountains kissing the passing clouds. After they reached Kodari, the Kailash Manasarovar participants stayed the night at Tatopani, where they currently wait to cross the Friendship Bridge to China. The landslide had cut off the power supply at Kodari, but the group made the most of the situation and enjoyed the wonderful food served over a candle light dinner.
News came in that the road route to Zhangmu (a town on the Nepal-Tibet border) is completely blocked due to a landslide in Kodari. With vehicles unable to ply on this road, the group was informed that they have to instead trek for 6-7 kilometres. This change in plan, however, was met with excitement rather than disappointment as the participants were thrilled about being able to trek along the most scenic parts of Nepal. The group will begin its journey at 4.30 am tomorrow and reach the pit-stop, Kodari, by afternoon, where they will camp for the night.
The air was abuzz with excitement at the Kathmandu Airport, where 165 participants from across the globe (North America, England, Malaysia, Australia, Germany) landed, all set to start their epic journey to the mystical Kailash. The participants spent the whole day getting to know each other as they explored the historically significant spaces of Nepal. While a trip to the powerful Pashupatinath Temple, considered the oldest temple in Nepal, left the group awestruck, a visit to the Boudhanath Stupa, the largest Stupa in Nepal, was a revelation in itself. The participants also made their way to the holy town of Bhaktapur which literally translates into a ‘City of Devotees’.
A special message from Sadhguru…
After a night at Nepalgunj, a shabby little town just a few kilometers from Uttar Pradesh border, just one half of the group reached Simikot. Simikot is at 9540ft MSL and has a short airstrip where one can only land downwind. Does not give room for the pilot to make any mistake, in case of wrong approach or speed, one cannot power up as there is no chance of clearing the peak that is at the edge of the runway. If the winds are anywhere above 6-8 knots there is no question of landing. Mornings it is generally wrapped in clouds and mists. As the sun burns down and visibility clears up, winds pick up pace leaving a short window for landings.
After a reasonably violent touchdown, here we are at Sun Valley Resort. Don’t be deceived by the grand name, a valiant effort to keep the roof up. The rooms are clean and cozy and the toilet flush works, a great luxury considering what is to be expected in the coming days. We will be surrendering comfort for the grandeur of the valley, and the mountain and the incredible vibe.
This evening we had the incredible opportunity to witness the annual ‘guru pooja’ offered to the ‘Dhamis’ or the Shamanic practitioners of the region. Freaky and powerful event was a treat as highly colorful array of people on the hillside, and young boys hanging from tall trees for a view. Except for the cameras flashing and a few in ‘I love NY’ tee shirts the whole scene is from another time. Many of the women and men getting into an energetic fit and many others high on freely available marijuana that grows extensively in these mountains, all a heady concoction of myth and magic. Truly another world all together.
Tweet from @SadhguruJV!
Aug full moon, largest in year. Colorful festival celebrating the gurus at Simikot. Delightful combo of myth & magic–Sg #KailashwithSadhguru
— Sadhguru (@SadhguruJV) August 10, 2014
The wait for the bad weather to clear begins again at the Nepalgunj airport where the Sacred Walks participants settled themselves in the now all-too familiar terminal early in the morning. Hoping and praying to be able to catch their flight to Simikot today, the Group S members made the most of this free time by engaging themselves in meditation practices and indulging in long conversations with their new friends. Some found their way to the Yeti Arlines office to use the complementary WiFi and bring you this update!
Day 3 – 8th Aug, 2014
#KailashwithSadhguru | Day 3 | Simikot| Group S:
The Sacred Walks participants received their wake-up call on time at 3.30 am as they had a flight scheduled at 6 am to Nepalgunj. But at noon, Group S was still waiting for the weather to clear at Simikot before they could take off. The mood is still upbeat with chocolates and dry fruits being consumed as they wait in anticipation for the next leg of their journey to the magnificent Mount Kailash.
After half a day’s wait at the Nepalgunj Departure Terminal, the flights to Simikot were still not given the go-ahead to take off, due to consistently bad weather. At around 1 pm, the last call was taken and it was decided that the 20 Kailash Manasarovar participants of Group S will stay back at Nepalgunj for another night. With mixed feelings of disappointment with this development and relief at having dodged the bad weather conditions, the group returned to the hotel. They would be back at the Terminal tomorrow in the hope of catching the infamous flight to Simikot. So infamous that an airline hoarding at the airport greets visitors with the most apt line – “Still waiting?”
#KailashwithSadhguru | Day 2 | Kathmandu| Group S:
After landing in Nepal on the evening of 6th August, the participants of the Kailash Manasarovar Sacred Walks (Group S) spent the next day exploring the historically rich city of Kathmandu while soaking in its beautiful sights. A visit to the ancient Pashupatinath Temple and the cultural gem, Bhaktapur, was followed by a spiritually rejuvenating sathsang with Sadhguru in the evening. Sadhguru set the mood for the long journey ahead to the mystical Mount Kailash. He told the participants that along this yatra there will be many things that they will understand, but there will also be many more that they won’t. Even as news poured in from Tibet that a major landslide devastated a small village and blocked the road to Kailash, the whole group was hopeful that under Sadhguru’s grace, the situation would be under control by the time they reach the border.
Day 1 – 6th Aug, 2014
#KailashwithSadhguru | Day 1 | Coimbatore| Group B: The bags are packed, the participants are excited and the mood, upbeat! The first group of Kailash Manasarovar Sacred Walks began their long journey to the sacred destination of Kailash at the Coimbatore Railways station where the first leg of the trip would take them to Delhi. The excited participants introduced themselves to each other as their luggage was being loaded onto the train. The members of the Group B welcomed more participants from their batch at the Chennai Railways station and everyone had a good time getting to know each other.
Devotees are pouring in from around the world for the momentous occasion. The day is packed with many wonderful events – the 21-week Hata Yoga Teacher’s Training Program begins today, the 42-day Shivanga sadhana initiation will be happening, and Linga Bhairavi Devi’s procession will take place in the evening. And of course, there is the unveiling of the Adiyogi statue and Sadhguru’s sathsang at night.
Here are a few images of the harmonious chaos that is underway at the ashram today.
The event schedule is as follows:
10:00am to 6:00pm and 7:45 to 10:00pm – Guru Paduka Stotram by Brahmacharies and Residents at various places in the ashram
6:00 to 7:00pm – Unveiling of Adi Yogi statue (Live telecast by Sri Sankara TV and Webcast at Isha Live)
7:00 to 7:45pm – Devi Arati at Nandi
10:15pm to 12:30am – Darshan with Sadhguru (Live telecast by Sri Sankara TV and Webcast at Isha Live)
A Very Special Pilgrimage
At Isha, Mahashivarathri this year sees the convergence and culmination of many events. Among programs such as Shivanga sadhana, Hands of Grace, Yaksha and others, another group of people has arrived at the ashram yesterday. These are 48 persons who have just been on a very special pilgrimage as part of Isha’s Sacred Walks.
The peninsula of southern India is home to one of the most unique and powerful forms of mysticism. Its influence can clearly be seen in South India’s vibrant and profound culture. The yogis and mystics of this land created many tools for a human being to reach his ultimate nature. The most obvious and well-known of these tools are the magnificent temples in this region. These temples were not created as places of worship, but energized spaces that touch a human being at the most fundamental level and create tremendous possibilities.
The itinerary for the tour was an exciting one. The journey began on 20th February from Isha Yoga Center, and the group headed first to the town of Thiruvannamalai, the seat of the Arunachala temple, where Ramana Maharishi spent many years in samadhi. The temple is built for the element of fire and is one of the Pancha Bhuta temples of the south. Then the tour went to the Jambukeshwarar temple at Thiruvanaikaval, built for the element of water. Then they travelled to Sadhguru Sri Brahma’s ashram at Trichy, where he had sat in a state of samadhi for a certain period of time. After stops at the Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur, the jyotirlinga at Rameshwaram and a visit to Dhanushkodi, the tour completed the circuit by arriving at Isha Yoga Center in time to participate in the Mahashivarathri celebrations on 27th February.
Mary from the USA, who was part of the trip, says: “Coming from the US and of Catholic background, I really had no idea of the true sacredness of these temples. Each and every temple took me to a place I somehow knew in some other time. I have never been to India and what I have found in this country I have never experienced anywhere.”
Renata Borovska shares: “It has been a surreal journey for me. I have learned so much about Indian culture and the way of life here. The temples themselves had such a powerful impact on me: I didn’t know I could become meditative just by sitting down here. It has been an adventure beyond my expectations!”
Aashima wrote a poem about the experience:
Unasking, ancient, unyielding tombs
Tell few of their inflicted wounds
The passing of ages
The lost lives of sages.
Silent solemn sentinels of untold wisdom,
Keys to doors of unheard possibilities.
How can we thank these forgotten heroes of days long gone,
Whose certainty and courage gave these glimpses,
These wells of other worlds?
How can we conceive of such clear madness?
How can we understand the grace of the forgotten?
After the Home School students finished their performance, Sadhguru spoke about the need for the necessary education before one is empowered. He remarked on the way technology is being used today, including the rather disturbing observation that cutting edge technology is always first used in military. “Our idea of competence and capability is: ‘How to destroy?’” said Sadhguru.
He looked at how technology today is a means of exploitation of everything we know. But science is a means of exploration – which needs to happen. “People are too lost in technology and gadgets and have lost their way of exploration,” he said, and then spoke of wanting to set up a science “exploratorium.”
Later on, during a few QnA’s Sadhguru spoke about devotion.
Devotion is the power of inclusion, intellect is the power of dissection. Devotion is inclusion, intellect is exclusion. Devotion is a different dimension of intelligence. What intellect can take 100 years to know, devotion can know in a moment. But if you rev up your emotion without a stable intellect you will go crazy. A devotee needs a stable intellect and fiery emotion.
Later, he elaborated on Sanatana Dharma and what it means.
Dharma does not mean a religion or moral code, it means a law. Sanatana Dharma means the universal law, which truly makes the universe happen. Universal laws cannot be imposed. They are there. If you are in tune, things are smooth. If not, there will be friction.
As the clock eased past 7, Sadhguru invited the participants to share their experience of the past 2 days. Several participants came up to the mike and relived the experience of the program.
Sadhguru then conducted a process with the participants, and said to all “If you are willing, if you keep yourself as an open door, every moment of your life I will be with you.” As Sounds of Isha sang “Yogishwaraya Mahadevaya,” Sadhguru blessed flowers which brahmacharies distributed to the participants. With hands folded in a namaskaram, Sadhguru walked amidst the participants, who responded with reverence – many with tears in their eyes.
Then Sounds of Isha began “Alai, alai,” to many cheers, and with clapping hands, Sadhguru urged the participants to get their feet moving and dance! As they danced to the wave, Sadhguru slowly walked out of the hall, bringing a phenomenal two days to a close.
The evening session of the final day began with a short video of Sadhguru’s trek to Kailash this August, and Sounds of Isha’s latest music video set to their hugely popular “Alai, Alai.” The Isha Home School student band then took the stage, singing a song in gratitude to Sadhguru – the Beatles “Jai Gurudeva” and a beautiful rendition of “Uyir Nokam” – a song written by Sadhguru and adapted by the students. “Uyir Nokam” loosely translates as “Life’s Purpose” in English.
With the program coming into its final stretch, the participants are using the breaks to the maximum, and stocking up – both in terms of shopping and in terms of meditativeness. Some of the participants got into whirlwind shopping mode and took a look at Isha’s many offerings, from craft and food items to books and magazines. Others spent the afternoon at the Dhyanalinga, Linga Bhairavi and Adiyogi Alayam, meditating.
We caught up with Christian, a chef by profession, for his impression of the past couple of days. “Just to be with Sadhguru is more than enough. He explained a lot of stuff, especially about Kailash, and he gave us a very nice practice called yoga namaskar. I’m enjoying myself very much, and I look forward to finishing the day that way.”
Gayatri, another participant, was overwhelmed by the past couple of days. “This is the first time I’ve come for such a big occasion. I’ve always dreamt of being in such a program, but never had a chance before. Sadhguru’s grace is there all over the place. Yesterday and today has been so wonderful and experiential. It is a different feeling which I can’t express in words.”
Looking at the significance of rituals, Sadhguru elaborated on how powerful rituals can be, while at the same time, stressing the need for absolute integrity in handling them.
Approaching dimensions of the beyond through internal methods needs a lot of preparation, which is the best way to do it. But for quicker dissemination, there are technologies that can be applied to many people, but these need absolute integrity. The more access you have to another human being, the cleaner you have to be. If you maintain a certain level of integrity, we can offer you tools that can touch people’s lives in a way you never imagined possible. Whatever external activity you do in your life, it is meaningful only in terms of how deeply you touch another life. Millions need to be touched because nothing has touched them genuinely. They have been touched only in passing. We want to open this up to many people.
He then opened the session up to questions from the participants, which included queries on the mind, Shiva, and Kailash. In the midst of an answer, Sadhguru asked participants who accompanied him on the recent trek to Kailash to share their experience.
With that, the session is in break and will restart at 4PM. The participants head off to do their Shoonya, meditate at the Dhyanalinga or do some shopping. Stay tuned for live blogging at the start of the next session.
Sadhguru began the session with a talk about experiencing things beyond one’s present level of perception. The quickest way is to simply be burning intensity – no thought or emotion. An easier way, but not as good, is to maintain joyfulness every moment of your life – not because of something – just simply.
He elaborated on Sankeerta – singing away with joy. Quoting the famous author and playwright Somerset Maugham, Sadhguru says, “Love is what happens to a man and woman who don’t know each other.” At some point they get to know each other and discordant sounds come, he jokes.
He then spoke about devotees. You fall in love with Krishna, Shiva or someone. Now you play the music on both the sides and it is always the way you want it. And it gets better as you practice. After some time it becomes so sweet it is a passage to the divine. If your experience of life simply becomes sweet for no reason, you become perceptive. Now the other side speaks.
He asked the participants to sit in groups of five, and each was to make joyful sounds. A tune is allowed but no words. Soon after, Sounds of Isha sang an upbeat bouquet of songs which brought the crowd to their feet, and they danced in abandon.
Day 2 began bright and early for the participants with a 5.30 AM session of Yoga Namaskar in the Suryakund pavilion. Yoga Namaskar nurtures the physical, psychological and energy dimensions of a human being. Sheetal from Hyderabad described her early morning session as an “unexpected surprise.” She elaborated, “I had heard of Yoga Namaskar from the Isha Hata Yoga School but I was never able to learn it because it is not offered in the regular Isha programs. So it was a wonderful surprise when Sadhguru told us last night that we would be learning it. It was a great feeling today morning at the Suryakund, getting some sun on our backs and learning Yoga Namaskar which is an awesome stretching exercise. After that we did Shambhavi which was also fantastic.”
The morning session of Day 2 of In the Lap of the Master is about to begin. As the participants trickle in after breakfast, they are greeted with the Samskriti children singing the “Guru Paduka Stotram.”
The session comes to a close with Sadhguru promising the participants an early-morning surprise tomorrow. The participants will be taught Sadilaja – an aspect of Upayoga.
Sadhguru began his talk with an explanation of the 3 categories that yogis are classified into in certain schools of yoga – manda, madhyama and uttama.
Manda means he has tasted the source of creation and known the oneness. This is not about being peaceful or happy. It is about being in a nameless state of ecstasy. But he is not able to keep it throughout. He needs to remind himself. This is like the TV antenna in the past. Whenever there was bad weather, you had to readjust it. Madhyama means the inner dimension is constantly in perception but they become disconnected from the external. They are in a fantastic state within themselves but they have to be reminded to eat and do other things. Uttama means a yogi is constantly in perception of the ultimate and at the same time perfectly in tune with the outside, to an extent where you don’t know whether he really is a yogi or not!
Sadhguru then spoke about Matsyendranath and Dattatareya, considered two of the greatest yogis. He narrated a story of how Parashurama found Dattatareya, and was guided by him to salvation.
Later, Sadhguru looked at what it takes to be in a state where one is moment to moment, internally with that dimension which is the source of everything, and at same time, externally in tune. He spoke of the importance of preparing the body, the chemistry and the nervous system. He elaborated on vaak shuddhi – uttering sounds in a way that is beneficial for you and explained that if one takes care of sound, food, thought, emotion and sadhana for energy balance, one can nurture a body capable of perceiving. He explained to the participants that some of what they would be doing over the next two days could also be maintained at home and help them become more perceptive.
