For all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony.
- Sri Aurobindo
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Members from Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Delhi Branch, Auroville and Sri Aurobindo Society organised a 9-day ‘Sourcing Our Oneness Annual Camp’ at Van Niwas, Nainital – Sri Aurobindo’s foothold in the Himalayas – from 29th September to 7th October 2023. 73 participants including the organising team attended the camp from all parts of India.
The objective of the camp was to work together, looking at the harmony within and with others, in the context of Human Unity and Unity in Diversity, all held under the umbrella of Sri Aurobindo’s Five Dreams: for India, for Humanity and for the World. The first dream of Sri Aurobindo became the running thread to embrace Unity within and without. For the practical application of the First dream, the 12 Qualities and 4 Powers of Manifestation of the Mother through her Symbol were taken up in the framework of Aspiration, Rejection and Surrender. All activities were aimed at opening up and connecting with our inner self as well as the Divinity in our surrounding world. Other than the main sessions, there were daily treks and interactions with Nature, Yogic Exercises, Art & Crafts, Awareness Activities and also opportunities to dive into quiet spaces through Meditation, Chanting and readings from ‘Savitri’.
Day 1, 29th September 2023
Welcome and Introduction
A brief introduction was given by Jaya of Auroville and Shivakumar of Sri Aurobindo Society and the organising core team was introduced. The schedule for daily activities was briefed by Anju Di Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Delhi branch and then followed a meditation session on Mother’s Music.
Knowing oneself and Knowing others
Uma of Auroville introduced the participants to a different way of introducing themselves. Instead of using the cliched way of giving our name, occupation and purpose, Uma opened a unique and authentic way of addressing ourselves by asking everyone to state their name and quality they possess for themselves and others.
Day 2, 30th September 2023
Every day, the mornings started with a beautiful sunrise view and ATB and Yoga Asana sessions that helped the participants energise themselves and prepare for the day ahead. ‘Awakening the Body Consciousness’ was taken up by Jayanthy of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Delhi branch and Yoga-asanas was taken up by Priti of Sri Aurobindo Society and Priya – a volunteer from the Delhi Ashram.
Shramdaan and Mantra-chanting
Every day, post breakfast, Shramdaan became a part of Karma-yoga, and was taken up by the participants enthusiastically in a spirit of harmony and as a joyous offering to the Mother. The sessions started with Mantra chanting which created a positive vibe for the whole day.
‘Shining my Light’ by Uma
As the psychic being starts manifesting when we go deep inside ourselves, one’s fear merely becomes a name, a shadow and by acknowledging the Divine Light within, the psychic can help in overcoming the fears and then ‘Shining one’s Light’ takes place. This was brought out by a beautiful activity by Uma.
‘Five Dreams of Sri Aurobindo’ by Dr Arati
The five dreams that Sri Aurobindo spoke on India’s Independence were read aloud to the participants. Dr Arati of Sri Aurobindo Society with the help of a beautiful presentation then went to highlight the need for Akhand Bharat, by making the participants aware of the horrors of partition, spiritual nationalism and Purna Swaraj.
‘SAVITRI’ Reading and Meditation
Half an hour of the evenings was spent in ‘SAVITRI’ reading and meditation
Trek to Land’s End
All the treks were led by Subhash and Shivakumar. The trek comprised uneven, rocky terrain that was challenging, yet rewarding for most participants. After reaching the point, participants witnessed a breath-taking view of the Sun receding past the horizon.
Day 3, 1st October 2023
Working on the first dream of Sri Aurobindo through the lens of Aspiration by Anju
Through an interactive session where participants were divided into groups, with the help of the lens of the First dream of Sri Aurobindo which has the aspiration of Unity and the removal of division, inadvertently representing the group’s collective thinking, the participants beautifully presented their understanding.
Symbol of the Mother by Jaya
Jaya introduced the participants to the details of the symbol of the Mother through a beautiful power-point presentation.
