Saturday, March 27, 2010

My visit to Dhyanalinga- Isha Yoga Centre

(For my experience with Isha's Inner Engineering Program, CLICK HERE

Surreal! That's how I describe my whole experience.

Set amidst the dense forests at the foothills of the Velliangiri Mountains, is the Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple, the first of its kind to be completed in over 2000 years. Created by a profound mystic and yogi, it embodies the distilled essence of yogic science.
This powerful meditative space does not ascribe to any particular faith or belief system nor does it require any ritual, prayer, or worship.
"Just sitting silently for a few minutes within the sphere of Dhyanalinga is enough to make even those unaware of meditation experience a state of deep meditativeness" - Sadhguru

Loaded with knowledge like this and lots more in great detail about Sadhguru, Dhyanalinga and Isha Yoga Centre, I just had to visit it and have an experience of it all.............

Below is a kind of a poem by Sadhguru which I love-

DHYANALINGA

You are my Guru's will
My only obsession
In my dreams and my wakefulness
My only longing was to fulfill you

Willing to do anything
That men should and should not
Willing to offer myself and
Another hundred lives if need be

Here now that you have happened
O Glorious One
May your Glory and Grace
Stir the sleeping hordes
Into wakefulness and light

Now that you have happened
And the gift of life still with me
What shall I do with myself

Have lived the peaks for too long
Time to graze the valleys of life

This dhyanalinga had become a similar kind of obsession for me. I just had to be there. Also this was my first experience of being in a plane as this was very far away in Coimbatore, we booked the tickets for flight and managed to get it at the fare of AC coach in train! From the plane, the land below that is visible is just like what you can see on Google Earth or Wikimapia. In no time the plane reaches to such heights! It is a bit frightening too ..being so high up..If anything goes wrong, nothing would be found of you. Of course they have all the safety measures and all but still. I remember thinking in the plane that if something goes wrong and I die here, I know where I will be heading. Body or not, I was going to the Dhyanalinga anyhow! Fortunately it was in a body.
( It is around 40 kms from the airport and taxi charges Rs. 650 /-)

Just recently I had seen a video of Sadhguru saying people didn't realize in what wonderful space they were and that if they closed their eyes and just walked away maintaining awareness for one or two kilometers away from there ( which I assume he was talking of the Isha Yoga Centre in Coimbatore) they would feel the changes even in their physical body. After a long time in a taxi, as we were nearing it, And were just a few kilometers away, I tried to see if I felt something... 2 kms..nothing..just 1 km..nothing still.....just excitement. And all this was gone as soon as we reached there because although I had done the booking 40 days in advance, they were not able to find our name. A mistake that I didn't call them to confirm just before leaving. And what made matters worse was that on that day it was the celebration of Dussehra and over 3000 people from all over Tamil Nadu had come. At the reception they said that it was really busy time and all rooms were booked. But some way had to be found and luckily ( really or not we don't know) they said that some one had just vacated a cottage so it was available but it was not the standard one but an Executive one and it would cost 1150 for 3 people. They charge 150 extra per person other than 2 people.

It is always a given that when you are doing something really good or at a very good place etc, something always has to go wrong. Like even it happened during the making of the Dhyanalinga itself that Sadhguru's wife who was a part of the process, left her body.

We entered the complex and it is wonderful indeed. Such open spaces and greenery and mountains looming in the background and even the buildings were beautiful..all earthy colours and it was artistic to the core and to the last detail. It was breathtaking indeed. We went to our room and it was very neat and clean. And it wasn't an AC room, though being quite cool outside and raining ( just as I had seen in my dream- rain while being at Dhyanalinga temple- Isha Yoga Centre!) , AC wasn't really needed either. The Dussehra celebrations were going on in the Spanda Hall but we did not go as we did not know about it. We headed straight to the place that mattered the most and it was the Dhyanalinga temple.

Although everything is in the complex itself, walking is a bit too much specially because you have to take care of lots of things like your Visitor cards which you need to keep with yourself always otherwise they do not let you go anywhere. And also you have to deposit your mobile phones and bags etc and footwear has to be removed before entering. So all this makes it a lot of walking. Even to enter the Dhyanalinga, there are 2 paths ..one which is straight and really short but they don't allow you to take that. It is for exit. So you have to go all the way around.

