A meeting of Kindred Spirits (Part 1 of 3)

5th Year Anniversary Celebration of Swarnaprashana Parenting Group

It was Monday morning. I woke up with a strange and wonderful sense of peace and calm – very unlike other Mondays – in fact very unlike most other days as well! A quick recollection, and it all came flooding back – a weekend full of learning, unlearning, joy, celebration and a sense of time standing still. And yet, it all got over so quickly! Yes, I am talking about the fifth year anniversary celebration of the Swarnaprashna holistic living and parenting group.

Held on 10th and 11th of June 2017 at the very picturesque The School of Ancient Wisdom at Bangalore, the event was a meeting of kindred spirits and parents who became quick friends. Though packed tight with learning sessions on everything from Yoga & Meditation to Parenting & Healthy living, the two days were as relaxed as one can ever hope to get. For me, personally, it was a total treat, like a surprise package of all things that are on my “most liked list” – as if someone had gone through my mind map and picked the choicest of favorites and come up with an agenda that I would never miss for the world. I am sure it was the same for almost every parent who came to the meet! Now, that is not a small feat to achieve – but achieve it they did, the organizing team of Velu, Divya, Mani, Priya, Ananth, Nandhini and all the others who worked hard for more than a month to pull together this beautiful event for others. There is a reason I have emphasized the last word – I will elaborate more on it later.

The lush green and peaceful School of Ancient Wisdom
The beautiful environment of The School of Ancient Wisdom

All of us were to arrive by 5 – 6 PM on Friday evening. But as luck would have it, the rain gods decided to give us a shout! It started pouring delaying some parents from reaching the venue before 6.30 – no problem, said the kids who had arrived by then….We will just take our time getting to know each other so that we can hack our plans for the next two days! And that set the tone for the next two days – something you would never have seen in any other meeting of adults in your life am sure – a free rein of the meeting room for the kids to play, run, fight, sleep, eat and what not – amidst very serious discussions!

So while the adults listened, talked and took notes (pretending they don’t hear the noise!), the little ones had the time of their lives as well. This itself can be one of the best highlights of the meet – a highly tolerant and relaxed huddle of parents where every single parent took the disturbance (adventure for the kids!) in their stride and kept a watch on the kids collectively. Reminded me of the long forgotten huge joint families of yesteryears. Yes, I know, we are a parenting group and some might say this is expected but well, I can only thank the organizers and all the parents for proving we can have a productive meeting with our kids 🙂

After a quick round of introductions of all the parents and how they came to be part of the Swarnaprashna group, we came to know that one of the child had her first birthday the next day – and the parents have decided to spend it with us, in this retreat, instead of the usual party and merry – a awe moment of their dedication and interest to the cause of holistic living for sure.

It was soon time for Dinner followed by the Negativity removing mediation session by Velu. The day was also perfect for it – being a Friday AND a full moon day – a great combination to rid oneself of negative influences and disturbing feelings. If you have been following the discussions on the WhatsApp parenting groups, you will know that removing dhristi is one of the suggested weekly rituals one can follow to maintain emotional health and well-being for the entire family for those who believe in it. It is usually done with salt/chilies/mustard/eggs or any combination thereof (some also use natural straw/camphor and burn them after the cleansing ritual). Scientifically, we are using these high pranic energy filled items to “absorb” the negative energies around us, helping us keep a clean energy space around us. However, our meditation session focused on removing the negative energy within/around us in a different way by using a combination of visualization and self-suggestion. Each of us was also asked to hold a metal coin in our right hand (or a Lemon) which acted a medium to capture all the negativity – this was thrown into the fire built specifically for this purpose at the end of the meditation session.

One of the main things that we learnt during the pre-session discussions was on the importance of discarding the materials used for removing the dhristi (like the coin/salt/chillies…etc.) safely – without letting it affect another person (i.e. not throwing it in a public place where another person is bound to walk over it). As important as it is to get rid of our negative energies, it’s equally important to ensure we don’t pass it off to another person, knowingly or unknowingly. So it’s always best to discard any items we use in a space where another person/animal will not get exposed to it – for at least 24 hours. After that, the energy will get dissipated naturally. The meditation was a very soothing experience for me (not what one might expect out of a Dhristi removing ritual aka Black magic removing meditation!) – and helped me slip into good sleep in the calm and safe environment of The Ancient School of Wisdom.

