The Kara Seva Shibir 2009, held in Shri Chitrapur Math, Shirali, from the 10th to the 17th of May this year, was a truly fulfilling experience for all the 48 shibirarthis who took part in the eight day camp.
Kara Seva Shibir 2009
By Namrata Kilpady and Dhananjay Basrur
Shibirarthis KSS 2009.
The Kara Seva Shibir 2009, held in Shri Chitrapur Math, Shirali, from the 10th to the 17th of May this year, was a truly fulfilling experience for all the 48 shibirarthis who took part in the eight day camp. With the blessings of Parama Pujya Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji, the fifth such Shibir was conducted by Dattanand Gulvady mam and his team of Sanchalaks. 27 girls and 21 boys between the ages of 17 and 35 years from various Sabhas made up the group which consisted largely of Shibirarthis attending for the first time.
Such Shibirs have been conducted since 2005, to help the Amchi youth to fully understand the importance of ‘Seva’ in any form. The Seva we perform must be sincere and whole-hearted and done with complete humility and selflessness. This inspired us to put in extra efforts to fully realise the value of our Seva!
On the first day, we had an introduction to the Shibir by Dilip Basrur maam. We were then divided into six groups of eight people each. The groups were named after the six ‘Rhutus’ in our country – Vasant, Grishma, Varsha, Sharad, Hemant and Shishir. Each group was assigned a leader. Later, we were taken for a tour of the Math by Ramdas Divgi maam.
Our daily routine began at 5:30 am, with Bala Shetty maam conducting a solid two hour workout each day. His vast experience helped us perform our exercises well, and the two hours didn’t seem as long! We also had Sanjay Shetty maam with us for one session where he taught us a several important self defence techniques. These daily morning exercise sessions made sure we were all energised for the long day ahead.
Every morning we attended the Jalabhishek performed by Pujya Swamiji at the Samadhis in the Math, and also the Deepanamaskar and the Ashtavadhan Seva in the evenings. We followed a tight schedule daily, and made sure that we were punctual for every session. This helped us greatly in understanding the importance of time management and discipline.
The Bhajan seva performed during Paduka Pujan and Teerth Vitaran by the groups helped us discover a wealth of talent. We were well guided by Meera Balsavar pacchi. Several shibirarthis came forward, for the first time, to sing bhajans.
On one day all the Shibirarthis had the opportunity to perform Paduka Poojan.
During the course of the Shibir, Vinati Udiyavar pachi from Hyderabad co-ordinated for the 8 shibararthis who received Mantra Deeksha from Parama Pujya Swamiji.
The Seva at the Bhojanshala was a treat for us all. Sabita Harite pachi co-ordinated and ensured that the six groups took turns to serve the other shibirarthis as well as the visitors to Shirali. It was great fun manoeuvring the trolleys while dishing out ‘saar’ and ‘sukke’. On a more serious note, it enforced the main teaching of the Shibir which was, performing Seva whole-heartedly and with utmost sincerity.
The main feature of the Shibir was, of course, the Kara Seva at the Kembre farms. There, we worked in our six groups. We removed dry grass and weeds from the paddy fields, stacked firewood in a shed, cleaned out the leaves and weeds from the pond so that the water flows easily into the fields. We also collected fallen, dry leaves from the forest, to be used later as manure. It was loads of fun, with everybody thoroughly enjoying the tasks assigned to them.
We also had one session of Kara Seva in the newly opened museum - Shri Parijnanashram Vastu Sangrahalaya. Some of us polished the brass artefacts. We so had the opportunity to clean Parama Pujya Pandurangashram Swamiji’s Palki, and the 148-year-old Ratha used during the Teru. The Museum is wonderful with breathtaking carvings and sculptures dating as far back as 300 A.D! Performing Kara Seva in the museum was a wonderful opportunity for us all to witness the glorious heritage of our beautiful country.
Our visit to Samvit Sudha, another Math project, was enriching. It was started to empower local women from poor families by giving them employment in some form. Today it is extremely successful. They are given basic training in stitching, tailoring and embroidery and they are able to make items like bags, uniforms for the children of Srivalli School, pouches, dresses for children, salwars etc. Many of us made it a point to buy their products to encourage them.