One thing you will definitely notice is that whereever you cast your glance, you are sure to find a snake like thing somewhere. Sadhguru loves snakes..was a snakecatcher himself and also according to him snakes are at a very high level in evolution, even around the neck of lord Shiva there is a snake and it also represents the Kundalini so they occupy an important place in the complex- EVERYWHERE!

We reached there at 5 pm and went to the restaurant just next to the Dhyanalinga temple for tea and snacks..because tea is not served in the Ashram. You have to go to the restaurant for it.

As soon as you enter the Dhyanalinga temple entrance, there is a person there..don't know his name (but after 2 days everyone started recognizing us and so did we) but he is always there. He asks you if you have come there for the first time and if yes, then he will brief you. Also one thing is that if you don't know Tamil, you are in trouble because very few people can speak Hindi or English there. So it was really a lesson in communication. You really have to use all your communication skills, using gestures or words or whatever possible to make the other person understand you and equally important- you understanding him. He knows English though. All the Volunteers and people there are wonderful, obviously being in such a space but they are all beautiful and peaceful people apt for the ambience.

You will also notice the unusually large steps there which would be a trouble for older people but there is a specific purpose behind it as it is with all the things there..even the smallest of thing there is the way it is because there is a purpose behind it. The unusual height of the steps forces the visitor to press the sole of his feet on the pebbled surface of these steps, which in turn activate certain nerve centers in the body - a preparation of the system to make it more receptive to the energies of the Dhyanalinga.

And as you go further, you will come across the monolithic Trimurthy Panel depicting the three fundamental states of human growth known as tamas, rajas, and satva, symbolized by three glorious aspects of Shiva: Hara, Rudra, and Sadashiva. It is basically 3 faces with some difference in all of Shiva and I will tell you that starting at that place or even a bit earlier, you can start to feel something. I have felt that tremendous peace- almost so solid that you can touch it. I have felt it at an Ashram in the place where I stay in petlad, have also felt it in few other places and here it was very much there. You know you are close to the Dhyanalinga. You just have to stand in front of those faces and just observe and mull over them. On the first day we didn't observe too much but over the 2 days, each time we looked at it, we could see something new..something that we hadn't observed previously. The faces are indeed beautifully carved.


Then you go ahead and reach the Theerthakund, with its powerfully consecrated Rasalinga (mercury linga), is yet another splendid preparatory tool that reactivates dormant life forces and directs them towards the Divine. This energy-soaked water body embedded 35 ft. in the earth, is framed by gigantic granite stones and vaulted by a colorful traditional mural depicting the Maha Kumbh Mela. A bath in its vibrant waters greatly enhances spiritual receptivity while having an uplifting effect on one's physical and mental well-being. Although we didnot take a bath that first time and went directly to the temple. Further ahead you come across a place where you can buy lotuses or lamps for offering. The thing is that you need to go to the temple as an offering because at that time you are most open and so able to receive whatever there is.


Then you go ahead and come across the Sarva Dharma Sthambha. Symbols of major religions of the world are inscribed on three sides of this Sthamba forming an appropriate sign of welcome for one and all, beyond religious divide.


As one enters the parikrama, on the left is the statue of Pathanjali, the celebrated author of Yoga Sutras, regarded as the father of yogic sciences. The eleven-foot tall statue is deliberately placed in a sunken shrine, thus establishing an immediate relationship between the colossal identity of Pathanjali and the dwarfed viewer at the same level. The statue sculpted in black granite depicts a fusion of snake and man, symbolizing the dual nature of life. It also symbolizes the divine nature of man evolving from his earthbound nature. Hence, the sunken shrine depicts the snake below the earth and the man above it. The snake covering the head of the statue with its hood represents the raising of energies through the seven chakras, thus reflecting the objective of yoga.


On the right is the Vanashree shrine, the feminine deity of the Dhyanalinga temple and a counterpoint to the Pathanjali shrine. In contrast to Pathanjali's sunken base, the Vanashree shrine is placed at a higher level than the pathway. The Vanashree, made of green granite, is a sculptural relief of a peepal tree. A gold leaf at the center symbolizes warmth and prosperity. The energies of the deity are such that it is especially beneficial for women and children to meditate in the vicinity of the shrine.