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a Sustainable Living Coach who firmly believes in the ancient wisdom of minimalistic living and circular economy where nothing was ever considered a waste. She advocates and conducts workshops and training sessions on Chemical-free living and sustainable living practices. She also takes Gardening workshops for children in Bangalore and hopes to empower them with the knowledge to grow their own food.

5th Year Celebration of whatsapp group

It is a long journey from where this group of parents started 5 years ago, with 6 parents. Today, as we stand, this group of like-minded people committed to nourish their kids and live a holistic life with ancient wisdom gifted to us by our ancestors, has grown strong with 6500+ parents and continues to grow on a daily basis.

After the past Sathuragiri retreat, the community’s energy was so high and determined to meet each other and celebrate this 5th year. Happy to see parents in our community took ownership of this event, felt like a family get together. Some highlights of our WhatsApp post.

Out Station Parents

The plan was to start, at 5PM on Friday, the unpredictable weather took over, many parents were stuck in traffic. So we had to delay, all kids found their ways to keep them busy. We started to introduce all the parents and their journey of how they ended up in our group. It was finally good to put a name to face. Gratitude to @Ananth who took a day off on Friday to make sure out station parents reach the venue safer. In parallel he took care of posters, banners, etc. @Ananth @Rajasaker @Mani made sure all the banners were fixed on time. Really glad to see @Nikitha Jain flew all the way from Delhi for this event, @Yoga Jothy from Hyd, @Saranya from Chennai, @Vijaya from AP.

At the resort, we made a solid demand to replace 5 whites. Due to operations and financial issues, they could not do it. So from @Greenhands projects, we estimated the use of 2 poisons, white sugar, and white salt and replaced with jaggery powder and pink salt. In the last min, we came to know from Greenhands team that jaggery powder was not available, @Ananth took charge and arranged 25kgs to the event. To make the check-in smooth, @Divya and @Priya planned meticulously to allot rooms in such a way that parents have their own space. Unfortunately, the resort management wanted to fill block by block not random rooms at different rooms. It was the time when most of the parents are stuck in traffic. Then we took help of the resort management and tried to rearrange the rooms. The SoAW was kind enough to offer to upgrade the rooms to accommodate for kids too. So all kids were given same coats, some even had extra beds.

We made a history by planting Birth Star Trees

In parallel, we had plenty of issues to source 27 birth star trees, we had to refer back our blog to get alternative trees. @SriNandhini did multiple follow ups with them to make sure we have all the plants. Finally when the plants arrived, none of the plants had a name tag. We had no idea which plant was referring to which star. @Divya and @Srinandhini spent nearly 3 hours to figure out while the session was happening. Luckily Dr. Shankar was of handy help, he was able to help us spot some plants.
@Srinandhi also make sure all were given a small tulsi as a return gift.
@Priya also sourced seed balls from chennai as an additional return gift.

@Srinandhi @Divya – did an amazing work on getting those toys, stationery. They and other parents made countless shopping time for this events.

Parent Monika celebrated her daughter Ishitha’s First Birthday at the event.

The first birthday is always very important and special to parents than kids. We are honored to see when parents decided to celebrate with like-minded parents and seek blessings. @Sarayna our Nala group active member (and Admin) took charge and experimented with Ragi and millets to make a healthy cake. In spite of her daughter’s health issues, She personally baked and delivered the cake as a surprise. As the principles of reciprocity continue, @Monica arranged healthy sweets for all parents.

Shloka Time


Within 10 mins, @Roopa took charge of all the kids and made them practice shloka. Along with her, kids did a decent job of chanting.

Maran Ji – the showstopper among all speakers

Though all experts share their in depth wisdom, It was this humble healer, who stole the show! Though he is not fluent in other language than Tamil. His true intention, sincerely reflected in his voice and attitude. All our parents were breathless with his sense of humor and able to make his strong point in everyone’s mind. This is one of the reasons I wanted him to be the first speaker. (but have to make a switch in plan due to logistical reasons) @Gayathri did an amazing job to catch up with Maran ji’s high velocity speak into English. But many parents was able to make sense from his talk. His simple and effective solutions was an eye opener. After his talk…Few parents immediately made a commitment that they would translate his recipe book into multiple language book.

