This month of May I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger. Situated in a remote part of Bihar, after a five-hour bumpy ride from Patna airport, past paddy fields, dry arid land and village after village, we arrived to a tall, elegant compound.
On entering the ashram one is left with overwhelming sense of awe. There is a stillness that emanates unimaginable strength. It describes itself as, "An Ashram is not a temple or monastery, or a place for sannyasins or the guru, it is an embodiment of simple living, where one can develop a positive attitude and an understanding of selfless service. It is a place of inspiration because it does not teach or preach; it exhibits and you imbibe what is applicable to you."
The ashram runs like clockwork. Each system is perfectly fine-tuned to exactness. Starting from the crack of dawn to late into the evening, there is constant work in progress with tireless determination.
While I was there to attend the May lecture series, by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, there was time in between to do karma yoga. I was assigned to the English correspondence department, which meant sorting out the thousands of letters received everyday into various piles according to the type of response they needed, finding labels and pasting them onto envelopes, responding to subscription letters etc.
In the few days that I performed my duty here I learned a very valuable lesson, one that taught me the importance of doing things well and with precision. And more so I understood the value of hard work.
There was a method for everything. The way the label was pasted, the manner in which the letter was folded into the envelope, the position of the paper clip between two pages of paper – it had to be exactly according to the guidelines, so that when it reached its recipient, it was as perfect as it could be. This is only one little example of the way in which the organization runs itself.
The lecture series were for two hours every day, in English and Hindi, preceded by song and dance put together by the young girls and boys of the surrounding villages. The brilliance of the lectures is difficult to describe in words though here are three things that resonated strongly in my understanding which I hope to keep reminding myself to follow:
It is important not to become lazy. The ashram is a model of the antidote to laziness. There is always something happening, new projects being worked on, systems being improved upon, singing, listening, meditating, and so on. As someone described it beautifully, when water is stagnant, it begins to smell, but when it flows it is glorious and powerful.
Be passionate. If we want to do something, we must do it wholeheartedly or not do it at all. We get into it with gusto and spirit and give it our best whatever it might be. A half-hearted attempt is no attempt at all.
Remain positive. To be positive is a constant effort on our part. It is far easier to be negative and wallow in sadness, depression and self-pity, but positivity requires a certain way of life and thinking.
As Swami Sivananda says, "Put your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success."
With best wishes, Priyanka Malhotra, Editor