Eight long years I was listening about this place, Kamalshile, and fans of this place were increasing every year. It started from my Tai, a.k.a. Ashwini Madam in the Art of Living community. This year I made my mind to visit Kamalshile , a remote place in Karnataka near Udipi town, to enjoy the nature, the river, heavy rains, dense forests, water falls, the famous Kamalshile cave and most important Swami Suryapad, a.k.a. Chhaya Anna.
I booked two tickets for me and Sonia from Pune to Kamalshile for a bus which has sleeping coach. It wasn’t a Volvo, but I thought to give it a try over a sitting only Volvo. We boarded the bus by 6:30pm from Pune and reached Kundapura by 7am in the morning. Another group from Mumbai (Shahapur) joined us at Kundapura and we all hired a bus to reach Kamalshile from there. It was an hour journey from there.
As we were going close to Kamalshile I was relating everything to Konkan. The same red soil, house patterns, coconut trees, costal area, the clear and pollution free but humid air… I started liking it. That’s all I always looked for.
When we reached the Kamalshile temple, there were a couple of groups already booked their places in the dormitory. We made some place for our luggage as well and rushed to the common bathrooms to take a wash. Aaaahhh.. what a cold water it was. there was nothing much for us to do after bath since the Art of Living course was going to start from next day and Tai’s group was yet to arrive at Kamalshile. We spend the day roaming a little around temple, playing with calf, visit temple and resting. We welcomed Tai, Mama ( a.k.a Sachin mama), Aunty ( Venkat’s mom), Thanekar, Sunil and rest of the Dombivli group. With the gents group I moved my belongings to the first floor of dormitory. We had a nice hot and tasty south Indian dinner that night followed by a satsang and then we slept.
The morning session was about to start at 6am with Swamiji. I thought to wake up by 4:30am in order to avoid rush and queue for toilet and bathroom. To my surprise I woke up even before 4am due to light in the room and noise of people getting ready pre/post bath. It was pretty cold weather in the early morning. I grabbed my towel and pouch and ran towards the fresh rooms. OMG! There were people waiting even at 4am. But I managed to get myself in fairly quick. However when I returned to the session hall, since I wasn’t the early bird, I didn’t get a seat in the first row. I was in 3rd row with a good view of instructor. The morning yoga and sudarshan kriya were conducted by Sunil Anna ( Sr Adv Course teacher ) who were assisting Swamiji for this course. We, the 170 participants were allocated in 4 different groups and provided some responsibilities for each day. After having a hot and healthy breakfast and tasty Kashaya (an alternate to Tea) we were supposed to clean the session hall, as it was our responsibility (or task) for the day. The session hall was occupied by all male participants at night for sleeping and during day it was supposed to be used for the sessions.
We enjoyed our breakfast and rushed to the hall to clean it. Since all male participants were sleeping in the same hall, they tied many ropes from pillar to pillar to dry their towels and washed cloths. We were instructed to remove all those ‘Flags’ and make the hall look better. There was some old and broken furniture kept in the back of the hall and was wasting remarkable area. We planned to clean it off. The furniture was old, some rusted metal bars, some broken glasses and lot many insects, lizards and spiders. Our group put all the efforts to clean it and in no time we did it. Young men were in front to move the garbage, senior men made a chain to pass to the same to different place where ladies helped us wipe and clean the area.
Our session started with Swamiji, the meditations were going deep, and the knowledge was flowing like the river beneath the temple, pure and eternal. We were introduced in the huge group, greeted each other with “Sangha Gachhatwam” meaning “Lets move ahead together”. In the group introduction I was introduced to a pretty fair girl who was working with me to clean to the room, I realized in the introduction that she is a young US citizen. I was amazed and wondering how this girl is going to manage with the food, common toilets and bathroom, and dormitory.