The second session began at 6.20 PM with the participants doing the Shambhavi Mahamudra in Sadhguru’s presence. After an intense 21 minutes, Isha Samskriti gave a short performance of Kalaripayattu – the ancient Indian martial art. Sadhguru then led the participants through the Bhutesha chant, and guided them through a process.
Between sessions, there’s still a lot of action behind the scenes. Volunteers organized into teams ensure everything is running smoothly. The hall team tidies up and arranges the hall, the kitchen team is running full steam preparing the participants meals, and audio, maintenance, decoration and others are doing their job quietly and efficiently.
A Q&A session is next with Sadhguru answering questions from the participants. One of the participants raises a question on rape, a subject that has been making the headlines over the past year in India. Speaking about a recent tragedy, the questioner asks how someone can rape even a child? Sadhguru explains:
“India has largely been a self-managed country. We never had enough police for 1.2 billion people. In the past and until recently we were self-policed. Because of karma – what you do will come back to you – we self-policed. Today that is being wiped away and we don’t have enough police. For people under 25 years of age, probably their mothers and grandmothers never uttered the word karma in their presence. They have never heard the word unless they attended a spiritual discourse.
Today, everywhere you go people are talking about economy. We are reducing everything to a marketplace. At the economic forum, they were referring to India as an emerging market. I said, don’t refer to people as markets. We are 1.2 billion people, maybe chaotic, but vibrant. Once everything is a market, what you can buy you buy, what you cannot buy you grab. When that is the case, such things will happen. If you see everything is your karma, you will arrange your life in a certain way because you know every action has a consequence. Otherwise you need law. But every child, man and woman cannot be managed by law.”
In the next Q&A, Sadhguru explored enlightenment, ignorance and knowing: “There is no such thing as knowing. Either you come to terms with your ignorance or you struggle with it. You don’t know the beginning, the end, or the middle of the existence. Your ignorance is perfect. But you spoil it by thinking you know something. You get trapped by what you think you know.
Enlightenment means borderless ignorance.
Ignorance allows you to explore everything. Look at your little finger, the little hair on your finger, the spot on your skin, the sky – do you know anything absolutely? You may know the process of how something happens. You may know that water evaporates at a hundred degrees, but why does it do that. If you answer that I have another why, and another why. We may know how to use or conduct a few things, but we really do not know the nature of the existence.
Enlightenment means borderless ignorance. When we say spirituality, we are talking about an existential change.Most of humanity has not experienced the existential. They are experiencing the psychological and physiological. The psychological and physiological are just an accumulation.
What you or everyone else thinks of you is of no consequence. It is just psychological. It is not of existential relevance. If you think you’re something and everyone around cooperates, it is just one kind of madness.”
The session is in break and the participants will be joining Sadhguru again at 6.15 PM. In the meanwhile, we bring you snapshots of activity around the ashram and what it takes to create a joyous experience for over 3000 participants. Stay tuned for the next updates.
Sadhguru has arrived, and begins the program with a chant. A Kalari performance follows. Next up from Sounds of Isha is a soulful tune that epitomizes the seeker’s quest.
With a few jokes about the audio, Sadhguru begins his talk by explaining the need for a weekend like this. “Those who are trying to really grab life, they never really touch life because all that happens is an emotional and mental rollercoaster,” he explains. “To experience life, not as thoughts or emotions or situations around you, but as the phenomena that it is, one needs a certain level of relaxation. Relaxation will not come unless there is trust. Trust will not come unless there is a certain pleasantness of experience. Lap of the Master is to create that experience.”
A little later, Sadhguru begins a process with the participants, which includes the Butesha chant.
Butesha Yogesha Sarvesha
Aumkara Nirakara Lingendra
Nagendra Neelendra Shivaya
Adi Anantam Janmanashanam
Shiva Shiva Shiva
Over 3000 participants have gathered from around India and across the globe to be with Sadhguru during this 2-day sathsang. The volunteers are an equally diverse bunch, and have been working around the clock the past few days to get all the arrangements up and ready. They’ve done a great job and everything is all set for the program to begin…
Sadhguru thanked a whole lot of people who made this massive event possible – volunteers, residents and brahmacharis, various government departments and the police as well. Attended by approximately 8 lakh people and viewed by millions worldwide on television and web-stream, this was certainly an endeavor of gargantuan proportions.
Sadhguru is now leading everyone through the Shiva Shambho chant to end the proceedings. Thanks for joining us!
Sounds of Isha picks it up again with Kabir: Sakal hans mein Ram biraaje, Ram bina koi dham nahin… Sadhguru is pulling people up to dance and everyone is now swaying to the gentle music, determined to see the night out.
Mahesh Vinayakram and VV Ravi on the violin performed next with Sounds of Isha accompanying them. They opened with an interesting, funky take on Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s Pancha bhuta kiranavalim in Raga Kiranavali. Then Mahesh went to Om Namah Shivaya – fast paced snatches that had listeners swaying in both devotion and appreciation. He also threw in some wonderful vocal percussion bits.
Sadhguru took to the ramp and going all the way to the end and back, he stopped every step of the way, getting people to jive to the beat and wave their hands with him.
Bala Bhaskar took the stage next with his violin. Falling for music at the tender age of three years, Bala Bhaskar has since created a rich ensemble of music, fusing rock, jazz, and techno with Indian classical violin.His performance featured a few pieces from his latest album let it B.
The Raghu Dixit Project got off to a thumping start. The crowds, who were drooping, got to their feet as this band took centerstage.
They opened with Hey Bhagwan, the song that launched the band into the ‘serious’ stratosphere and then Masti ki Basti, which the band collaborated with Guru Rewben Mashangva for the TV show The Dewarists. A couple of Kannada folk songs followed. Dixit roped the crowd in to learn Lokada kaaladi, which they gamely tried to follow.
Raghu Dixit is fascinated by the work of the Kannada saint Shishunala Sharif and his next song was from him as well: Gudugudiya sedi nodo. The project’s website describes the song like this: “Open that small cloth bag called ‘mind’, pull out the hash called ‘lust’, put that in a chillum called ‘faith’ and burn it with a fire called ‘intelligence’. Smoke that Hookah and tell me how it feels!”
Then came a brand new song called Jag changa, a reaffirmation that the world is an alright place after all. Next up was the qawwali-inspired Har saas mein. Raghu and his band’s characteristic magnetism is in full flow, and the audience is on their feet, clapping and swaying to the beats. Raghu said the next song Mysore se aayi was about a girl from there, but the song invariably becomes about his hometown to him.
Mahadeshwara, an absolutely robust but heartfelt prayer to Shiva was the fitting finale.
Meanwhile, thousands of Shivangas have converged on the Dhyanalinga to make their final offering before they undertake the trek up to the sacred Seventh Hill of the Velliangiris tomorrow. There have been amazing stories coming from these men about what their sadhana was like.
Mahashivarathri is being celebrated not just at Isha Yoga Center: many of our centers are going all out to have a good time of their own. Here are a few pictures of what they’ve been doing.
Earlier in the evening, Isha brahmacharis offered the spectacular Bhuta Shuddhi dance with fire.
Sadhguru talked about Shiva as Bhutesha – master of the five elements. Then he told us the story of Shiva traveling down from the hills to see Krishna’s Raas Leela with the gopis. The boatman who was to ferry Shiva told him that there was only one man in the Raas: Krishna. Everyone else would have to go as a woman. Shiva consented to borrow clothes belonging to the boatman’s wife and went to the Raas.
Anita Ratnam’s dance troupe, the Arangham Dance Theatre, enacted the story.
At midnight, Sadhguru will be doing the Maha Mantra! Stay tuned!
As Sadhguru started to speak he mentioned the significance of Mahashivarathri, the 11° latitude and how it is conducive to a spiritual upsurge. He also spoke about the word, or sound ‘Shiva’, which means that which is not. He said that uttered with the right preparation and intensity, the word has the power to destroy the karmic, psychological and emotional structures. He referred to the Adiyogi and the Saptarishis who strove to bring the spiritual process to every household in South India, integrated into every single detail of their lives.
Sadhguru’s narrative is going to be peppered this evening with dance by Anita Ratnam’s dance company and some parts will include the Samskriti children as well.
Then Sounds of Isha had their say! As always, they brought the crowds to their feet, with demands of encore! for every piece. But the people roared and surged forward when Sadhguru joined in to dance. He walked down the central ramp and everyone went ecstatic.
Incidentally, AV Ilango, the internationally-recognized, self-taught artist from Chennai, is doing something interesting here today. As the event unfolds, he will be drawing charcoal images of whatever pleases him. A while ago, it was an image of Sadhguru and now he’s scribbling away at what appears to be Lord Nataraja.
We bring you a few images of the events at Isha Yoga Center earlier today.
Displaying her usual talent for versatility, Aruna Sairam brought in her next piece from Uttar Pradesh – a composition praising the Satguru by the yogi Gorakhnath. The words go:
Guruji mai to ek niranjan jaoon ji
Dooje ke sang naahi jaoon ji
Guruji, I will be one with the blemishless One
I will not go with any Other.
This was followed by a Tamil folk song Vishamakara kannan, and then a Bengali jaagran to Mahakali. Jaago, Tumi Jaago is typically sung in the Mahakali temple at Kolkata during the Mahalaya paksha at the Brahma Muhurta to awaken the Mother. Then, as a final presentation, came a fabulous display of virtuosity both in composition as well as rendition. This was Kalinga Narthanam, Utthukkadu Venkatasubbaiyar’s delightful vision of what Krishna might have looked like dancing playfully on the hoods of the snake Kalinga to subjugate him. Sairam brought in every movement and play and we almost felt like we were at a dance recital instead of a vocal concert.
Carnatic vocalist, Padma Shri Aruna Sairam begins her performance with Sabhapatikku veru daivam in Raga Abhogi. “Can any other Lord be equal to Lord Sabhapati?” the poet Bharati asks. And then she carries on with the rousing Mahadeva Shiva Shambho in Raga Revati composed by Tanjavur Shankara Iyer. Another tribute to Shiva followed with Papanasanam Sivam’s composition Kaana vendamo in Raga Sriranjani.
She is accompanied today by a whole array of artistes: Padma Shankar on the violin, J Vaidyanathan on the mridangam, S Karthick on the ghatam, D Chandrajit on the tabla, L Kishore Kumar on the sitar and Vishnu on the flute.
Aruna Sairam next offers Mamavatu Sri Saraswati in Raga Hindolam, which included a superb “tani” by the accompanying percussionists. Then, the tone grew lighter with a folksy Tamil song Maadu meikkum kanne in which Yashoda is telling to keep away from the forest and Krishna comes up with convincing reasons for going there.
The Pancha Bhuta Aradhana concluded in the Dhyanalinga a while ago. Talking about its significance, Sadhguru says:
Pancha Bhuta Aradhana creates a powerful possibility where you can integrate your system and allow the five elements in your body to bind much better.
From one body to another, how well integrated these five elements are, determines almost everything about that person. If this body has to become a stepping stone for a bigger possibility, it is very important that the system is properly integrated. The air that you breathe, the water that you drink, the food that you eat, the land that you walk upon and the fire of life in the form of the life force, these are the ingredients with which your physical self is made. If you keep these controlled, vibrant, and focused, health, wellbeing and success in the world are assured. It is my endeavor to create various devices which will allow people to make this happen for themselves in such a way that the very way you exist is a Pancha Bhuta Aradhana.
The Pancha Bhuta Aradhana just concluded, the one time in the year when it takes place in Sadhguru’s presence.
Then the singer offered Sarvam brahma mayam, an absolutely beautiful composition in Raga Jinjoti by Sadashiva Brahmendra. This mystic poet, to jog the memory of everyone who has visited the Dhyanalinga, is one of six saints to adorn the walls there.
The words go:
Kim vachaneeyam kima vachaneeyam
Kim rachaneeyam kima rachaneeyam
Sarvam brahma mayam
What can be spoken, what cannot be spoken
What can be created, what cannot be created
All is Brahma
Then, seeking permission to extend his performance a little longer, the artiste sang the devotional Baro Krishnayya by Kanakadasa in Raga Malika. The next composition was greeted with cheers from the audience: a Tamil song by Poet Bharatiyar called Eppo varuvaro in Raga Jonpuri. He ended with crooning, mesmerising Tamil verse that outlined the evolution of the soul.
To sum up the performance, Sadhguru said it best: “We are entrapped in this weave of sound. This is a subtle and extraordinary talent.”
This is the end of Yaksha 2013, and we saw seven scintillating performances. Thanks for joining us!
Next, the artiste sang another kriti to Shiva: Jambupathe in Raga Yaman Kalyani. Part of a set of five kritis by Muthuswamy Dikshitar on the five pancha bhuta sthalas, this one was composed in praise of the deity at Thiruvanaikaval in Tamil Nadu.
TM Krishna then launched into the evocative swarajathi Kamakshi Amba in Raga Bhairavi.
Carnatic vocalist TM Krishna hails from a family of music connoisseurs and is one of the biggest stars on the Carnatic music firmament. After tutelage under B Seetharama Sharma, Krishna underwent special Ragam Thanam Pallavi grooming under Chengalpet Ranganathan and also received advanced training from the late Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer for more than seven years.
Krishna is known for his resonant voice and strict adherence to classicism. He is widely considered to be the most prominent young male Carnatic vocalist with great depth of knowledge.
Interested in all aspects of classical music, the artiste has worked on several projects to promote, document and archive Carnatic music. He has worked on several books, including a coffee table book called Voices Within, which he co-authored with Bombay Jayashri in 2007. He is a co-founder of Jnanarnava Trust, an organization devoted to the research, documentation and archival of the ancient traditions in Carnatic music.
Today he is accompanied by RK Shriram Kumar on the violin, Melakaveri Balaji on the mridangam and N Guruprasad on the ghatam. The artiste begins with a song to Lord Nataraja: Kalai thooki nindradum daivame in Raga Yadukula Kambodhi.
Then the artiste went to another season with the blended raga, Basant Bahar. In this challenging composition by Dinkar Kaikini, who happens to be the father of the tabalchi Yogesh Samsi. The lyric went Dekho aayi basant ki bahar… and the tune manages to deftly bring in the flavors of both ragas.
Vidushi Guha sings with mastery in the khayal as well as thumri styles. When the Isha media team asked her which style she preferred, the artiste said that she could not choose. “I like both – both have different aspects to them. Though it is said that thumri is a light classical variety, in my opinion, thumri is more difficult than khayal. Because you need to know so many things… the literature, knowledge of the raga, tala, the environment… so many aspects come together. But after that, it is your art, it is you!”
She wound up the concert with a Hori Dadra: a robust dhun about Krishna and his gopis playing Holi: Rang darungi nand ke laalan pe…
Continuing the recital, Vidushi Guha sang Adi Shiva Shankara, a dhrupad composition in praise of Shiva in Bihag. Then came a flurry of Malhar ragas and bandishes. As she launched into Sur Malhar with Barkha ritu bairi hamari, the descriptive passages were so beautiful, it seemed as though the rain clouds which have been hanging low over the Velliangiri Foothills these past couple of days would return to listen.
Then the artiste sang a thumri called “adhar bandh” – literally “fixed lips”. The unique feature about this type of composition is that the lips don’t touch throughout the thumri. Written by composer Lallan Piya, this one went: Ae sakhi saiyyan ki suratiya jiyara hare…
Vidushi Guha begins her recital with Raga Chayanat in rupak taal ably assisted by her student and support vocalist, Sanjukta Biswas. The bandish goes Joban mora diye jaat daga… followed by a faster paced Malaniya goondh lao ri.
Before the performance the noted musicologist Pt Vijay Kichlu released a new video album. An episode in the fascinating “In Conversation with the Mystic” series, this one is called Ektara and features the legendary Hindustani vocalist Pt Jasraj in conversation with Sadhguru.
Hindustani vocalist Vidushi Subhra Guha comes from a music loving family, and she started showing signs of exceptional talent at a tender age. She received training from Shri Satish Bhowmick, and later from Pt Sunil Bose, a learned exponent of the Agra Gharana. In 1982, she joined the prestigious Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata where Bose was a guru. Among her gurus are also Pt KG Ginde, Pt DT Joshi and Pt Vijay Kichlu.
Today, Vidushi Guha is acknowledged as one of the finest thumri singers of the poorab ang. Her repertoire of rare thumri, dadra, kajri, chaiti, etc. in the pure Benaras tradition is also matchless. She is equally proficient in the khayal style as well, with a strikingly tuneful voice that exhibits exquisite tonal malleability.
She has taught at the Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata for 11 years now and is one of the few female scholars of her stature. At the outset of today’s performance she said, “I am so blessed that destiny has brought me here to perform on this stage before Sadhguru.” Today she is accompanied by vocalist Sanjukta Biswas, Yogesh Samsi on the tabla and Tanmay Deochake on the harmonium.
