@Adiyogi with friends
Curiosity takes us to Isha Foundation @ Coimbatore
We had been wanting to visit Isha foundation for a while. Mostly curiosity. The place looks great in pictures and friends who had visited the ashram came back full of praise. So, bit of planning and we were set for a day’s trip to Isha Foundation.
Day 1: We decided to take the 9:30 flight primarily to avoid reaching Coimbatore too early. There are good buses and train available…but all reach way to early in the morning. The Spice Jet flight unfortunately wad delayed by an hour. As if the fact we were going to fly a Bombardier 400 was not bothersome enough, finding a guy pushing the blades as we walked towards the plane was interesting! Barring the usual vibrations in a small plane the flight was OK. We touched down around noon
There are multiple transport options to go to Isha. Buses are available from the bus stand. Cabs and even auto rickshaws are available. We took a Red Taxi. The driver was not well versed with the place and after a few wrong turns we reached the ashram at 1:30pm. The cab driver took a lot of time to settle the bill. No more Red Taxi!
Once that was done we checked in. Every member’s id is checked and a blue band put on the right hand. They also gave the map of the place with the list of activities for the day. We got a first floor room in Nadhi -Bhagirathi cottage. The room is huge with 4 beds. We freshened up and headed for lunch at the ashram restaurant. It has a limited menu especially for vegans! We ordered sandwiches, sambar rice and juice. Food quality was average. No spoons are provided so one has to eat with hands. Next door is the ashram shop. We took a 5 min walk inside. Stuff is good though over-priced. Highlight was a plaque ” All you need more of is nothing“. So, promptly we exited.
It was hot but we decided to take a walk around the place to get an idea of what all to do and what to spend time on. With that intent we entered the Dhyanalinga area. There are volunteers all over the place mostly holding placards with instructions. They don’t speak and discourage you from speaking also – so as to maintain silence. The volunteers at Dhyanalinga held us outside and asked us to close our eyes and sit in silence for 15 min after which we were allowed to enter the dome. The Dome has a huge black Shivling in the centre inside a square pond. The pond had lotus floating and lamps in brass trays kept along the edge. Mostly offerings from the devotees, I guess. the dome has a number of triangulatr niches in which people can sit and meditate. About a foot from the ground, these are nice for the devotees with knee problems. The dome is built with red bricks stacked in circles with decreasing diameter. Excellent architecture. It was very cool inside. Once we went around I realised that there are place is fitted with air cooling system. It is an ideal environment for some meditation. After 15 min a short bell rang and the devotees were signalled to get up and make room for the next batch. This place had good vibes to it and I would call it my favourite spot inside Isha ashram. Next, we decided to check out the Chandrakund which is recommended for holy dip. We saw the place though could not enter. The meditation centre is also close by. The Up-Yoga program was at 4:00 and we realised we were not dressed appropriately for Yoga. So, went back to the room, changed and headed back. The yoga centre is in a building which is parabolic in shape. The structure has alternating bands of brick structure and covered glass. The session by itself was suitable for absolute beginners. It is Up-yoga and Isha Kriya put together for 30 min. It was 4:30pm by the time we got out. The ling bhairawi temple was open by now, so we went to it. The temple is well maintained. The queue moves fast and we were out in just a few minutes. Only while exiting the temple I noticed 3 stone murals at the back of the Dhyanalinga temple.
The heat had come down a bit. So we decided to walk to the bust of Shiva. As we exit the campus there is a well maintained farm of palm trees. Once you exit the main gate of the ashram, the route is lined with a number of shops and eateries. Tea is banned inside the ashram but available all along the route. There also is a good restaurant right in front of the exit gate. Much better in quality than the one inside the ashram. With Amita and Vaishali craving for tea, we stopped at one shop for a nice hot cuppa and then continued to the Adiyogi statue. For the ones who don’t wish to walk there are bullock carts which ply from the ashram exit to the statue.