This evening Swamiji suggested all of us to go for a nature walk. Two groups were supposed to visit a waterfall and rest two were sent to visit a cave. We were silently marching towards the waterfall. I had limited set of cloths as per the number of days stay in Kamalshile and hence I thought not to enter into the waterfall. And it was the time to witness ‘Only change is permanent’. The waterfall was flowing with fresh water, the force was such that it was looking milky, tempting. I wrapped up my pajamas above my knees and entered the fall. A boy later came behind me and slept in that flowing water. Man.. that made me drop all my plans. There were many boys, girls, kids and seniors started entering the cold and fresh waterfall. I could not resist myself. I removed my t-shirt and entered the full force and slept in the flow enjoying the force of the water. We played sometime in the water and then our guide called us to come out of water and reach the dormitory before it get dark in the jungle. It was easy to reach that point but quite difficult to go back. We made a chain to help each other to get going. Merilyn, the foreigner was walking next to me holding a tiny bag in a hand, umbrella in another and trying to make her way through the forest. I was helping her and we had some talks. She told me that she was staying in Banguluru and came to Kamalshile especially to do the Advance course with Swamiji. She were repeating the course.
We were back by late evening, had a fresh cold water bath, washed my cloths and had a wonderful hot dinner. Everyone was ready for the night satsang in the hall. We sang many songs, danced together in a group, sometimes dancing in a chain, sometime dancing in a small circle of 3 people which eventually became a circle of 30+ people, it was so much fun, we also danced with & within ourselves, closing eyes, just going with the sweet music and sweet lyrics, I never experienced such joy before. The satsang ended with a surprise. Swamiji asked if it is anyone’s birthday or anniversary…. It was 29th June 2012, Sonia and my marriage anniversary. We both were welcomed in a huge applause, standing in front of Swamiji and the rest of 170 people who were clapping behind him. Swamiji took a couple of flower malas and handed to me and Sonia, asking us to put the mala around each others neck. We did it again after 3 years, I was feeling like getting married again in front of many other soul mates. They were all clapping and singing for us.
Sagar Mein Ek Leher Uthi Tere Naam Ki …….. ooooohoooo ooooohoooo
Tujhe Mubarak Khushiyan Atma-Gyan Ki
Tujhko Hai Anant Mein Jake Mil Jaana
Tu Hai Sundar Phool Is Sansar Ki
Sagar Mein Ek Leher Uthi Tere Naam Ki …….. ooooohoooo ooooohoooo
Tujhko Hai Anant mein Jake Mil Jaana
Tu Hai Sundar Boond Is Chetna Ki
It was a unique way to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, amazing feeling.
Next day after doing some more meditations and refreshing processes we were introduced to ‘Silence’. What is silence and why is it important when we have this mouth to talk.. many such questions were answered before entering the ‘Silence’. The mind was already calm and clear due to meditation. Next day started with some more unique processes and different meditations. This day we were allotted to serve during the breakfast, lunch and dinner. I thought that would be the easiest job ever to do. But the thought changed in just few minutes. We were serving a group of 170 people. The pots were huge and since people were sitting on the ground; we had to bend down every time to serve. We were supposed to be fast, precise in serving meaning no extra food that would be wasted and no short of food that the people will starve, there should be minimum waste on the ground. That was lot of tiring. But I gave my 100% doing it. The senior volunteers were very kind, they made sure that we get enough to eat and at times they came forward to serve the ‘serving team of the day’. Today we were sent to the famous cave for nature walk, I have written a separate thread about the cave.
That night was amazing, we sing together, we dance together, we were celebrating life together. While singing some of my favorite songs I was again experienced a deep meditation, it is something which is very difficult to put in words. Even if I put it in words it will lose all its intensity. It is something one should only experience. What does it mean to go within, being with everyone and the same time being with no one, you hear the songs, yet you hear nothing, you feel you are with other 100s of people and yet you feel you are alone and you are one. They were not other 170 people, we all were one. Speaking about it, reading about such thing is one thing and experiencing it is another, a beautiful out of the world experience.
