An annual visit to Ganga Darshan is certain to be programmed in Europe after the enthusiasm shown by yoga students who made the trip in November. The highlight of the itinerary was a seven-day seminar on Kriya Yoga and Tattwa Shuddhi which was conducted at the ashram under the supervision of Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
When the students first arrived, some had planned to do the course, while the remainder wished to just experience ashram life. Within two days however, all were included in one of the three classes to be conducted, and it became plainly evident that everyone was completely taken up by the daily routine.
One of the remarkable aspects of the ashram was the organisational flexibility and efficiency. The diet was changed especially for the western palate and in accordance with the needs for kriya yoga practice. The attention of the ashram management was centred on the needs of the overseas visitors. In addition to tailoring the Kriya Yoga Course to the abilities of students, an alternative class was especially adapted for the inexperienced to do some more advanced yoga in a manageable way. There was also a third class for those who needed to concentrate on the preliminary kriyas. So all of the students were taken care of.
Besides the group from England, there was also a small group from Italy and another from Greece. As the first week went by, the visitors started to come together creating a definite group spirit. Some of the classes were given separately and others were joined with translations made into Italian and Greek. The questions raised in satsangs were excellent and answered in depth on topics related to tantra, kundalini, kriya yoga, yoga therapy and general yoga.
Mouna was observed each day. This definitely helped to generate energy and even further enthusiasm in the group. The day started at 5.30 a.m. and six 1-2 hour classes were conducted at intervals throughout the day. The intensity of the classes and periodic breaks balanced out very well and no one thing was stretched at all, yet there was plenty to keep a flow of interest going. The ashram took care to ensure that the visitors got everything they needed for their sadhana.
The Tattwa Shuddhi class which was conducted for two hours each day, was especially adapted for the course by Swamiji and this was the first time it has been publicly taught.
The new ashram complex Ganga Darshan is built on a hill which is prominent in the district and overlooks the Ganga close by.
What was three years ago a bare rocky outcrop crowned by a crumbling palace, now supports extensive gardens of flowers, palm trees, coconuts, bananas, etc. There are three large residential quarters with very clean rooms and washing facilities. All the drinking and bathroom water in the ashram is piped from their own well which is safe all year round. Ganga water is piped into the ashram for general use.
Ganga Darshan has a beautiful setting. From one side it overlooks the Ganga where you can see paddle steamers, large sailing dhows and small boats plying up and down the river. In another direction you can see a beautiful garden with a large pond which was blooming with pink lotus flowers when the group was there. Of course, the incredible sunsets over Ganga viewed from this elevated position were enough to take the breath away. Yes, Ganga Darshan was a rewarding and memorable experience.
Time definitely had done some odd things in Munger and most of the group had no idea of days. Sometimes it seemed they had been in the ashram for weeks, even after a few days there! 'Spaced out' I suppose is the modern terminology, but very pleasantly so. Definitely another dimension of yoga had opened up.
Someone said that a trip to the ashram in India is a much more powerful dose of yoga than 20 years of yoga classes in the UK That is so! Yoga may need to be westernised in the west but the roots and the essence are still in India, they are definitely not in Europe. That connection is an important one to make within oneself, if you are sincere in yoga. One doesn't have to live in India to practise yoga, but a deeper level of understanding unquestionably arises from a visit to the source. It is an initiation.