Yuvadhara Sammelan - Karla 2008

The Chitrapur Yuvadhara Sammelanam was another momentous step towards nurturing the amchi yuva peedhi to realise their full potential, and to inculcate in them the willingness and the capability to carry forward the torch of our rich spiritual and cultural heritage into the next century of our revered Guru Parampara.

By Dnyanesh Kodical

Chitrapur Yuvadhara Sammelanam – Beyond 300!

“Youth is the best time. The way in which you utilize this period will decide the nature of coming years that lie ahead of you. Your happiness, your success, your honour and your good name all depend upon the way in which you live now, in this present period. Remember this. This wonderful period of the first state of your life is related to you as the soft wet clay in the hands of the potter. Skilfully the potter gives it the right and correct shapes and forms, which he intends to give. Even so, you can wisely mould your life, your character, your physical health and strength, in short your entire nature in any way in which you make up your mind to do. And you must do this now.

O fortunate youth, recognize this great duty. Feel this wonderful privilege. Take up this adventure. God watches you graciously, ever ready to help and guide. I wish you to be great. The world has put its faith in you. Your elders keep their hopes in you. Now youth means to place your firm confidence in yourself and exercise your hopeful determination and resolution and willing good intentions in this beautiful task of self-culture. This will truly bring supreme satisfaction and fulfillment not only to you, but also to all concerned. The shaping of your life is indeed in your own hands.” – Swami Vivekananda.
The Chitrapur Yuvadhara Sammelanam was another momentous step towards nurturing the amchi yuva peedhi to realise their full potential, and to inculcate in them the willingness and the capability to carry forward the torch of our rich spiritual and cultural heritage into the next century of our revered Guru Parampara.
The Sammelan was held on the 26th and 27th of April in Karla, in the Divine Sannidhi of Parama Poojya Parijnanashram Swamiji and the Benevolent Presence of Shri Durgaparameshwari Devi. With the blessings of our Parama Poojya Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji, it was a gratifying and fulfilling experience for all the participants, including first-timers like me. The Sammelan was organised with painstaking attention to detail and accorded us the most conducive atmosphere to imbibe everything that was imparted. It challenged each one of us and made us grow spiritually, intellectually and physically.

In the morning on the first day, we recited the praarthana and Swamiji lit the deepa to inaugurate the Sammelan. Sharayu Haldipur pachi, the Chief Co-ordinator of this Sammelan, welcomed us and gave us a brief overview of what was in store for us. Swamiji, in his aashirvachan, urged us to approach the Sammelan with the willingness to learn and to open our minds to the myriad education that would come our way through the various sessions and activities.
Yatin Mavinkurve led all of us in making a solemn pratijna, and we experienced a deep sense of pride and belonging when we sang the Tercentenary Signature Tune with its lilting melody and inspiring lyrics.

The stage was appropriately set for Vinod Yennemadi maam’s talk on the progressive and path-breaking initiatives that our revered Swamijis have taken through the centuries for the upliftment of not only our amchi community, but the populace in the precincts around our Math. While keeping us abreast of the changes to the various structures in our Math complex, he exhorted those of us who had not had the opportunity to go to Shirali in the recent past, to come and visit the Math. He walked us through the socio-economic and health initiatives that the Math has tirelessly undertaken. He shared with us the vision that Swamiji has for the future with various projects. The passion with which Vinod maam spoke was palpable. But not for a moment did one get the feeling that these plans were merely the idealistic thoughts of a dreamer – each of these projects was firmly entrenched in realistic planning, execution and a clear assessment of all the hurdles that might be encountered, but with a spirit that would not take ‘no’ for an answer. Each one of us felt that we should contribute to these noble causes and, more importantly, that none of us was too young or inconsequential to make a difference – in the larger scheme of things.
Archana Savnal pachi then spoke to us about the benefits, on the conscious and sub-conscious level, of our being in the presence of Swamiji. Her gift of lucidly explaining esoteric concepts to a diverse group of youngsters was apparent. While a lot of us had experienced the feeling and the indefinable aura and electricity that one feels in the presence of our Swamiji, I don’t think anyone had been able to put a finger on it and describe why that happened. To be able to understand it a little better, but still have that feeling of magic when Swamiji is in our presence is something that we will always have Archana pachi to thank for.