Glimpses of Nishat’s Khan’s scintillating sitar performance yesterday at Yaksha 2013…
The sitarist concluded the concert with a playful, festive tune that appears to be Raga Maru Bihag. If you were watching the live-stream and know for sure, leave a comment!
Before he started to play, Nishat Khan said, “It’s a great privilege to be here. I had looked forward to coming here, having heard wonderful things about this place, about Guruji…. I was asked to come here many months ago, I was waiting for this time, and now the moment has come.” In a pause during the performance, he expressed the wish to play for Sadhguru for six hours! Applauding the recital, Sadhguru said he would remember the promise.
A sharp breeze is blowing through the courtyard and has set the hundreds of lamps in the backdrop dancing.
In his elaborate alaap of Raga Marwa, Nishat Khan started slowly but gradually built up to a fast exposition of the raga. Here and there, he teased with barely-audible high notes and then showed the range of its scales with easy mastery.
And then, when the sitarist took one note with gusto, there was a loud twang. The string had broken! Nishat Khan re-strung his instrument to encouraging claps from the audience. Apparently only this morning, when the artiste was addressing the children of the Isha Home School, one percipient student had asked him if this ever happened in the middle of a concert. The answer, evidently, is: yes, it does!
But the sitar is fixed and the recital resumes with the jor segment.
Sitarist Nishat Khan was taught by his father, the famous surbahar player Ustad Imrat Khan. He belongs to an illustrious family that traces its origins back through an unbroken line of musicians to the 16th century and also links back to Miyan Tansen. The Etawah gharana, which is also known as the Imdadkhani gharana, is a school of sitar and surbahar music, an off-shoot of the ancient Gwalior gharana.
The gharana is responsible for the development of the surbahar, and making major structural changes to both the sitar and surbahar by adding many frets and strings. Also, these musicians developed the instrumental style known as the gayaki ang, and aspects like jor-jhala and layakari with the tabla which are incorporated in every sitar recital today.
Nishat Khan has also collaborated with world musicians from various genres: Gregorian chants, Western classical music, abstract jazz and flamenco. “I love to play with music that has a certain connection to us in its sensibility,” the artiste told the Isha Media Team earlier today. For this concert, the artiste is accompanied by Tanmoy Bose on the tabla, a percussionist of the Farukhabad gharana.
The artiste begins his recital with Raga Marwa, a beautiful evening raga that tends to the devotional in its mood.
Earlier today, sitarist Nishat Khan offered Nadha Aradhana at the Dhyanalinga. Take a look…
We bring you glimpses of Day 4 of Yaksha 2013, which had a concert by Pt Ulhas Kashalkar.
The artiste’s tarana in Malkauns was delightful, and the listeners sitting in the audience were so appreciative of certain phrases, they burst out with spontaneous applause. Pt Kashalkar concluded his recital with Aayo phagun maas, a composition in Raga Bhairavi.
Elaborating superbly on Raga Kedar, Pt Kashalkar moved into another composition: Tum sugara chatur bhaiyya in ek taal and then followed that up with a wonderful tarana in teen taal. He then launched into the mellifluous Raga Malkauns with a vilambit composition Sundar badan ke set to jhap taal.
Pt Ulhas Kashalkar, today’s artiste, is a Hindustani vocalist who has been trained in the Gwalior, Jaipur and Agra gharanas, and is considered a representative of all three schools. He studied under his father ND Kashalkar, Rambhau Marathe and Gajananrao Joshi who imparted a variety of influences. The artiste is known for his authentic presentations of obscure traditional ragas and also for being able to retain the authenticity of the gharana he chooses to elaborate a raga in, and at times, shifts between the three styles even in the course of a single performance.
Since 1993, Pt Kashalkar has been a guru at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata, where he has mentored several excellent students. The singer was awarded the Indian Civilian Honor of Padma Shri in 2010.
Pt Kashalkar begins his recital with Raga Kedar: the bandish Jogi rawala set to vilambit tilwada taal. He is accompanied today by Tanmay Deochake on the harmonium and Suresh Talwalkar on the tabla.
Rain has been threatening all day at the Velliangiri Foothills today and so the venue for today’s performance has been shifted from the open-air Linga Bhairavi courtyard to the Adiyogi Alayam. Volunteers and technicians are working double-quick to make the shift with their preparations.
Day 3 at Yaksha was a colorful affair! Take a look.
After a brief musical interlude, the artiste emerged in a new costume to present Vasant, an excerpt from Ritu Samhara, Kalidasa’s 6th-century work, which sings paeans to the season of spring. A highly descriptive item, as you would expect. The music for this was composed by the artiste’s brother, the classical musician Madhup Mudgal.
Then came a Champu – which is a type of Oriya folk composition, every line of which begins with the same sound. The one that Mudgal presented, for instance, was a “kha” champu – each line beginning with “kha”. Written by Oriya poet Surya Baladev Rath, this piece was about Radha being teased by her friend for being so audacious as to fall in love with Lord Krishna.
Finally, Madhavi Mudgal ended with Moksha, which is typically the concluding item of an Odissi recital. As it depicts an artiste melding into his or her dance, it represents the dissolving of the soul into nothingness. This was a serious, weighty rendition and the danseuse was magnificent as the music rose to a crescendo.
Madhavi Mudgal next presented a pallavi, which in the Odissi form is a visual representation of motifs: here a raga is elaborated through eye movements, body postures and intricate footwork. The music and movement build up gradually bringing out the inherent architecture of the form. This was a particularly spectacular piece with deft, subtle movements and it was a pleasure to watch.
Next, the artiste presented two ashtapadis from the 12th-century Gita Govinda, in which Radha is angry with Krishna for his night-dalliance with other women, and Krishna tries to placate her. A slower piece, full of abhinaya. The piece was set to music by Pt Bhuvaneshwar Mishra.
Madhavi Mudgal comes from a family that reveres music and the arts. Her father, Professor Vinay Chandra Maudgalya founded the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, a famous school for classical music and dance in New Delhi. She gave her first public performance when she was only four and progressed under the guidance of her guru Shri Harekrishna Behera.
Although Mudgal initially learnt Bharatnatyam and Kathak, she finally chose Odissi as her medium of expression. Her guru, the man who refined her art, was the legendary Kelucharan Mohapatra. She is also an acclaimed choreographer and is noted for her commitment to train and encourage new dancers to finer nuances of Odissi. She was awarded the Indian civilian honor of Padma Shri in 1990.
The artiste begins her performance with the traditional Mangalacharan. The composition, in praise of Shiva, is from the 13th-century musical treatise Sangita Ratnakara by Sharngadeva. As Shiva controls the rhythm of the universe with his damaru, the piece depicts the union of the deity with his consort Parvati, invoking cosmic balance and harmony. Interestingly, the poetry was set to music by the respected Pt Jitendra Abhisheki.
Sarod player Abhisek Lahiri, who is still in Isha Yoga Center, offered Nadha Aradhana at the Dhyanalinga at noon today. It was a beautiful and moving experience for everyone present.
After the performance last evening, the artiste said he was very happy with the opportunity to perform in front of Sadhguru. He shared that the open-air ambience, though pleasant, is often a source of concern to performers because breeze tends to disturb audio settings, but, thanks to Sadhguru’s grace, it all went perfectly. He said again, “This is one of my luckiest days.”
We bring you some glimpses of his performance yesterday.
As the evening air cooled, the artiste concluded his recital with Raga Charukeshi set to the 16-beat rhythm, Sitarkhani. This was a short but absolutely gorgeous composition that turned its listeners instantly pensive.
After the performance, those present in the audience have moved to the front of the Dhyanalinga courtyard for the maha aarti, which will cap the evening’s proceedings. Join in again tomorrow for more of Yaksha 2013! Meanwhile, we leave you with a collage of images.
As the light evening turns dark, Abhisek Lahiri explores the nuances of Raga Yaman with alaap, vilambit and drut, bringing out both the romance of the raga as well as the gravitas.
The lack of frets combined with the tension of the strings make sarod quite a difficult instrument to play, but picking this instrument as his choice was an instinctive one for Lahiri. “Of course, my father played it, so as a child, I would imitate him and it was natural for me to want to play it but I have always loved its tone.”
In the audience are the various local personages and visitors who are thoroughly enjoying this mellifluous cascade of music. On a more practical note, we’d like to remind people living in the environs of Coimbatore that free pick-up and drop facilities are available from various places in the city. Contact details are: Gandhipuram 83000 52000, Ganapathy 98422 53509, Kurichi 97503 72227, Peelamedu 94878 95272, Saibaba Colony 83000 55000, Singanallur 89252 02211, Vadavalli 83000 56000. For general enquiries, contact 9487895272.
Only 28 years old, Abhisek Lahiri is one of our younger performers in the Hindustani Classical tradition and already, he has won praise for his maturity and depth. He is the son of the renowned sarod player Pt Alok Lahiri: Abhisek was initiated at the age of five and gave his first performance at ten. His style draws from the Shahajanpur, Maihar and Seni Beenkar Gharanas.
Lahiri is fascinated by other genres of music as well, and is very open to collaboration and fusion. He has explored working with flamenco, jazz and Western Classical forms. His latest release “IONAH Trio” is a work in association with Japanese guitarist Hideaki Tsuji, which was very well received. Today, he is accompanied by Subhankar Banerjee on the tabla.
“This is one of the luckiest days of my life, to be able to perform in front of Sadhguruji,” the musician said before starting his performance. He has begun to set the mood perfectly with the beautiful evening raga Yaman.
Day 2 of Yaksha 2013 has the young and talented Abhisek Lahiri playing the sarod in the Hindustani style. This is a short interview ahead of the performance.
We bring you a small glimpse of the TN Krishnan violin recital that took place yesterday, 3rd March 2013.
Next, the artiste went to the popular Raga Kalyani with Nidhi chaala sukhama, sannidhi chaala sukhama where the poet is weighing his options: Nidhi (wealth) vs Sannidhi (closeness), in this case to Lord Rama. Explaining the line, TN Krishnan told the audience, “You decide!”
Earlier, the maestro told the blog team that he never sat down to a recital with a preset programme – he always waited for inspiration to decide what should be played at any moment. By that measure, we are sure we are hosting Saint Tyagaraja in spirit this evening, for he seems to be the one whispering loudest in Prof Krishnan’s ear.
Then he concluded with the beautiful Raga Kaapi, lingering over Adisidallu Yashoda Jagaddodharana by Purandara Dasa before letting the percussionists have their say with the tani, which was met with enthusiastic applause.
TN Krishnan began his recital with two pieces from Saint Tyagaraja: a composition in Raga Ravichandrika and Mokshamu galada in the soulful Raga Saramathi. As the 84-year-old genius tried to tell the audience what he had just played, he forgot what the raga was called! What he connected with, he told listeners, was the essence of the raga; it is the nadam that gives bliss, not its name. Seeing that the virtuoso was addressing many spiritual sadhakas both in person and the world over who are seeking the essence, it made perfect sense!
The stage is set, Sadhguru has arrived, the artistes are seated and the ambience, with hundreds of lamps flickering in the backdrop, is beautiful!
TN Krishnan was born into a family of musical pundits. Introduced to the violin by his father A Narayana Iyer, he was a child prodigy who made his debut at the age of eight. Through his long and illustrious career, the maestro has accompanied greats such as Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Musiri Subramania Iyer, the Alathur Brothers, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar and Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, apart from his master Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.
TN Krishnan is the brother of the acclaimed Hindustani violinist N Rajam. The rest of the family is similarly accomplished: his two children, Viji Krishnan Natarajan and Sriram Krishnan are both well-known violinists. Krishnan was bestowed the Indian civilian award of Padma Shri in 1973 and Padma Bhushan in 1992.
Today, he is accompanied by Thrissur KMS Mani on the mridangam and Radhakrishnan on the ghatam.
Yaksha 2013 begins today! Preparations are on in full swing – the courtyard outside Linga Bhairavi is full of cords, equipment, ladders and baskets of flowers as volunteers, technicians and decorators are busy getting everything ready.
The festival takes off with the veteran violinist maestro TN Krishnan performing this evening. The artiste arrived yesterday and said he was thoroughly enjoying Isha’s hospitality and the wonderful ambience. The virtuoso offered Nadha Aradhana today at the Dhyanalinga – a moving experience for everyone present. “It was a divine experience! Unless you play or sing yourself, you wouldn’t understand. You don’t get such an opportunity unless you are really blessed. The minute I set my bow to the violin, I was transported!” TN Krishnan told the blog team.
Suryakund – A Tremendous Possibility
Sadhguru took the opportunity to thank all those involved with the construction of the Suryakund. He particularly mentioned that it was a very unique structure with enormous spans, which is only possible when you use steel. Putting together a structure using both steel and stone is a huge challenge, particularly because the expansion rates for both are dramatically different. Despite this, they pulled it off tremendously well.
The above is a video of the Suryakund construction, put together along with interviews of the Isha construction team, which show the immensity and incredible proportions of this endeavor.
Apart from that, so many people have been involved in organizing this event, so that over 10,000 people can participate. We thank all the volunteers, teachers, residents and bramhacharis who have worked together to make this a reality!
The Grace of the Suryakund
Following the Sathsang, all those who did not get an opportunity to soak in the waters of the Suryakund, came down to take a dip. The kund will be open tonight until midnight to allow everyone to come and experience it.
Nature of Consecration – Sathsang with Sadhguru
In the Sathsang after the Suryakund Consecration, Sadhguru spoke about the consecrations that have taken place in the Isha Yoga Center in the last few years. Since the Dhyanalinga Consecration, which was witnessed by a small handful of people, the Linga Bhairavi, Adiyogi Alayam and Suryakund consecrations have each been attended by thousands.
He mentioned that the way each of them were consecrated were distinctly different. Traditionally all the forms that were consecrated were done for a particular purpose.
“When a god or goddess was made, they were done for particular processes. And those who made them, chose to give them a form, certain attributes and capabilities. So there is a certain way to access them, make use of them. Or in other words, we have infused them with a certain intelligence. They have their own discretion.”
Speaking on the consecrations at the Isha Yoga Center, Sadhguru said, “All these three have an intelligence of their own, but the Theerthakunds have no intelligence, they simply reverberate all the time. They cannot act in a particular way for a particular person. It is like sunlight – same for everyone.”
Sathsang with Sadhguru – Live Online
In another 10 minutes Sadhguru’s Sathsang will be streamed live online. Don’t miss the opportunity! Register here.
Suryakund Comes Alive!
The kund is quickly cleared, with the help of bramhacharis and prepared to be filled with water. Making his way to the consecrated snake in the central pillar, Sadhguru offers 11 coconuts wrapped in black cloth, breaking them on the ground in a swift movement.
Sadhguru then returns to the kund and makes a fire offering on the avudiyars, this time to the edge of them. Now the moment all have been eagerly awaiting – water flows from high on top of the Suryakund and the gents rush to soak in it!
After having a dip in the streaming water, they come to receive the energies of the newly consecrated Rasalingas. The participants are overjoyed at the culmination of this momentous event – they are finally able to come and receive the Grace of the Suryakund! After some time, the ladies are also given an opportunity. Separate timings are given, so that all the 10,000 participants have the chance to take a dip before evening.
The next session is at 6:40pm, a Sathsang with Sadhguru. This event will also be livestreamed at Isha Live – Register now if you haven’t already!
The Lingas Unveiled
After a few more touches and processes, Sadhguru uncovers the Rasalingas. Once the upper portion is removed, we can see the small protrusion hidden underneath the cloth – a metal sculpture of a cobra majestically resting at the top of each linga.
Sadhguru then applies of mixture of milk and other substances to each linga, thoroughly cleansing it of other offerings. The lingas then stand bare with the cobras resting at the top.
With a small basket in hand, Sadhguru offers vilva leaves at the crown and base of each linga. The participants are eagerly awaiting the moment when they can descend into the Suryakund and take the blessings of the Rasalingas.
Three Become One
After the break, Sadhguru entered and the chanting commenced. The final process before the inauguration of the Suryakund began with an Arati to the Rasalingas by Sadhguru. After the Arati, Sadhguru cut the thread connecting each rasalinga with the fire, and wrapped each of the lingas with the thread. Placing camphor on each linga, Sadhguru made an offering of fire to each.
Going to the first linga, Sadhguru began to remove the turmeric-stained cloth. What lies beneath each and what is the protrusion at the top of the linga?