The bust of Shiva by is very well made. The plates covering the base structure don’t show up in the front at all. There is continuous chanting of shlokas which is very pleasing to listen to. We went around a bit, took a lot of pictures and after one parikrama, started back. We decided to come back for the sunrise next morning. On the way back, we had some Neera, a very cooling drink much needed to give some reprieve from the heat.
The Nada Aradhana at Dhyanalinga is at 5:45pm. We were a bit late and could not participate We went to Suryakund for some time and sat on the steps overlooking the lotus pond. With chanting at the back from Naga Shrine it was beautiful. There was one aspect I found difficult to accept. One of the asanas has the practitioner making sounds like a peacock. We were pretty exhausted so went for the first batch of dinner at Bhiksha Hall. The food was served exactly on time as printed in the schedule. The hall can hold around 800 people at one time. There are rows and rows of mats on the floor with a steel plate and tumbler for each person. People have to sit on the floor for the meals and have to eat with hand. Interestingly, the foreigners also did this with ease. The food was tasty with a serving of carrot and fruit salad, ragi noodles and vegetable curry and vegetable rice and pickle. There also was Payasam. The meal is served by volunteers and starts and ends with a prayer. After the meal we washed out plates and put them on the rack. A 30 min walk around the place and we were ready to crash! The lights are switched off at 10:00 pm in any case. Am sure all of us slept peacefully.
Day 2: We got up at 5:30, washed up and went for a morning walk to Adhiyogi. It was very pleasant and called for a thin jacket. The statue looks very interesting in the dark with just the ear rings glittering. We waited for the sunrise. Only a side view was possible with the rising sun, so we took some pictures and started back. Before entering the ashram, we had a small breakfast. Amita and Vaishali went to the room to get ready for the holy dip in Chandrakund. I decided to enjoy the serenity of the lotus pond for some time and then went to the room to get ready by the time these two would return from the dip. Both of them enjoyed the holy dip and were full of praise of the experience. They got ready and we packed up, checked out and kept our luggage at the cloak room near the exit.
We had not yet seen Adiyogi Alayam. The massive hall is well done and I could recall seeing it in some of the Sadhguru videos. To our pleasant surprise there was dance practice going on there, perhaps for the upcoming Shivaratri festival. The dancers, both male and female were superb and seemed all ready for the performance. We watched the practise till the group dispersed for breakfast. It would have been good to time the visit with a performance here.
We went for brunch at 10:40am. The foot like the previous evening, was very tasty and sumptuous. We did not want to miss the morning Nada Aradhana, so reached Dhyanalinga by 11:30am itself for the 11:45 am program. The Aradhana was sung by a lady in a very beautiful voice and we thoroughly enjoyed it. This got over at 12:10pm and we immediately rushed for the AUMkar initiation to Sadhana hall at 12:30pm. The AUMkar chanting as taught by Sadhguru is different from what we have been practicing. The first letter is pronounced more as “a” than as “o” which we are used to. But for getting used to this difference it was a nice session with the guru first chanting the mantra multiple times, then asking the audience also to join in. This was the last program on our itinerary at Isha. We picked up our luggage and went to the bus stop. Only when the bus arrived, we realised that it is a local non air-conditioned bus! None the less we decided to go with the experience. At Coimbatore, Amita and I got off at Gandhipuram for our bus to Fort Kochi and Vaishali took a cab to go to the airport.
The trip was nice. It was my first with girl friends after a long long time. I completely enjoyed that experience. The vibes at the Dhyanalinga and the Adiyogi statue especially in the morning were great. The food and accommodation were excellent. The place is very well kept. However, the personal touch and the positive smiles emanating from within were completely missing from most volunteers. They seemed to be doing their roles very mechanically. I have enjoyed listening to Sadhguru’s discourses for a long time now bout did not get any of that joy and peace in the ashram. Maybe, during my study about the ashram I read too much on the controversies associated with the ashram especially regarding the encroachment of the elephant corridor. Well, none the less, the place is worth a visit with a stay in the ashram. Am glad to have satiated my curiosity by being there for a day.