Chaitanya Gulvady maam presented to us the principles and challenges facing Hinduism. The immense research that he has done on the subject is but one facet, to which he has married a sharp analytical ability, the disinclination to take anything at face-value and the objectivity to appreciate that which is good and criticise that which is not. What, probably, made the strongest impact on us was that we, as educated Hindus, have remained ignorant on so many of the fundamental tenets that form the bed-rock of our spirituality and culture. Chaitanya maam’s talk was an eye-opener to us that if we choose to assimilate only what is doctored and served to us, we will go through life being reticent and almost apologetic, rather than rightfully proud, of the religion, spirituality and culture that is our heritage.

After the teerth vitaran, the lunch satiated the stomach and the mind like only a Math lunch can! I should remember to ask Archana pachi what it is about a meal in the Math that can bring a smile to one’s heart and a lick of the lips that is pure reflex!
For those of us who needed something to dispel the lethargy after lunch, one couldn’t have asked for a better session than the group games that followed, with the enthusiastic duo of Krishnanand Heblekar maam and Priti Panemanglor pachi. The large group game of the blind-folded mine-field crossing had forty of us blown to smithereens while our faithful partners screamed their lungs out like our lives really depended on them. We then introspected on what went wrong, and I’m sure we’ll do much better next time, but knowing Kutty maam and Priti pachi, they will have some other game the next time around so they can take pleasure in quizzing us on what we did wrong! What followed in the smaller groups game was an extremely elaborate version of dumb charades that some engineering nerd must have devised! Groups of ten were made and each group was to enact the working of a particular machine. Let’s just say that my outlook of our esteemed fire-force and those old Bawa lady stenos in the law firms at Fort has been irreversibly altered – for the better!

There was a buzz going by then and we were joined by Sanjay Shetty maam, Balakrishna Shetty maam and Nikhil maam. Sanjay maam trains with the Israeli army, and trains India’s NSG and SPG commandos. From what he told us about his work, we are counting ourselves extremely fortunate that we have not become casualties of the Indian Official Secrets’ Act! Bala maam is an Asian Games medallist in the traditional form of muay thai, and makes tai-bo seem like a walk in the park. I have actually begun to suspect now that National Geographic is not using camera tricks on its martial-arts programs. Nikhil maam ‘doubled-up’ as the punching-bag and was nice enough to smile through most of it. So we wouldn’t get hurt punching and kicking the three of them, they decided to make us hurt by stretching muscles that are apparently present in all of our bodies. Bala maam and Nikhil maam then gave us a demonstration of the hand-eye co-ordination and reaction time that martial arts exponents possess. With the enthusiasm that is the hall-mark of youth, we volunteered in large numbers to go and demonstrate that martial arts actually requires tremendous dedication, stamina, training and the willingness to endure pain. After that, Sanjay maam demonstrated various aspects of unarmed combat and continued our education on parts of our body that we didn’t know existed. Amchi girls now have the combat prowess of Sherman tanks and woe betide the road-side romeo. Sanjay maam, Bala maam and Nikhil maam have shown us that we should not neglect our bodies, and that exercise is not an option, but an imperative. We now know that it is only a fit and able body that appropriately supports the mind and allows it to reach its full potential. It is when we are confident in our physical abilities that the mind is at peace to pursue its goal in all spheres - whether it be professional, personal or spiritual.

We were honoured to witness Guru Poojan by Swamiji and to chant the shlokas along with him. The sense of peace that pervades one’s self when the mantras are chanted en masse is unmatched. We felt in unison with the sound from within, and the sound without.

Dinner, with kulfis that Ashok Chandavarkar maam and Mangala pachi had so thoughtfully sponsored, was followed by the cultural programme. If one needed any further affirmation that this was a Yuvadhara Sammelan, it was none more obvious than in the cultural programme. Fatigue was quelled, and the disciplined but inter-active audience were treated to a bouquet of skits, kathak, instrumental recitals, peppy-catchy indi-pop, film songs, some sufi mysticism, a 70’s pop number, a story recitation, mimicry and raucous choruses! When global-warming ‘heats-up’ and our cities start getting flooded, I know 200 people who will have a silly grin on their face when they swim!!
We were then sternly directed to go and get some sleep because we had another fun-filled and exciting day ahead of us, and we needed to be back in just under 5 hours. The adrenalin levels and the peppy feeling was so high that we had to force ourselves to sleep, but when it did come, it was deep and blissful!