Six artistically sculptured granite panels cover the aisles, illustrating the stories of six South Indian sages who attained enlightenment. Each panel captures a moment in these extraordinary lives. On the threshold are six images of meditative postures each carved into a triangular form, which indicate the Siddhi State of six spiritual chakras.

The form of a yogi prostrating before the Dhyanalinga suggests the sense of surrender that is required to enter the Dhyanalinga space.


The parikrama ends at a vaulted tunnel that leads to the dome of the Dhyanalinga. Carved on the threshold of the entrance are two snakes with a single raised hood, indicating the non-dual nature of the Dhyanalinga. Over the vault is a seven-hooded monolithic snake, symbolizing the seven dimensions of life reaching the peak of consciousness.The earth colors, the natural granite, irregular surfaces and the shapes that form the Dhyanalinga temple create a very earthy and ethereal ambience, blending with the surroundings and intensifying all elements of nature; a smooth prelusion to the warmth and womb-like feel of the Dhyanalinga Dome.

...........Continued

In his book Mystic's Musings, Sadhguru had said that these two shrines of Patanjali and Vanashree are located at specific angles in such a way that just walking on the path leading to the Dhyanalinga, you drop whatever negative influences you may have. And you can see the Dhyanalinga through the tunnel there and I felt that I should not talk ( not that it's allowed. You are not allowed to talk anywhere- near Dhyanalinga, or while having food or even in Teerthkunda) or even walk because I did not want to disturb the tremendous silence there even with my moving..So I was very carefully lifting my legs and placing them gently to cause minimum vibration or disturbance of any kind.

There you move around and look at the 6 granite panels which has a story in each of them. And finally you reach the magestic place of the Dhyanalinga..


Upto this point, it was fine with words but now after this, it wouldn't be fair to put it in words being in front of the Dhyanalinga because it is an experience and can only be understood by experience. Still I know that most of you want to know the most about this part..about how it feels in there. So for you I will write further too.

The energies of the Dhyanalinga have been consecrated to last for more than 5000 years without any dissipation.The elliptical dome that houses the Dhyanalinga is an engineering marvel of 76 feet in diameter and 33 feet high. It was built without the use of any steel, cement, or concrete but with brick and mud mortar stabilized with lime, sand, alum and herbal additives. It's the only structure of its kind. The simple technology used is this -- all the bricks are trying to fall down at the same time! But, the way the bricks are aligned and balanced, they can never fall. The nature of this design ensures a lifespan of at least 5000 years for the dome. It was Sadhguru's wish that all the visitors to the temple be allowed directly into the garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum. As a result, the garbhagriha had to have a very large free spanning structure. Conventional buildings built of cement, steel and concrete were ruled out, as the life span of such structures is not expected to be beyond a hundred years. Eventually, it was decided to build a dome using only traditional materials like burnt bricks, mud mortar stabilized with lime, sand, alum and some herbal additives. Huge blocks of granite were extensively used, eliminating steel and concrete. Twenty-eight energy cubicles called the 'aura cells' are embedded in the inner wall. Each 'aura cell' is approximately 4' x 4' and provides an intimate space for a person to sit and meditate facing the Dhyanalinga.
Since it was the first time ever that such a large structure was being raised without any form-work, ring-beams, steel or concrete, each aspect of the building had to be worked out afresh, researching and experimenting to derive a safe, viable and feasible methodology for each of the aspects. This often amounted to an interesting blend of ancient and locally available material and techniques. The entire structure is a vision of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. The entire design was conceived by Sadhguru and executed by Bhramhachari engineers with the help of about 300 local unskilled laborers. Throughout the duration of the construction, a steady stream of dedicated volunteers participated in the construction in large numbers, taking time off from their work and family to participate in the making of this offering and it took 8 weeks to construct the dome!
Now, I had been reading and thinking so much about the Dhyanalinga..Sadhguru had said that if you are very sensitive and if you sit there, it will just shake you from the root of your spine. And I had started thinking of all the effects it might have upon me and thus I feel that because of this it diminished my ability to actually experience what was there as it is. My expectations etc were superimposed upon the actual experience and yes, it was peaceful, silent and powerful but it didn't shake me or any of that though it did seem to happen to some people. A few were shaking almost violently, others were almost vibrating but it did seem that perhaps a couple of them were doing that delibrately maybe because they thought it might help them experience it better or something!