Preparing the Kund
Volunteers prepare the Suryakund for the Consecration process by removing the rampways and turmeric-soaked cloths surrounding the rasalingas.
Things seem to be coming to the final consecration, with lots of preparation happening in the break. Stay tuned for more updates.
Livestream – Sathsang with Sadhguru
Tonight’s live streaming of the Sathsang with Sadhguru has been tentatively preponed to start between 6 – 6:30pm IST / 7am EST. Please plan to come online by 6pm. To register, log onto: http://live.isha.co/
Please Note: Due to the sensitive nature of the consecration, the sathsang may happen earlier the day, however in that case the sathsang will still be shown in the evening for those who have registered.
The sacred sound AUM reverberates around the world
The sacred reverberation that is AUM, filled the Suryakund and Adiyogi Alayam, as over ten thousand participants chanted in unison, with several thousands more participating through the live webcast.
Before the process, Sadhguru explained that AUM was a combination of the three fundamental syllables, and described to the online audience how it was to be uttered correctly:
“AUM needs to be uttered as a full exhalation. When you exhale with mouth open, the sound ‘Aaa’ will happen. As you close your mouth, it becomes ‘Ooo’ and then ‘Mmm.’ This is the most basic sound. AUM does not belong to the beyond, but it is the last point of physicality. It is the gateway to the beyond. If you do not open the gate, you do not go beyond.”
Sadhguru also spoke of the impact this process could have, and said that because of the intense energy processes and the power of the space, the ten thousand people involved in the Suryakund consecration have the impact of a few million human beings.
With Sadhguru there to guide the process, is this a momentous shift in human consciousness?
The session is going into the lunch break now. Before the participants leave, Sadhguru gives the men a special instruction – to come shirtless for the next session! Wonder why?!
Live Global Telecast
To benefit a global audience and raise human consciousness, the Suryakund consecration is being telecast live for half-an-hour on the website http://birth2012.com/tv/. Join Sadhguru now, live!
In the morning, before the session had begun, brahmacharis brought a massive vessel to the Suryakund and began mixing various ingredients in it. When Sadhguru arrived, he conducted a certain process with the mixture, and prepared the Rasayanam, a powerful theertham which was distributed to all the participants by the volunteers.
Salutations to the Sun
One major feature of the Suryakund that nobody can miss is the Sun sculpture which hangs from the ceiling. Constructed just two days before the consecration, the Surya is 20 feet across and has been constructed out of brass and copper.
Normally a project of this size and complexity would take six days, but given that the consecration date was fast approaching, the Isha Fabrication team finished it in less than two, taking more than 120 man-hours to complete it.
Sounds of Isha sing the Surya Ashtakam, with the resounding chorus Tham Surya Pranamamyaham – Salutations to the Sun. Meanwhile, Sadhguru is doing a process with a large vessel in front of the central Suryakund Rasalinga. More updates to come!
Cooking for 10,000 People!
As we mentioned earlier, conducting a program for 10,000+ people is something that would make the bravest hearts tremble. However, these things happen at Isha effortlessly, with tremendous joy and care about every aspect.
There is a lot that needs to happen behind the scenes of a program that involves thousands of people. Cooking and preparing food for all of these people is a stupendous task! The kitchen team has done an incredible job in the last two days, making sure everyone is fed thrice a day.
Huge vessels are brought for food preparation and transported to 5 different locations for each meal. This is something which takes a huge amount of coordination and understanding among the kitchen team, as well as various departments at the yoga center, to push it to completion. But somehow, despite the daunting task, they always manage to bring the food on time, with the right quantity!
We’d like to acknowledge all the volunteers, residents and bramhacharis who have joined together to make this happen!
Photo Gallery of Day One of Suryakund Consecration
Snakes – Beings of Healing and Perception
Why is so much importance given to snakes, especially in the East? Western culture has often eschewed snakes, calling them agents of the devil – but was it always so? In the Sathsang following the evening process, Sadhguru explains how the worship of snakes has been there across continents and cultures because they saw the snake as a being of tremendous possibility.
Sadhguru: “Why is the snake important? Snake is not a creature, it is a certain dimension of life. Its life is not individual, it is connected – it is not a life of its own. Suppose your life was happening in such a way that it constantly reminds you of being one with everything, then you would know that your life is connected.
Snake was very much a part of just about every culture on the planet, without exception. The worship of snakes around the world ranges from Mesopotamia to Africa, from Siberia to North America. These images are right across the planet, not just in one place, because wherever people try to perceive, not believe, in all those cultures, snake symbolism was always there… This is a tragic transition that the world has made in the last hundred years, from perception to belief.
The snake has been seen as a tool for perception, because snakes and healing have been so directly connected. Intertwining snakes with three and a half coils was seen as a symbol of healing. Any number of stories refer to that, all over the world.”
Speaking about the Suryakund snake, Sadhguru mentioned, “He will grow into capabilities, of healing and power, and after some time he will grow so much that you can call him and be connected to him. Certain benefits can be achieved, health of course…”
The session starts with the chant, while Sadhguru’s chair is moved to the center of the hall, near the largest pillar. Maybe we are about to see what lies beneath? He walks around and then opens the black curtain just enough to put his hands inside. There is a large pot of neem in front of the pillar, a pot of water, and a vessel which is filled with some flammable concoction. The chanting is on – 21 cycles is the rhythm of the day!
Sadhguru sets fire to the contents of the vessel next to him and then reveals the immense cobra carved onto the main pillar. He applies vibhuti to its neck and tail, while the chant “Naga Nagendraya” makes the whole crowd sway. Sadhguru then applies bright red kumkum to the cobra’s neck, which glistens on the black stone. He holds a coconut wrapped in a black cloth over the fire for a few seconds, before breaking it with a powerful swing, which he repeats with several more coconuts.
After that, Sadhguru applies neem leaves and flowers on the immense cobra – the bright fire of camphor glows at the base. What is the purpose of this whole process? Stay tuned to the next post to find out!
An Offering of Water
Sadhguru mentioned that once the three Rasalingas in Suryakund are submerged in water, they will function as one. This was one of the reasons the turmeric-soaked thread was strung between the three lingas at the beginning of the consecration.
As a part of this, the Isha Brahmacharis and Sanyasis have been instructed to keep the thread constantly wet and can be seen periodically applying water from copper vessels along the entire length of the thread. This is to support the process of the three lingas becoming one in energy.
A Reflection of the Sun
“Of all the vegetation on the planet, we find that the neem is like a reflection of the sun”
The participants were each given a neem leaf, which Sadhguru asked them to chew and keep in their mouth. He mentioned that neem has a very direct connection with the sun and increases the heat in the system.
“All life upon this planet is solar powered… Among all life which is bred by sun’s energy, the neem has taken the maximum amount of solar energy. This is why it is considered healing – for just about any ailment, neem could be a solution. The chemistry of the neem is just a consequence of its connection with the sun.”
An Offering of Sacred Ash
After pouring water on the 3 lingas, Sadhguru pours vibhuthi over them, then places neem leaves on the avudiyar. Following this, all the participants are offered one neem leaf.
Sadhguru then places black sesame seeds on top of the vibhuti encompassing each rasalinga.
Suryakund – 10,000 Strong
In order to accommodate the overwhelming response from people wanting to experience the Suryakund consecration, Sadhguru opened up the Adiyogi Alayam for participants to take part in the process. Apart from those sitting in and around the Suryakund, thousands are sitting in the powerfully consecrated space of the Adiyogi Alayam.
Totally 10,224 people are taking part in Suryakund consecration – an event seemingly impossible and daunting in any other scenario, but effortlessly carried out by the residents, volunteers and brahmacharis of Isha Yoga Center.
An Offering of Fire
Sadhguru does a process with fire by lighting camphor at the base of each of the Rasalingas. He brings the attention back to the chanting by mentioning that the masculine has always celebrated valor and that a certain aspect of devotion and valor are very much connected. Sadhguru tells the participants that they should put that valor and intensity into the chant each time they do it.
The human mechanism itself is hugely influenced by the solar cycles. Sadhguru mentions that the chant for the participants will be happening in cycles of 21 – a number which manifests in a significant way in the human being and the cosmos.
Mantra – A Powerfully Consecrated Sound
Chant during Suryakund Consecration
Butesha Yogisha Sarvesha
Aumkara Nirakara Lingendra
Nagendra Neelendra Shivaya
Adi Anantam Janmanashanam
Shiva Shiva Shiva
Sadhguru speaks on the process of chanting, “It’s not like ‘Everyone is chanting, so I can just sit.’ If four people are carrying a load, one smart one will make himself a little shorter… Don’t be the smart person, it is the smart person who gets left out. You are so very smart that you can deceive yourself out of life… Sit here as if you are the only one here.”
Session with Sadhguru
Drums celebrate the arrival of the mystic willing to share the secrets of his “trade” out of his compassion. Sadhguru arrives, dressed in black top with angavastram. Walks from one lingam to the other, then when seated, sings “Karacharana Kritham Va”.
Sadhguru speaks for sometime about his own experience with conducting various consecrations starting with the consecration of the Dhyanalinga. A powerful chant starts, Sadhguru saying the participants should taste the sounds as if tasting something new, with eyes closed.
Everyone is seating still, some meditating, some watching with anticipation the unfolding final preparations.
Large turmeric colored platforms around each lingas to give access to Sadhguru to walk around, and the Samskriti children chant Guru Paduka Strotram.
Compared to the depth of the Suryakund, Sadhguru’s chair and even the rasalingas seem small. A brass and copper Sun measuring 2.5 meters diameter majestically hangs from the ceiling. The central column, easily 30 feet high, has its base covered with red and black cloth, hiding what is underneath. We will soon get to see what it is….
Written in Stone
The construction of the Suryakund has been a massive effort. Like so many structures in Isha Yoga Center in Coimbatore, it has been built with granite – built to last, not decades, not even centuries but thousands of years. The reason, as Sadhguru explains: “Because when we build a temple we want to ensure that it’s there for a long period of time. I am thinking five thousand years. I don’t want to build a temple in concrete, cement… which will collapse in a hundred years, because the energy process that we do will last easily for four, five thousand years. So we want the temple structure also to last that long.”
The excavation for the Suryakund started on 11 June 2011, and on 25 July 2011, a crane lowered the first block of stone, adorned with a garland, into the huge pit. Since then the ashram has become used to the constant sounds of drills and hammers, the incessant hum of machines as the work progressed at amazing speed.
In the past one-and-a-half years, over 700 people have put in some extremely rigorous man hours into making this structure. Close to 250 blocks of granite, each on average weighing between 35 – 50 tons, form the solid walls. The biggest stone used weighed 80 tons.
- From floor to rooftop, the Suryakund is 66 feet high.
- The entire structure – including the mandapam and steps – measures 250 by 230 feet.
- Three rasalingas will be placed in a copper-lined space measuring 130 by 40 feet.
- The Suryakund is embedded 20 feet below ground-level, and its walls rise another 12 feet.
- The sacred tank can accommodate about 500 people at a time.
We bring you some pictures of the construction of this fascinating space.
Whoever didn’t make to ashram last night came to the yoga center in the morning, to register and make it for the first day’s session. Warm smiles greeted the participants who were eagerly awaiting the start of the consecration process.
That done, everything was cleared from the place, and Sadhguru smeared the grooves in the pedestal with an ochre paste and then performed an abhishekam for each of the lingas, pouring water and then ash and smearing them with kunkum. The snake-motifed grooves on the sides of the avudiyars were coloured red with kunkum as well. Sadhguru then adorned the lingas with garlands and leaves.
Then as the singers chanted Bilvashtakam, bramhacharis drew thread across the length of the teerthakund several times over, smearning the twine with paste. The thread was then tied thrice across all three lingas, tying them together. Sadhguru lit a heap of camphor at the edge of each structure and the day’s events ended with the arati and the Guru Pooja.
The lingas have now been left to await the wonderful event that will take place tomorrow and the day after.
The lingas were then placed on the pedestals but to one side, not quite in place. Sadhguru took the white protective cloths off the avudiyars and prepared the concave shapes that were to receive the linga. As the Guru Paduka Stotram was sung, the team positioned the three lingas very precisely in their position with the utmost care and attention.
Placing the Lingas
Positioning the rasalingas is a delicate job that requires immense precision to get them into place. Each rasalinga weighs over 600 lbs, so getting it into the proper position is no easy task. Using a system of pulleys and chains, the lingas are raised into place above each avudiyar.
An Invocation to the Sun
Then it was time for the cranes got into action. Carefully, each of the rasalingas was carried and deposited at the floor of the Teerthakund. With Sounds of Isha singing an invocation to the Sun – Tvam Suryam Pranamamyaham – the rasalingas were then moved precisely by trolleys, fitted with chains and positioned with the help of pulleys. Each rasalinga was gingerly placed on the avudiyars or decorative pedestals that had been created for them.
The Rasalingas Arrive
It was with excitement that the participants of the Suryakund consecration seated themselves along the steps of the Teerthakund this evening. Beautifully adorned with greenery, the gallery above was lit tastefully. Sadhguru arrived to cheers and claps, driving a bullock cart. As the accompanying drummers and singers sang the Guru Paduka Stotram, the cart stopped in the center of the upper landing: it bore the three lingas wrapped in yellow covering.
Bringing the Rasalingas
In the lead-up to the Suryakund consecration that will take place over the next two days, the actual site will be readied today in the evening. Sadhguru will preside over proceedings in which the three rasalingas will be brought to be placed on the avudiyars or the pedestals that have been made for them. The lingas have been meticulously prepared over the past months – the mercury has been solidified through the ancient science of Rasa Vaidhya.
Annadhanam for the Sevadhars
Over the last few months, over 700 sevadhars have been a part of constructing the Suryakund, working as skilled and unskilled labor in various capacities. Today the residents and bramhacharis of Isha Yoga Center served a special lunch for all the sevadhars, to honor them for giving their time and life for this project.
A traditional meal served on banana leaves, the lunch consisted of tasty South Indian fare such as spicy tamarind rice, papad and rasam. It was a wonderful opportunity for those at Isha to serve and offer their gratitude to all those who worked to make the Suryakund a reality.
Yesterday evening during Darshan, Sadhguru responded to a question about the Suryakund, whether the Rasalingas would be consecrated differently for men. Sadhguru responded that definitely it will be consecrated differently, geared more towards the masculine. He said that fundamentally, the Theerthakund was consecrated to enhance the receptivity in a person and allow them to experience the energies of the Dhyanalinga. In that sense, the masculine becomes receptive in a different way than the feminine, thus the difference in the consecration process. After the Suryakund consecration is over, Sadhguru mentioned that the Chandrakund for women, which is the current Theerthakund being used by both Gents and Ladies, will be modified to make it more conducive for the feminine.
Closing session of INSIGHT
Responding to a question about how Isha as an organization functions, Sadhguru elaborated that Isha displays three qualities which are fundamental to success – Integrity, Inspiration and Insight. All three may not be present on an individual level, but each person is here at Isha because of one of these qualities. Different people displaying these different aspects, that’s why things happen.
When asked how to follow up on this program and achieve the goals envisioned here, Sadhguru mentioned that the resources will be available for the participants. To keep it alive on a day-to-day basis, there will be an active platform which they can make use of. He also mentioned that probably in 2013, they will bring in programs for beginners and also programs for specific areas like finance, marketing and branding.
As the session closed, everyone thanked the volunteers, participants and resource leaders for making the program happen with such depth and understanding these last four days. The participants were overwhelmed by the immensity of knowledge they were able to partake in during the program and each resolved to go out and make their enterprise flourish wherever they are.
Sadhguru closed by saying that India is not yet a nation because to a large portion of the population, the concept of a nation means nothing. India as such is a nation yet to be. A nation is not something that drops from the heavens, a nation is an idea that people have to be committed to in order for it to work. Essentially the aim is to go beyond boundaries, but you need boundaries if you want to succeed. The only way to do this is by sowing this idea of a nation in the hearts and minds of the people.
He invited all the entrepreneurs present to take part in this, in whatever scale is possible for them. Whatever one may do in business, the most important aspect is to create the right atmosphere. An uncommitted and uninspired atmosphere will not lead to success in business or otherwise. He mentioned that it is very essential that we work on creating the right ambiance of commitment and focus to achieve our goals.
Q&A with Sadhguru
The morning program started with a session by Shailendra Nath of IIT Delhi, looking at how to develop effective leadership. Giving examples of leadership in India such as Mahatma Gandhi, he looked into the relevance of ancient wisdom in business, among other topics.
This was followed by a question and answer session with Sadhguru. Participants asked questions ranging from how to deal with fear of death, how to track and achieve ones goals and how to deal with mistakes and fear of failure.
