A Few Good Things

"Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." – Ibn Battuta

A Few Good Things

Month: June 2017

Recharge & Connect in 48 hrs @ Isha Yoga Coimbatore

Some say that we are at the end of bad times (Kali Yuga) and the new cycle is on the verge of starting. I don’t know if this is true – but if you visit the Isha Yoga centre in the suburbs of Coimbatore for a few days you will start experiencing a unique feeling – it feels like you are in a world of peace and harmony , it feel like you are in Sat Yuga. 

After my Inner Engineering program in 2011 I had visited the Ashram in 2012 – that time there was a lot of ongoing construction . I visited a second time last week ( June 2017) with a few friends and did not want to come back. If I have to describe the Ashram in 3 words  it would be Energy , Peace & Nature. Sadhguru is not a normal guru and the Isha Ashram is very different from the other Ashrams I have visited.

Let me try and explain and set the contours for you to plan a visit. And please do visit – if I have a choice of going to Goa for two nights or to the Isha Yoga Ashram – I would without a second thought choose the Isha Yoga Ashram. There is a lot to see and do and  a sense of deep satisfaction at the end. And you leave knowing that you will be back very soon.

Reaching Isha Yoga 

Located in the suburbs of Coimbatore its about 380 Km from Bangalore , we left Koramangla at 5.30 AM and reached the Ashram by 1 PM after two breaks for breakfast and lunch. The road is excellent and the FastTag  helped us avoid the Q’s at the Toll gates. Choke points are in Salem and Avinashi Road Coimbatore – rest of the journey you can zip at 100 + km / hr . We stopped for breakfast at Krishnagiri and lunch at Annapoorna Gowrishanker (Avinashi Road – immediately after Le Meridian). After you cross Coimbatore city you drive for almost 40 Kms thru excellent Village roads and reach the foothills of the verdant Velangiri Hills. ( Trust Google Maps it gets you to your destination correctly)

Stay at Isha Yoga

They have excellent rooms at the Ashram – you need to book in advance. Room rates are Rs 1300/- per day that includes pure veg Lunch and Dinner at the Ashram. Excellent, nourishing, healthy food. Its a sit down meal. Lunch is served at 10 AM and Dinner at 7 PM. Book  well in advance – on any day there are well over 300 people attending the different programs at the Centre. The place is buzzing with energy. Everything is managed by volunteers and it is done with efficiency that will put the largest of corporates to shame.

In between if you want some snacks or Tea (I would say avoid if possible) you can visit the lovely Pepper Vine eatery that opens at 830 AM and serves a wide variety of snacks , juices , fruits – all at very reasonable prices. For those who want a early morning cup of coffee you need to walk to the main gate – the restaurant there opens by 6.30 AM.

How to plan your day 

You have the choice of starting your day at 4.30 AM with the soothing chants of Nirvana Shatakam and Guru Paduka Stotram. After a shower we headed to the large open platform near the SuryaKund that faces the Lily Pond , Dhyana Linga and Linga Bhairavi Temple. This is the perfect place to do your morning Yoga and Kriyas.

At 6 AM we headed to the Dhyana Linga ( it opens at 6 AM) – we were lucky to be there during the Full Moon and were amongst the first to do the Milk Abhishekam.  The best time to visit the Dhyana Linga is at 6 AM in the morning or late evening. Rest of the day it gets very crowded – avoid weekends when the crowds are bustling.

The Dhyana Linga is a highly energised space for meditation. The sole purpose of Sadhguru’s life was to create and consecrate the Dhyana Linga something he has been trying for the last few lifetimes. (For the full story on Sadhguru and his journey of building the Dhyana Linga read Sadhguru: More than a Life by Arundhati Subramaniam)

 

We were lucky not just to be the first to do the Abhishekam but also to do the ” Linga Snanam“. This activity happens at 8 PM the day before the full moon when you can volunteer to wash and clean the Dhyana Linga. Its a rare and unique opportunity and we were blessed to be able to do it.