After that we headed straight for dinner. Lunch and dinner are in 2 batches and the timings for lunch are 10 and 10:45 and for dinner it is 7 and 7:45. Now do make sure that you reach at least 5 minutes before otherwise the doors will be closed and you will have to go to the restaurant. On our first day though, we were quite tired and hungry after a long journey and the whole experience and went for dinner which was outside the Spanda Hall as it was a special dinner for Dussehra celebration and it was quite good! And then we retired for the night.

We had the plan to experience the whole thing like the dip in Teerthkund, the special Nadh Aradhana and the Rejuvenation Centre on our second day and so we started

.............. Continued

In the morning we woke up early and decided to have tea and eat something. But the Restaurant opens at 8 am only. Thus we decided to move ahead. We went to the Teerthkunda this time. It opens at 7:30 in the morning and is in half hour batches like 7:30, 8:30, 9:30 etc for men and 8,9,10 etc for women. So we went in the first batch itself. First we take a shower and even soap is provided and you change into the robe provided, then you go to the Teerthkunda which is quite deep and talking is not allowed. Since it was quite early morning and climate was cool, the water there was extremely cold- icy cold. I entered the water and I thought I wouldn't be able to go much ahead because the water is around 5 feet so it would be around chest high for me and it felt as though my heart might stop beating...so cold was the water! But somehow we went ahead and upto the linga there and stood near it. I was really shivering but still we stayed for around 10 minutes I guess and I managed 2 complete dips! The water there can help in curing skin diseases and for the general physical and mental wellbeing and it opens up all the nadis in the body to make us more receptive. After coming out, I felt the same as I used to feel after a few hours of swimming! And I had only been there for around 10 minutes not really doing anything.Then we went and sat in the Dhyanalinga and it felt better than it had felt the day before. Perhaps the dip in Teerthkunda had helped.

The immense and awe-inspiring Dhyanalinga is at the heart of the temple, in the sannidhi or sanctum sanctorum vibrating with the power of the primordial, casting its spell on all those who enter its enigmatic presence, the Dhyanalinga towers up to a height of 13 feet, 9 inches. It rises out of the seven-coiled receptacle, the avudaiyar. Surrounding the Linga is the jalaseema, a water body that has a cooling effect on the Linga and gives the impression that the Dhyanalinga is floating on water. The Dhyanalinga is made up of a single high-density black granite stone and the Avudaiyar is made of white granite whose density is 30% less than that of the Linga. Both the Linga and the avudaiyar are energized with the qualities of the seven chakras; hence the Linga has seven copper rings and the Avudaiyar is in the form of a seven-coiled snake.The Dhyanalinga is kept constantly wet to enable the meditator to easily receive the energies emanating from it. Water drips onto it from a hemispheric copper dome coated with gold, which is suspended above the Linga. The resonating sound of water dropping over the Linga, the shimmering reflections of the oil lamps on the golden dome, the subdued interiors, and the all-pervasive silence makes the entire structure ethereal.


After that we went to the restaurant and had tea and breakfast and by the way, the tea there is wonderful. Then we went to our room and rested. We reached the Spanda Hall a bit late and so the doors were closed there so we could not have lunch, then we again went to the Dhyanalinga, this time for the Nadh Aradhana- An offering of sound to the Dhyanalinga, an etheric blend of vocals, singing bowls, drums and various other instruments amplified within the reverberating Dome, transporting one into the timeless space of the Dhyanalinga.
The offering takes place twice during the day from 11:50 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. and from 5:50 p.m. to 6:10 p.m. These times are recognized as special sandhya kala for meditators. A sandhya kala is a phase when nature undergoes certain transitions and makes a person more receptive to something else.

After that we went for the AUMkar Meditation. This meditation is known to have transcendental qualities. It can bring peace and balance to the meditator's system, and is known to relieve people from numerous physical and mental ailments when practiced regularly.
The event takes place from 12:30 pm to 1:15 pm, and is open to all. But the only problem was that it was in Tamil! But still we did manage to understand the essence of it.

