Enlightened Living – Retreat at Jamshedpur, 2018
The annual spiritual residential retreat “Enlightened Living – Walking the Inner Path” was held by Nutan Swamiji from 1 to 15 December 2018 in CIRD Jamshedpur. The ‘lifetransforming experience’ as expressed by past participants, inspired seven of us earnest participants from Malaysia to be part of this rare opportunity. Though not all of us knew each other well, we warmed up easily.
The first phase of this pilgrimage was facilitated seamlessly by Ashram and SIRD Malaysia. We only had to book our flight tickets! The moment our feet touched the soil of Bharat, we were enveloped with love through the extended family of CIRD from the arrival hall of Kolkata airport to the doorsteps of CIRD Jamshedpur. There are many to thank for.
In the lap of Śruti Mātā (Upanishadic Mother)
The inaugural evening started on 30 November 2018 with soul-stirring devotional bhajans by Sri Neelkamal Tiwari. We were formally introduced to the devotees who welcomed us with warm hearts. Their warmth and hospitality continued throughout the retreat and we felt very much at home.
Bhagavad Gita discourse
The actual Enlightened Living retreat started on 1 December with morning prayers and chanting of Viṣṇu-sahasra-nāma. Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha commenced the discourse themed “Sādhanā Catuṣṭayam – the Four-fold Qualities of a Seeker”. This was complemented with Chapter 18 of the Bhagavad Gita, “The Yoga of Renunciation” in the evening sessions.
Throughout the discourse, Swamiji clarified emphatically, that there is no question of running away from karma but it needs to be performed with yoga attitude. One has to act according to viveka-buddhi - intelligence anchored in the Truth. Swamiji further stressed that in any action (karma), there is no question of renouncing the objective result, which is always a causal consequence of action. What truly needs to be renounced is the clinging to the thought of personal gain and happiness from the objective result.
The learnings from Sādhanā Catuṣṭayam were illustrated further through the discussion on the Upanishads specifically touching upon Muṇ·aka Upanishad and Kaṭhopanishad. From the latter, Swamiji took us through the story of Nachiketas, the young boy who unfortunately
was sent to Yamaraja (God of Death) by his father. Through the behaviour of Nachiketas, the Upanishad shows that the fitness to receive the ultimate knowledge of Truth is a pure and desire-free mind.
In Muṇḍaka Upanishad, Śaunaka, a great householder, approached sage Aṅgiras with humility, and enquired: “By knowing what, everything will become known?” Śaunaka was fit for the enquiry to know the Truth as he had followed all the principles of dharma in his household life, and become free of greed and desires. Swamiji explained that as a test of spiritual evolution, we should all look into our own minds truthfully.
Bhagavad Gita quiz during Cultural Heritage Class (CHC)
students’ programme at CIRD Jamshedpur (2 Dec 2018)
During the evening Bhagavad Gita discourses, Swamiji’s exposition on Chapter 18 provided us with an in-depth explanation on what needs to be renounced and the effects of the three guṇas in performing action. What we “feed” our mind, body and intelligence, will make our personality, by which we evolve towards sattva-guṇa and eventually transcend that too.
In the concluding morning discourse, Swamiji elevated our minds to a sky-like dimension by presenting the highest Truth to be contemplated upon based on verses 1.2.14 & 18 of Kaṭhopanishad.
Divine Grace: The most significant part of the retreat is the blessing to be in close association with Nutan Swamiji. Besides the daily discourses, we looked forward to the evening walks with Swamiji. During this time, we delighted in Swamiji’s company, simply listening to his insightful narrations related to interesting incidents in his personal life. Some of us took this golden opportunity to enquire further on various spiritual perspectives and Swamiji was ever willing to share his rich knowledge.
Throughout the retreat, besides Nutan Swamiji’s physical presence, Poojya Swamiji and Mā Gurupriyāji’s presence was also felt by listening to Poojya Swamiji’s Prabhātaraśmiḥ on the qualities of a seeker after the early morning prayers, and Mā’s audio discourse on the importance and
significance of chanting. It felt like Narayanashrama Tapovanam had come alive in Jamshedpur.
‘Secret of Excellence’ – Nutan Swamiji with students of ARKA Jain University
Austerity: All of us had to adapt to Ashram way of life which is totally different from our usual routine. The regulated Ashram life helped us to discipline our mind and taught us how every piece of work small or big should be carried out with śraddhā (attention).