We have all grown up knowing that the Shiva Linga as being very auspicious and only the select few are allowed to come near it. And hear was a group of volunteers and visitors who were doing what normally only select ordained brahmin priests can do.

After an hr of meditation at the Dhyana Linga we headed to the Linga Bhairavi temple. A powerful sanctum  dedicated to the Goddess. The design and aesthetics of everything in the Isha Ashram is unique and classy and you cannot but stop admiring every walkway , every wall , every stone – the eye for detail is amazing. The walk from the Linga Bhairavi is thru a beautiful green garden and you cross the Sadhana Centre, The Aum Meditation hall and the Chandra Kund before exiting the complex near the entrance of the Dhyana Linga.

 

By now it was 8.30 AM and we stopped by at the cafeteria for a cup of tea and then slowly walked by the verdant green landscape to our room for some rest before heading to the Bhiksha Hall for lunch at 10 AM. The lunch hall closes sharp at 10 AM so be there by 9.55 AM. You can always join the second group at 10.40 AM if you miss the 10 AM slot. The food served here is tasty, nourishing and filling. And after the meal you need a little rest post which we headed for the Aum Meditation.

This is conducted in a small hall near the Chandra Kund as you are walking away from the Linga Bhairavi. A 30 minute session you are initiated to the correct way of chanting AUM. Sadhguru explains in a video the reason why it needs to be chanted in a certain manner and the

benefits of the same. You are advised to do this practise for 40 days twice a day – 15 minutes each. The practise can be done anytime even on a full stomach.

Our next stop was the “Theertha Kund”. Ancient and powerful temples invariably held a sacred water body, where visitors could take a dip before entering the main energy space. This was not only for physical cleansing and freshening, but also to activate and sensitize the energy body of the visitors, to prepare them to fully receive the energies of the space. There are two theerthakunds at the Isha Yoga Center – the Chandrakund for women and Suryakund for men.

Embedded 30 feet below the ground, and approached by a descent of thirty-two massive steps, the Chandrakund is framed by gigantic granite stones and vaulted by a colorful mural depicting the Mahakumbha Mela. Measuring 55 x 15 ft., this exquisite artwork follows the traditional Kerala style of painting dating back to the 15th century, using only natural colors and vegetable dyes.

The Suryakund is larger and measures 130 by 40 feet, and is embedded 22 feet in the earth. It is surrounded on three sides by a wall of 200 massive, 50-ton granite blocks. One major feature of the Suryakund that nobody can miss is the Sun sculpture which hangs from the ceiling. Constructed in just two days, the Surya sculpture is 20 feet across and has been constructed out of brass and copper. The water is energized by the submerged Rasalinga, weighing over 660kgs. A dip in this vibrant water significantly increases spiritual receptivity and also rejuvenates the body.

The Kund is indeed magical – the cold water refreshes end energises you. Its ideal to take a dip at the Kund and then visit the Dhyana Linga but the Kund opens at 7.30 AM and the Dhyana Linga at 6 AM. (Do take a towel with you to the Kund, this is for drying yourself, they give you a towel / robe for women  to wear while entering the holy water space), you can leave your valuables in a locker.

Post our dip in the Kund we again went back to the Dhyana Linga for an hrs meditation and the on the way out stopped by the Cafeteria and Isha Shoppe. The Shoppe has a wonderful collection of items – dresses , artefacts etc – budget at least an hr to browse thru all the items at the store.

A glass of lemonade and then we headed to the grand Adiyogi statue that is a 10 min walk . Its massive and the area is so windy – the whole experience is breathtakingly beautiful. We were lucky that there was hardly any crowd and we had the place to ourselves. Its best to come here in the evenings or in the morning when its not very sunny.

