Tuesday, 9 September 2014

My Travel to Pondicherry - September 1 to September 4, 2014

16 years is a long time to revisit a place which I had promised to come back. I had been to Pondicherry when I joined Citicorp Finance India  Limited and the trip was part of my official visit. But like any other official trip, I had not paid any attention when I visited Pondicherry. It was then 16 years back that I had quietly promised myself that I would return one day to the city of lemon/yellow. As you know, almost all buildings are painted with lemon/yellow colour. You too see some buildings which are painted with grey colour which belongs to Aurobindo Ashram. It is for the purpose of identifying the ashram buildings

On 1st morning I took an air conditioned bus of Pondicherry Road Transport Corporation from Koyambedu to Pondicherry. The bus charge was RS. 200/-. The bus left around 8 am and I reached Pondicherry around 11.30 am.

From the Pondicherry bus stand I took an auto to the place where I had booked my accommodation at Meeranjali (phone no. 0413-2334009). Aurobindo  Ashram is 1 km from this place. This place is run by a Gujarati family (Pradeep and Chitra).  Only accommodation is provided in this place.  Their tariff include only accommodation. No other facilities are available here.   They have four rooms. Those who stay here needs to strictly adhere to the following rules and regulations (1) No footwear inside the house. There is a shoe rack kept outside for keeping the footwear (2) no alcohol/smoking  are permitted inside the house. (3) no outside food is allowed inside (4) locking the main gate.  In my opinion, staying at this place is much better than staying in a hotel. It is an excellent one.

Upon checking in, Pradeep briefed me about Pondicherry - places to see, eating joints,  shopping etc.  He suggested to visit Aurville first. He also told me to get a pass for doing meditation inside the Matrimandir of Auroville for the next day. At the corner of his house there is a tour operator who will  organises tour to Auroville.  Immediately I booked myself for 2 pm vehicle along with other tourists. Thereafter I went and had a lunch at Kaartik Restaurant which very close to tour operator's office. Sharp at 2 pm  we left for Auroville. On arrival I got my pass for the meditation on the  3rd morning at 9 am as they were closed on Tuesdays. After obtaining the pass, the group moved to the visiting point of Matrimandir.. They do not allow people to go to Matrimandir . Took several photos from the visiting point.

Around 430 pm we returned from Auroville and went to see Panchamukha hanuman temple on the way back. This hanuman has five faces and 36 feet height. I was told that this temple was constructed by one individual from Chennai. After having a good darshan we returned to the city.

On the 2nd morning I went for a walk around 5.30 am towards beach side which is behind the Aurobindo Ashram.  The road in front the beach is  called "beach road" which is "Vehicle Free Zone" from 06.00 pm to 07.30 am next day. I found people here are very health conscious and easily there were 500+ people walking, jogging,and doing exercise in the road.  From one end to the other end of the road  should easily be  four to five km. In addition, there are  excellent buildings facing the beach. I witnessed an excellent sun rise.

 I returned around 7 am to my room. After taking bath and my prayers I went to the Aurobindo Ashram which opens from 8 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 6 pm. In order to enter the ashram one need to get an entry pass (free) from the place where you are staying. However there is no need of a pass if you visit during the stipulated visiting hours.  Footwear is not allowed inside the ashram. However the same can be kept outside where security guards are placed. Belongings can be taken inside. However no photographs are allowed inside. After doing meditation in front of the samadhi of mother and Sir The Sri Aurobindo I visited their book shop and photo shop. I purchased a book and a colour photo of mother.

Brief details about ashram

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a well known and wealthy ashram in India, with devotees from India and all over the world flocking to it for spiritual salvation. Its  spiritual tenets represent a synthesis of yoga and modern science. The Ashram was founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo Ghose, an Indian freedom fighter, poet, philosopher, and yogi.

Mirra Alfassa (also known as ‘The Mother’) was one of Auribindos followers, who was born in Paris and was so inspired by his philosophy that she stayed on in Pondicherry. After 24 November 1926, when Sri Aurobindo retired into seclusion, she founded his ashram (Sri Aurobindo Ashram), with a handful of disciples living around the Master. With Sri Aurobindo's full approval she became the leader of the community, a position she held until her death. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust,which she had registered after Sri Aurobindo's death in 1950 continues to look after the institution. The idea of Auroville or the "City of Dawn" was conceived by ‘The Mother’.

It is open to the public daily between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Children below 3 years of age are not allowed into the ashram and photography is allowed only with permission of the ashram authorities. Some of the ashram’s facilities like the Library and the Main Building (during collective meditation) can be accessed, only after obtaining a gate pass from the Bureau Central or some of the Ashram Guest Houses.It is located on Rue De La Marine.

After visiting the ashram I went to Adyar Anandbhavan for my breakfast. As indicated earlier there are several eating joints in and  around Meeranjali/Ashram.

After my breakfast I walked through the French streets. I saw some excellent buildings here - museum, governor's bungalow, bharathi park, legislative assembly, Indira Gandhi Medical Hospital, one church (don't know the name), Directorate of health and family welfare services, etc.

In addition to these, I also visited the famous church in Pondicherry "The Cathedral of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception".  Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, situated on the south boulevard, is an oriental specimen of Gothic architecture. It contains rare stained glass panels depicting events from the life of Christ. This church was supposed to have been erected in the 18th century by French Missionaries.

After these visit,  I had lunch at Surguru which is a pure veg restaurant and food was very good at this place.

In the evening I visited the famous Ganesha temple which is very close to the ashram.

Thereafter I went to the beach side to see the Ganesha immersion procession. I really enjoyed the procession. Local government had made excellent arrangements for the procession. Kudos to the local government.