Laughter Therapy

On request of Maran ji. He handed over a small book about laughter therapy, he wanted some parents to quickly learn and do a session, @Vaijayanthi jumped into action and did a session (I really missed it, have to see the video to comment, heard it was good)

Wedding Anniversary Celebrations

Though we know about the birthday we planned it well. But one of our parent @Divya was celebrating their anniversary, came to us as a surprise. In the mid of chaos at events, handling guest, kids, other running issues, the core parents really hacked a plan to at least arrange a flower bouquet. All parents showered flowers over the couple with their blessings. @Greenhands Mani later gifted Darbai grass meditation mat. Yes @Divya it was a small gift from our community.

Darbai Grass Meditation Mat

We wanted to give something ancient but spiritual for the guest. One side we have a negative budget to work on and another side, time was limited. At this junction, @Mani suggested this idea. But I strongly suggested standard size would not be really useful if you are really a meditation and seek to benefits from the grass. So he had to work his way to find a lengthy grass from Haridwar to make this custom size, I demanded. The extra mat was sold to few parents at the end of the event. (Yes, Greenhands will launch this mat on demand)

A Parent almost skipped a Wedding function to attend our event


@Priya known as a please use reply button admins, really skipped her cousin’s wedding reception to hand hold our event, late in evening, @Saranya took charge of her to reach the wedding at night and @Priya ran back to the event after the early morning wedding.

First Preview of Sathuragiri Footage

It was nice to see the energy of parents clapping and making notice like a movie experience. The first draft copy of the footage of our recent Sathuragiri retreat. Personally, the video has some elements like swp talk, and my long thank you note etc.. I felt this is not in context with the motive, so we will edit it and add some more footage of parents and publish it in few weeks.

Some notable gestures
  • Bhooma Balaji supported us in conducting the amazing Yoga session in the morning, since our Yoga expert could not make it at the last moment.
  • Roopa engaged the kids in one of the session by interesting Origami. Along with Vaijayanthi Roopa performed the role of time keeper
  • Pottery session was enjoyed by both kids and adults.
  • Nadiyan Divya’s hubby, took the initiative to take a child to the hospital due to unexpected emergency.
  • Shilpa’s mother was so thoughtful by sharing her homemade Marmalade pickle to our parents (Sunday lunch table had that).
  • Efforts of Raja by running multiple times for all the physical work.
  • Mani and Raja at the second day, gave their rooms to the camera crew and adjusted in a hall.
  • Healer Sangeetha Shah, only member outside the group who listened to her intuition and took part of our celebration.

Awards

We identified nearly 40 parents from the 1000s of parents who did the little things that mattered to the community. Parents who made it to the event received their awards. For parents who did not make it to the event, once we have enough budget, we will post it to your house soon. A detailed post is on the way about this tomorrow.

There are many untold stories to share about this landmark event of our WhatsApp group. I tried to bring that I could recollect quickly. I might have skipped some, this does not mean their work is unnoticed, it is just my memory (RAM space is limited).

Moving forward, As core group is restructuring, we decided to be more of quality focused and removed parents who do not follow group disciplines. The idea is reduce the group size and keep only like minded people who are serious about holistic living.

Author: Velu Jayaprakash

Velu Jayaprakash is a social entrepreneur, product manager, techy, photographer, meditator, father of an angel, ancient wisdom seeker and holistic adviser. You can reach him at velu.jayaprakash AT gmail DOT com

Ancient Wisdom Transformation Survey 2017

Our whatsapp group grows bigger day by day. Yearly once, We conduct a survey to understand each other and realign our focus, so that we as a community can gear up for next year.

Important reason are

  • This helps identify the inactive parents who block the space in group. They do not respond to the survey, We know they do not read the message. So we move them broadcast group and make space for new parents. We can not keep new parents waiting to join us.
  • It is always good to push ourselves out of comfort zone. So we reshuffle the group so new parents, new friends, new ideas.
  • Parents in our group for more than a years know this ritual. So please fill the survey there are hardly 5 questions. Be honest and share our thoughts..