‘Sri Aurobindo: A New Dawn’ - a film by Sri Aurobindo Society
Participants were given the opportunity to watch the newly released hand-painted animation film based upon the life of Sri Aurobindo. The movie watching was followed by a Q&A Session panelled by Sivakumar and Priti where it was discussed on why the need of the film and who it was for, why animation and what were the challenges for making the film.
Introduction to Journaling
Uma introduced participants to the idea of journaling. She explained journaling as an art form that captures the moments of a day lived in lyric. This helped the participants to feel the sense of oneness, harmony and love between each other in a casual unstructured set-up.
4, 2nd October 2023
ualities of the Mother seen through the lens of Rejection by Jaya
Participants were divided into 12 groups and each group was given a quality of the Mother. After reading through the first dream of Sri Aurobindo, the participants were asked to ponder upon the questions based upon the notion of rejection.
Connecting with 4 Powers of the Mother by Priti and Uma
The session was based upon chapter six of the book ‘The Mother’ written by Sri Aurobindo. Priti and Uma (in Hindi) elucidated the nature of the transcending Force permeating the Universe as being Cosmic Shakti. An experiential activity was initiated to feel the four powers of the Mother in an individual manner.
Afternoon sessions of day 4 and 5 helped the participants to dive into our inner being with the help of several activities relating to the body and art/craft.
Awareness through the Body (ATB) was taken by Amir and Lina of Auroville
The ATB sessions were to aid in bringing the body in close contact with the awareness inherent in everyone.
Art and Craft Sessions with the Khushali group
Indulging in art work always opens new dimensions in life. This was experienced in the Kushali group's self-development sessions. It included Aipan art and woollen craft by Neha, Sugandha and Chitra from Madhuban, the Himalayan centre of Delhi Ashram. Singing folk songs of Uttarakhand accompanied us while we were learning to make delicate woollen flowers. All together this was a soothing time which opened up the artist in all.
Exploring Fine-Art by Shilpi
Shilpi invoked the sixty-sixth which is the aesthetic sense sense and helped everyone to project the energy they see within themselves, pictorially over a canvas with the help of crayons and sketch pens.
5, 3rd October 2023
12 qualities of the Mother seen through the lens of Surrender by Jaya
On the previous days, the qualities of Aspiration, Rejection had been explored and today was the day of exploring Surrender through the lens of 12 qualities given by the Mother. Each group presented their understanding of the quality of surrender on a chart, which they identified after watching through the lens of the qualities from the Mother’s symbol.
Tiffin top Trek
Now was the time for a medium trek to Tiffin top. Trek began at 4:30 PM and everyone returned by the time of dinner after viewing the tinkling town of Nainital from the heights. The view was absolute with a view of the setting sun and the whole city beneath. This trek was a trek which helped the participants to prepare for the longer 11 km trek to Naina peak.
Day 6, 4th October 2023
Connecting with the Psychic and Be like a Flower by Shivakumar and Priti
The day starts with body awareness exercises followed by a session conducted by Priti and Shivakumar on connecting with the inner self through flowers. There was an introduction to living a higher and greater consciousness by getting in touch with the Immanent Divine which is the centre of the Mother’s symbol. Sri Aurobindo called this centre which is present within each one as the Psychic Being. After the discussion where the understanding of what is the Psychic Being and where does one find it and what is the need of finding it, the participants were led to an experiential activity where with the help of flowers they were initiated into a meditation and given a glimpse of the Psychic presence within each one.
Shifting Polarity from a space of division to creative development beyond possibilities by Jaya
This Evening session brought a new perspective to the limelight, Jaya’s session of polarity. Each group presented on a chart the polarities they hold within, which they identified after watching through the lens of the three qualities from the Mother’s symbol.
March Past with Lights of Aspiration
Subhash along with the other facilitators took up the charge to guide every participant in manifesting gratitude towards our beloved Sri Aurobindo for being with everyone throughout the camp and holding us together. Every participant held the light of aspiration in front of Sri Aurobindo and promised to march through it.