As we headed back to the room we were able to witness another rare spectacle  – the Linga Bhairavi Procession that happens on every full moon night. A high energy spectacle of Drums , Dance , Fire with the procession of the Linga Bhairavi and the Aarti in the open space near the Nandi. Try and visit the Ashram doing the New Moon or Full Moon time – then you can get to see these rare ceremonies.

The day ended with an outdoor dinner near the Nalanda Cottage. Another unique experience eating a tasty piping hot meals in the darkness below the cloudy sky with the dark hills looming in the background keeping a watch.

Between the two days we also attended the evening Satsang at 5.30 PM in the Sadhana Hall. (If Sadhguru is in the Ashram he conducts it in person – with his travel schedule thats rare) and managed a short visit to the Isha Rejuvenation centre for a Massage. While here do get a pack of the Snana Powder – its a great body wash.

An important thing you will observe all through the Ashram is the connect with Snakes. They are everywhere – right from the entrance , the Lily pond, even the knobs in the room are designed like snakes.

You can even buy a copper / silver snake shaped ring. Sadhguru has a strong connect with snakes – and we all know of the connect that Shiva has with Snakes. Wonder what this means.

Isha Yoga centre is about Hatha Yoga in its pure form and meditation techniques to connect with your inner self. This is a  place of Yoga and Karma – people at the Ashram are dedicated and work hard. This is not a place where you will find lectures on Vedanta and Gita.

The two days we spent flew by and it was wonderful to have the company of two wonderful people – company does make a difference, when you visit an Ashram like this find people who are not garrulous and can absorb the energy of the place. The trip was perfect from start to end – and we owe it all to the blessing and grace of Sadhguru.

Running an Ashram like this day after day, catering to large crowds and managing everything so efficiently is remarkable and hats off to the administrators and the band of volunteers who make this happen and create this amazing experience for us.

 

Most of the Photos are from the Public Domain space and not shot by me. Photography is prohibited in most places inside the Ashram.

For more details visit the Isha Blog

http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/lifestyle/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-isha-yoga-center-and-more/

 

 

MBA Gold Medalist searching for a job in Booming Indian economy !

The title sounds contrarian doesn’t it. The worlds fastest growing economy , stock markets at an all time high , positive spirits all around – and yet the job market for the youngsters seems to be spiralling downwards rapidly.

In this Blog I am going to try and connect the dots between 3 things

  • The economy – Job Readiness and availability
  • The need for young entrepreneurs for self employment.
  • A few radical solutions for generating employment and settling the restless youth

I have and continue to be an ardent admirer and supporter of this government and PM Modi. Its our last hope and the string of economic reforms, interest cuts, demonetisation, new initiatives have all been exciting – if all of this doesn’t get the economy and jobs pumping – what will, I wonder. Or is there a lag between policy and change on the ground – if so whats the gap. This gap better be bridged fast – well before 2019 or the backlash from the youth voters could be very very strong.

Let me share with you a few recent incidents of the last few weeks. These are real life incidents.

Case – 1 : A very bright young girl  who has been a topper in her Under Grad and Post Grad Science programs goes on to do a MBA in HR from the Premier Management Institute – Fore School of Management Delhi (Ranked in the top 20 in the country), Is a Gold medalist in her MBA class – there are Zero campus placements for HR and she is actively hunting for a break.

 

Case – 2 : I was at the JetKing centre at Calcutta. JetKing is the country’s premier Skill development institute. I met a M Tech student who after 6 years in a premium engineering institute, with excellent grades at the age of 25 had enrolled with JetKing for a 1 year program hoping to get a job that would pay him a salary of 10 – 15 K ./ Month. JetKing graduates have great hands on skills in IT, Networking, Digital technologies – and he was lured by the thousands of engineering graduates who had managed to get a job after enrolling with JetKing. He was happy to settle even for a 10 – 15 K / month salary. (Thats comparable to what a Swiggy delivery boy earns and way less than what an Uber driver earns)

Case – 3 : While at Cal I caught up with a very bright young person who used to work as a free lance trainer in my extended team some time back. He was one of the best – sharp, intelligent , excellent attitude – an engineer with a few years experience, excellent communication skills. he took a break 6 months back and is now struggling to get a job. He says there are just no open jobs in Sales or Training. Attrition levels are almost zero and for all the tall claims we see nobody is really expanding the physical sales force – with a fast growing commerce market and everything including Training becoming Virtual and online.