Happy to share the survey results in public.

Which areas would like the group to focus on?

Health
Home remedies
Parenting
Na
Healthy living
Healthy lifestyle
No comments
Ancient practices
Spiritual practices, Food practices
Devotion
Meditation
Child development
Ancient wisdom
Home Schooling, Parenting depends on Child’s Age
Inspite of lifestyle changes, some people tend to have some or other ailments. Would be great if we could have a team of ayurveda, homeopathy doctors who have history of treating common diseases successfully
Ancient herbal knowledge Home remedies Healthy living
Am still a learner… trying to understand the practices and applying into everyday action.
Art forms too
Meditstion and spiritual practices in general
Website can include more details
Organic in house (read flat) farming. Material supply like seeds, mud etc..,with appropriate write up on how to grow depending on the location eg Hyd is a hot PLC vs Kerala humid, so the method of growing n watering varys so we need to have all this written in our database to help next set of new parents or generation. Involving n meeting up of each city parents n helping increase production through the ancient ways to help reduce cost so that products are affordable.
Parenting/grooming for toddlers thinking…Ancient techniques of grooming socially the kids. Guidance for how we can keep our kids away from bad habits they learn in schools. Training to the parents to become a healer like reiki etc….Art of healing…
Need more posts on ancient knowledge
Adolescent health
Child food recipe with month and quantity Women health benefits Growing vegetables at home
Healthy recipes for kids and adults, pregnancy tips diet plans, day to day life.
Spiritual aspects like meditation,how to teach kids to meditate ,at what age to start teaching them, how to implement it at schools for better behavioral development.
Natural way in building the immune systems
Continue to revive the ancient wisdom, parenting tips for raising healthy kids with healthy minds, more about siddha and ayurveda as a way of our living
I think group is already doing a wonderful job..but few areas would be how to make perishable organic products available locally at cheaper rates thru a trustworthy source..Greenhands is doing an amazing job…but for us to move into fully organic lifestyle this is a must.
Vedic way of rearing children
Parenting, Reviving ancient practices, Motivating parents to keep on track and keep trying, holistic living, growing our own food, being a community that supports each other, child development, spiritual practices we can adopt
Providing information about how to replace bad practices
Parenting. Ancient remedies. Indieginious food.
Holistic parenting. Child behaviour. How to inculcate our culture and beliefs in our children.
Cooking oil
Still more on how to increase the mind power and how to manifest positive vibrations.more and aura science
Ancient rituals
Everything natural
The current focus on immunity and holistic parenting are my need.
Would focus more on ancient practice’s which we aren’t aware off;
traditional cooking
Preventive remedies
Natural ways to reduce weight
Healthy lifestyle. Food as medicine
Building immunity in children Using products grown naturally for better and healthy lifestyle. Eleminating allopathic medicine to natural n safe cure… treating issue from the root. Holistic approach towards living a healthy life and a constant in achieving the same… and spreading the knowledge for betterment.
I am happy the way the group is going ahead.
Parenting issues like bringing up the child in this competitive world
Home remedies for kids, weight loss and cholesterol management for adults. General mental and physical health management.
to focus more on kids overall devolpment
Yoga postures and pranayama, and a detailed list of do’s and don’t for bringing up kids and an ultimate list of foods to begiven to them with timing and season wise.
All the areas which are currently covered.
On matters relating to childbirth and pregnancy.
Siddha medicine and ancient agriculture
Holistic practices, reasons behind festivals. To know more about ancient practice and reason why our ancestors followed it so that we can implement in our life and educate our kids. PARENTING.
Ancients way of living and helping others.
Child care, Ancient practices, coping up with current lifestyle changes
More on parenting
It would be helful in child upbringing in a holistic way
Changes in food habits and lifestyle; Parenting; More sharing of experiences by others on changes they have adopted and difference they have seen.
In a general sense – Ayurveda, Siddha knowledge, interesting temples and culture and maybe some relevant astrological insight
Ancient wisdom, Spirituality, Science behind the belief, Positive motivation. Need weekly updates as posted in early days by Velu sir i.e based on each day what can be do’s & don’ts.
Childcare and general healthy habits
Parenting workshops if possible
Ancient healing methods /ancient recipes
Availability of products for remedies/ holistic products to tier 2 cities
More Focus on issues with Adults as well
Overall holistic development
Ancient way of life , organic food , health
Healthy food
Physical , mental and emotional growth of children and must have foods for everyone to avoid deficiencies.
Parenting and health
Children’s immunity development, ancient holistic methods for treating various disorders
Preventive measures Emotional n spiritual wellbeing
The topics currently being discussed are good.
Food and holistic practice
The current focus of the group is fine
Ancient food and natural healing of health
Focus more on lifestyle ailments and their cure through ancient remedies
Home remedy organic products
Holistic, we can continue the topics which are folowing
Home remedies and self awakening through ancient ways
Children’s health, Pregnancy care
Ancient wisdom- healthy practices which can be adopted regularly..and ofcourse home made remedies for kids and adults
On health issues and general knowledge
Traditional methods
Enlighting us with traditional way of living
i think focus should b all over human development…
It gas focussed on everything
Conduct workshops/meets regularly
Would like to see More on meditation,yoga and more about the importance of good food(both recipes and veggies)
Mental Development
Herbal remedies for babies
Immunity,healthy foods
The group is heading in right direction and needs to focus on ancient texts alittle more