Harmonizing the vocal chords: During the chanting classes held in the afternoons, we learned proper Sanskrit pronunciations and reciting Viṣṇu-sahasra-nāma. Initially it was like a cacophony but with the strong encouragement from Brni. Namrataji and Brni. Nanditaji, we eventually improved as a group.
Daily introspection and group discussions: We enjoyed our daily introspection and group discussions which were crucial to crystalize our understanding of the knowledge imparted to us.
Inculcating values and knowledge at a tender age: About 80 children from the impoverished surroundings regularly attend the CIRD Cultural Heritage class. These children showcased their talent and knowledge of Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata by recitation of ślokas and bhajans. They also shared short stories which carried moral connotations. Swamiji interacted with the children encouraging them to imbibe the values learned in their daily lives. Towards the end, Swamiji empowered these children to never forget the strength within to make a difference for the country and never to let the nation down. The cordial interaction not only moved Swamiji but all of us present.
‘Inculcating Values in Children’ – Interactive session with students of DBMS B.Ed. College, at CIRD Jamshedpur (14 Dec 2018)
The joy of sharing: There is no greater joy than caring and sharing. It was a sublimating experience for all of us being part of the annual Dāna Satram where 1000 blankets and sweet prasāda were distributed to destitute families. The event started with prayers and Swamiji reciting ślokas. Swamiji also informed the recipients: “The funding comes from donors around the world who always think of your well-being”.
Visit to Nutan Swamiji’s Poorvāśrama home: Another enrichment awaited us when we visited Nutan Swamiji’s Poorvāśrama home. The family opened their home to us graciously and we had a tour around the house with Swamiji giving us insights of his stay. It was indeed a humbling experience for us. We returned to CIRD after a sumptuous lunch hosted by the family.
Flavour of Jamshedpur: On a pleasant Friday afternoon, we embarked on a tour around Jamshedpur with Swamiji reminiscing where he spent his early days. Swamiji showed us the two houses (Ammini Aunty’s and RS Tiwariji’s) where Poojya Swamiji had stayed during the initial Jñānayajñas in Jamshedpur. The evening ended with a stroll in the expansive floral garden of Jubilee Park.
Harnessing young minds: On 7 December, discourse on the “Secret of Excellence” was held for students from ARKA Jain University. Swamiji shared that being successful is to be successful with your own mind and the key to excellence is to do everything with love, sincerity and humility. Swamiji further shared that one should work from joy and not for joy. The students’ enthusiasm on the subject was demonstrated by the questions raised during and after the Q&A sessions. Overall, the students felt the knowledge acquired will help them better manage challenges they face.
On 14 December, discourse on “Inculcating Values in Children” was held for students and staff from DBMS B.Ed. college. Swamiji’s message for the teachers is to first possess the virtue they would like to inculcate in the children. Apart from that, as the nurturers of young minds, they must approach the children with knowledge and reason.
Building the Nation: A field trip to TATA Motors was organized on Friday, 14 December. The Tata family’s contribution to the Nation is to be applauded. There was a sense of belonging amongst the staff and they were visibly proud of being a part of the Tata legacy. We were impressed with the guided tour around the factory and the demonstration of the truck-test-drive at the test-track, which, we were told, is the first of its kind in India.
Home away from home : Being at CIRD Jamshedpur felt like home away from home.
‘Enlightened Living - Residential Retreat’ participants and Volunteers of CIRD Jamshedpur with Nutan Swamiji and Ashramites
There was an overwhelming feeling of warmth in the cool climate. Time passed swiftly. The seekers took away priceless pearls of Brahmavidyā, handed down by generation of Knowers through the Vedic tradition in this great land of Bharat. The participants expressed their humble praṇāms to Nutan Swamiji and their gratitude and appreciation to Ashramites, SIRD Malaysia and CIRD Jamshedpur family for the love showered on them. “Our Dakshiṇā for this priceless Knowledge is to actualize it!”
Delhi devotees welcomed Poojya Swamiji and Mā on the 31st of October with their hearts overflowing with love and devotion and a pleasant anticipation of the divine, enriching days in the company of the Mahātmās.
People from Delhi and Vasundhara assembled for the Pādapoojā on the 3rd of November. Smt Upma and Sri Vijay Pal Tyagi performed Pāda-poojā to the accompaniment of chanting of hymns and Nāmāvalī in adoration of our Poojya Gurudev. After the message by Poojya Swamiji, all assembled devotees offered flowers at Swamiji’s feet and received prasāda.
