When: 2nd - 8th Oct, 2016
Where: Van Niwas, Nainital
Above in a high breathless stratosphere,
Overshadowing the dwarfish trinity,
Lived, aspirants to a limitless Beyond…
[from Savitri by Sri Aurobindo]
Under the title ‘Sourcing Our Oneness’, a series of programmes were conceived for those working for the realisation and fulfilment of the aims and ideals of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother through various organisations such as Auroville, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Sri Aurobindo Society, The Golden Chain Fraternity, World Union, Sri Aurobindo’s Action, Auroville International, SACAR, and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Delhi Branch. The aspiration is to facilitate the coming together of people from these various backgrounds and initiating the building of a constellation that works in resonance, from which can emerge a collaborative work and support, furthering the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother within our own organisations, in India and in the World.
The very first programme in this series was hosted at the Unity Pavilion, Auroville on May 31, 2015. The second programme was hosted by Sri Aurobindo Society at its Sharanam premises, near Lake Estate, on October 25, 2015. A third event was organised at the premises of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Delhi Branch at Nainital, from October 2 to 8, 2016. For this event, participation was invited from all over India and abroad, for a week-long programme.
During this week, like the petals of a lotus, the different groups working for Mother and Sri Aurobindo came together in the scenic wonder: Van Nivas of Nainital. They were a group of approximately 85 participants, coming from India and abroad, representing most of the above mentioned organisations. The group had a wonderful balance with half the participants being between 20-40 and the other half in the age groups above, including very respected elders.This made for a wonderful fun and creative space which also held depth and silence. The seven-day programme was filled with interesting and delightful activities, many of them new and experimental to all of us. The purpose of this getting together was to experience working from oneness, to meet and know each other in that space, and from these experiences see what will emerge, how this oneness can manifest in action.
The basic tools or instruments which we applied in the workshop were the twelve qualities/petals of the Mother’s symbol (i.e. Sincerity, Humility, Gratitude, Perseverance, Aspiration, Receptivity, Progress, Courage, Goodness, Generosity, Equality, Peace); and Sri Aurobindo’s five dreams given in his address to the nation on August 15, 1947 (briefly, the creation of a free and united India, the liberation and resurgence of Asia, a world union based on an international spirit and outlook, the spreading of the spiritual gift of India to the world, and a further step in human evolution to a higher consciousness).
Most days would commence by gathering ourselves outside in the open space in front of Sri Aurobindo’s statue and chanting the Gayatri Mantra and chants selected for the theme of that day. These daily precious minutes of collective devotion revealed the marvel of voices gathering and communicating to the Beyond. All nature—birds, monkeys, trees—joined us in this offering. This would be followed by inspiring readings and interactive sessions with Tara-di and light-hearted fun sessions with Aurovilian Fif who works as a medical clown. Fif helped many of us to become free from our inhibitions, come closer to one another, and surrender to the oneness and light in and around us.
This would be followed by small group activities using the twelve qualities to act from our intuitive space. Each day had as a theme one of the Matrimandir gardens of Life, Power, Wealth, and Utility together with the qualities of Goodness, Generosity, Equality and Peace, enabling us to look deeply at environment, organisation, wealth and karma Yoga. In this exercise we also used inspiration and guidance from Mother’s significances given to flowers. Thus our calculative and logical mind was given some rest, and we let ourselves flow with the higher energy. Our creative juices unleashed, we achieved impressive results in seeing how the various qualities could foster the development of Life, Power, Wealth and Utility.
The central activity for the workshop was a collective process to see how we could work towards the realisation of Sri Aurobindo’s five dreams. Five groups of 15-20 each worked on one each of the dreams over the course of five days and then presented their results to the entire assembly. Looking through Impacts, Outcomes, Outputs and Inputs of activities that would work towards achieving these dreams, the groups laid practical steps to follow Sri Aurobindo’s divine plan towards a true human unity based on a higher consciousness.
In the evenings were opportunities for presentations. One of the most inspiring evenings was when the various youth participants shared about their respective work and activities. These included various members of Youth groups in Auroville, the Sri Aurobindo Society, as well as other individuals. It was heartening to witness so much fresh energy being directed towards the unification and uplifting of the youth in India and the world.
Morning and afternoons also held other optional activities to energise the body and mind. These included Pranayama; Embodyoga; Awareness through the Body Meditations; Clay Modelling; talks or discussions on topics such as Tantra, science and spirituality, and the work of various participants; River Crossing; Rappelling; and three mountain treks. The treks in the lap of Nature included breath-taking viewpoints of Tiffin Top, Sri Aurobindo Peak and Naina Peak, filling us with a sense of great appreciation for the beauty within and around us.
The evening meditations took on a new hue when wonderful singers from the facility―Gaurab and Siddhant―mesmerized us with soul stirring bhajans of Meerabai and Kabir, evoking a deep sense of devotion and gratitude.
Videos on Auroville, the Ashram, and the Life of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, as well as presentations of The Sri Aurobindo Society and the Delhi Ashram, brought things into perspective. Understanding the work taken up by each of the main participant organisations through the presentations and discussions, helped to broaden our horizons and contribute to the collective Work accordingly.
After the week-long meeting, many of the participants shared taxis for a two hour winding drive to visit Madhuban in Ramgarh. Some stayed just for a few hours, others for a night, or longer. Madhuban is a beautiful retreat centre on a mountainside overlooking a valley and the surrounding mountains. It is far from the tourist crowds and beautifully managed by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Delhi Branch. From there some of the participants hiked to Tapogiri, which is a centre run by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, and even further, to Mountain Paradise, another centre managed by the Delhi Ashram. After the evening meditation at Madhuban, most of the youth participants gathered for a meeting to discuss possible collaboration in future projects in the villages surrounding Madhuban. Gradually, the participants departed for their respective journeys home.
The meticulous organisation of activities by Jaya, Helena, Mita, Anju, Shivakumar, Kavitha, Uma Ramanan, Muna and others helped the many events flow smoothly. Sushil dedicated himself to videotaping the many sessions during the week. Thanks also to the staff for the wonderful meals and service and their guidance on the outings and treks. The efforts of Narayanan and friends for arranging the transport to and from the camp was also deeply appreciated. We specially thank Tara-di for hosting the event, her encouragement, and getting everything together in a harmonious manner.
Over the days a wonderful resonance emerged and slowly we all danced in the rhythm of the higher music, as one big family, making beautiful friendships and carrying wonderful memories, committing to work together for the future realisation.
Of creation’s oneness sweet and fathomless,
Compelled to embrace my myriad unities
And all my endless forms and divine souls.
O Mind, grow full of the eternal peace;
O Word, cry out the immortal litany:
Built is the golden tower, the flame-child born.
[from Savitri by Sri Aurobindo]