Please mention few things you like about the group?

Everything
Ancient remedies
Knowledge
Ancient wisdom
Focussed,Authentic info,Genuine people
Home remedies
Immediate response
Immediate response to queries
1. Wealth of Knowlegde, 2. Helping other parents, 3. Different views on Holistic approaches
Ancient knowledge, Greenhands and Parenting discussion
Interactive. And good suggestions
Home remedies/ holistic approach towards traditional practices
Knowledge base and the groundedness of the team
Very organized and organic. Lots of very helpful informatuon
People are ready to share their knowledge and help fellow group members
People are happy to help. Admins are excited to answer. Sharing of knowledge.
Love the blessing part.
Team effort
Holistic wellness
Caring and trust among the members Experienced parents Instant help when required Incline us to move towards natural remedies and food
Avoiding the medicines and antibiotics for small problems like cold and cough.Going for home remedies. Oil bath importance. Everything, everything.
I like the group for the wealth of knowledge that one acquires be it food, lifestyle, spirituality,help when needed(in form of suggestions) ,basically everything is done with good intention.
Immediate solutions given by parents for our speedy recovery
I have come to know so much about the meaning of our rituals, why we need to follow them, about the influence of nature on us, etc. Also i have come across the precious swp with arka which is so effective. I have been introduced to the world of organic living from greenhands which i can blindly trust. I have come to know a completely holistic way of living and sharing regarding food, medicine, practices etc. In a nutshell this community has literally opened a new world and a new way of living to me for which am very grateful and thankful.
A big learning process of ancient practices, holistic approach to our routines..
Honest discussion
Ancient wisdom, spiritual knowledge sharing (like Saduragiri travel coming up), parenting and child development tips, support
Focused, helping, act as a vast knowledge base, motivating towards healthy living
I like the knowledge shared. The explanation of why and how. Ancient remedies. Holistic parenting. I am awe for the knowledge shared here. It makes me immensely happy and blessed that I am part of this community. It’s a blessing for my children also.
It is very supportive. I have found answers to many of my queries without even asking. And i have also learnt so much about our own traditional system
Helping others to lead a healthy life
Very caring,helping to widen knowledge about our tradition and ancient customs,remind us about healthcare and ancient safe methods.
All admins r very talented n co-operative
It is very focused
Immediate response to doubt raised by any member, irrespective of how New they may be.
Anytime parents are ready to help; got to know abt the ancient practices; learnt lots and lots of home remedies; parents positive words which motivates other parents which I liked to the core.
All are verfy friendly and answers query very promptly.
Holistic approach, consistent response from admins and experts
Giving importance to holistic practices, oil bathing concept, homemade solutions for everything, most importantly I like we get genuine reasons for things like y we tie hip thread, y ear piercing is important, annaprashan etc.before knowing to this group I thought it just rituals now I came to know the importance of it.
I like the way people help each other with ancient wisdom. Also I love the immediate response for the queries.
Prompt response to the queries. Constant approach in sharing the ancient wisdom through simple procedure for better future Easily approchable and warm nature of admin towards other parents. Vast database of knowledge… which shows pure, dedicated and hard working people… who have put together the entire wisdom in such a beautiful way on website and through blog… that all questions in mind to particular issue is penned.. all questions are answered completely at all forums.
Very helpful parents and getting to know out ancient traditional food and following it. Helps to inculcate clean habits.
Queries are answered instantly
The motive of every individual to get back to living like ancient days is really encouraging.
the ancient knowledge the admins got
Amazing participation, getting new infos, the amazing effort to bring back the traditional foods back into our community..