Interview with Dr. Ram Charan
Professor Ram Charan, known as the most influential consultant in business the world over, has been an invaluable asset at “INSIGHT: The DNA of Success.” A business professor at several of the top universities in the world, with over 50 years of experience in the field, his insights have been sought after by the top minds in the business world for over four decades.
We were fortunate enough speak to Dr. Charan after the evening session yesterday. Following is an excerpt from the interview:
Dr. Charan, what are your observations on the spiritual aspects presented during this program?
The approach is a certain engineering, there is a science behind it. It is looking to enhance a person’s inner strength and balance. If a leader increases his inner strength, then he can focus himself on how to deal with issues. A leader is fundamentally judged when situations become difficult, it is then that the inner strength comes through.
What has been your experience of this program?
Having seen hundreds of business programs throughout the world, I can say this is the first program of its kind across the globe. As Sadhguru was mentioning during the program, this is not just about building entrepreneurship, this about building a nation. No nation has ever been built without entrepreneurs.
The leaders who are here during the program have been given the tools to create another 10,000 leaders in this country – this is the capability they have been empowered with. The learnings from this program are timely and timeless. The people that go from here will build new leaders and new jobs. They won’t be going from here saying, “I don’t have people, I don’t have resources.” They will know they have resources and how to create situations.
Stay tuned to the Isha Blog for the full interview with Dr. Ram Charan
Today morning after the yoga session, the participants were treated to a walk with Sadhguru. Afterwards they will be having a session, where they can ask questions about the various aspects and developments over the last three days. More updates to follow.
Shekhar Kapur – The Role of Social Media in Business
Today evening’s session is a talk by acclaimed film director Shekhar Kapur on the role of social media in business. He started the discussion by defining the nature of social media today, saying social media is not an option anymore. It is a necessity, a fact of life.
He mentioned that the whole position of business is challenged. Resources are not limited, imagination and attention are not limited. He went on to say that if facebook has 800 million users, they are doing many things at the same time, and the whole sphere is no longer finite.
Home School at Isha Insight
Isha Home School is a private residential school nestled within the Isha Yoga Center premises, affiliated to the ICSE Board of Education. The school provides an innovative, hands-on learning environment, which encourages students to work for their dreams early on and find out what really interests them. Sadhguru has emphasized the value of exposing students to individuals who have strived for and achieved excellence in their respective fields, as a means to inspire and broaden their horizons.
11th and 12th standard students had the unique opportunity to volunteer for the Insight Program. Students engaged in behind-the-scenes work, including venue preparation, hospitality and entertainment. In addition, they attended various sessions and interacted with the resource leaders and participants.The highlight was the 30th evening, when the participants came to the school for a memorable moonlight dinner.
Following are a few sharings from the students about their experience:
I’ve always wanted to become an entrepreneur. This program has given me insight on what I need to do to create and successfully run a company. I learned a lot from the various interviews and panel discussions of these great personalities, and I know it will surely help me in becoming a leader.
Kirupali C Pujara, 11thStandard, Commerce Student
I never would have dreamt to have such an opportunity to meet and listen to the likes of Mr.GMRao, Mr. K.V.Kamath, Professor Ram Charan and Sadhguru. These leaders and legends have inspired me to pursue the goals I have set for myself, and have provided simple mechanisms that I know will add great value to my life and I am sure to my friends’ lives as well.
Vidit Kamboj, 11th Standard, Commerce Student
I have always wanted some kind of framework to help me organize my life and work. The set of eight questions that Professor Ram Charan discussed on how to scale up an enterprise greatly appealed to me. I am sure I will be more organized in planning my life keeping these questions in mind.
Srija Selvaraj, 11th Standard, Commerce Student.
Interview with Forbes India Editor, Indrajit Gupta
On September 28th this year, Forbes India Editor, Indrajit Gupta interviewed Sadhguru and K.V. Kamath at the Forbes India Leadership Awards in Mumbai. A participant of “INSIGHT: The DNA of Succes”, as a part of the program Mr. Gupta also conducted an interview last night for Forbes India between Sadhguru and Dr. Ram Charan.
We caught up with Mr. Gupta after yesterday’s dialogue to get his take on the program and his experience with Isha.
Good evening, Mr. Gupta, what is your experience of the program so far?
Attempts to search the Indian management ethos all these days were focused on western concepts, which were hard to relate to. To be here and learn from the live experience of successful entrepreneurs is very powerful. It allows scope for interactive sessions with others in the program, which will be very helpful in the future specifically since the digital networking after the course creates a platform where people can find answers to their challenges.
This program brings many aspects of spirituality and business together under one roof. What do you feel the spiritual process has to offer to the business community?
Essentially, it brings about a heightened sense of self-awareness, as well as a sense of inclusiveness in managing people. Both are connected because if you don’t find the purpose for what you want to achieve, how are you going to infuse that in others?
Above all, it gives you the ability to deal with difficult situations with calmness and inner balance, which helps you be proactive in any type of adversity.
You opened last night’s interview with a question to Sadhguru about volunteering. What has been your experience of the volunteers at Isha?
Isha is a wonderful organization, it’s amazing to see how full attention is paid to details in all areas, regardless whether it’s big or small. Wherever you go in Isha, the warmth, happiness and smiles of the volunteers really touch you. In the commercial world no matter how much money you spend, you cannot get this type of experience.
What is it that attracts these business leaders to Sadhguru?
Business today is becoming the center of life in many, many ways. It is not just impacting the economy, more and more it is having a big impact on the community and society. Basically people need solutions for complex challenges and business can define our role in society.
We need to recognize the fact that business and society are interdependent. Business can function as a trusteeship in society and hence can be in the position to take on a lot of challenges.
Sadhguru is a modern guru, he understands business and has sophisticated solutions to modern-day complex challenges in the business arena. His wisdom is immense, hence people look up to him.
Q&A from CEO Panel Discussion
In the morning, the participants had an opportunity to write down any questions they had for the resource leaders. Dilip Cherian moderated the discussion by directing the questions to the different panel members. Below are some of the questions from today’s panel discussion:
How to let go of perfectionism in the process of delegating work?
In the process of empowering youth to leadership, how to avoid losing senior members?
How to break bureaucracy in a company? Handled by Vellyan Subbiah of Murugappa Group
How to create an organization of joy and fun? Handled by Sadhguru, who mentioned that you must learn to work smart, not hard
CEO Panel Discussion – Entrepreneurial Challenges in Tomorrow’s India
The current session is a CEO Panel Discussion on “Entrepreneurial Challenges in Tomorrow’s India”. Moderated by Dilip Cherian, co-founder of Perfect Relations, the panelists are Shankar Annaswamy, Sadhguru, Vellayan Subbiah, Pramod Chaudhari, Naveen Kshatriya, Bhairavi Jani and JM Trivedi. Questions are taken from the participants and directed towards the appropriate panelists.
Understanding Yourself – Morning Sessions with Sadhguru & Dr. Ram Charan
Starting with the early morning session “Technologies for Wellbeing”, conducted by Sadhguru, after breakfast the participants met with Dr. Ram Charan, Sadhguru and the resource leaders for a session entitled “Understanding Yourself and Your Style”. Dr. Charan is leading the discussion which looks into style and decision-making, listening and absorbing ideas from others, selecting and managing professionals, as well as other aspects of scaling up a business.
Cult of the CEO – Forbes India Interview
Mr. Gupta asked Dr. Ram Charan about the cult of the CEO, how men like Steve Jobs are celebrated. Now that he is gone, there are large question marks about whether the company will survive.
Dr. Charan mentioned that what people don’t know about Steve Jobs is that he never called himself an innovator. He called himself a master connector, his focus was on 100 people in the company and every day, he focused on four products.
Today you can buy ideas because innovation is selecting an idea and converting it into something a consumer will prefer. This is not a genius job, the major reason for failure is not having the right team leader.
Interview with Forbes India
Today evening a special interview by Forbes India Editor Indrajit Gupta took place between Sadhguru and Ram Charan. The interview started with Mr. Gupta thanking the Isha volunteers and asking Sadhguru what it takes to make a program of this scale happen, through volunteers.
Sadhguru explained that a volunteer has dropped this calculation of “What can I get?” If you drop this one calculation, then you become phenomenal. He mentioned that when it comes to organizing, Insight is a small event for Isha, which has pulled off programs drawing thousands or even a million people.
Sadhguru mentioned that the only reason why someone is more successful than the other is because one is able to see something that others are not able to see. That’s a leader. He said that paying attention is very key. Essentially he mentioned that he always focused on attention, never on retention. A person knows that he exists only because of attention.
Flights of fancy will take us
Not to destinations afar
Nor dead logic carry us
Through terrains unknown
It is not the planets nor
The lines upon ones brow
But ones ability to see
See all that most fail to see
Insight into within and without
That allows life to achieve flight
In the break, the Samskruti students put on a demonstration of Kalari Payattu – the ancient martial art form from South India. Set to the rollicking beats of a tribal drum, they showcased the various weapons used in the practice of kalari, including the long and short staff.
Q&A with K.V. Kamath
Few questions from session with Mr. Kamath – “You have been singly responsible to create many women leaders in the banking industry. Was there a strategy, was it intentional?”
“You ran a business for 7 years without a chief technology officer. How did you manage to do that, in those days?”
Dr. Ram Charan – Identifying Raw Talent
Dr. Ram Charan continued the session by saying that identifying raw talent is very important for a leader. He then went on to name the 10 points essential for identifying raw talent in a business.
Next he handed things over to K.V. Kamath and gave the participants an opportunity to ask questions to Mr. Kamath directly.
Sadhguru – Method vs. Genius
Sadhguru opened the noon session today mentioning that the question of method versus genius is important. So is genius something that one is born with or can it be enhanced with a method?
He elaborated that there is a method to activate, incubate a genius. Is it sparking genius or is it buried under a method? People are trying to evolve methods for everything. In all this heap of methods, the genius is getting buried, so creating an atmosphere where the spark is active is important.
Sadhguru then began a process with the participants that incorporated the breath and bringing awareness to everything that we do.
India and Beyond – Interview with K.V. Kamath
The discussion then turned to domestic matters, with Mr. Kamath speaking about the prominent opportunities in rural India. He explained that rural India is not only about agriculture and that much could be done if the necessary focus and attention was devoted to it.
Kamath closed with the last point, that every year his knowledge is becoming obsolete. In terms of change that is happening, you have to find your own way to stay current. He stated that our time in history has come as a nation. All of us have a chance to serve this change and this tremendous opportunity.
Adapting to Change – Interview with K.V. Kamath
Mr. Kamath continued, giving examples from his own experience of life, working in India, and showing how an open mind and thinking outside the box in every particular situation helped smoothen the process of completing a project.
He asked specific question to the participants related to competition with China. Are we very far behind? What are other countries doing?
Also discussed – what is it that helps an organization stay on top and change, ability to adapt and move?
Interview with K.V. Kamath
After a short exercise led by Dr. Ram Charan, relating to crystallizing what the participants had learned over the course of the last 24 hours, the next session began with an interview of K.V. Kamath by Dr. Ram Charan. Asked to relate the background of his life, Mr. Kamath narrated the story of how he took over the family business in Mangalore at a young age, while his father was occupied with political responsibilities. He then went on to explain about his further business education and his initial ventures into industry.
Morning Session with Sadhguru
The morning started early with a session called “Technologies for Wellbeing”, conducted by Sadhguru. Led through a set of practices designed to balance the body and mind, the hour-long session left the participants feeling rejuvenated and energized. They then left for breakfast, which is followed by a session with Dr. Ram Charan.
Session with Prahlad Kakar
The next session was led by Prahlad Kakar, one of India’s leading Advertising Film Directors. His first question to the audience – What is a brand? On the long term, a brand is a person. If you don’t infuse the brand with human qualities – courage, empathy, sensitivity, strength – and it does not participate in your everyday life, then you do not take the brand home.
He mentioned that if you take the top successful TV ads from any country, you will know their dreams, their aspirations, and ambitions. He used the example of Pepsi, which became very popular in India, despite losing out to Coca-Cola in the rest of the world.
Responding to a question by a rising entrepreneur in the advertising agency, Mr. Kakar explained that anyone wanting to scale up their industry in marketing will be able to get their answers to those questions in the next 3 days here.
Bloomberg TV Interview (cont.)
Turning to Deepak Satwalekar, former head of HDFC, our moderator asked the question, whether the current economic problem is really greed or lack of vision. Mr. Satwalekar responded that policy makers are putting money behind taxing certain aspects of the economy, yet if we go this way, we may end up accumulating debt. He went on to emphasize that these quick fixes won’t work well in the end.
When asked about the situation domestically, Sadhguru explained that India is one of the few countries which can work the land 12 months of the year.
Only 4% percent of what is invested in rural work reaches where it needs to. The main cause of this is that the mechanisms are not established, despite having some well-thought-out schemes. However, instead of relying on governmental mechanisms, privatization could be a solution.
Rajshree Pathy, MD of Rajshree Group of Companies, was the next to speak. As a leader who has taken a grass-roots business to a global level, Mr. Law asked her that for a small business looking to take things large scale, what are the things they should do?
Mrs. Pathy explained that entrepreneurs often think that they have to do everything themselves. However they have to realize that they have limited exposure and they have to seek out people who possess the necessary experience. Many times the group of people who bring the business to a certain level doesn’t possess the same capability to make it large scale. The best thing is to look for people you can trust with the necessary skill sets and let them act.
Bloomberg TV Interview
The evening provided a unique opportunity in the form of an interview by Bloomberg TV between Dr. Ram Charan, Sadhguru, K.V. Kamath, Deepak Satwalekar, Rajshree Pathy and Bloomberg TV India Editor Vivek Law.
Starting off with a question about the world economic crises, Mr. Law first gave the floor to Dr. Ram Charan, who began by saying that what he was about to say would be considered controversial. Dr. Charan pinpointed the crises situation to 100 people in the global market, who brought about the crippled state of the world economy.
Speaking about the situation in India, Mr. K.V. Kamath, Chairman of Infosys Limited, noted that though there is stability in most areas, the infrastructure needs to be addressed. Overall, the process of transformation in an emerging country is slow
Interview with Sadhguru
Heading a session entitled “Inner Inhibitors”, Sadhguru responded to a question by Dr. Ram Charan on Inner Engineering. He explained that Inner Engineering is a way of exploring the inner nature of who you are and specifically how that relates to entrepreneurs and people in business.
The floor was then opened up for questions, which included queries about what is holding back India from becoming an economic superpower, how to find a mentor in spirituality and how to manage stress.
Scaling Up Your Business
Ever the pragmatist, Dr. Ram Charan started the next session by analyzing G.M. Rao’s interview with the group. He laid the groundwork by saying that Mr. Rao started off with four brothers and a truck, running a single jute mill, all the while struggling with English. In the early stages, he did not recruit any big shots, but today people from multinationals want to come and work for GMR. How did he do it?
Dr. Charan delved into 9 qualities that are key to scaling up a business. He then continued by expanding on 6 key qualities that will help a person expand their capabilities.
Sadhguru then pointed out that during his talk, Mr. Rao never used the word “problem”. He faces challenges and situations, some you know how to deal with, some not. If you see it as a challenge or situation, then you will naturally seek a solution.
Interview with G.M. Rao
In the next session of “INSIGHT”, Dr. Ram Charan interacted with Mr. GM Rao, Founder Chairman of GMR Group, the Bangalore-based global infrastructure developer.
Mr. Rao mentioned that as a business leader, his main attributes have been value and attitude. Known to be someone who never gives up, he has successfully run 28 businesses in the course of his career in areas as diverse as banking, insurance, software, brewing, jute, and sugar.
Coming from a rural background, he mentioned that he had to overcome many obstacles in his journey to become who he is today, including learning English. He is a keen advocate of building a business as a family constitution, an aspect which drew many interesting questions from the participants.
He also shared that the main cornerstone of his business has been spirituality, which is one of the reasons that he is hale and hearty, without any health problems, even at the age of 63. Narrating the story of how he started his first power plant project in Chennai 19 years ago, he said that it had caused him so much stress at that time, while in contrast he’s now undertaking 10 such projects without any tension. He attributes this quality to a strong involvement with spirituality, which started early on and continues with the inspiration he draws from spiritual leaders like Sadhguru.
Mr. Rao closed by saying that he hasn’t come to the Insight program to teach, but rather to learn from everyone here and went on to say that his future vision for his company is not to earn money, but to look into what India really needs to grow as a nation.