Deepavali Retreat (4-8 November):
The Deepavali Retreat was an occasion for all devotees to sit at the feet of Poojya Swamiji and Mā, and absorb the knowledge being imparted. Many devotees from Vasundhara, Delhi as well as from many parts of India participated in the retreat. The day started with morning prayers and meditation. There were Swamiji’s classes in the morning and the day generally concluded with Mā’s talk in the evening.
Poojya Swamiji and Mā went to Lucknow for one day on 4th to visit Poojya Swamiji’s critically ailing disciple Sri Rakesh Mittalji. Swamiji’s visit brought strength and solace to both Rakeshji and his wife Arunaji. Sri Rakesh Mittalji passed away on the 13th of November.
Vivekacūḍāmaṇi classes: Classes based on Ādi Śaṅkara’s Vivekacūḍāmaṇi titled ‘Harnessing Inner Resources for Interactional Excellence’ were held from 5th to 8th and from 17th to 19th of November.
Starting this year’s talk with śloka 365 of Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, Swamiji infused the listeners with the need to delve into the mind. Explaining the ślokas Swamiji stressed on the need for all seekers to practise restraint of mind (chitta-nirodha) in order to experience unflickering joy and contentment.
The Satsang hall resonated with the ślokas chanted on vairāgya. Connecting the Vivekacuūḍāmaṇi ślokas on vairāgya with ślokas from ‘Vairāgya áatakam’ and other texts Swamiji highlighted the need for a seeker to disconnect himself from both external as well as internal objects. “Vairāgya should always be coupled with viveka”, said Swamiji interpreting the ślokas, “only then it will lead to liberation”.
Paramātmā ke Āliṅgan mein (In the Blissful Embrace of the Lord): Mā commenced the talk extolling little Prahlāda who was always ‘Govinda Parirambhitah’ (in the embrace of the Lord). This was the catchphrase of the 3-day discourses in Hindi in which Mā told us how this divine embrace can be had by us in the midst of all activities. Every day Mā reiterated the fact that we have to bring the Lord into all our work and in all our thoughts. Teaching the ślokas selected from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Bodha Sāram, Bhagavad Gita and other spiritual texts, Mā explained how Bhakti can be enhanced and how one can attain Supreme joy by purifying oneself. “Learn to chant ślokas”, urged Mā, “it is a great sādhanā”.
Deepavali day: Nutan Swamiji arrived on this day lighting up the hearts of all devotees. In the evening, CIRD sparkled with the gentle glow of the candles that were lit all over. All devotees congregated in the Satsang hall in the presence of Poojya Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Mā. Clearly, the glow of the saints outshone all external lights. Poojya Swamiji was garlanded by Smt. Saroj and Sri Gautam; Nutan Swamiji was offered a floral garland by Sri Balwant Singh, and Mā was garlanded by Smt Raj Dagur. Acceding to the request of the devotees, Swamiji gave a short and meaningful Deepavali message making the assembled devotees understand the need to light up their own beings with the divine light of knowledge.
Meditation and Beyond (11-13 November): This 3-day discourse series was held in the Siri Fort Auditorium. Poojya Swamiji defined meditation as ‘abiding in the middle presence’.
“The middle presence is the source of everything. Sit in a place, close your eyes, enter the mind arena and tackle it” urged Swamiji. “When you approach the mind and analyse the mind, you realize that all experiences are in the mind. Its magnitude is immense. It has given rise to the world and it can draw to you whatever you need or deserve”. Swamiji stated emphatically that only by a process of repeated contemplation and analysis one has to purify, expand and refine the mind. Meditation is for purifying one’s personality.
Swamiji stressed that meditation will have to support one during all the interactional hours of the day. Swamiji added, “The success in life is handling all the interactions well, with poise, in an excellent manner. The mind should get more enriched and enlightened by the interactions. All interactions should be a continuous sādhanā”.
Quoting ślokas from the Bhagavad Gita, Swamiji said that one can abide in that middle presence during interactions. Swamiji urged: “Let nothing inundate you. Let your mind assimilate all interactional impacts”.
A Great Association: This long-awaited book written by Nutan Swamiji was released on 10th November in a very sublime function in the Siri Fort auditorium. This unique book offers rare glimpses into the life and work of Poojya Swamiji. The first copy of the book was presented by Sri Shashi Shekhar Vempati to Dr. E. Sreedharanji.