And finally after that we had our lunch, then we also went to the Rejuvenation Centre where you can have different massages etc done and can also buy some medicines for different problems. We took a small balm for headaches and cold cough etc. it was 15 gms for 25 Rs. Then we went to our room and just had a much deserved afternoon nap.

In the evening we again went to the Dhyanalinga for the Nadh Aradhana and this was the best experience for all of us in the 2 days. Everyone was very meditative and the atmosphere at that time was unbelievable. Then we just moved around the vast complex, ate a little, sat at various places and just relaxed, taking in the surroundings. And finally went for dinner and it was a good experience. It is inside a hall and you are given various kinds of concoctions and glasses of some special drinks to prevent diseases and the food was wonderful. The people there serve you and everyone waits till all are served and then a prayer is done by all. Most of the people knew it..I didn't. Even the foreigners knew it.
Now later on when I look back at it, I realize how much I loved the meal time there. The food had wonderful taste and the whole way of having food there. Everyone sitting together, food is served and had in total silence. I enquired one person serving some drinks about what it was but because of silence, she did not answer. And so between the pink drink and the brown drink, I took the pink one but it was nice and sweet. There are lots of food items and you should take only as much as you want. Everyone waits for all to be served and together say the prayer and everyone has the food silently. The whole atmosphere becomes sacred and having food this way has so much benefits. And I compare it with the food that is generally had now, at homes or anywhere etc and I miss having food there. And after eating, everyone washes their plates and glasses etc and puts it back and that is again served next time. I was touched by all this. Really was. This is not like a hotel and it is not about you getting the best service. You become a part of it all and it gives satisfaction. All this food is because of donations. There is a sign there that says that on any special occassion like you birthday or anniversary, donate for the food. Also they say that on an average, 1000 people have food there in a day and it costs 30,000 for that much. And even the food there is a balanced diet and nutrituous. And whatever you do there- pay for staying or buy something, it is all a kind of donation only because it helps Isha Yoga in all the work that it does on a large scale. Like some of them are-

Action for Rural Rejuvenation ( http://www.ruralrejuvenation.org/), a rural revitalization program offering medical care, community rehabilitation, and human upliftment to more than 2,500 destitute villages in rural southern India.
Project Green Hands ( http://www.projectgreenhands.org/), a massive public reforestation effort aiming to plant 114 million trees, restoring 33% green cover in Tamil Nadu, India.
Isha Vidhya ( http://www.ishavidhya.org/), a pioneering English medium, computer-based education initiative to be established in 206 new village schools in rural southern India by 2014.

That was the end of the second day and we went to sleep early. The next day would be our last there so I had decided that in the morning, I will go there when the Dhyanalinga opens. Because, many times of the day, and especially during the night, there's nobody moving around in the temple; it is still. In the stillness, the energy of the Dhyanalinga becomes overwhelming. So that is what I wanted to experience. The whole energy of the Dhyanalinga because it has just been opened and there must have been hardly any movement or anything there. And I reached there before 6 am when it opens and I was the first person there! Of course one person of Isha Yoga was there though and I sat there. It was again a good feeling but I didnot feel anything specific. Some people, including foreigners were doing Surya namaskar near the entrance and even inside the Dhyanalinga space,among the first people, there were a few foreigners and it was good to see that they were sitting in meditation for so long! Then I went back, had tea, snacks and again had lunch, and went for the last time there in Nadh Aradhana. There is a special feeling because you know you are there for the last time. And I allowed myself to experience it completely. Holding nothing back. And that was it. We left from there in the afternoon. But it was difficult and perhaps even painful going away from it. All my life, at least for the past many years, I have never been able to cry...even if I wanted to..but sitting there in the Dhyanalinga and also while leaving, I was able to cry or at least my eyes were moist. And I am glad because it means I have become more fluid ..which is a good thing indeed.

So here I am now writing about the Dhyanalinga and the visit to the Isha Yoga Centre. And I still remember every single thing there quite vividly and I don't feel far away from it because somewhere I feel that although I have come back, a part of me has been left behind there itself!

* Note- There was a Linga Bhairavi consecration on 28 Jan to 30 Jan 2010. You can see the isha foundation website for that HERE and what Sadhguru had to say before the consecration about Linga Bhairavi, what it is exactly HERE

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