An enthusiastic Q&A session followed, the first question asked by Sadhguru himself. Mr. Rao had mentioned the difficulties he faced in dealing with bureaucracy outside at various levels, so Sadhguru expanded on this by asking Mr. Rao how he deals with honesty and transparency in his business and with outside collaborators.
Other questions were about GMR Group’s execution of projects which had never been done before in India, recruitment and retention of the right talent, how to generate more entrepreneurs in India and how to keep going despite numerous challenges.
When asked where he wants his company to be by 2050, Mr. Rao mentioned that from 1960, only 6 companies have survived to present day. He then spoke on what it takes for a company to live long and elaborated on six points to make that happen.
The session started with the melodious strains from Sounds of Isha inviting the participants. Sadhguru welcomed all and opened by speaking about the nature of program: “History is replete with individuals with great integrity, inspiration and insight. It is these qualities that generate leaders of the right kind. Insight essentially means that one is able to see what others cannot see.”
Dr.Ram Charan, one of the world’s most influential business consultants, then stood up to speak, explaining the background and framework of the program. He mentioned that today is the day of connecting and learning, while tomorrow we will be looking at how to build businesses, solve problems, and grow enterprises.
Sadhguru closed the proceedings with the Shiva Shambho chant, which he urged everyone to keep repeating till they had visited the Dhyanalinga. He also said that uttering the mantra just once a day would bring immense benefits. As Sadhguru slowly drove away, the sound of him repeating the mantra was audible over the loudspeakers until the last moment. It has been a grand night!
While the concerts and festivities take place at the Mahashivaratri grounds, there is a whole other celebration happening at the Dhyanalinga. Bus loads of people have been streaming in throughout the night, visiting both the program venue as well as the Dhyanalinga and Linga Bhairavi temples. However there is a significant percentage of people who have come just to visit the temple on this night. We bring you a few images from the happenings there.
On the occasion of Mahashivaratri, there was Annadanam or offering of food for hundreds of thousands of visitors who took part in the celebrations. A traditional custom of many spiritual festivals to offer food free of cost to all, special teams of volunteers were allotted for the work. The food was simple, but very tasty and filling.
Colonial Cousins is a band formed by Indian duo composed of singer Padmashri Hariharan and singer-composer Leslie Lewis. Both successful solo artists in their own right, they come together to create a fusion of Indian and Western musical genres.
They included Dheem Dheem Dhirena, the mellow Indian Rain before Hari asked the crowd, “Will you listen to a Tamil song?” The roar of approval was unmistakable. So he rang out with Uyire, uyire… blending into the Hindi version from the 1992 hit Roja. Then a quick but sweet rendition of another Tamil song Nilakaadiradu and they came to the old favourite Sa ni dha pa and Let me see the love from Colonial Cousins.
They upped the energy another notch with Chappa chappa charkha chale.
The Mahashivaratri celebrations at Isha Yoga Center, with about 500,000 visitors today, may be the centre of attention but it’s by no means the only location. About 150 Isha centers throughout India are also marking the night in tandem. The event starts with Guru pooja and free Annadhanam or offering of food is provided for all. Isha meditators and public are flocking to these centers, watching the live streams and telecasts, and being completely involved with the significance of the special date.
Kailash Kher continued to fling about megavolts of energy around with Tauba Tauba, Ek pal chain na aave, Naiharwa, Ba bam bam ba bam and two songs from his new album Rangeele.
The lyrics struck a chord with listeners for, among others, he sang from Kabir:
Bin Sathguru apno nahi koi, apno nahi koi
Ko yeh raah batawe
Kahat Kabir, Suno Bhai Sadho…
Naiharwa humkaa ne bhave
humkaa na bhave
Who but Satguru is our own
Who but him can show us the way
Says Kabir, listen, ye good men,
The mother’s place appeals no more…
Sadhguru danced with abandon down the ramp and everybody was up on their feet. Kailash Kher continued with Saiyyan, Allah ke bandhe and finally finished with the robust Ye duniya utpatanga. After the concert he said, “It was a wonderful concert but it’s not just about entertainment, it’s more than that: enlightenment through music. The spirit of my album Kailasa was in sync with the atmosphere here.”
Past midnight. The hills around Isha Yoga Center are colder today than they have been for days. Many eyelids were drooping, many figures slumping in their chairs. Enter Kailash Kher. With volume, zest and verve he and his band Kailasa brought them to life. He set off with Jana jogi de naal, and continued with Aao na, Mai to tere pyar mein, Teri Deewani and Rang deeni.
For Joban chalke, he asked Sadhguru’s permission to invite a few ladies on stage, who added much charm to the number. Kailash Kher said that he had been trying for years to come to Isha to perform but managed only now, adding that it was all Shiva’s grace. “Hum sab Shivji ke god mein baithe hai! (We are in Shivji’s embrace),” he said.
As the midnight sandhya kaala approached, Sadhguru spoke about the significance of Mahashivarathri as a way of moving one’s energies upward. Making use of a sound specifically crafted to produce this effect, Sadhguru chanted the Mahamantra along with the participants gathered, as well as the many thousands watching the event live in many parts of the world.
The ambience already set with cauldrons of fire on either side of the dias, a bhuta aradhana or offering to the five elements was done with the use of fire dances in various forms by the Isha Bramhacharis. Following an intense rendering of the chant Yogeshwaraya, Sadhguru then walked the length of the crowd on a raised platform in the center of the hall. Sounds of Isha then came in with boisterous drums, which set the whole hall dancing for the second time this evening.
Sadhguru leads the crowd of 5 lakh people through a meditation process, chanting “Shiva Shambho” and opening them up to the spiritual potential of the night. Tears of devotion fill the space.
Speaking of Shiva, Sadhguru says that he is neither a devotee nor worshiper of Shiva, but his slave – a slave who is ecstatic, and therefore shameless. The greatest contribution of Shiva, the Adiyogi, is that if you strive you can evolve beyond your current limitations and boundaries while you are still alive. Charles Darwin was the first person who introduced this idea in the West that one can evolve.
Sadhguru tells the story of Thirumoolar. There was a Shiva saint sage called Sundaranathan, who once found the body of Moolan, a cowherd who had suddenly died. The cows grieved, so the sage occupied the dead body of the cowherd, so that they could
return home. When he returned the next day for his own body, he found that some passers-by had cremated it. So he lived in the cowherd’s body, going into dhyana, only to emerge, out of compassion, every Mahashivaratri to impart one gem of wisdom and insight.
Sounds of Isha is a home-grown, anomalous group of ‘musicians’ – full time volunteers at the Isha Foundation who create subtle fusions that reflect the rich and diverse beings that they are. Almost 10 years old, Sounds of Isha has quite a few albums and a huge fan following to its credit.
This was evident in their performance today. Ranging from the Bhairavi Shatakam to the lively riffs of Velliangiri, they kept the audience rapt. With the opening notes of Oru Anniyar… a roar went up in the crowds. This song tells of a man who came by and took away the sounds, one by one, leaving behind only silence. It is hugely popular and became even more so after Sadhguru stood up and encouraged the crowd to dance, to thunderous applause.
Members of Sounds of Isha said they had great fun performing today, particularly because they had to shuffle their program rather hurriedly based on the enthusiastic response they received. “Besides, we’re a full team today with all of our members present, so it was a
pleasure,” they said. Sounds of Isha came out today with a new album Trigun, which was released by singer Hariharan of Colonial Cousins.
Another musical album highlighted earlier in the evening was Ishana by popular singer Smitha, which was released by former actress and politician Hema Malini. Other releases include Isha’s first ever Hindi magazine Isha Lehar by Leslie Lewis of Colonial Cousins and a range of health products named Isha Arokia by Dr. Prathap Reddy of Apollo Hospitals.
Taking up Raga Malkauns, the artiste talked of how the body is the ‘gaatri veena’ – the singing veena, from which instrument arise all other instruments. During the alaap he demonstrated several variations where the human voice imitates a wind instrument, a damaru (Shiva’s two headed drum) etc.
The singer then persuaded the audience to join him in the next chant, which they did with involvement and fairly accepable pitch! Earlier in the day, he had said: What does music have? Sound and rhythm. But there is another beautiful aspect that music has – silence. Silence between words is also speech, silence between notes is also music.
Choosing to end on a high note, he sang a tandav in Raga Adana, Shiva, Shiva, Shiva… This fast paced item was marked by a rapidly enunciated string of praise. The booming pakhawaj seemed to thunder in the hearts of its listeners!
Shiva, Shiva, Shiva
Shankar, Adi Deva
Mahabali Shiva, Adi, Ant Shiva
Pooran sakala kaaj, Hara Hara Mahadeva
Padmashri Wasifuddin Dagar is a Hindustani classical singer of the dhrupad genre. A descendent of the legendary Swami Haridas Dagar, Tansen’s teacher, Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar is the 21st generation of an unbroken lineage of Dhrupad singers.
He began in Raga Puriya with an invocation that is traditionally sung in his family with the aalap “Om Anant Tam Taran Tarini Twam Hari Om Narayan, Anant Hari Om Narayan” praying for the end of darkness. The jor in the beat Chautal went directly into the praise of Shiva: Parvati nath, Shiva, Shambo. Earlier the artiste had shared that the individual personality of the raga is held very important in his family: “The raag is like a rose. Some like the colour, some like the fragrance, some like the petals. We appreciate the rose because it is a rose, because of its existence as a rose. We don’t appreciate a raag because of one aspect; we explore it as a whole.”
Dhol Kunitha performance
The first item of the evening was the vibrant Dhol Kunitha from Karnataka. Coming from the folk stronghold of Ramnagar, ‘high-energy’ would be the only way to describe the performance.
The artistes, exhultant after the perfomance, said that the form was Shiva’s boon to them. The story behind the folk dance is about when a rakshasa performed penance and asked for Shiva himself to enter him. When that happened, however, the devotee was unable to contain the Mahadeva and his stomach burst open. So his skin was made into the skin of the dhol, his hands the stick, his palms the cymbals and so on.
After this, Sadhguru sat on the stage and bramhacharis chanted the ancient Nirvana Shatakam.
The bases of all creation, including the physical body, are the five elements. The wellbeing of the body and the mind can be established by purifying the five elements within the human system. There is a whole system of yoga called bhuta shuddhi, meaning purification of the elements. The Pancha Bhuta Aradhana, is a unique opportunity for devotees to benefit from this deep yogic science. The event takes place on the 14th day of every lunar month, known as Shivarathri in the Dhyanalinga between 5:40 pm and 6:10 pm. On Mahashivaratri, the event is presided by Sadhguru.
The Pancha Bhuta Aradhana stabilizes body and mind and is particularly beneficial for those suffering from physical ailments, a weak constitution, psychological instabilities, disturbed sleep and a constant sense of fear.
The Mahashivaratri is the biggest event in Isha’s calendar. Hundreds of thousands of people stream in and the events – including sathsang with Sadhguru, powerful meditations, concerts, dances – go on all night.
It is a massive effort and we bring you some pictures from the preparations leading up to the event.
Talking of the pakhawaj, which is a long drum generally used for the dhrupad form of singing, Amjad Ali Khan announced that he was going to perform the next piece – Raga Shuddha Kalyan – in the dhrupad style. In this energetic piece, we saw the dynamism of the pakhawaj displayed. After jor and jhala, the performer finished with a fast piece in Raga Yaman.
This was followed by a folksy melody from the Kafi thaat in Raga Zila Kafi set to Deepchandi taal. This is a raga that is much used to bring out the flavor of Holi, the festival of colours.
The next piece was the hauntingly lovely Charukeshi – a borrowing from South Indian classical music. Then came a tarana in Raga Bahar, which was a salute to Hazrat Amir Khusrau, followed by a nod to the great Rabindranath Tagore with the ever popular Ekla chalo re. The Ustad finished the concert in the traditional manner with the sublime Bhairavi.
Amjad Ali Khan’s opening piece was a mellow composition that weaved together a few beautiful evening ragas… Shree, Marwa, Purya Dhanashree and Purvi and set to Deepchandi taal. The artiste said this was a tribute to Sadhguru for his work and his commitment to humanity.
The next item was peppered with bhajans much cherished by Mahatma Gandhi: Vaishnava Jana in Raga Khamaj segueing into Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram in Mishra Gara. Both were interestingly interpreted by the maestro.
“In our family, we feel connected to every soul, every religion of the world. We are grateful to god for creating music,” he said.
Padma Vibhushan Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is a Hindustani classical musician who plays the sarod. He was born into the illustrious Bangash lineage rooted in the Senia Bangash School of music. It was this family that brought the rabab to India in the 18th century, and it was Ghulam Ali Khan Bangash, the court musician of Gwalior, who gradually transformed the rabab into the sarod as we know it today. Amjad Ali Khan’s sons Amaan and Ayaan are the seventh generation of players in this musical family. “Sarod is a precious gift of god to our family,” the Ustad said, “Sarod is a Persian name which meant music – it is actually ‘sarood’ in Farsi.” Today, Amjad Ali Khan is accompanied by Tanmay Bose on the tabla and Fatehsingh Gangani on the pakhawaj.
In the audience today are illustrious guests: G Mallikarjuna Rao of the GMR group, Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman of the Apollo Group of Hospitals, Raghu Iyer, CEO of Rajasthan Royals cricket team, and Dilip Cherian of Perfect Relations.
As sound of the chant Mahabharatam filled the hall, Sadhguru walked among the participants, leading them out into the pavilion. For the last dinner they would have as part of the event, the premises of the Adiyogi Alayam were decorated lavishly with lamps.
The participants were gripped with sentiment – it was the end of an experience that occurs only once in a lifetime. But few could resist the lively beats by Sounds of Isha, which brought many to their feet. Volunteers and participants encircled Sadhguru as the music played, enjoying a joyful dance which would bring this momentous program to a close.
The last session of the Mahabharat had Sadhguru bringing in the various teams that have worked relentlessly to make the event happen, from construction to decor, dining, music, media and hospitality to maintenance, registrations and program coordination. The teams came up bashfully to thunderous applause – the participants were grateful and very appreciative of the massive work that has gone in.
The final showcase of Mahabharat was a phenomenonal dance by over 130 Isha residents. Depicting the ebb and tide of war, with wide aggressive stances, tight group formations and guttural sounds and grunts, the Kali dance was a spectacular affair. There were strong influences of Kalari and the Balinese ritual dance Kecak.
The colours they wore were, again, red and black, to depict the battle of Kurukshetra. However, each dancer wore a mask with both the colours, indicating that we all contain elements of everything – and that the real battle we wage is internal, within ourselves.
The atmosphere for Yaksha is always beautiful with the Devi temple lit by scores of lamps. This evening there is an added element – a long series of sky lanterns have been released and they float above the already gorgeous courtyard in a golden stream, gladdening the hearts of the audience. Neyveli Santhana Gopalan continued with Chandrachuda Shiva Shankara, a Kannada composition by Purandara Dasa.
The artiste then ended his recital with a Dhrupad piece in Raga Purvi on the joys of nirguna worship.
Neyveli Santhana Gopalan began with an invocation to Lord Ganesha: Vatapi Ganapatim in Raga Hamsadhwani. Then he sang a composition Naada Tanumanisham in Raga Chittaranjani. Here Saint Thyagaraja is calling Shiva ‘Nadatanu’, the embodiment of the primodial naada.
Then keeping with the dominant theme of Shiva for the evening, he sang Ramanatham Bhajeham in Raga Pantuvarali, a kriti about Shiva in Rameshwaram by Muthuswamy Dikshitar. The traditional scale of the raga is at least 2000 years, he said.
Neyveli Santhana Gopalan is a noted, respected Carnatic vocalist. He is known for his traditional and purist styles of rendering ragas, musical compositions and swaras. His style is distinguished by his adherence to strict raga interpretation, and lack of ostentation in ragam-tanam-pallavis.
The artiste has been to Isha before to conduct workshops and interact with the Samskruti children and said he was very happy to be back again. His purist attitude to music comes, he told the blog team, from his being a vainika, a veena player. The Saraswati veena is held to be the basis of Carnatic classical music and there is a school of musical thought that holds its superiority very high: “By the end of the concert, I should feel that I am the veena.”
He is accompanied today by VV Ravi on the violin, KV Prasad on the mridangam, SV Ramani on the ghatam and A Krishnan on the morsing.
Watch the live stream of Neyveli Santhana Gopalan’s Carnatic vocal performance at Isha Yoga Center.
On the eighth and final day of the Mahabharat event, we bring you a short video of Sadhguru speaking about the epic and the importance of living the experience.