Third day my mind was even more peaceful, the eternal chattering of the mind was almost stopped. I was enjoying a thoughtless mind. When you don’t have any thoughts, neither about the past nor about the future then you are in present moment. You are true living that moment. Being in present moment I enjoyed the sessions, the knowledge, the nature, the food even better. Today our responsibility/task for the day was to help in the kitchen to cut the vegetables and wash the huge pot and keep the kitchen clean. I got a basket full of cucumber and were supposed to cut it for Koshimbir ( kind of salad?).
I went around the temple and explored the area in the evening during the nature walk break. Being in that meditative and thoughtless state I was enjoying the nature in a different way. Everything was feeling new, fresh and part of me in away or as if I was part of it, the trees, the water, the mist, the rain, the flowing air, the light, I could feel I am as much ancient as the water, the air and the light. The feeling of belongingness was coming from within.
Finally it was forth and last day of the Art of Living Advance course. Again some more different unique meditations, some amazing processes were followed, every day was different though all were meditations. Today our group responsibility was to clean up the temple surroundings as much as we can. We spotted a huge waste bin over flowing by the bank of river next to the temple. It was flowing with plastic bottles, plastic covers of lays biscuits etc, plastic cups and plates, chappals and many other plastic things. Since the bin was full, the waste was flowing on the ground and going in the river. We cleaned up the area near bin as much as we could and put all the extra plastic waste underground at a different place. To my surprise even Merilyn was working with us in that bin.
We ended our silence officially that day, but the silence became so dear that we were not yet ready to speak. We were communicating in sign language. Many of us preferred to keep the mouth shut for some more time. Next day was most awaited day for us, it was ‘Guru Purnima’. A special occasion to show gratitude towards the Guru Parampara, towards the Guru Tatva (guru principle), towards all the great sages, rishis, munis and great masters of past present and future. We were instructed to wear white dress if possible but I was carrying a new jeans and Kurta that day. For the course I was wearing only pajamas and t-shirts as that’s the most comfortable attire for yoga and sadhana. I saw Ananta, one the group mate helping some guys to wear Veshti ( a.k.a. lungi , a white cloth to wrap around the waist). Wearing a Veshti is a very skillful job and it was not my cup of tea. I requested Ananta to help my buy and wear it. Since he was Kannada boy he talk to a couple of shopkeepers near the temple and helped me buy a Veshti and also helped me wear it. It was fitting so perfect and nicely that I was wearing it whole day, did some yoga wearing it and still could be in it till end of the day.
The celebration was very special for everyone. Swami Suryapada were accompanied by Swami Vishnupada on this blessed day to do different pooja and Yagya. There were many other pundits accompanying swamiji for the Yagya. The sacred mantras were being chanted by them, I was sitting in first or second row and just witnessing what was happening. The mantras were so energizing, that I could feel the energy flowing through out my body, whereas sometimes I was experiencing deep meditations. The Yagya started around 8am in the morning and ended by noon 1pm.
It was a celebration day, the food was different and very tasty that day. We were offered jalebis as sweets. The volunteers announced that the food we were eating throughout was all organic food. Meaning there were no pesticides or other chemicals used in growing this sort of food. This is very healthy food and we can avoid many health diseases like heart issues, blood pressure and diabetes if we consume only organic food. There were many other benefits of organic food over regular polished food those were explained by a group of people who were supporting the organic food, the farmers who produce it and the distribution method. We got to know that even Amir Khan was talking about organic food in his last episode of “Satyameva Jayate” and that must have encouraged a significant number of people to add organic food in regular diet.
The Kamalshile trip gave me much more than what I heard about it. I personally met Swamiji and took his valuable advice. There were many things I learned through this course, with the nature. There were many good meditations I experienced. Some new yoga practices I learned from the fellow group mates. And of course the astonishing weather, the forests, the nature and the rain was like a cherry on top of ice cream. I dropped all my tensions, bad habits, worries to Kamalshile and took lots of blessing, peace, a balanced & much healthy and settled mind. It was perfect combination of Art of Living Advance course, Swamiji a.k.a Chhaya Anna, beautiful nature, and the ancient temple. It is worth experiencing these all together.