The indoor sessions consisted of a workshop by Balsavar Meera pachi from Bangalore who taught us how to make flower garlands, which even the boys did with great gusto! Through this session, we all unlocked a talent we didn’t know we had! The garlands that we made were later offered to Parama Pujya Swamiji. Meera pachi also taught us how to sing the Srivalli Bhuvaneshwari Ashtakam, a beautiful shloka written by Savnal Archana pachi, which we recited every evening during the Ashtavadhan seva.
Purnima Rao pachi from Chennai gave us an inspiring presentation on ‘Personal Effectiveness’. We learnt here the importance of being ‘effective’ in addition to being ‘efficient’ like Lord Hanuman.
Udaya Mavinkurve pachi from Bangalore, conducted a unique session on our Sacred Guru Parampara. We were divided into eleven groups and each group was given a write-up about each of our eleven Gurus. In fifteen minutes we prepared a short presentation, narrating important incidents and developments. It was an innovative approach to help us learn about our Guru Parampara.
Chaitanya Gulvady maam from Mumbai conducted an informative session about how and why the various rituals are performed in the Math and during Pujya Swamiji’s camps in various Sabhas. It was based on the book by Shri V. Rajagopal Bhat maam, titled “Padaprakshalan to Phalamantrakshat”. Chaitanya maam also told us about Chaturmasa and Rathotsava.
On one morning, the boys performed Samuhik Gayatri Japa Anushthan under the guidance of Ved.Shri Upponi Guruprasad Bhatmaam. He explained to us the importance of performing Sandhyaavandanam daily, and also informed us about our Gotras, Nakshatras and Rashis. Devi Anushthan was conducted for the girls by Sharayu Haldipur pacchi in a step-by-step process. We were also given certain instructions that one must keep in mind before taking up an Anushthan. We took the Sankalpa for one day and completed it in the stipulated period of one hour.
The sessions with Arvind Nadkarni maam from Mumbai on ‘Presentation Skills’ were extremely lively from the word ‘go’. We were taught how to face an audience, how to structure our information and mainly how to present the information effectively. We were also told about processes happening inside our brain because of which we get nervous before a presentation. Arvind maam highlighted certain points beautifully with personal experiences which made the entire session very entertaining. We were all given a book titled “What I say is important but, How I say it – is more important!” The session ended with a lively song by Arvind maam which brought a smile to all our faces.
On the fourth day, we made a trip to our Maths and some temples in North Kanara. Our first halt was at the Idgunji Ganpati Temple. Udaya pachi informed us that the temple was more than 2000 years old! We then went to Shri Bhandikeri Math in Gokarn where we prayed at the Samadhi of our Adi Guru Parama Pujya Parijnanashram Swamiji I. At about 2 o’clock, we reached Shri Guru Math at Mallapur, Samadhi of Parama Pujya Shankarashram Swamiji II. We had a delicious Prasad bhojan, and then some rest! The Math Purohit also narrated a few stories from the life of Parama Pujya Shankarashram Swamiji II. We then went to Murudeshwar temple and were told the story of how the Linga came to be there. We reached Shirali at about 6 in the evening, exhausted, but thrilled with all that we had seen and learnt in the day.
The next day, we had a Vimarsh conducted by Archana Savanal pachi on the following shloka:
Yadrushaihi sannivishate yaadrushaandyopasevate
Yaadrugichhe cha bhavitum tadrugbhavati purushaha
The shloka means that one has to live with an individual in the right way to imbibe the right qualities from him. One can determine to what extent one wants to emulate the other person. This is true of any relationship, be it Guru- Shishya, mother -child etc. We learnt that we must do seva with the right bhavana (in the right spirit of surrender) and know that the Guru is presenting us with every situation in life to prepare us for our ultimate goal of self realization.
We also visited the ‘Parimochan’ project with Mr. Vaidya of BAIF (Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation). This project was started by the Math 3 years ago to help the families below the poverty line. These families are given financial help in the form of loans to become self sufficient and they repay this loan in monthly installments. They also have Sanghas or Self Help Groups where the women of the village come together to pool their daily savings and this money is then used to help anyone in the group or Sangha who is in need. We were astounded to see how well organized the whole project is, and how responsibly the women repay their loans without ever defaulting.
All of us eagerly awaited the interaction with Parama Pujya Swamiji at the Kutir. It was a highly interactive session, with Swamiji addressing the issues or queries we had. In one such query His Holiness stressed on the importance of performing one’s karma to the best ability possible and leaving the result to God, with a feeling of surrender. This would come with practice and if done with sincerity. We were also told about the importance of learning Sanskrit and how its usage can be revived.
