Disclaimer: The following article may shatter your expectations from a ‘travel piece’ and may question your idea of adventure. Kindly read at your own risk.
If you want to flaunt those Guccis- Go away. If you wish to parade those high heels you just bought-Step back. If you wish to revel in drunkenness-Scrap that. For this is not a place to indulge in worldly pleasures, but to immerse in the tranquility of nature; confide with oneself; discover that part of yours that has long been hidden beneath the responsibilities and identities propelled on you by everybody. This is a place to be in love with you.
I welcomed 2016 away from the hustle bustle and the set patterns of New Delhi, amidst the mountains, with the serene winds of Mount Abu. I have been there earlier too but this time, it was different as I stayed in no hotel but at Shantivan, a huge complex that can accommodate almost 15,000 guests. It is also the headquarters of Prajapita Brahmakumari Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya (PBIVV) - a spiritual institution. I was there to witness ‘Baba Milan’ when the crowd surges over 24,000 in numbers. Accommodating 24k humans is no easy task with such warmth and comfort. I was there with my family of 5 and we were assigned a room in Manmohini Complex that too housed hundreds of people.
The place had a very calm and pristine ambience. But what I liked the most was the flawless and smooth process of administration. From picking the visitors from Abu road railway station to the health care facilities, Shantivan runs it effortlessly. It features modern means of communication, an extensive kitchen and dining facility, solar technology plant that supplies both electricity to the complex and steaming for the preparation of food. There is no scarcity of anything here.
A typical day at Madhuban starts at 4 am when several people, all clad in white move out of their rooms sipping tea, going for meditation. Some sitting on the swings while some stroll in the parks. Amid the misty morning and cool air, with the street lights sparkling like stars the scene resembles that of an impressionist painting. The two huge mountains on each side of Manmohinivan add to the charm of the place. After waking up at the early hours of the morning, I went to have my breakfast. The dining area expands itself over 4 floors having 8 halls. It’s a sight to watch when these dining halls are full.
The food produced here is entirely made from solar energy steaming and the solar plants are not limited to Shantivan but also miles away from it, on the higher hills of Mount Abu which also harbours huge farms of rice, wheat, dry fruits, vegetables, cotton etc. You name it and they have it. The interesting thing about the farms is that they are cultivated through Yogic farming. A skeptical person would definitely question the difference in the impact of a yogic and non-yogic farming but even science has approved its benefits. Many experiments have been done in this field by Indian Council for Agricultural Research in association with the Brahmakumaris.
Everything in the BK complexes comes from those farms. The reason for this lies in a very minute thought that food has the maximum impact on the mind and intellect of an individual and anything prepared with a pure consciousness and in the remembrance of God will certainly have a positive impact on the being. So there are yogic experts in every field who work with a pure consciousness to maximize the impact. When you will come in their contact, their positive energy is sure to leave you spellbound.
The second part of the journey comprised the tiny adventures that I and my siblings had. Near our complex, there was a big mound that established an ancient Jain temple. I didn't visit it last time so this time, it was a priority to go there. As we began our journey to the mound, it was then we saw a young boy Umesh whom we asked the directions to reach the temple. We walked and walked and saw no way to the entrance, so we asked our little guide to show us the path. Umesh, he was a very shy boy who didn't speak even a single word but silently showed us the path. When we asked him to get a picture clicked with us, he refrained. Then he struck a pose that we won't and showed us a different side of him.
He quickly took us to the road that led to the temple and vanished in a hut nearby. We thought he would never come out, but he rushed from the hut carrying his slippers all smiling and excited. We were relieved that our young guide liked us enough to show us the path. Umesh then brought along another friend of his, Kamlesh and the two young boys giggled and together they happily posed for the camera. During our short journey both of them revealed each other's nicknames to us. While Kamlesh was ‘Kamiya’, Umesh became ’Umiya’. Holding each other's hands, they both showed us the entrance to the temple. It was then I realized how foolish I was. The ancient Jain temple was not an ancient temple but somebody's residence! Later 3 young girls named Geeta, Akshara and Mansi switched their places with Umiya and Kamiya. We both climbed the stairs along with our guides and then came the part we waited for the most. The ‘temple’ was within our reach. As we reached the top I was terrified because of the height and of the constant imbalance caused by the sand and gravels. The place where these kids jumped and somersaulted like pros, left me shivering. How I cursed my city upbringing. Both of us were super excited as we were about to enter the temple. But unfortunately, the gates were locked. The locked gates didn’t deter Rahul, another kid, heavily influenced by Shahrukh Khan (as suggested by the name) climb the gate to enter the temple. I wanted to mimic him but again my city upbringing prevented me. After soaking in the fresh air of Mount Abu and sitting on the hill, we came back. It was then Akshara showed me her green nail paint, applied by her mother. Yes, the Bollywood impact was strong here too and we happily bid adieu to these lovely kids.
The 2nd day at Mt. Abu revealed a dark secret to me. I was not eligible to donate blood. It was the first time I decided to do so and it seems like destiny didn’t want that. We got our transport arranged for The Global Hospital, a unit of Brahmakumaris from Shantivan.*without any charge* and there the low hemoglobin bomb busted on me. Nonetheless, I got to know my blood group as well as the hemoglobin count tested for free! Not that it is chargeable but the fellow there did not charge me because I went there for a good cause.
Now, for the return trip we took an auto and reached our place of stay. As we boarded off it, the driver asked us for money and we stared each other’s face and then his because we had no money! All of us with a grin explained this to the driver and he laughed too. But no, we did pay him after standing for long hours in the ATM queue.
Although these little adventures cannot replace the big ones, but somehow they always add to your memory bank. When the mind flashes back the smiles of the people you met, your enthusiasm for climbing up that small hill, the before and after feeling of the tiny expedition, the time you gave to yourself without having any ‘To-do list’- it all combine to provide you with a deep sense of happiness that is difficult to describe in words. And yes, another thing that I loved in Mount Abu was having no routine! The simple life does give you an advantage to do things according to your will which in Delhi might not be possible because of the thousands of commitments you owe. Not to yourself but other people. So people, step back from the adrenaline rush and devour yourself in peace and yes, in laziness too.*wink*
P.S: (For those skeptical minds who think Yogic agriculture is a sham, please refer to para 5, 6)