Swami Nirvisheshananda Tirthaji (Nutan Swamiji) arrived in Delhi just as winter was bidding farewell. Accompanied by Dr. Aravindan (Thrissur) and Smt. Rema (Malaysia), Swamiji came to CIRD-Delhi directly from SIRD-Malaysia, after conducting the three week long Sādhanā Śibiram there.
Bhajan & Satsang (12 March)
March 12th marked the beginning of the Śibiram with a Bhajan programme, in which the participants opened up their own channel of communication with the Lord. The Bhajans were followed by Puṣpa-samarpaṇam where all assembled devotees offered flowers at the altar in front of Poojya Swamiji’s photo and offered praṇāms to Poojya Swamiji’s beloved disciple Nutan Swamiji.
Holi (13 March)
To the delight of the devotees and workers in CIRD, Nutan Swamiji was present on the occasion of Holi this year. An offering of “Ayurvedic” natural colour powders saw all present joyfully offering the colour at the altar and also applying on Nutan Swamiji’s feet and Mā’s foot-mat amidst the singing of traditional Holi songs on Sri Krishna. Nutan Swamiji put colour-powder tilak on everybody’s forehead.
Enlightened Living Residential Retreat (18 to 26 March)
The Sādhanā Śibiram in CIRD-Delhi was differently structured this time, with an intensive residential retreat embedded into the usual Śibiram programme, first time in CIRD-Delhi.
After the four significant Enlightened Living residential retreats held in CIRD-Jamshedpur, the 5th was held in Delhi this year. The 13 participants were an eclectic group from Delhi, Mumbai, Malaysia, Australia, and Nairobi.
Most of the participants were exposed to such a retreat for the first time in their life. Retreat sessions were designed in a manner that allowed the participants a chance to immerse themselves fully in the profound depths of spirituality. From the morning prayers in the quiet hours of dawn to the intimate night sessions in the retreating hours of the day, their focus was only within. It was a chance for them to delve deep into their own minds, uncover their own strengths and forge ahead with the confidence and energy infused by the words and presence of Nutan Swamiji.
Voice of the Upanishads
The day began early in the morning with Nutan Swamiji’s discourse on ‘Voice of Upanishads’. This session was open to all devotees. Devotees arrived early, travelling all the way from Delhi, not wanting to miss even a moment of the uplifting talk. Giving the background about Upanishads, Nutan Swamiji took up profound verses from ávet¡¿vatara, Katha and Mu¸·aka Upanishads. Not just content with making an in-depth analysis of the verses, Swamiji brought it to a level relatable to everyday interactions. The concepts, ideas and values of the Upanishads were highlighted so that the listeners could apply them in their own lives and attain inner poise.
Nutan Swamiji’s exposition of the essence of Upanishadic wisdom in clear and lucid terms graced listeners with deep insight, as well as feelings of pride and privilege to be a part of this culture that values Knowledge as the highest in life.
Introspection and writing sessions
After the morning lecture, the retreat participants had an introspection and writing session. This enabled them to recapitulate and ruminate on whatever they had heard in the morning talk. They were given a set of questions carefully designed by Nutan Swamiji to help them introspect and connect to the ideas presented in the Upanishadic talk. Most of the participants expressed that these sessions forced them to look within and relate spirituality to their daily lives. Nutan Swamiji meticulously went through their writings everyday and gave his inputs.
Sādhanā through śloka chanting
The śloka learning session after tea everyday was joyful for all concerned. The participants, shedding all their inhibitions and shyness, chanted loudly into the mike and received feedback and corrections gracefully. The session, conducted by Smt. Mala and Brni. Namrata, brought the group together in an unexpected manner. They indulged in gentle and playful teasing of each other’s self-invented tunes, their facial expressions while chanting, their accents, and had a good laugh. But all the feedback on pronunciation was taken seriously and soon they were chanting with reasonable harmony.
Interactive session after dinner
After an early dinner, the retreat participants had an exclusive question and answer session with Nutan Swamiji, where they could clarify many doubts their mind carried for long. Nutan Swamiji explained in a leisurely manner some of the concepts presented in Bhagavadgeetā. He shared many details from his pre-sannyāsa days of intense Sādhanā as well as three decades of living in Guru-sannidhi.
Residential nature of the Retreat
The residential nature of the Retreat gave the participants ample opportunity to interact with Nutan Swamiji. It delighted them to see the accessibility of Nutan Swamiji. They looked forward to his incisive comments and humorous remarks. A few of the participants were skilled singers and they delightfully participated in an impromptu Bhajan session.
The participants uniformly appreciated the simple and sāttvika food served in the Annakshetra. It was a revelation for them to know that the running of the Annakshetra is a herculean task with multiple coordinators planning and organizing for hours every day. Some of the retreat participants expressed an interest in serving in the Annakshetra and did so lovingly and skillfully.
Some of the feedbacks received from the retreat participants:
a) The sannidhi of Nutan Swamiji reminded me of Gurukula.
b) The introspective sessions were extremely enriching and it brought home the significance of vichāra.
c) Feel proud to be part of the hoary Indian culture.
d) Feel a sense of calm. Nutan Swamiji was so accessible.
e) The illustrations given by Nutan Swamiji from his own life situations were very beneficial.
A candid response by a participant was: “I won’t say that I will go back home and immediately take up chanting of the Gītā. But, the retreat has made me aware of how to apply these concepts in real life situations. I have become aware.”
The retreat participants took leave of Nutan Swamiji and the devotees staying at the Center on 27th. They felt sad to be leaving Swamiji and the inmates with whom they had forged bonds of affection. In the concluding evening session, the participants received Jñāna Prasāda – a summarization of the pursuit to be followed after going back. In the handout, there was a point by point analysis of how to remain anchored in one’s own inmost identity.
Other programmes during Śibiram
On Sunday, 19 March, the children of the Cultural Heritage Class had a session with Swamiji where they chanted ślokas, sang bhajans and patriotic songs. It was very heart-warming to see some tiny new girls and boys trying to participate by chanting along with the older children. Each child received a set of six notebooks, a pencil box with stationery and a large packet of snacks. The children also joyfully partook of the Bhakti Bhoj prepared in the Annakshetra.
Anna Vastra Dāna Satram was held on 26th March, the concluding day of the Retreat. Each of the one thousand families received three kilos of rice, one bed sheet, and halwa prasāda. The retreat participants felt extremely blessed to be part of this enriching program for the first time in life.
From 14th onward, parallel to the introspection session for the retreat participants, there was every day a reading session “Mahāpurushon ki Jeevan-dhāra” for the other devotees. The Hindi translation of Poojya Swamiji’s book “My Beloved Baba” was taken up in this session. This profound work unfurls new horizons for a seeker at every reading. This book requires repeated reading and analysis. The listeners revisited some of the subtler portions repeatedly, till they imbibed the import of the particular section.