The Mahabharat is almost coming to an end and there are so many aspects of the preparations to dwell on. But there is one comparison that is rather stunning – the conditions at the Adiyogi Alayam before the program started and now.
Anyone visiting even two days before would have been dazed to see how much remained to be done. But it was, with the utmost efficiency. We bring you a few images.
Sadhguru makes the distinction between Jaya and Vijaya – internal and external conquests. Unless you win over yourself, where is your victory, what is your success?
This is the significance behind the Sounds of Isha song, Jaya Vijaya:
Dharma yuddha hai
Karma yuddha hai
Atal rahaa vinaash
Yuddha gosha se ek ho gaye
Dharti aur aakaash
Kar na paoge jo khud ke
raaga lobha par jai
Raja kya karoge, aur kis par
Jo ho na khud par Jai
This is the war of Dharma
This is the war of Karma
Destruction is inevitable
The clamor of war has made
the earth and sky meet
If you cannot conquer
your own rage and anger
how can you be victorious over others?
While narrating the Pandavas’ journey to Indra’s court, Sadhguru tells of his own experience in Devalok.
Sometime is 1985-86, Sadhguru was in the Himalayas. After a tiring journey he arrived at Badrinath. It was cold – about -4 degrees — and raining as well, so he sought refuge in an ashram. After some probing questions, the swamis permitted stay and said to someone: “Usko Devlok mein daal do!” (“Put him in Devalok!”) Sadhguru admits he thought of Apsaras.
He was led through alleyways to a room laid out with several beds and there was nobody else there. As Sadhguru put down his pack and crashed on the mattress… squelch! the bed was sodden. He moved to another one. Wet. Every one of them. “However,” Sadhguru went on, to chuckles from the audience, “in spite of so much water, it did not drown the bugs.” After moving from bed to bed “so that I could feed all the bugs equally” he finally gave up at 3.30 and went out.
Then he really saw Devalok. Over the dark valley, a mountain peak, white and golden, lit by the sun from elsewhere. Sadhguru says he burst into tears at the sight.
The next composition, in praise of Shiva, was a composition by the artiste’s father Prof. Lakshminarayana. Called Shiva, Shiva, Shiva, it is set to Raga Karaharapriya in Roopaka talam. The members of the audience were treated once again to Dr Subramaniam’s masterly command of the violin but equally impressed with the 19-year-old Ambi Subramaniam, who has clearly inherited the talent that abounds in the family. He gave his first performance at the age of seven and also plays the Western violin.
Dr Subramaniam and party then finished the recital with a couple of very melodious short solos.
Padmabhushan Dr L Subramaniam is an acclaimed violinist, composer and conductor. He performs in the Carnatic style but is also known for his forays into Western classical music. He is extremely versatile – apart from these two genres, he has composed for and conducted major orchestras, scored for films, collaborated with a wide range of great musicians from different genres of music including jazz, occidental, jugalbandis with Hindustani musicians, world music and global fusion. He is particularly renowned for his virtuoso playing techniques. He is joined today by his son Ambi Subramaniam. He is accompanied by DSR Murthy on the mridangam, by G Sathysai on the morsing and by Satish Pathkota on the kanjira.
He began his performance with a kriti in Raga Hamsadhwani in praise of Lord Ganesha.
The volunteers and residents have been great facilitators for this event. Preparing flowers and refreshing the various arrangements, moving cushions for the theatrical performances, changing the clothes and decorations of the sculptures… all this is done throughout the day or into the night before the session starts the following morning. As hectic as one would imagine it to be for such a major event, what is most apparent is the joy with which they go about their activity.
Earlier in the program Sadhguru had described how the yugas are created by the Solar System’s orbit around a Super Sun. Today Sadhguru mentioned that the name of the Super Star was Rudra. Ra is Egyptian for sun, and Ru means nebulous or roaring – therefore Rudra meaning Roaring Sun. The Indus Valley has thrown up 12,000 year old iconographic evidence of their reverence of Rudra.
In fact that is the reason sun is referred to as Ravi in Indian culture, which is to say, the son of Rudra.
Responding to a question about avatars, Sadhguru said that an avatar is a manifestation of the creator. Of course, every creature – an ant, coconut tree, man – is a manifestion of the creator. But it is a question of being aware of it, conscious to the point where you can access the possibilities of the creator. The “coming down”, in this case, is by choice. The avatar operates in a semi active state – sometimes as creator, sometimes as ordinary man. The term is a perfect fit for Krishna.
Turns into a mean game
The quiet warrior a deadly force
Strong of body and mind
Weak of vanity and whim
Enjoined with god because
Destiny’s tool but nobody’s fool
A Man, A Man, Oh Man
Daksha Seth’s troupe presented yet another scintillating performance this evening. Kicking off with a contemporary reading of the disrobing of Draupadi, it moved with war drums to actual battle. Using twirling staffs, and some truly stupendous, furiously fast sworldplay on stage, the dancers told the story of war. Elements of martial arts, Kalari from Kerala and Thang-ta from Manipur, were employed and the use of props – smoke, lighting, falling red paper that hinted at blood – was superb. It gave the audience a better idea of the scenes at Kurukshetra.
Before they begin, Ravikiran explains a bit about the instruments they are playing. The old Indian name for Santoor is the shata tantri veena – for it has almost 100 strings. The Chitravina is a slide instrument with 20 to 21 strings – the strings are plucked with the right hand and the slide is moved by the left. The sounds of the two instruments blend particularly well.
The artiste-duo begins with the romantic evening raga Keeravani/Kirwani. After a lingering aalap, Ravikiran who is also a vocalist sang the opening notes of the composition Paratpara, Maheshwara, Dayakara set to Adi talam. The banter between all artists on the stage was fluid and the musical conversation most enjoyable.
They conclude with a brief portrayal of Hamsadhwani set to Roopak talam. Tarun Bhattacharya had said earlier, “They are both romantic ragas but Kirwani has more pathos and Hamsadhwani is lighter in mood.” Both artistes said they were delighted to perform in such beautiful surroundings.
This evening’s performance is a jugalbandi – a collaboration between the Carnatic musician Chitravina N Ravikiran and Tarun Bhattacharya on the santoor in the Hindustani style.
Ravikiran plays the rare Chitravina or the gottuvadyam and was a child prodigy, who impressed an array of musicians at the age of two with his astounding knowledge of ragas. Tarun Bhattacharya belongs to the Maihar gharana and the two artistes have enjoyed collaborating with each other before. Tarun Bhattacharya is accompanied on the tabla by Abhijit Banerjee, and Ravi Kiran accompanied by the mridangam wizard Trichy Shankaran. They are supported by Akkarai Subhalakshmi on the violin.
Day 6 of the Mahabharat has a color theme: Red for the Pandavas and Black for the Kauravas. The participants, who were told in advance to bring clothes in these colors, have worn them with great excitement. The Adiyogi Alayam has drapes and flags in contrasting patterns, many containing insignias of various personages on either side of the battle. Karna’s sculpture now has a broken wheel beside it, while Arjuna’s Gandeeva has made an appearance. The backdrop for Sadhguru’s seat is a grand arrangment too!
Last night was a long one for the residents, volunteers and workers involved with the decorations at the Adiyogi Aalayam. With the story moving out of the exile phase and entering the war chapters, the look needed to be changed drastically. All the greenery and rusticity came down and the decor became more militant. We bring you a few images from the work done overnight.
As a memento, the particpants were presented with metal dice, which were blessed by Sadhguru. The cylindrical die has four flattened sides – three numbers and the Mahabharat logo on the fourth. The surface is covered with beaten sheets of copper and the pieces came wrapped in red cloth ornamented with gold. Used in pairs, these were the type of dice used on that fateful day in the Mahabharat.
Describing the battle, Sadhguru says some people in this story have very specific destinies. Drishtadyumna, for instance, is destined to kill Drona, just as Shikhandi or Amba is certain to kill Bhishma. No one wants to deny them their destiny.
Sadhguru then talks of what destiny is and how they must fulfil it here and now or somewhere else, it is just a question of time. “Destiny is only a string that makes a garland. Whether you make a garland of flowers, beads or bones, is determined now by your karma… Or sometimes, if you have the necessary power or discrimination about your own life, you can discriminate between your mind, your karma, the life within you, then you can place your destiny into somebody else’s hands out of utter devotion. This is what the Pandavas did.”
It’s no surprise that the meals at the Mahabharat are excellent – after all Isha has a great reputation for presenting superb culinary fare. Sweetmeat experts from Andhra Pradesh as well as cooks from North India have been invited to prepare the tables for this event.
But there is a pattern and a method to the foods being presented here. The initial days saw mostly North Indian fare with tandoori rotis and sabzis. Now slowly, to trace the movements of the Pandavas over the subcontinent, the specialties are increasingly from South India. There were also Udipi specialtes, Neer dosa and Ragi dosa. The Udipi connection is particularly relevant because of the history. Sadhguru tells that the King of Udipi was approached by both the warring parties for his support. But instead of joining one side, he preferred to stay neutral and supply the food to both armies at Kurukshetra. Sadhguru jokes that the ubiquitous Udipi restaurants are feeding the country to this day.
The evening session of the Mahabharat brought a spell-binding dance performance by dancer Daksha Seth and her troupe. Containing various influences including acrobatics and classical forms, it was a high-voltage routine. Isha Sharvani, playing Krishna, was beautiful with speaking, fluid lines, and utterly fearless as she soared a few feet above the ground with what seemed like very meagre hold on her prop.
The high energy performace was much admired by Sadhguru as well as the participants.
In a series of short presentations, Shubha Mudgal drew liberally from the Bhakti and Sufi saints – Kabir, Raidas and Amir Khusrau. From Kabir, she sang Mai ghulam mohi bech gusai.
Beche Ram toh raakhe kaun
Raakhe Ram toh beche kaun
If Ram sells me away, who’ll keep me
And if Ram keeps me, who can sell me?
Next, from Raidas came the evocative Ab kaise choote Ram naam rat laagi followed by a languorous composition in Raga Bageshri called Satguru sahib jab mehr kari. She followed that up with a song from Amir Khusrau, Daiyya ri, mohe bhejo yaari sung by Khusrau in praise of his master, Nizamuddin Aulia. It was an absolute treat to hear all these poets in Shubha Mudgal’s voice.
Padmashri Shubha Mudgal is a well-known singer of Hindustani classical music. She sings khayal, thumri, dadra as well as pop. She is accompanied today by Aneesh Pradhan on the tabla and Sudhir Nayak on the harmonium.
She begins the recital with an evening raga, the mellifluous Yaman. The first composition is in praise of Shiva: Devan dev mahaan followed by Devi Dayani Daani Daata in praise of the Goddess. Both compositions were by Shubha Mudgal’s guru, Pandit Ramashreya Jha. Earlier the artiste met the blog team. She said, “To sing in a space charged with this kind of energy is always special – it has been designed so carefully. I feel this is not really a performance… it comes from a tradition of making a small offering.”
The decorations and artwork in Adiyogi Alayam have been taking everyone’s breath away. The fabrics and installations change subtly every day. Today, for instance, seeing how the Pandavas are in exile, the theme centred around the forest – the backdrops were made of reeds and fibre, grassy and leafy patches hung about everywhere.
But the piece de resistance – the ensemble that catches everyone’s eye as they enter and leave the hall – is a set of sculptures specially commissioned for the event. Duryodhana and Karna are set to one side and the five Pandavas and Draupadi on the other. The modernist sculptures were designed by Sadhguru, implemented by Isha’s design team and executed by temple sculptors from Perur. Made of metal and stone, the pieces are coated and textured to look like burnished copper. Taken together the collection weighs over 1½ tonnes.
In the afternoon session, a lively skit by children from the Isha Home School and residents told the story of the Pandavas’ encounter with a Yaksha.
As the Pandavas seek some water in the forest, Nakula, Sahadeva, Arjuna and Bhima fall prey to a Yaksha’s lure and fall dead. When he arrives at the spot, the Yaksha asks Yudhisthra a series of questions to which he has all the answers. Pleased, the Yaksha asks him to name one brother who could be revived. Yudhisthtra names Nakula. On being questioned on his choice, Yudhisthra responds that of their mothers Kunti and Madri, Kunti has one son alive in him and that it is only fair that Madri have one son living too. Happy with his nobility, the Yaksha revives them all.
Sadhguru reminds us that during the game of dice, Yudhishtra had staked his half-brothers Nakula and Sahadeva first. After these years spent in the forest, Yudhishtra had become a better man – shown by his concern for Madri. The point of the story of the Yaksha is that the comfort of the palace may not teach what the hardship of the forest can.
The audience thoroughly enjoyed the play and we bring you some pictures from the green room.
Sadhguru says going to the forest is an enduring theme in our epics – it is always considered an opportunity for learning. For instance, Arjuna and Bhima both have encounters (with Shiva and Hanuman respectively) that teach them the value of humility.
In an interesting digression, Sadhguru tells of his own experience in the Western Ghats where he once walked 22 days living off the land. People assume that elephants and tigers are the most exciting part of the wild, but to him the most intruiging feature were the insects that would start to thrum at precisely the same time every evening. Sadhguru also shares a nugget: If all the insects were to disappear off the earth, life on this planet would not last more than 16 years. If worms disappeared, life would last a mere eight years. If humans disappeared… you guessed it! it would make no difference at all and, in all probability, the earth would thrive.
The Pandavas are exiled to the forests and are settling down gradually, even beginning to enjoy the calm of nature. Draupadi however had a problem – there wasn’t enough food to feed all the Brahmins that visited them. She had to turn away the guests, which distressed her.
Draupadi prayed to the Sun God and asked for the ability to feed any guest that walked into her humble home. Surya bestowed on her an Akshaya Paatra, a bowl that would give unlimited quantities of anything she wished but so long as she ate last. Explaining her perturbation, Sadhguru says that feeding people is a kind of joy. Even today, in many holy towns of South India, there is no need to go to restaurant for meals. Simple but good meals are provided to anyone who walks in. Food is seen as something very fundamental.
The first half of the Mahabharat week saw the Adiyogi Alayam converted into an opulent palace that expected its visitors to live up to its grandeur. Now the events are moving towards war – the participants are being greeted today by war drums and dark drapes hang from the ceiling… is it to forebode what’s coming?
The artiste then presented an array of offering from the Benaras region: the forms of Thumri, Dadra, Chaiti and Hori. It was superb lecture-demonstration of the sub genres, for Panditji interspersed informative commentary and snippets from various sources to illustrate the point he was making. So we saw the feminine Thumri and the Chaiti contrasted with the Dadra and the masculine Chait.
For the Hori, the artiste offered two – one depicting the shringara rasa with Radhika’s holi, which is full of mischief and merriment; and the other, a Shiva bhajan, where the song talks of Shiva’s holi in the smashana, the funeral grounds where ash replaces gulaal or the holi colors.
After an invocation to Durga, Pt Chunnulal Mishra began the evening with Raga Shyam Kalyan – a raga that is dedicated to Shyam, i.e. Krishna, and Kalyan, which is Shiva: He Kartaar tum ho udaar. In the same raga, he segued with Shankar, Shiva, Dhani, a composition by Ramdas, containing 12 names of Shiva.
He said: “The Mother’s durbar, mention of Shiva and the company of saints – the music has no choice but to flow! I have played in so many places but none so beautiful as this.” The next was a charming juxtaposition of the Carnatic and Hindustani styles with Raga Hamsadhwani. Panditji is particularly fond of the southern school of classical music and he sang the very popular Vatapi Ganapatim before singing a northern variant with Jai Durge, Jagdambe, Bhavani.
Padmabhushan Pandit Channulal Mishra is a noted exponent of the Kirana gharana school of Hindustani classical music and is known for his expertise with the khayal and the Purab ang thumri. He also sings a diverse number of forms including dadra, chaiti, kajri, hori and bhajans. Additionally he draws his material from a wide range of sources and languages, which makes his performances a wonderful blend of music and lyric.
Speaking to the blog team earlier, he said he looked forward to this evening’s performance. “When classical music is performed, it is not on a stage, which is for drama; not on a platform, which is for speeches. When classical music is performed it is always as if it is offered in a temple. Today we will literally be playing at the Devi temple, which automatically uplifts both performer and audience.”
Question: Sadhguru why did Krishna dictate to Sahadev, not to reveal his wisdom and impose the rule that he should answer a question with another question?
Sadhguru: So why is he preventing wisdom from spreading? The wisdom of Sahadeva is not spiritual wisdom, it is worldly wisdom. If people feel strife, they will seek the ultimate. So he understands that if strife is created, everybody will make the right choice. But with worldly wisdom if you create comfort, a sense of comfort which will not last very long, people will make wrong choices.