I like to be part of this group as it shares the details about the roots of everything connected to our original, ancient practises. It helps my logical mind to believe the advices given by elders. This year, it really helped me to grow as a mother in breast feeding as well as home remedies for sicknesses in children. Heart filled gratitude to the founder and the group!!
Very nature friendly holistic and spiritual outlook on health matters. Velu sir takes special interest on queries that do not have a definite answer and provides expert opinion.
Greenhands
Helping each other, gained many holistic information which I have never heard before, great platform for learning. Overall its agreat group which gave me lots of idea about parenting as I have intoduced many holistic things in my kids life. Right time I have joined this group.
Quick response for needed people
You get to clear all your doubts on ancient practices and food, smoothing words from the parents
Various topics discussed, introduction of unique things like subhasitas, A2 milk, home grown herbs, dedication of the people like Velu Anna, Nandhini, Mani, Yamini, saranya and priya in helping others parents in the group. Most importantly Mani’s Greenhands…
Holistic approach towards life. Enlightment towards natures way of living. Very importantly simple home remedies.
Members are so willing to help and guide you.
The wealth of information, but mainly the drive and helpful nature of people I have had the opportunity to interact with. Thank you 🙏
Parents are well connected to help each other at any time. Learning more valuable things from every message.
Inputs of parents for any problem
Instant home remedies.. Discussions on parenting
Interactive, active,valuable suggestions
Very supportive
Utterly helpful; taking effort to make lives of others heathier
Parents being very supportive and responsive to queries of everyone
Ancient wisdom about our food, knowledge about how to cure ailments with the things easily available at home
Everything but most important is lifestyle change & adopting better practice
Really appreciated , so many are replying for queries with home remedies
Very informative, interactive and giving the right knowledge about food
Unity and admins dedication
Active participation, following rules with no junk messages Details about the blog articles
Parents helping each other
Selfless knowledge sharing
It covers all aspects of the daily routine and health.
I like home remedies, use of traditional food and traditional practices.
I just joined the group and I have been liking the health-related discussions most of all
It’s absolutely providing knowledge in aspects of health and food.i have practised few methods for my 11 months son and got great results. Even I shared those msg with my friends who are not in group and found good results.
Holistic views on health related issues
Group member’s response
Co operation of members, ready to help nature, proactiveness..
Focussed approach and readiness of Members to help each other
Immediate or late I got answers for my queries.. Many things I was not aware.. Group gave me clearity about things like milk, wheat, Swp etc. I like greenhands products too.. They are really pure like ghee, honey et..
Velu sir’s Reinventing oil bath, eliminate 5 whites, sri ram organic farming
Scientifically reasoning ancient beliefs and an endeavour to reintroduce it in todays world
A parent when i need and messages in the group the immediate response and care from other parents is awesome
Its very organised and I has helped me aand my family friends to the core
Everyone tries to help one another with their knowledge / practices, when there is a need
Community work
Bringing closer to using traditional/holistic living
Prompt reply
sharing knowledge is one of the most appreciating aspect of this group…this is really v helpful in day today life.
Everthing .helpful knowledgeable ppl.and an eye opener for me to be in the group.feels like my holistic family of friends
Helping/ knowledge sharing nature of people in group
all are ready to help
The selfless helpful tips and solutions offered by all that too instantly.
Ancient recipes Focused
Informative group and everyone help eachother
Traditional remedies,fast response
Dedicated group where parents are benefitted with ancient knowledge and better life style advices.
The contribution each parent gives to the group and the effort taken to implement it
Being always there for the help with answers to our queries based on parents personal experiences

What are the areas we should improve in the group?