The second and, unfortunately, last day of the Sammelan started early for all of us. Bala maam and Nikhil maam took a session on tai-bo with Kishan Kallianpur maam DJ-ing with characteristic verve! The work-out was strenuous, but one did not feel it because of the energy brought to the session by Bala maam. We pushed ourselves through the routine and learnt not just the exercises, but which part of our body was being strengthened and toned at each step that we took. We revelled in the quietude one feels when the mind is empty of all thought, and all one feels is the vibration and sound of deep, measured breathing. We learnt the importance of a warm-down after exercising which, like so many things in life, shows that if we do not go through with something correctly and properly right to the very end, it can harm us more than help us. We also had the privilege of attempting stomach crunches which have the unique ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time, and both because you just can’t do them right!

We went straight in for a session on time-management by Savita Upponi pachi, a management consultant who had made the time for us. She elucidated the need to expressly prioritise deeds that one needs to accomplish within defined time-periods, and to tackle them methodically. The analogies and illustrations that she gave us and the video that was shown helped us assimilate these concepts. Savita pachi’s lessons in organisation and optimum utilisation of time will enable us to balance our personal and professional lives while always finding time for japaa and upaasana.

The session that followed was an update and an overview of the various projects undertaken in commemoration of our tercentenary year. Prakash Gokarn maam, with his team consisting of Prakash Mavinkurve maam, Archana pachi, Smita Nagarkatti pachi, and Sheela Kalavar pachi presented and explained to us all of the projects. The scale of each of these projects is mind-boggling – in terms of time, man-power, resources, ideas and implementation logistics. The methodical manner in which Prakash maam presented the projects that were a fait accompli and detailed the on-going projects was commendable. The dedication and fervour of the team was apparent and we were briefed on what we could each do make each of these projects a resounding success. Seeing so many of the seniors in our community putting in the efforts that they have, and constantly do, is inspirational and is a tonic for the youth to put their hand up and be counted.

After teerth vitaran and lunch (just as satiating as on the first day!), we were addressed by Adil Darukhanawala maam on what was penned on the agenda as a talk on the automobile industry. What we got instead were lessons in life and the manner in which we should chase our dreams and work towards them – peppered with amusing and educative anecdotes from the world of automobiles. Adil maam’s down-to-earth perspective on what success means, and the courage and ground-work required to reach for the stars was refreshing. He brought with him an encyclopaedic knowledge of his field and the philosophy that one can attempt what others think is impossible, so long as one has unshakeable faith in one’s own abilities and the courage to realise their full potential.

If we had thought things could not get better, we were sorely mistaken! The best had been saved for last – an outing with Swamiji on a tranquil and idyllic hill-side. After we walked up the short distance and settled down, Swamiji took impromptu feed-back from us on the Sammelan and we opened our hearts to him and shared with him not only our experiences regarding the Sammelan itself, but of all that worries and troubles us. Swamiji patiently took us through the ways in which we can resolve the niggling doubts and angst that plague our everyday lives and rise above them to become stronger and more aware as human beings. He discussed various actions and means by which we can contribute to our community and foster an even stronger sense of togetherness and well-being. Swamiji explained in lucid terms the meaning of social-service and the pleasure we would derive from it. He shared with us anecdotes to show us how we need to be firm and single-minded when all else fails and negativity pervades. We performed for Swamiji the best and the funniest items from the group games and cultural programme and had sharbat that was prepared there, and left for Karla in time for the deepnamaskaar.

Swamiji, in his aashirvachan, urged us to exercise and do our japaa regularly, and blessed each one of us and gave us phal-mantraakshat.

Thus ended the Chitrapur Yuvadhara Sammelanam, and each one of us left with our hearts filled with joy and the conviction that we would do our very best for the Math, in every way that we can.