We had a lively and interactive session with Bala Srinivasan maam from Bangalore on the ‘Global Financial Crisis’. The session was extremely useful as he simplified the entire global crisis and explained basic financial concepts. Bala maam also conducted a session on Hinduism where we were told that as young and impressionable Hindus we must be aware of any threats that our religion may face. It was a real eye-opener.
The Art and Craft session planned and organised by Smita Nagarkatte pacchi for the children of Srivalli High School was conducted by Aditi Nayampally and Smita Baljekar. We enjoyed working with the kids, and they all painted beautiful cards and diyas for display later. After this, the successful 10th Standard students were felicitated and given their certificates by Shri Vinod Yennemadi maam.
The session with Krishnanand Heblekar maam (“Kutty maam”) from Pune was fun, with interesting games. We played a game in which each group had to emulate a machine and each member had to participate by becoming a specific part. This way we learnt coordination, cooperation and the fact that each member of the group is important. Even the sanchalaks tried their hand at a machine! In another game teams had to set a target and ensure that everyone worked in order to achieve it. Here the aim was to teach us goal setting and we realized that we could actually do the task in less than the stipulated time. We must, therefore, never underestimate ourselves! The session was very effective, the goal was achieved while we had fun!
We also paid a visit to the Goshala where Dr.Gaurish Padukone maam told us about the various breeds of cows in India, which are high in milk yield and so on. We were also told about the care of the cows in the Goshala and nutritious food they are given. An interesting fact that we learnt was that the cows actually gave a higher yield of milk if some soothing instrumental music was played for them! We also discussed about the benefits of cross breeding and the great amount of research done in that area. The Goshala also had some cows that had stopped giving milk but were still taken very good care of. The Goshala was extremely clean! It was truly a great experience!
On the penultimate day of our Shibir, we had a wonderful outing at Panchavati hill with Parama Pujya Swamiji. There, we had a short interaction after which, we had a beautiful session of Ashtamurti Upasana. It was an exhilarating experience sitting there in the cool evening air, concentrating on nothing but the nature and silence all around. After sunset, we began our trek down, though none of us wanted to leave that serene hilltop!
The eagerly awaited cultural programme that night was great fun! We were graced with Parama Pujya Swamiji’s presence. Although we did not have much time to prepare we put up a great show. We had the annual ‘Keli’ (banana) awards! These were awards to felicitate the peculiarities of our very own shibirarthis! The awards took place amidst applause and “peels” of laughter! After which, many of us sang popular songs with accompaniment on the guitar. The mood set was extremely soothing!
On the last day we had another games session by Kutty mam at Kembre farms. Pujya Swamiji was present. At first we had a game similar to football where we were divided in teams and had to score goals. Later we had games organised by some of the shibirarthis which involved fun filled tasks! This way we discovered hidden talents amongst us!
After Seva at the Bhojanshala that day (where the Sanchalaks served), we had a short Nirop in the Dhyana Mandir. Pujya Swamiji graced us with his presence. After the Kshamayachana by Dattanand maam where he asked for forgiveness for any acts of omission or commision made during the Shibir, he gave the Vote of Thanks. All of us then received Phalamantrakshata from Pujya Swamiji.
We are very grateful to the Math administration which organised everything so well for us, including all the arrangements for our accommodation, our trip to Gokarn etc. Also the KSS organisers - Nagarkatte Niranjan maam, Smita pacchi & Aniruddh and Ray Siddhartha & Gouri, who initially planned and coordinated the same. The Math kitchen staff as well, who provided us with Bhojan tea, coffee, snacks, etc. We truly are thankful for all their cooperation and assistance.
Dr. Vrinda Trikkanad pachi conducted tests for the early detection of kidney disease for all of us. We are very thankful to her and Dr. Bhaskar for their effort and time.
Daily feedback sessions were conducted at the end of the day, by the Upasanchalikas- Smita Baljekar, Aditi Nayampalli and Chaitra Kadle, where we were encouraged to freely express our views, opinions and suggestions on the sessions conducted that day.
We truly gain a lot from such Shibirs. We learn to shed our inhibitions and to take up tasks however impossible they may seem at first. With the grace, love and guidance of our Guru, we grow immensely - spiritually and in character.
Our experience of the eight days in Shirali was truly magical, one that we will want to repeat every year!
Om Namah Parvati Pataye Hara Hara Mahadev!