Day 7, 5th October 2023
Naina Peak trek and Visit to Kainchi Dham
The most enthusiastic day of the camp. Two groups were formed: One group went for a long trek to Naina Peak and the other group visited Kainchi Dham (Neem Karoli Baba Ashram).
Before starting the trek there was a small instruction by Shivakumar to keep our four doors open and keep our fifth door closed in order to have a complete enjoyment of the trek. We should be humble and respect the mountain because it is the mountain that allows us to climb. This long trek was made tireless by the small stories of Shivakumar and Priti in between the short breaks. All reached the peak with no effort at all. All saw the Snow Mountains visible from the Naina Peak.
Day 8, 6th October 2023
Conscious Consumerism by Uma
Thereby Uma shed some light on conscious consumerism-The Yoga of Shopping, as everyone was leaving for Nainital City for sightseeing and shopping. Conscious consumerism is as Uma said, “A citizen of a country should first prefer buying goods made in our own country (swadeshi)”.
Lighting the Flame of Aspiration within
The day concluded with a session by Jayanthy on the Flames of Aspiration, the aspiration we need to keep holding on, even after this camp gets over.
Day 9, 7th October 2023
The camp had its twilight on 7th October and the time has come to depart, just like a full bloomed flower has to shed one day and depart from its mother tree to fulfil the other needs of mother earth. All were sad to part away but had a joy within of being connected to like-minded souls. No one promised but had a willing notion of meeting each other and connecting physically as all the happy souls are already connected from within.
After breakfast the majority of the participants left for a short visit to Madhuban, Ramgarh.
Feedback by some of the Participants:
“The camp helped me a lot to cross my limits. I was agitated with a lot of Polarities existing in work-place. Now I feel calm within to deal with the world outside.”
-Apoorva, A Youth from Gorakhpur
I have spilled mountains
l have filled in stars
I have felt comfort in unity and loved the vibe
Felt fortunate to have found my soul tribe
Progress for the sake of progress
Goodness for the sake of good sense
A straight-line piercing through my spiral journey
Sincerity clearing out all that’s dense
Beyond age, cast, colour, language, gender to start-
Awareness, dancing, acting, singing, painting, trekking, journaling
All from the heart!
I have called out to Mother here
Aspiring in softest whispers and loudest shout
Praying her grace to create within
All that I seek without
-A poem by Shilpi, Artist, New Delhi
“I felt loved and cared for, everyone was so kind to me. I take back the feeling of ‘service to all’ and I’m leaving back my mind which is full of love and tenderness for all. I feel this is my extended family. In all sessions and especially ‘Polarity session’, the facilitator helped extensively in understanding.”
-Dr Chhaya Bhavan Mahajan, Educationist, Aurangabad
“I have joined ‘Bharti’ as a family name to bring out my Indianness rather than just being called a Brahmin. I feel good that I have done that after hearing Sri Aurobindo's five dreams. It has been my first experience out of Chandigarh and I was feeling scared but have been welcomed with so much love. I was surprised and touched to see vegetables without onion and garlic being prepared especially for me. I am leaving behind the fear of facing an audience and taking back a bagful of values with me.”
-Jyoti Bharti, Teacher, Chandigarh
“This is a big separation. I have started to feel like a family. Hoping to extend this feeling. From the Polarity session, I looked at the anxiety in my community and would work towards Positive outlook, leading towards Goodwill, leading towards Forgiveness.”
-Sonja van Dam, Auroville
“I see that my community is very polarised in Auroville. I want to be associated with a community without taking sides. I take back Simplicity and Generosity with me.”
“Polarity gave me inner wisdom. Gratitude for all the sessions, they were very practical in nature.” - Daniel, Professor, Bengaluru
“I learnt what truly is Mother’s symbol. I understood the 1st dream of Sri Aurobindo. In the Polarity session, my two polarities were Fear and Trust. I take back trust with me.”
-Shailesh Kotecha, Amreli