Ganga Gandhi Samanvay : Post 2
Posted by Kishan Laddha on Nov 19, 2019
Beginning of pilgrimage: Bhojan and Bhajan
Jayesh bhai’s mother made Sukhdi (Gujarati special sweet) and through out the way whomever came to our compartment, was offered sweets.
Moved by this gesture one of the peanuts vendor offered a packet of peanuts not accepting any money in return. Food connects, shared with love builds deeper bonds.
We all reached Haridwar and from there took an auto – accommodating 9 of us together, we reached Rishikesh. Nandini, who was one of the co-creeator of this retreat, was part of one of the Samanvay retreat in Maitri space came to receive us with immense love. Rishikumar’s greeted and welcomed us in Parmarth Niketan spread at the banks of Ganges.
Friday morning our retreat begin with a circle at Parmarth Ghat. Nandini welcomed us all at home, a home that hosted hundreds of thousands of seekers and pilgrims from across the globe. Seeing the statue of Hanumana at the banks, Jayesh bhai shared “Haath mein kaam, muh mein naam aur Hriday mein Raam”, we may use our hands for noble work, mind to invite noble intentions while holding deepest intentions of universal good in heart. With peace prayer, everyone touched sacred Ganges and went for a peace walk to the space where we held circles for next three days.
Few months back, Jayesh bhai visited this space and learnt that the founder of the Ashram did penance there, following intuition he requested Swamiji if we could use this sacred space. Knowing Jayesh bhai’s intentions, Swamiji gave a free hand to do whatever his conscience feels right and Nandini along with Parmarth Niketan team became instrumental in shaping and revamping this whole space to host the very first Ganga Gandhi Samanvay.
In the first circle, everyone shared about a small act of love that moved deeply. Not knowing who we are, where we are coming from, what we do – through the circle we learnt about what matters to us, what moves heart. Some profound reflections were shared by each individual. The diversity of the circle was quite moving, we had people from four nations, almost every region of India speaking more than 12 languages, participants with minimum age of 19 to 91 (Hiru dada, a veteran Gandhian).
Parmarth Niketan is known for its world famous Ganga Aarti, first day of the retreat, we all were invited as special guests to attend the Aarti and Swamiji shared with the whole gathering about the lineage of Gandhi – universal good and the flow of Ganges, how do we become instrument in eternally letting flow the intentions of universal good.
Next day and every day of retreat begin with Prabhat Pheri (morning chanting while walking). For about an hour we would chant together, smile together and greet together walking across the Parmarth Niekettan (spread in few acres of land) and will conclude the walk at the banks of Ganges.
At the end at around 7 AM, almost everyone would be found at the local tea vendor – sipping the tea, witnessing Ganges and sharing reflections. Some profound conversations took place. Particularly on Sunday morning in a circle over tea with Kavita aunty, Jayesh bhai, Anish, Surya and few others. Towards the end of this organic circle, honoring the genius that flew through Kavita aunty, Jayesh bhai bowed down to her. Kavita aunty blessed Jayesh bhai, later sharing that it’s the mother in me that’s blessing.
Retreat space- shaping/ reshaping and Raju who quit tobacco:
PN has a force of servants at multiple cadres. One of the person who was assisting us for arranging various things was Raju. Knowing his devotion and commitment to his work, one of us interacted with him and had a heart to heart conversation about his habit of chewing tobacco. Over conversation Raju committed to quit it. ON 3rd day when Swami Chidananadji joined us in one of the morning circle, Jayeshbhai asked Raju to gift a broom, Khadi and Tsunamika to Swamiji. Raju was moved so were all of us.
On Day 3 – the circle evolved with grace. Listening to Jayesh bhai’s sharing Sanjay bhai (working closely with SN Subbaraoji) shared that after many many years he has tears in his eyes and that it is needed. Not just for himself, but for the society, where we can empty and connect ourselves with sacred safe space. Bhaskar shared that the contribution of butterflies, monkeys, birds, plants and trees is beyond description.
We all headed to Swamiji’s Kutiya, where we offered a collective prayer for the universal good and started 3 steps and a bow with bhaav – immersing ourselves in Ganges.
When I took a dip in Ganges, it felt as if multiple thoughts are coming and purifying in the process, the head (thoughts) was cleansing. During gratitude walk body was sweating indicating (hands) is cleansing while remembering all the gifts (including of lineage and nature) the tear drops of compassion in eyes were indicator of cleansing of heart. Whether the water of the Ganges, sweat on the body or tears in the eyes – when in harmony – all is one.