Monday, 27 October 2014

A walk around an ashram

Recently, my husband and I visited an ashram near Bangalore. I have always wanted to visit an ashram merely for the experience.

Ashram’ as the word indicates is ‘without effort’. Living in an ashram, therefore, meant living without effort or effortless living.

With such preconceived notions, I visited the Sri Sri Ravishankar ashram. I knew about its existence through neighbours and friends.

The drive to the ashram was effortless. We parked our vehicle at the designated place. We were offered a vehicle ride around the ashram which we refused. A little walk, we thought, would do well to our urban bellies!

As we turned around the corner of the lane, the view was breath-taking. It was huge, green and well-maintained. The forest cover was left largely untouched and the cement structures added elegance to the greenery.

The largely untouched forest cover mesmerized us...

A huge open air amphitheatre invited us to explore the place further. As we walked through the ashram, we saw shops that sold books, CDs, T-shirts and other utility items. But it was the Ayurveda products that attracted our attention. After picking up a few of the items, we continued our walk.

A mild drizzle and pleasant weather made the walk absolutely enjoyable. The sight of a cafeteria made both of us realise the familiar hunger pangs. Being ultra-modern in our lifestyles, we wanted to choose the healthy food available to make up for the fatty sins that we had committed during the past weeks!

Yet we were convinced by the person at the counter that ghee, made from cow’s milk, added to the ‘good’ cholesterol which was more of a necessity than a luxury.

The idea was sold as was the pure ghee dosa!

After spending more than an hour walking through the rich green expanse provided by Mother Nature and maintained by the volunteers at the ashram, we went to a lotus shaped meditation hall. After spending a silent and peaceful ten minutes there, we traced our footsteps back to our vehicle.

The lotus shaped meditation hall stood majestic against the darkening firmament!

Our drive back home was not so effortless, as the rain had intensified by then and the lack of road lights made driving difficult. The experience at the ashram seemed effortless for us, but to maintain the place, the volunteers were putting in immense effort.
The view from the lotus shaped hall was breathtaking!

That brought me to ponder if the word ‘ashram’ was, in some sense a misnomer.

But perhaps to the volunteers, serving others makes their own lives seem effortless! The served and the serving perform their parts effortlessly and in that sense, it probably was an apt name.

A bump on the rain-lashed road quickly brought me back to reality. Many questions began bothering me during the drive back home.

A brave attempt at capturing tranquility through the lens...
The potholes on the roads and the crumbling infrastructure have been crying out to us for long. They were in need of ‘effortless servers’. When the ratio between the ‘serving’ and the ‘served’ is skewed, living becomes a very conscious and tedious effort!