Reducing Home Remedy questions
Suggestion of good experienced knowledgeable doctors, healers etc across India.
I consider myself a learner thus will not be able to comment on this question. Kindly excuse.
Nothing, as of now.
We need to see if we can store these amazing information so we here other than just whatsapp messages because it gets lost. Akso nee parents don’t have access to previous messages. Just classifying and putting these messages in somewhere like Google docs or blog would be surely helpful
Website , infornation passing to the group
Should inform d parents to look into remedies already there in website before posting, n we need Sunday gap
Just joined the group so can’t suggest. It seems to be good now. May be the rest of the 3 whites be addressed and the products be our in the site soon.
More ways/ methods to adopt to protect oneself from negative vibes, how to get rid of black magic, training on parenting.
Avoid repetitive queries
Need age appropriate group for adolescent children.
More information needs to be updated on the site so that repetitive questions can be avoided and we can use those information without interrupting the group unnecessarily…
I like the group and giving the response to people in need is great. Thank you so much for taking time and educating. So much effort and good heart. God bless you all.
There is already a plethora of information exchanged regularly.So, I am happy with the way the group in functioning.
In my point of view, we are sailing in the correct path of finding the ancient widom in the holistic way.
Nothing i can think of
The group is becoming more like a remedy helpline, which is corrected to a great extent..but grouping parents as per kids age category with few worthwhile admins would tackle the case…my opinion
Nothing much
May be more webinars of knowledge sharing.
Please make the website more user friendly. It is a little difficult to find relevant articles in the website.
NA-i am new to the group
Areas of healthy body mind and soul.How to obtain the same.
I think I ppl covered each n everything
Nothing as yet
I want this group to continue the good work. Thank you
Some questions which parents ask are unattended sometimes. And they keep a remainder saying plz respond to my query which I asked yesterday…I’m very sure that we all are busy.. But at end of day we should make sure there are no unattended queries..
none so far
I won’t say improvements just a suggestion we should get green hand product whenever we want instead of only 5 days. This will help us to use more of natural products.
Food recipes I guess
To early for me too answer as I am a new parent recently joined the community… but going forward will keep sharing my views on areas of improvement… if felt the need so for any particular issue.
Not mature enough to suggest such holistic group.
Answer queries of inactive parents like me. I do not respond but read all the conversations.
Nothing in specific.
it will be better if the group provides weekly bulatin of health
Find a solution to send the healthy foods and medicines outside India also, so that the numerous helpless Indians who are living without any support to live a traditional Indian life can also get the benefits.
Right now, can’t think of any.
As this is a diverse group, I think everybody is doing their best.
Availability of products in greenhands
Other than always discussing about remedies for few illness, it would be useful for us if you share many ancient practices. This group has many gurus who have lot of knowledge in holistic and ancient things… so would like to hear many things from you all and enlight ourself and guide our kids in right path.
……..
Child Develoment and Care
More webinars…
Its improving gradually in a positive way. Nothing as such.
Too early for me to comment. But maybe taking backup of previous discussions and posting it online for all community members to access (like an archive) will help a lot of new members and maybe reduce repeat questions. Also an app for the website would be great to easily browse blogs etc. on phone.
Having not been around for very long I trust the direction is in good hands.
When new members are added attach the Swarnaprashana blog address, so it might avoid repeated question regarding remedies. Weekly choose a topic for healthy discussion.
Lengthy conversation thread
Group is doing great..
Focused topics can be discussed on particular days,regular introduction of people and what they do.
Spoc on case of emergency or for certain areas
Improvising and adding more products .. which u are already doing so it’s natural that group shall improve
I am new. Should take sometime to provide any improvement areas.
If any topic is discussed in detail,then it would help if you put the update on the blog so everyone can refer it. Sometimes it is difficult to go back and search in whatsapp.
More approachable to new parents …feel lost at times
NA,iam vert new to this group..just joined 1 week back
Making one page with all items and easy to order
Maybe a monthly periodic email summarizing all the important discussions will be better.
To keep the group more focused, connected and dedicated .
Collating all the information.
Pregnancy and post delivery
As I m very new to the group, I don’t think something is missing here. I m satisfied alot with the areas you have been covering here.
Every month one topic should be discussed as topic of the month….and we should have some experts discussing it….it can be notified before hand so that those who have any queries they can put it forward
Tracking payments of swp
Not required .. it is the best .. and topics come random as per need which are best answered.. also to organise the meetings in north region
As per my knowledge I am very satisfied with what group is going on.
Website to include discussion of common remedies in whats app group…it has been done partially, but sometimes when needed we cannot recollect chat and cannot find the same in website
Sometimes the topics are re discussed many times.
Feedback be given for products bought
As of now nothing..
Ignoring questions from people in need, importance of day to day ancient practices
Team is doing the great in improving our lives.cant ask for anything more but SAY THANK YOU
Liking it this way
repetition of queries should be avoided
As u have mentioned the remedies for vcold n cough..please seperate for child and adults as it gets confusing about the dosage.secondly if you could take money yearly for swp.
Nothing as such now as most of things/current issues are covered.
all herbs r not available …try to help wid familiar herbs
Sharing the knowledge mostly via site. If possible why can’t we publish a newsletter say monthly for a beginning. It can include a short study or personal experience, feedbacks, who is who (behind the screens), can keep a quiz (tracking answers might be anice issue). We can include so many good articles too.
Documenting all the practices
Nothing according to me.
To record the sessions that happen so that the parents who missed it can be benefitted
Not focusing on same things repeatedly
It’s perfect for me.
Right now doing good
N
I think everything is going well
This group is beyond my expectations. I’m still in learning curve . Would like to grow with the group and explore and go hand-in-hand.
More knowledge on Siddhas
About being inter-dependant and once in a while have a theme of writing letters

