Early Morning Meditation - Antavas Yoga Centre
1996 has seen another innovation by the Movement: the holding of three antavas "In the trail of the rishis" in November and December at our newly-built Yoga Centre by the sea at Riambel.
They were 3-day spiritual camps/residential seminars meant for Forms V & VI boys and girls separately. They were in fact a revival of such seminars held 17 years ago and discontinued through damage caused to the old building by cyclones. Like the earlier ones they promised to be highly beneficial and popular.
The word comes from the ancient term antevasi or antavasi ("living within") which denotes a pupil who had imbibed all the knowledge of a Guru by staying for twelve years in his house ó "in the womb of his knowledge" as the Atharva Veda calls it. It was an opening of teacher and pupil, and was in many ways unique. It is while experiencing something of that opening in December last that the word came to us.
Participants took part in various activities: yoga & meditation, lectures and discussions, swimming and excursions, public speaking, cookery etc. Many of these were unexpected novelties that thrilled and transformed participants as parents assured us afterwards.
The Antavas were really delightful moments reviving those lived by our rishis and illustrating Godís love in action as conveyed by the accompanying pictures and impressions ó moments of blissful oneness that impress on the mind and are unforgettable.
We thank the friends and volunteers for their help, especially Mr and Mrs Dhunnookchand for spending a night with us and charming us with sweet bhajans and lectures; Mrs Lallbeeharry for her useful talk on cookery and a delightful nightís company with her family; Mrs S. Khadaroo and Mr P. Dookhit for their valuable swimming lessons to the girls and boys respectively; not forgetting the Police for their help, in particular Mr K. Ramprogus, Assistant Police Superintendent of Souillac for his personal presence and support.
Antavas at Riambel
Mr. Gian Dhunnookchand
The Hinduism Movement has been involved in many religious, social and philanthropic activities for more than a quarter of a century. It has been playing a significant role in promoting the learning of Hinduism as a subject at S.C and H.S.C. levels by organising regular seminars and workshops for students. Now, a new dimension has been added with the inclusion of Antavas.
Students, both boys and girls from different colleges, participated in different camps in the ashram of Yogi Rummun at Riambel. During their stay, they were trained in self-discipline, service, sacrifice, swimming, culinary skills and meditation. They were taught Ramayana and Hanuman Chalisa chanting and Bhagavad Gita recitation. Pupils had special opportunities to display their talents. To sharpen their intellect, discourses and discussions were held all along. The most important message given was to practise what we preach.
The need to draw the attention of youth towards spiritual life is strongly felt in the present day. Many of them are being misled and they easily fall prey to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and other vices. Training for precaution, safety as well as welfare is a necessity. The Hinduism Movement under the guidance of Yogi Rummun has a Herculean task ahead ó that of transmitting the cultural values to coming generations. The challenge is to ensure that the rich cultural heritage is not lost or neglected in this island.
I am convinced that by similar other Antavas, many young boys and girls will be prepared to carry the banner of Indian culture in future. Hinduism will not be a set of rules and regulations written in black and white but will become a way of living which aspires towards self-realization.
How the participants see it
If there is something I would never forget, it is surely the Antavas.
I at first wondered about it. It was going to be a first experience in my life to be away for three days from home. But it was a good thing, thanks to it a change has taken place in my way of thinking and expressing my views. What I found most exciting were the group discussions. We got the opportunity to express ourselves on matters concerning the Hindu religion, its traditions, its people, etc ... Due to the new pace of life nowadays we considered how much our culture is suffering despite many beneficial changes. Thanks to the guidance of Yogiji and others, many negative attitudes towards our religion got cleared. We were inspired by the sacrifices of great leaders. Deep inside the feeling that revived was that Iím a Hindu and I should be proud of it. The young generation must make a fresh start .....
I who attended it twice would like to come again next time. Thank you Yogiji, Mataji, not forgetting Auntie Premila for her delicious dishes.
Spiritual camping? It had sounded a bit boring to me when I first heard about it. In my mind, I had an image of the usual scenario with people saying mantras in Sanskrit and relentlessly singing the praises of God. So, I headed towards it with reluctance.
However, things turned out to be amazingly different...... One of the interesting aspects of our stay was knowledge. We had knowledgeable and experienced people around us to enlighten us. We had discussions and speeches which provoked thought and satisfied inquisitive minds. We had the opportunity to clear off the clouds which had been dwelling on certain beliefs about Hinduism and spirituality.
This kind of camping has allowed us to ponder over important subjects which schools and colleges do not include in their syllabus.
It was a rich experience to live among people belonging to different colleges, living at different places and having different frames of mind. It was a kind of break from the routine life we are so much used to. We have been able to see things in a different perpective. We have had three days of fun, knowledge and discovery.
At first part of Hinduism unknown to us appeared very strange, but little by little, by the lectures and discussions, the mystery became clear and we loved it.
In this way we learnt many things: life and sacrifice of good Hindu leaders, swimming, excursions, group discussions, public speaking, yoga, oneness with all and especially responsibility. In the evenings we had bhajans and kirtans which gave us another type of enjoyment. We learnt to be proud of our culture, our religion and our country. During the yoga sessions, a technique that Yogiji taught us was "complete relaxation". I practise it every day, especially when I am exhausted after a long dayís routine.
I canít help recording what I felt in the morning: getting up early, we all met on the balcony for meditation at six. It was a wonderful experience. In that calm divine hour, we really felt ourselves one, as Yogiji said, with the sea, the sky and the vast cosmos. It was our first experience in yoga that was highly beneficial and removed all stress. I wish all students could follow such a training.
This unforgettable Antavas has given us an idea of what was life in the Gurukul.