Vikasa 2016 – A Microcosm of Life’s AlaCarte packed into 7 days In this article, Ms. Anuva, Vision India Foundation shares her experience of Vikasa: Youth Leadership Program 2016.

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Vikasa 2016 – A  Microcosm of Life’s AlaCarte packed into 7 days

Anuva Agarwal, Vision India Foundation

A bright yellow jacket clad someone scampered across the two train boogies booked for the participants of Vikasa 2016, trying to remember each personality she met, absorbing each name, and failing miserably in containing her wonder when she first shook hands with the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and awe-inspiring Sh. Adinarayan ji. Little did she know that the walls of aversion owing to mis-construed connotations attached to words such as Dharma, Kama, Artha, etc., would come crashing down and instead be replaced by fluid boundaries.  Fast forward 7 days and she struggles to assimilate the expanded sense of reality that had just begun to engulf her – an ode to a time when each of the 24 hours felt longer, with an experience where each session opened doors of the mind, that she didn’t know, existed.

Having listened to one who describes yoga as a hackathon of the body’s ‘softwares or processes’; talks of boredom as a hugely self-limiting construct and that if one feels bored, tells them to “Be fully bored and then see the ‘you’ emerge out of this boredom – your newness will amaze you”; measures the robustness of a system – mind and body in particular, through its ability to correct itself; maintains a vision of equality but expression that is context appropriate (eg. a teacher treats one child with a kind word, another with a severe reprimand – all for their benefit), emphasizing the importance of ‘bhava’ or intention; etcetera, had me hooked before I knew it. What really struck me was the depth of the frameworks – right from understanding the science behind having a meaning to a name – using the power of thought toward growth pathways, to drawing from extraordinary administration and leadership lessons from the Mahabharat, to the concept of identity as something that is not just limited to what we create but in many ways what is impressed upon the subconscious over time, to understanding the fallacies of aimless intellectualization (which by the way seems to govern a lot of our mindspace in contemporary times) of every process instead of an action oriented approach. As an explorer of beliefs, an atheist and rebel, being exposed to the essence of the Indian Sciences from a scientific lens, devoid of religious underpinnings was new. The various aspects of these sciences – right from astronomy, to the lessons drawn from the Mahabharat, to health, food, yoga, body constitutions, meditation, spirituality, human psychology and physiology – were just the tip of the ice-berg and for me to elaborate on every aspect of what was, would be hard. This camp was just for a sneak-peak into our ‘shrunken realities in desperate need of perspective’.

To make learning independent of the event, once it is over, is imperative for personal growth. Whether heartbreak or a ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ situation, we feed off each other’s idiosyncrasies, at times drawing sadistic pleasure, at times just being ourselves, confused at what is the course of this ‘unknown’ balance – this Ala Carte eventually boiling down to the path we resort to, to move toward our saner selves. Even if I haven’t got to the ‘giving words’ stage, it finally feels as if I have hit the right currents after being aimlessly adrift in the open sea, not knowing where they’ll carry me but sure of the direction of the flow and energy they possess. #Faith

If someone asks something about ayurveda, our most likely response will be that of guilt at not knowing instead of mere dismissal saying “I am not an ayurveda practitioner”. We as a civilization are not known to operate in binary spaces, but instead, in holistic ones. Binary existence which hails absence of action as the root cause of confusion is indeed mind boggling in its simplicity and depth. Consider the practice of walking on water attained due to years of ‘sadhana’ aka practice – the act in itself serves no purpose, one might as well take a boat. But the key lies in the process of having cultivated a taste in repeated ‘sadhana’, and it is this taste that becomes all-consuming and that’s when results cease to matter. Likewise, the ‘taste’ for leadership is not just about influencing people but also as much about influencing spaces to achieve what is envisioned. Conversations with peers who were patient with my ideas of atheism – teaching me instead to be confident and unapologetic in expression, respecting my aversion to subscribe to labels despite believing in some themselves, was pluralism at its best and formed one of the many memorable moments for me at this Leadership Camp.

There is a tendency to treat each interaction like a project where as soon as we see diminishing value assigned, over and above the ‘cost of engagement’ we cease all communication. Drawing from personal experience, it brought me face to face with how fragile and delicate the human(‘s) balance of emotions is. It is as if the centre of gravity of this display is nowhere in the centre but held, in part by each of its constituents. The true essence of each aspect of what had been shared on each day, is coming to the forefront only one day at a time, with every experience post Vikasa. We are often confronted with situations we never wished we were in, or people we always wished were as nice to us as they are to others, latching onto past experiences just as if they were as fresh in the mind as when they first happened. Imagine a stick that was your companion for a long trek, falls into a river. When you feel sad about it, the problem wouldn’t be the loss of the stick but the attachment to the lost stick. This is actually the whole essence of vairagya or intelligent detachment i.e., not associating raga (attraction) or dwesha (repulsion) to an event, once it has occurred. This is not to be confused with a state of emotionless stoicity but instead focuses on reveling in the fullest aspect of feeling (because that’s what makes life worth it!) but knowing to ‘let go’ when the moment is passé.

The eye of this explorer, clouded by the lens of a rebel, now feels clear and shiny with a palpable sense of expansion of the consciousness in coming face to face with questions that were always there but refused to surface or convert. Mind you, these are not the rantings of an evangalised mind but the musings of a thoughtful one. As Sh. Adinarayan ji says, “The eye for appreciation comes from knowledge”.

Somethings, as they say, are meant to be and they couldn’t have been any better – to experiences, confessions and expanded consciousness to pushing the limits of a ‘always-been-wearing shoes-city bred’ self, struggling to walk barefoot on the pebbles from the Ashram building to the dining hall which was barely a 15metre walk. The conclusion of Vikasa has made me understand the full circle that life is – not disconnected concentric circles, but more like an upward spiraling helix! Thank you Sh Adinarayan ji and Smt Smrithi ji – you make me want to bow down to all that is there around me with the deepest sense of gratitude, re-instilling a responsible existence that was meant to sustain. As they say, you often need a framework to fit a lot of what you know in life – to actually enjoy the grub in the larder, the shelves you put them into affects accessibility and taste. The clean shelves feel fresh and the awareness that comes from this ‘arrangement’ has left me empowered at the core. The feel-good is simply a part of what is spilling over. The true essence is yet to be unlocked, acquaintance with its existence only a beginning.

“I’m here for the sanctity of what the teachings here are about, and not for the social baggage nomenclature might assume affiliation to…”

– Anuva S. Agarwal

One comment

  • Garima Chaklader

    Thank you for sharing the experience! It is a very well written article, as if you lived another life in these 7 days.

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