08 Jan Pondicherry, India: Healing Humanity
That’s what you will hear if you visit the spectacular tourist attraction of Pondicherry that is located in the Southern part of India. Surrounded by lush greenery and tall trees that form a welcoming passage as one enters the wide, chocolate brown gates, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a must visit place for everyone.
As one enters the doors and crosses the sacred path, the first thing he will set his eyes upon is the long stretch of potted plants that are well cared for within the four walls of greatness.
It is widely known that Sri Aurobindo, born in the year 1872, began the practice of Integral Yoga. Together with ‘The Mother’, he collaborated to set up the ashram in the year 1926. Ever since, people from all corners of the world visit this place to find peace in this insanely time bound world.
Walking in, I sat on the cold, stone floor of the ashram, my legs knotted together as my knees jutted out. Just then, an old man, too frail to walk, stood on the opposite side of me. Our separation was caused by a tiny area in the centre that was blushing with pride at the freshly bloomed flowers. I wondered how he’d be able to bend, let alone sit on the floor. But to my astonishment, he did, with great difficulty.
His knees painfully cracked and the sound reverberated as his lips split open, ready to brace himself for more agony.
While one may not understand why he would have to go through so much trouble just to spend some time in this divine place, I did. Being sceptical about most mythological and spiritual things, I realized that this was the one ashram that had made me want to reconsider my beliefs.
My eyes fixated on him, I took in a deep breath. Then, slowly, releasing it, I closed my eyes, settling comfortably in my position. While my entire body was telling me to meditate, my mind was curious about the old man.
Finally, unable to resist the temptation, I allowed myself a small peek.
His eyes were closed and his body was absolutely still. Sitting in the Pranayama position, with his knees apart and his palms facing upwards towards the sky, he sat erect, his pale white hair dancing in the wind.
Ashamed at my own slouched demeanour, I sat up straight and closed my eyes again.
This time, I really tried hard, till eventually, the sound of my healthily beating heart was all I could hear. As five minutes passed, I felt the stress leave my body. Ten minutes later, the negative thoughts followed. A few minutes after that, my breathing got rhythmic. By the time half an hour had gone by, I had counted over 1500 heartbeats.
Feeling ultimately relaxed and fruitfully refreshed, I rubbed my palms together till I gathered enough heat between them and then cupped them over my eyes. Opening my eyes, I smiled. The first sight I saw was the old man. He hadn’t budged.
Getting up, I took a walk around the whole place and then got into the ashram souvenir shop. The one thing I got from there that I cherish till date is a pendant. It’s a round, gold plated chip that has multiple colours in long triangles. Like a magnificent umbrella.
Coming back out, with a hand full of books on the ashram sayings and pocket calendars, I saw that the old man was still sitting in the exact same position.
That was the moment that moved me immensely. His quest for inner peace was astounding. I knew that later, he’d have immense trouble getting up.
Looking around and realizing that no one else was available, I sat on a few steps nearby, waiting for him to be done so that I could extend a helping hand.
My own thoughtfulness shocked me. Usually I was careless and least bothered about anyone else’s well-being, but today, my own change in behaviour stunned me.
Looking around the place, I smiled, knowing that this was one trip I would never forget. For reasons beyond my own comprehension, I had evolved.
About the Author: Shravya Gunipudi is a 20 year old CA Final Student from Hyderabad, India. Writing has been her passion right from a tender age and she has won numerous contests. She also has a blog titled ‘Fictionally Inkspired.’
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