So he said, “You will not spread this wisdom. Your wisdom is useful only if spiritual enlightenment has happened, then you learn how to handle the material, it will be useful to create comfort in the world.” This is what Krishna is saying, this kind of wisdom will put people to sleep, it is a great tranquilizer. Krishna wants strife because when strife is there, people will seek truth. So he does not want Sahadeva’s wisdom.
Sadhguru continues the story of Karna, a righteous and straightforward person who ends up becoming acrimonious and spiteful because of people’s taunts about his supposedly low birth. His gratitude to Duryodhana for giving him a kingdom and a title leads to him exhibiting increasingly malicious behavior against the Pandavas to prove his loyalty. This devotion to his friends became an enduring quality, leading him to renounce his place among the Pandavas in favor of the one person who had stood by and nurtured him. Following is Sadhguru’s poem about this complex character:
Karmic burden of
Make him mean
By things unseen.
A good man
Who is no good.
A great being
Only when he stops being.
A fate’s child
In order to cheat his cousin brothers out of their immense wealth and good fortune, Duryodhana arranges a game of dice with the help of his uncle Shakuni. Taunting them to stake their riches, the Pandavas are no match for Shakuni’s enchanted dice and are made to hand over all their jewels and ornaments. Sadhguru puts the situation in context, “These jewels are not prized for their monetary value, they are valued for their prestige. So taking away their personal jewels is like dismantling them. The Pandavas stood there in utter shame, just fifteen minutes ago they were kings, now they were the slaves of the Kauravas.”
Sadhguru, ever the poet, has composed lines about each of the characters in the Mahabharat. Here is a compilation of the poems he has shared with the participants so far:
So full of fire she had to be of fire.
Of passion pride shame and rage.
Too fiery to rise too fiery to fall.
Her beauty and passion consumed all.
What a lovely snare.
A good man
a good man
And a good man.
As tedious as
Only good can get.
But when life gets mean
You will want good man.
A scoundrel is knowledgeable
A fool will know.
A sage is an empty page.
To the haunting sound of violin in the background, Sadhguru explains the birth of the city of Indraprastha, the miraculous development of the metropolis dedicated to Indra. Initially, the Kauravas voice their plot to kill the Pandavas in front of the royal court, to which Drona replies, “You can’t kill the Pandavas so easily, even by foul play. I know Arjuna, he’s as good as me – he can shoot you dead in his sleep.”
In order to avoid a civil war, it was decided by the elders that the Pandava brothers should move to the former capital of the kingdom. After reaching there and realizing that it was an ancient ruined city, Krishna rectifies the situation by invoking the rain god to build a magnificient city for the Pandava clan.
Sadhguru opens today’s session with the story of the Pandava’s marriage to Draupadi. Though her father had wanted Draupadi to marry Krishna, the whole situation is cunningly avoided by Krishna, who convinces Draupadi’s father to arrange a swayamvara, saying that a fiery woman like Draupadi should make her own choice.
A contest with an occult bow is arranged, which most of the warriors could not even string. Only those who know the esoteric process can wield it and the challenge is finally won by Arjuna, who takes Draupadi as his bride.
The fourth and final piece was pure dance, and a collaboration of a fairly interesting nature. Alarmel Valli danced to a poem by Arundhathi Subramaniam called Vigil. In the dance itself, two voices – the poet’s and the dancer’s – recite the poem, which is a somewhat ironic take on a woman’s wait for her lover. The dancer said that this was their special offering to Sadhguru.
Talking of what dance means to her, Alarmel Valli told the blog team, “Dance, to me, is a prayer with my entire being.” Speaking very much like an Isha although this is her first visit to the ashram, she adds, “Dance is a form of yoga. The sadhana, the bhakti, the commitment, the practice, the holding of the body, the mind, the spirit… all that goes to the making of the dancer – if you dance with Truth.”
In her third piece, the artiste presented Nrityalahiri, a pure dance composition in Raga Rasikapriya. Marked by nadai or cross-rhythms this item weaves in a verse addressed to the land: Nada kundro, kaada kundro… The essence being that no matter what the landscape – whether hills or forests – it takes its goodness from the people inhabiting it.
Next, in a tangent that is nevertheless very significant to the ongoing Mahabharat mega event, the danseuse portrayed vignettes from the life of Krishna. Calling it Krishna, the Intimate and the Infinite, she looks at his saulabhyam and paratvam, the ease of access he affords and the lofty ideal he represents. Culling from the Bhagvad Gita, Narayaniyam and Yadava Abhyudaya among others, she presents various glimpses of his life and glory.
Yaksha 2012 kicks off with classical dance. Padmabhushan, Padmashri Alarmel Valli is a renowned Bharatnatyam dancer and choreographer. She is an exponent of the Pandanallur style and specialises in blending dance and music admirably. She has also learnt the Odissi form and performed it for several years before turning exclusively to Bharatnatyam. She is the founder of ‘Dipashikha’, a centre for fine arts in Chennai.
In the beautiful settings of Isha Yoga Center, Alarmel Valli began her performance with worship of the Mother Goddess. Taking off from a benediction in Shakuntalam that sees Shakti as Prakriti, she examined various aspects of her – the romantic aspect, the cataclysmic aspect and the womanly aspect.
The storytelling took a dramatic turn today with the enactment of an episode from the exploits of Bheema – the slaying of the demon Bakasura. A fierce cannibal who demanded daily offerings and sacrifice, he terrorized a local village until Bheema put an end to his cruel ways.
Children of the Isha Home School as well as Isha residents participated in the drama with much gusto. The actors moved among the particpants who craned their necks, sat up and even moved closer to catch all the action. Rather than be depicted through a single actor, a long line of ‘Chota Bheems’ portrayed the warrior who finally slew the rakshasa.
Sadhguru shares a poem entitled “Megha” about the dark-bodied one known as Krishna:
The dark mystic of the ages
arrives not with a bundle of messages
But with mischief that enamors kings and sages
Determined to have his way with a smile
he did commit ravish deceit and slaughter even
Life does not absolve him of taint
but could not bind him even a moment
He’s no saint or sage
but glowed with wisdom for all ages
The decorative elements in Adiyogi Alayam have been a major talking point these past couple of days. Accentuating the pivotal role that Krishna played in the happenings of the epic, to one side of the hall is suspended Krishna’s flute – a 20ft fabrication made of various materials. It is a lovely piece, decorated with ornate silks and an installation of Krishna’s trademark peacock feather.
In an amazing story involving venom, river snakes and an elixir, Bhima survives an attempt on his life by his cousin Duryodhana. The grieving brothers give him up for dead and are actually preparing the obsequies.
As Duryodhana feigns sorrow and oversees the feast, Bhima walks back to Hastinapura. Shocked at his return, the cooks stop the preparations midway. Bhima is, needless to say, hungry… in fact, he’s hungrier than usual. He barges into the kitchen and flings all the vegetables he can find into one steaming pot. It was quite contrary to the Aryan culinary rules of the time, for they were particular about which vegetables went together and which didn’t. But it turned out alright, and the dish Bhima concocted is what we relish today as Aviyal.
The story moves on. The Pandavas and Kauravas are growing as does the enimity between them.
Parallely, Sadhguru tells Karna’s story. Laden with a daunting set of curses, Karna, that child of destiny, walks in desolation to the ocean shore at a latitude where the sun’s rays could be best received. The spot where he performed his intense sadhana is marked today with the famous Sun Temple at Konark.
Every session in the Mahabharat program is opened with a special composition by Sadhguru. As the participants settle down in their bright attires, freshly enthused for the new day, the Aalayam reverberates with the Mahabharat chant:
Dharma Adharma Sangarshanam
Pakshi, Prani, Manava Cha Deva
Dharma Adharma Panchalika
Gnana Prabhasita Divya Jeevam
Sarve Sarva Maha Amritam
Story of Bharat, the Great Story of Bharat
A struggle betwixt Dharma and Adharma
Bird, animal, human and Gods
All puppets of Dharma-Adharma
The Glorious being who glows in enlightenment
In him everything an ambrosia of life.
Mahabharat – Saga Nonpareil (February 11 – 18)
Talking of how the yugas influence the consciousness of all creatures on our planet, Sadhguru explained the natural dip in perception that occurs during the Kali Yuga. However, he added: “You can be above this: free to transcend the yuga, or be trampled by the yuga, or ride the yuga – all three possiblities are there.”
In a fascinating discussion on dharma and adharma, Sadhguru says it is not about right or wrong. Dharma is a many-tiered thing. There are many common dharmas and personal dharmas – to live in the family, to walk in the street, to be an ascetic, to me as a human being… the question is always, what is my dharma?
Sadhguru takes questions from the participants, who are probing the issue further, asking how, if everyone has personal dharma, there will not be collisions. In response, Sadhguru is describing the tension between karma and dharma.
Fresh flowers are always an important component of the Isha look. Our decoration team uses garlands made of lilies to set off bric-a-brac and participants aren’t spared when it comes to their zeal – the women are offered flowers to wear in their hair and yes, the volunteers will arrange it to best effect too!
Behind the action is… more action! To make sure everything is running as it should, volunteers are organised into efficient teams. In between sessions, the hall team swoops in to clean up and reorganise; on cue, the dining team brings the food and the cheer, while the invisible teams – kitchen, cleaning, decoration and others – are also determined to make the event a smooth affair.
In an aside, Sadhguru explains the idea behind the caste system in India: As fathers taught sons, this was a way of preserving knowledge and skills, which is one reason why the caste system was rigidly followed. Each community had its own rules – what to eat, how to eat, how to live – so that they could best nurture their skills and trades, leading to the evolution of a highly complex society. It was not intended to be discriminatory as it later became.
Even today, although it is fast fading, many South Indian communities retain their unique lifestyles, even down to how they season food.
Sadhguru narrates the story of Bhishma taking the three princesses of Kashi for Satyavati’s son and the consequences that bore for Amba, the oldest of the sisters. The tale then shifts to the other line of Chandravamsha, which took root in Mathura. After describing the nature of Krishna’s birth, Sadhguru breaks for a meditative process with music dedicated to the blue-bodied one.
Keeping with the story-within-a story format that is so typical of the epic, Sadhguru tells of King Nahusha, his lineage, finally coming to King Shantanu who wanted to marry Satyavati, the fishergirl.
As we break for a while, the story is poised at a thrilling cliffhanger, where Satyavati’s father has demanded that her sons must be king. But Devavrata, Shantanu’s able son from Ganga, is in the way. So Devavrata vows never to marry, never to have children and castrates himself – thereby earning the sobriquet, ‘Bhishma’.
This first session is a delightful exercise in pure storytelling, interspered with mellow song. Sadhguru picks up the thread from Sage Brihaspati, traces the lineage of the Chandravamsis, a line of artistic, emotional people… the same ‘vamsha’ or family that yields us the Kurus who form the centre of our story.
With the event getting off to a grand start yesterday, the participants are eager to see what today has in store for them. As they make their way through the entrance pathway, passing through beautifully decorated toranams, they’re greeted by drummers rolling out a rousing welcome. The whole entrance area wears a traditional look: the side walls are plastered with earth and the ground is lined and ornamented with long series of white kolams.
Watch a video of participants sharing their experiences during the Adiyogi Alayam Consecration.
The program ended past midnight, many people not ready to believe that the two days were already over. Sadhguru, accompanied by Sounds of Isha, sang “Yogeshwara” with his hands folded until the last moment he exited the venue.
Sadhguru answers questions on a variety of topics, from creating the right atmosphere for sadhana to significance of matted locks to going beyond ones limitations.
Question and answer session with Sadhguru – “What is the difference between consecrating a space, a human being and a form?”
Crowd bursts into applause as Sadhguru acknowledges all the Brahmacharis and residents who’ve been working continuously over the last three months to make the Adiyogi Alayam happen.
Consecration of the Adiyogi Alayam is complete. The session with Sadhguru continued at 9:15 after dinner break.
The gigantic anklet is lifted by seven Brahmacharis and carried to the entrance of the Alayam and placed around the Adiyogi’s right foot.
He applies kumkum on the linga, draws a set of eyes and places jata on the linga. He then performs a Guru pooja to the Adiyogi and the crowd joins. Then offering of pancha bhutas is followed by a Maha Aarti performed by the Brahmacharis.
Sadhguru presses the sole of his right foot. A wave of intense cries fills the hall. He then pours water on the linga and removes the cloth from the linga. He smears the venom on the Adiyogi Linga.
Vibhuti is smeared on Sadhguru’s right foot. Sadhguru then pours venom of a black cobra into a glass flask and stoppers it. As he shakes the flask, cries of being overwhelmed emit from the crowd.
Remnants from the fire process mixed with castor oil, along with black sesame seeds, was offered to all the participants to be applied upon their foreheads.
Author and poet Arundhathi Subramaniam recites Sadhguru’s poem “Adiyogi.”
A quiet Sea
A quiet Day
A quiet Mind
But a raging Heart
Blazing with the Fire
Of an ancient Sage.
Burning for many a millennia
Destructive for the ignorant
Enlightening for the seeking
Brutal to the stubborn
Tender to the willing.
When all the tricks fall
The First Yogi’s Fire shall
Burn the ignorant pall
To light the future’s citadel
Citadels of future are first
built in the minds of Ignorance or Light
These citadels when lit with Grace
Of the Blue-Bodied Maker of all race
Will be a worthy place to dwell here
and a passage to the ways of the beyond.
O’ how fortunate are we
To carry the Fire of the Adiyogi.
10,000 participants chant in unison to sensitize the space for the consecration. The space feels uplifting and peaceful.
Samskruti students perform Shivagaami dance – a tribute to the Adiyogi and story of how the Velliangiri mountains became the Kailash of the South.
Guru Pooja was performed in front of the consecrated stone base, which will form the seat for the Adiyogi Alayam. Sadhguru then sat and is now explaining about the consecration process which just happened.
The stone lid has been slide into place on a metal scaffold, after which Sadhguru decorated the engraved sun and moon with turmeric and kumkum paste.
The lid has been placed on the brass vessel and Sadhguru has made a thick circle, about a hand-breadth across, out of turmeric paste and sesame seeds, which is in the center of the lid. Sadhguru then removed his mala, placing it over the brass container, after which the stone pit was covered with a white cloth.
Sadhguru has spread vibhuti over both of his arms and has partially filled the brass vessel with sacred ingredients. He is now placing the container into the stone pit with the help of the Bramhacharis.
Sadhguru, along with the Bramhacharis, is now preparing a large, cylindrical brass vessel, which will be a powerful foundation for the Adiyogi Alayam Consecration.
Sadhguru walking amongst participants.
Sadhguru with Bramhacharis preparing separate stone structure next to Linga for consecration. This will be the base for the dais in the Adiyogi Alayam.
Sadhguru in Adiyogi Alayam – chanting with participants while walking back and forth in front of hall, making an infinity symbol with his right hand.
Sadhguru is making preparations for next phase of consecration process.
Here’s a short highlight video from Day 1.
After the process with the vibhuthi was completed, Sadhguru performed an Aarthi in front of the Linga, moving the flame in a figure-eight – the symbol of the Infinite. Following this, he broke out into “Yogeshwaraya”, joined by Sounds of Isha. At the closing, Sadhguru prepared the participants for the next day, saying that while today happened well, tomorrow will be crucial and that they should be alert to everything that is happening there.
With burning camphor and torches, Sadhguru began the consecration of the Adiyogi Alayam Linga. 20,000 eager eyes watched as Sadhguru used various materials and processes to energize the Linga. The chanting then continued as Sadhguru lit the top with flames of camphor, after which he did a process for the crown of the Linga. A short break for the participants followed, stay tuned for more updates!
Today evening, participants witnessed another procession – this time for an enormous anklet made of copper, a symbol of the Adiyogi. A fitting offering to the First Yogi, the anklet was carried by seven bramhacharis in a procession led by Sadhguru. Accompanied by chants and the thundering beat of drums, the anklet came to rest in front of the Linga, where Sadhguru began a consecration process while the participants chanted in the background.
Over 10,000 participants joined together today to take part in the Adiyogi Alayam Consecration. Sadhguru first spoke about the significance of consecration and told those gathered that they weren’t here to witness a consecration – they were here to participate in one! In order to create the right kind of situation where each person could give himself to the fullest, Sadhguru gave the participants a mantra which had been specifically created for this purpose. Chanting went on today for much of the afternoon, which was followed by a video covering the unique and sacred consecrations that have happened in Isha over the last two decades, starting with the Dhyanalinga onwards.
Participants are on a break now until 4:30 – more updates soon…