An overview of my stint at the Himalayan Yoga Teacher Training Course at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama Ashram
Sadhaka Grama literally means “A Village of Spiritual Seekers”. As part of his legacy Swami Veda Bharati, left this beautiful little village as a gift for the rest of humanity – a space, so graceful and loving, that words seem just too shallow to describe it.
The lineage of the this tradition is from Swami Rama, the Himalayan sage, whose Guru went by the name of Bengali Baba. By the Grace of Bengali Baba, Swami Rama, learnt and studied under many a different teachers, but foremost amongst his experiences, are his interactions with the sages that reside in the depths of the Himalayas. His book Living with the Himalayan Masters gives a brief overview of all these different interactions and more.
After reading the book, Living with the Himalayan Masters, you can’t but have the deepest reverence for Swami Rama, but being at the Ashram for an extended period of time, gave me the amazing opportunity of feeling first hand, some of the energies that the Himalayan lineage that Swami Rama and Swami Veda Bharati represented.
Amongst a myriad of other philanthropic organizations, Swami Rama built a hospital – The Swami Rama Medical Institute also known as the Himalayan Institute Hospital, providing the poorest people of our state Uttrakhand a way to access quality medical care. He put together a hospital which seeks to bring the best of Eastern and Western Medicine together and incorporates Yoga as a way of being and living. The hospital has the best medical equipment and practitioners, most of them trained within the Swami Rama Himalayan University. The university which has now become a huge institution of its own, trains hundreds of doctors, nurses, researchers and management students every year. Each of these fields also includes a compulsory study of Yoga as part of the curriculum. Swami Rama, considered the education system of his times completely inadequate saying that educational institutes failed to teach their students the basic qualities for living a fulfilling life. These qualities included learning how to sit, how to stand, how to speak, how to communicate effectively, how to breathe, how to focus, how to manage your body and brain to work most efficiently and last but not the least, the importance of cleanliness.(something which is a real cause for concern in my home country, India).
Swami Rama was a dynamic man, multi-talented with an overpowering personality. He was a gifted sportsman, martial arts practitioner and a musician, apart from being a teacher, a writer, a researcher and a Guru. In Swami Rama, I sense the Divine Father – the dynamic Male energy.
Even though I never had the opportunity to meet Swami Veda, (he left his body only last year), everything, I have learnt and understood about “Real Love”, is exemplified by Swami Veda Bharati. Swami Veda Bharti, was full of love and his talents were softer. He was a Creative. He loved writing, and was a very learned intellectual. You feel his love talking to people, who were fortunate enough to have interacted with him. The joy on their faces, the light in their eyes, the softness in their hearts as they lovingly relay an incident or a conversation with him, is plain to see. Mostly, it’s about the deep love that he displayed towards each one of them. They all felt like he was their mother. His love was soft, loving, compassionate and caring. He was a nurturer and a carer. He cared for the smallest of comforts of all his students, ensuring their well-being at all times, as a mother does for a child. Most people I spoke to said they turned into instant mush when in his presence. Swami Veda was all about mindfulness, awareness and gentleness. This is the key teaching of the Himalayan Masters.
The Yoga teacher training course at Sadhaka Grama, which is based on Raja Yoga principles, imbibes this deep awareness so profoundly. There is not a rough movement, not a single jerk, not a single push. It’s all about flowing through effortlessly whether you are practising Asana, or sitting in meditation. Not to say, you don’t require effort or strength, but it’s about doing the simplest and most basic things, with the greatest awareness which are said to bring about the transformation in the body and mind. There is never a hurry, in fact, every movement is deliberately slowed to such an extent that most of us who are used to a go go go attitude, have a challenge adjusting to the pace, me included. The lesson to learn though was clear – humility, patience, awareness and gentleness. This was definitely not the place for people looking to do “Ass”ana training but really the real deal “Asana” training. The Asana practice, which requires you to first and foremost be still and at ease and where Asana is the support practice for the deeper practice of Conscious Breathing and Meditation, which is the main focus of this tradition as exemplified by Swami Veda himself.
In Swami Veda I sense the Divine Mother – The soft and gentle female energy.
As expected the coming together of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine makes for a combination that is absolutely mind blowing, and leaves one in complete awe and humbled just to be in the presence of energies so sacred.
While Swami Rama and Swami Veda are no longer in the physical body, their energy remains intact in these institutions they created out of the love for humanity. The Sadhaka Grama Ashram is currently being headed/ represented by Swami Ritavan Bharati, who is the successor and spiritual head of the Ashram and AHYMSIN, the organization Swami Veda created, for spiritual seekers to learn and grow. While I did not personally connect with Swami Ritavan Bharati, I did have the opportunity to be in his presence during some of the Ashram ceremonies. Every act he performed and every word he spoke, carried so much love, so much grace and so much gentleness, it made me cry just to witness it.
Overall, the learning for me was immense, though subtle. I could easily have missed it, if I were just looking at the Yoga teacher training for all my learning, which is how it started for me. However, the two weeks gave me way more than that. As I continue to pursue the Raja Yogic path, which seems the right fit for me, I am sure I will continue to learn a lot more and receive much Grace, and for that I am eternally grateful to the Himalayan tradition and their Masters.