I visited Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation's wellness center called — Prashanti —along with my son Chinmay (16) and nephew Manthan (13) for a week's stay. They both had a wonderful time at Prashanti although Manthan had to return sooner due to health issues. They were able to visit various sections, observe yoga classes in different sections, shadowed Dr. Nagarathna and Dr. Hemant and learned how patient consultations are done and yoga recommended. They were inspired by some of the teachers and therapists and overall, by the entire ambience. Chinmay also got to meet like-minded youth who came from other countries and they were mutually impressed and inspired. While a young man from Australia who goes to Chinmaya Mission regularly inspired Chinmay to take up Bhagavad Gita, Chinmay inspired him to take up Samskrit learning.
Chinmay and I also visited Veda Vidya Gurukulam where we toured the entire campus and also got to attend a class. It was simply a divine experience. The quality of teachers, students and the education imparted is amazing. It was heart warming to see how Vedic essence of Hindu Dharma is being preserved, protected and nurtured. Being a Sanskrit student Chinmay was pleasantly surprised to see how everyone spoke in fluent Samskritam. Not only this, the way in which the Gurukul students was itself worth seeing. All the students were polite, hardworking and studious. They work in the fields, take care of the cows of the Gurukul and maintain the ecosystem of the entire Gurukul by collecting the rain water and using this to feed the bore well, growing the plants that are local to the land and not some invading trees. Medicinal plants are also grown in accordance with Ayurveda Shastra. We also got to see the Yagna Shala and the meditation room. The special pyramid like construction of Meditaton hall without the use of any iron, makes it extremely suitable for the spiritual energy to flow in the right manner.
Chinmay conducted Yoga class in Sanskit for me and Manthan on Vivekananda Statue and it was amazing experience for us. His instructions were inspiring to me too - poetic expressions during relaxation. Chinmay also did Kiryas which we had never succeeded in making him do. He did Jala Neti and Vaman Dhouti and said he felt wonderful cleaning effect inside his tummy. He also got to "hang out" with some boys at Prashanti and watch a late night movie in the city - Bhag-Milka-Bhag.
Today, Chinmay and I visited what we call "22nd century clinic" - Yogaksema Stress and lifestyle Clinic. We were impressed with the entire setup (not new to me, yet new) and Chinmay was also pretty amazed at the concept and the quality of the entire setup and people involved. They were enthusiastic about their job, compassionate and passionate. We said, this is next-generation healthcare all over the world. After this, we paid a brief visit to NIMHANS and Dr. Gangadhar kindly explained all the divisions and wards. We also attended a yoga class there.
While Chinmay and Manthan did have adjustment issues like mosquito bites, frog and lizards in our room and the hard life at Prashanti, where they had to wake up at 5am, doing 3 killer yoga sessions a day, asking them to read a huge research thesis, etc, etc, they will still surely remember this experience as it is bound to make a huge impact on them. Chinmay never missed an opportunity to eat in Sampurna because he got to meet new and inspiring people there. He bought a book on Shushruta Samhita and has been reading it. He inspired people around him where ever he went and was in turn inspired by many youngsters, both visitors and therapists - Dr. Hemant, Biplav, Purnendu, Rajesh (from Veda Vijnana Gurukula), Acharya Ramachandraji Bhat and of course Dr. Nagarathna. People could not believe a kid from America can be like this. When Didi (Dr. Nagarathna) called to enquire about Manthan's health, Manthan's comment was "She is the best doctor in the world".
Overall, the kids got Prashanti deeply etched into their hearts and I am sure it has been a life-changing and a touching experience for them. Chinmay's own commitment to all that is eastern - values and philosophy - is now much more deeper and stronger. Manthan is ready to do YIC next year. I thank all the Prashanti staff and volunteers for accommodating our needs and changing dynamically as our needs changed.
Ashwini Surpur is the Director of Yoga Therapy at Yoga Bharati and a passionate yogateacher. She quit her software career in 2010 and joined Yoga Bharati as a full time volunteer.