We hear that 90% of Indian Grads are not ready for the Industry – but these 3 people mentioned above are in the 10% of very capable and competent people , Good technical skills , good communication ability , IQ levels well above average , excellent attitude – yet they struggle for a job in the worlds fastest growing economy.

Case – 4 : After these 3 challenging situations I saw a very different scenario when I met my daughters Chemistry teacher. Surya is in his early 30’s  – an engineering graduate from Vishakapatnam Andhra University in 2005. Surya is one of the most sought after Chemistry tutors for class 11 – 12 in Bangalore. He visits the children at their house ( so they save a lot of travel time) – has a group of 5 – 6 students , takes long sessions of 3 hrs at a stretch and charges a princely sum of Rs 500 / student / hr. Compare this with the Rs 100 a month I used to pay 30 years back to a REC Durgapur Phd professor. But nobody is complaining – he is doing a great job , the students love him , the parents are happy that he comes home. Its a Win Win.

If Surya had joined Wipro or Infosys like most of his peers did 12 years back he would probably have been one of the thousands who were getting laid off – but thanks to his spirit of entrepreneurship Surya now makes more than 5 Lacs a month and the best part is – his day starts at 430 PM after school – he has the full day to himself.

There are many Surya’s out there who have ventured out to be self employed professionals and these are the people who are standing out in the challenging economy of today. If you are talented and smart – there are enough opportunities out there – but you need to find an avenue where people start running after you Vs you running after companies for jobs.

The meltdown of the eCommerce market has dried up whatever few job openings were coming. There is a blood bath in the IT industry and what we have seen is the tip of the iceberg – this will gain momentum as the crisis deepens.

However there is hope – there are 12 massive disruptions around the corner , the 4th industrial revolution is at our doorstep and can create colossal changes.

The next set of Wipro’s and Infosys will emerge in the coming years and the old order will change yielding place to the new.

These technologies are rapidly moving from the lab to touch the common may in their day to day lives… but there is still time for this massive change to integrate and drive the economy. The impact of this will not be visible to the millions of unemployed Indian youth before 2019. To them the Digital world is just a Smart Phone with an App on which you can transfer money or watch a Video.

I have one suggestion to PM Modi – like the demonetisation move it may sound tough and harsh – but thats the fastest way to get the employment engine going.

So here is what I propose

Pass a legislation to make the retirement age in companies Pvt & Public to be 50 years. People who have worked for 25 – 30 years are specialists in their area – they have savings , most have a Pension to fall back upon – and now they are the best equipped to take their expertise and become entrepreneurs. If they are pushed they will do it – and they will have a better chance of success than a raw 20 year old. This move will open up millions of jobs in months , it will reive the consumption economy as billions locked up in PF accounts will now become liquid in the hands of those retiring at the age of 50.

This may be the easiest and fastest way to get the young and restless gainfully employed and to rev up the economy to faster levels.

There is a second option – Universal Basic income 

The next best option is to do a Universal Basic Income – dismantle the subsidy income and deposit 15,000 Rs / month to every Adult who has a bank account. I recently read that the cost of  subsidy and its administration is comparable to giving every adult a 15,000 Universal Basic Income in this country. So the Govt doesn’t lose money, eliminates corruption and the middleman in one go.

Yes PM Modi promised 15 lac in all our accounts – he may as well make a start with 15,000 / month in our accounts from 2018.

Who knows this may very well happen – lets pray for the best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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