Science of Inner Redemption (Vol 3): Poojya Swamiji’s elevating commentary on the verses of Nirvā¸a Prakara¸a of Yoga VāsiÀ¶ha Rāmāya¸a was released on 11th November in the Siri Fort auditorium and the first copy was received by Sri Balasubramanian of Chennai.
Mere Pyaare Baba: The Hindi translation of ‘My Beloved Baba’ was released on 13th November at the Siri Fort Hall. The first copy was received by Smt Meera Malhotra.
Prakash Mehrotra Memorial Lecture (16th November):
This is the ninth year in succession that Swamiji has been delivering these lectures. ‘Empowering the mind - Key to Performantial Excellence’ was the subject on which Swamiji spoke in the Teen Murti House Auditorium in Delhi.
“Excellence is a quality which the inner personality should imbibe” said Swamiji, “Excellence is a Subjective quality and whatever you do should be excellent”. Swamiji exhorted the listeners to strive for this excellence by contemplating and spending mind-hours on it.
The listeners were left in no doubt that excellence is something to strive for, cultivate and display. With instances from the Kurukshetra battlefield Swamiji showed how Sri Krishna displayed excellence in every situation. Throughout Bhagavad Gita this message of Krishna is extolled. Swamiji asked everyone to keep the example of Sri Krishna’s excellence and imbibe it. Sri Krishna analysed the human personality and instilled Arjuna with courage and excellence throughout the 18 chapters.
Swamiji said: “Bhagavad Gita will make you excellent. This is one book in which the art and process of instilling excellence into oneself and others is clearly described very effectively”.
CHC children interaction with Poojya Swamiji and Mā (18th November):
The ‘cultural heritage class’ is being conducted in CIRD Delhi for the past 17 years. Every year the children look forward to be with Poojya Swamiji. This year around 21 children of the CHC spent a short while with Poojya Swamiji. They chanted some ślokas from the 13th chapter. Swamiji spoke to the children and gave them each a lunch box, water bottle and some snacks and juice. After offering pra¸āms, the children had Bhakti Bhoj, with dishes specially prepared for them.
Anna-vastra Dāna Satram (18th November):
Around 2000 indigent families in Ghaziabad received 3 kilograms of rice, a fleece blanket and a packet of halwa prasada each. Coupons were distributed in the nearby areas and volunteer devotees started the process of rice packing one week earlier. Halwa prasada packing started in the morning and continued for many hours till everything was ready for distribution.
Much before the scheduled 4.00 pm, recipients with their coupons queued up outside CIRD. They received the articles in a peaceful and organized manner. All devoteevolunteers felt enriched by this community effort and also blessed to be part of such a unique event.
Interactive Satsang with Poojya Swamiji (17th and 19th November): These interactive Satsangs in Hindi were attended by many from Vasundhara and Delhi. The Satsang hall was filled to capacity and everyone heard with rapt attention the message of knowledge delivered by Swamiji. On 19th, Swamiji spoke on Bhakti with special focus on Bhāgavatam.
Bhajan Sandhya: On the second Friday of every month, a Bhajan session is being held in CIRD Delhi. The 15 to 20 participants of this Bhajan session are all from the neighbouring areas in Vasundhara. On 20th November, the Bhajan group congregated in the Satsang Hall in the evening and a Bhajan session was held in the presence of Poojya Swamiji and Mā. The Satsang hall reverberated with Bhajans accompanied by sounds of dholak (drum), cymbals, harmonium and other instruments. Faces glowed with joy and enthusiasm.
This year, the annual Jμāna-yajμa was very well attended by devotees from Vasundhara and Delhi. Devotees from all over India also availed of the opportunity to be in Gurusa ´ga and participated in all the programs of Jμāna-yajμa. Devotees from Malaysia, United States, Jamshedpur, Bengaluru and Chennai congregated in CIRD Delhi for the momentous occasion of the release of Nutan Swamiji’s book ‘A Great Association’.
On 21st November when Poojya Swamiji and Mā left for the Ashram all felt that the 20 days of the Jμāna-yajμa had indeed been a festivity. Every moment of this festivity had been intertwined with divinity. Every word spoken by Poojya Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Mā had only contributed to more and more clarity and understanding in the minds of all seekers. By remembering their words, contemplating on their import, absorbing them, reliving the moments spent in the holy company, the internal festivity continues.