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There is no better place than the Sivananda Ashram in Nassau, Bahamas to study the Tale of Two Birds from the Mundaka Upanishad while the Govt and the City Shuts down #WalkToTemple Yoga Vacation 2019
the whole ashram with 99% non-desis but teaming with shraddha and saadhana, just took my breath away with the fabulous art work depicted at unexpected corners, walls, nooks...first day was sheer serendipity
all the participants who come for Teacher Training Courses and those doing Karma Yoga (free boarding / lodging in lieu of seva) have to attend the morning and evening dhyaana, bhajan, and satsang sessions. very humbling
no dilution of what Yoga is, all sessions start and end with prayer/ mantraas, no confusion regarding Yoga's roots or the big picture of where Yoga leads us to
Imagine my joy and surprise!
what a wonderful use of empty space, interestingly this is the second place that I am seeing devataas adorning walls instead of graffiti ...the other was CDMX
delightful isn't it? devaas peeking through the lush foliage
guess what this house is called, where they serve meals to the Swamis, all sanyaasis - Vishnu House. Swami Vishnudevananda ji lived here, he was the shishya of Swami Sivanandaji, and brought Yoga to the West
have not seen such a huge cut out of Shankara anywhere outside of Shankara maThaas...thrilling!
there is a residential namboothari who does the morning and evening aarati and nitya poojaas
New Year and Christmas decor juxtaposing the overarching Hindu curriculum of the course (Hindu texts such as BG etc compulsory). Many locals have started to work here after the Bahamian govt insisted that the Ashram employ locals, previously it was totally volunteer run
all the devis are here, mataraanis
the locals even now think of this place as being a den of devil worshippers - told to us by storyteller Arjuna ji (all of them take a Hindu name) the senior most disciple of Swami Vishnu - so inclusion necessary
there is a vana durga mandir (inside a grove!), a baalakrishNa mandir and a main shrine devoted to shankara, patanjali, dakshiNaamoorty, sivananda ji and vishNudevananda ji along with gaNapati, annapoorNa, shivalinga and vishNumoorty...
THAT has to beat everything, Krishna with his Paanchajanya, on the way to the beach
where else would you see Vyaasa Rishi?
it is a very tough rigorous training for each one of them - first bell at 5.30am, dhyaana from 6.00am onwards, a whole day of yogaasana, seva, karma yoga, ending only with aarati and a vedanta talk at 10.00pm!
all through every single one of the volunteers be it at the reception or the kitchen or at the shop were always smiling, greeting everyone with Om namah shivaaya! and showed an eagerness to learn, talk, grow...something I have NOT seen in many ashrams in India
have you ever seen them all together? I have not, was very excited!
identify who is who
and here too...not that tough once you know where I am, Sivananda Ashram!
...and that Vishnudevananda ji started these Ashrams to teach and train people in Yoga without losing its Hindutva - (+tva = ness, basic samskrutam)
inspired, I was!
krishnan namboothari ji said that this shivalinga (which he does pooja to everyday) is used for shivaraatri abhishekams and that he along with the ashrami-vaasis do all night pooja, paaraayaNa and celebrations with upavaasam
there are two meals cooked by 'karma yogis' 10.00am and 6.00pm, if you are hungry in-between too bad :) but you won't be....salad, steamed n boiled veggies, soups, main course, grains, sauteed veggies....house-made bread...herbal teas
no activity is done without remembering or thanking bhagawaan - brahmaarpaNam here....plus a lot of clapping, singing, dancing...in keeping with the spirit of the Bahamas!
yumm..and healthy. not surprisingly most attendees are vegan...eating butter and curd is like - WHAT?
this is the bay side, the side from where you enter the ashram, from the airport, to your screen right are all the cruise ships and to your screen left is Atlantis the famous resort n casino, yet unperturbed does he, the sheershaasana
namboothari ji has been working here since 1998-99! he gets up at 3.30am - chants all the necessary mantraas with great shraddha....this is what gives this place such a great vibe....
vana durga amma, banashankari. when I asked namboothari ji if I should show him my chart (a service that is offered at the ashram), in tells me in broken tamizh+english 'confused people ku maTTum..', and puts the few dollars i give as dakshiNa into the hunDi without even looking
a few of us from Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, went to attend the classes by Swamini Svatmavidyananda ji being held here
we took a boat ride around Paradise Island to see and worship the setting sun soorya bhagawaan, and the waters, varuNa
Swaminiji's talks were very well received as people who have done so much saadhana, seva, with so much shraddha are primed for vedanta. please note the gender reversal, NO big deal, but for those whom such things matter...
sadaa shiva samaarambhaam, shankaraachaarya madhyamaam, asmadaaachaarya paryantaam, vande guru paramparaam
the other side is the Atlantic ocean, serene and content, in Paradise
the colours and shades of blue n green here are spectacular
got up early and got rewarded
being a brahmin or a purohita is not all about privilege and elitism, one must bend, cook, clean, iron, mend, keep log, chant, fast, pray, meditate, scrub, wash, AND do this day after day after day without seeking anything else like name, fame, money like Krishnan Namboothari ji
not sure if you can see but did abhishekam for the shivalinga
morning has broken what a fine morning...
and Durga is happy with the bindi I gifted her...the girls were very taken in by the naamam boTTu...I always carry a packet of bindis to dish out ...most people are SO happy to have them, the only place I came back with my stash intact was Lahore.
satsangs start at 6.00am and talks at 6.45am, these kids have been at it 24/7 from 5.00am to 11.00pm, builds character, one can see it, feel it in their presence (most that I met were from Mexico like Durga, or Israel, or US)
Swami Brahmananda, like many others in the ashram is from Israel I think, a very gentle and dhaarmic swaami leading the bhajans and aarati with SO much devotion!
Another Day in Paradise!
took the plunge at last! despite waters being PERFECT temperature, very clean, right depth, remembered my unDi agrahaaram ammakka tell me that one must not disturb samudra devata with one's antics, samudra snaanam is reserved only for a few days a year? got out reluctantly
new TTC batch is here, being taught in the temple about Hindu ways and vision
sat listening with dakshinamoorty on side and baalakrishNa in front
have not had a better leisurely spent day in a long long time...
getting ready for an informal Q/A with Swaminiji
can we sit like that? can we bow like that? with sincerity?
took the afternoon off for some 'me time'
evening satsang, last day of classes
durga maa in the room
picture perfect!
afternoon tea and cake!
surprised Shambhavi by singing Hava Nageela ....with Hanumanji as my witness
it was a hectic but a very fulfilling 7 days
"Revered sir, what is that by the knowing of which all this becomes known?" Om Tat Sat!
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