Say around 8.30 pm I had my dinner (basically snacks) in Adyar Anandbhavan and watched the one day cricket match between India  and England where India trashed England.

In the evening. I walked and walked across all streets of Pondicherry.  There used to be a canal which divides Pondicherry into two sections - one side is French street where the ashram and beach are situated and the other side of the canal is old city. I will say Indian streets.

Third day morning I was ready to visit matrimandir at 7,30am. Previous night I had fixed an auto to visit this place. Exactly at 7.30 am he reported and we  left for matrimandir. By around 8,15 am we reached. After handing over all my belonging including my camera to the  auto driver I went into the office. On checking my identity card they took us (approximately 50 of us) in a vehicle to matrimandir. On reaching they again asked all of the folks to deposit all electronic items including camera in the office. Photography  is totally banned inside matrimandir. After briefing us the concerned officer took us inside the matrimandir. We all did meditation inside the Matirmandir. It was an amazing experience for myself. As told earlier very soon this at matrimandir  will be become  one of the new wonders of the world and I understand that very soon the officials will declare the same.    After coming out from the chamber we also visited the open theatre  (where soil from 124 countries was placed in a lotus-shaped urn and mixed to symbolize universal oneness) and did the meditation under the  banian tree. This is the only tree which  was not removed at the time of construction of Matirmandir as instructed by the mother. Hence lot of importance is given to this banian tree. (More details about Matrimandir go to google and search for Matirmandir. All details are available in the net). If you get an opportunity to visit this place don't miss it.

Brief details about Matrimandit

The Matrimandir, a golden metallic sphere in the center of town
Auroville (City of Dawn) is an experimental township which is situated 8 km north-west of Pondicherry in East Coast Road. It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Richard (also known as The Mother), the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo.  Auroville was designed by the French architect Roger Anger. Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.  During the inauguration ceremony of Auroville on 28 February 1968, soil from 124 countries was placed in a lotus-shaped urn and mixed to symbolize universal oneness. The Government of India and UNESCO has endorsed the project.

In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which has been acclaimed as "an outstanding and original architectural achievement." It was conceived by Alfassa as "a symbol of Universal Mother".

Although originally intended to house 50,000, the actual population today is 2,007 (1,553 adults and 454 minors), coming from 44 nationalities, 836 of whom are of Indian origin. The community is divided up into neighborhoods with English, Sanskrit, French and Tamil names like Aspiration, Arati, La Ferme, and Isaiambalam. The residents are involved in agriculture, administration, commerce and handicrafts, alternative technology, education, healthcare and development projects, the latter including AuroRE Systems, an international award winning unit involved in solar photovoltaic and thermal systems. All items which are made by these folks are sold through Auro outlets which are available in Auroville and in the city.

In the year 1988, the Government of India passed the Auroville Foundation Act to establish a foundation "with a view to making long term arrangements for the better management and further development of Auroville in accordance with its original Charter".

The Charter of Auroville
1. Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. It belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in this place one must be the willing servitor of the divine Consciousness.
2. Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
3. Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within. Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
4. Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researchers for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity. """ 28th February 1968.

Immediately after coming out say around 11.30 am I visited one of their shops in the complex and purchased nice agarbathis.   .

In the evening between 4 pm to 5 pm it rained very heavily in Pondicherry. Around at 5.30 pm I decided to come out and visited two temples which are - (1) Varadaraja Perumal Temple is located on M.G.Road, this is believed to be the oldest temple in town, dating back to 600 AD. The temple built in the typical Dravidian style, complete with brightly coloured "gopuram" and sculpted pillars. This temple is dedicated to Vishnu. Legend has it, that the temple was originally built for the idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman, which were brought to the present site by fishermen, from the sea. The main deity here is Varadaraja perumal (Vishnu). Right behind that is a separate shrine for Narashima (who is also an avatar of Vishnu) and (2)  Vedhapureeswarar Temple also known as the Eashwaran koil, is located on M.G.Road and is dedicated to Shiva.

The first temple is Vedhapureeswarar Temple (Siva) and second one is Varadaraja Perumal (Vishnu) Temple.

Around 8.30 pm I had my dinner and hit the bed  by 9 pm as I was very tired.

Next day around 5.30 am I went for a walk near the beach and returned to the room around 7 am. After my bath and prayers around 8.30 am I went for my breakfast and left Pondicherry at 11 am to Chennai. 

Overall it was an excellent trip which I will cherish always. Hope you enjoyed reading the above write up and photos posted.

Monday, 28 April 2014

OM NAMO BHAGAVATE VASUDEYA -Sreemath Bhagavatham - Skandam 11, Chapter 23

I had attended Bhagavatham conducted by Swami Udit Chaitanya at Bhagavatham Village, Chalakudy, Kerala  from 20th April to 28th April, 2014.  Some of the photos are attached.


Swami Udit Chaitanya 


 View of Residential Complex

This village is on the bank's of Chalakudy Puzha (River)

View of Chalkudy Puzha


Swamiji lectured from this stage


In order to beat the summer  heat butter milk distribution


View of the Hall from where Swamiji lectured

View of Bhagavatham Village

Bhagavatham Office

View of entrance


Swamiji also did puja for Cows where he has built a Goshala


Installation of Kaliyamardhanam at Bhagavatham Village

One of the days, Swamiji installed Kaliyamardhanam statue in front of the Bhagavataham Office.
Snake's head represent all bad qualities like arrogance, selfishness, adamancy, comparison nature. Krishna's feet represent the Satsangam that convert them into spiritual qualities. 

Some more photos from Bhagavatham Village

Chalakudy Puzha (River)



Cashew Fruit