Sathuragiri – Season1 – Random Clicks.

Author: Velu Jayaprakash

Velu Jayaprakash is a social entrepreneur, product manager, techy, photographer, meditator, father of an angel, ancient wisdom seeker and holistic adviser. You can reach him at velu.jayaprakash AT gmail DOT com

Saturagiri – An unforgettable journey.

It starts from a message being floated in the holistic group saying “the first ever outstation trip being arranged for our parents community’’. Prior to this I had never heard about Saturagiri at all. But the messages said that it a very holistic place and lot of healing and blessings one receives with the visit. Don’t know what triggered me, I cancelled the flight tickets booked (for the same time frame as that of this trip) for my Mom’s place to and fro, both for myself and my daughter. The airlines told me that I won’t be getting back any money if I cancel these, but still I went ahead with it and booked tickets for train to and fro for Virudhunagar. They say, one can visit Saturagiri only when there’s a calling and now i can vouch for it.

I remember those preparation messages floating on the group asking the parents community to walk some distance everyday barefoot, one to increase our stamina and second to get used to walking barefoot. Neither myself nor Hubbiji was able to, due to our workload. Nevertheless, all three of us myself, Hubbiji and daughterji were very excited about the trip and the trekking. Since the day the train tickets were booked we were waiting for this trip to start. Fortunately our journey’s start day was falling on the same date as the last day of my daughter’s school.

After a restless wait of close to a month came the D day. Majority of the parents travelling from Bangalore to Saturagiri had booked train tickets, a couple of them were coming by car and few came from Chennai. The train tickets were from Majestic to Virudhunagar and return via the same route. The former train was at 5:15 p.m. from Majestic and the later at 10:42 p.m. somehow, it was in my mind that the former train was at 10:00 p.m, I got confused with the return train J. Morning we all three went ahead with our routine of going to our respective offices and daughterji going to the last day of the school in party wear :). She was all exited for the double bonus, school ending and trip starting :).

Hubbiji said we will come back from office at around 1:00 p.m. and we will get ready accordingly, since the train is at 10:00 p.m. or so (at times he does not bother to re-check and takes my word and it puts us in soup). As usual hubbiji got busy with his meetings and we managed to start from office only at 2:00 p.m. Hurriedly we picked-up daughterji from her daycare. When were about to reach home I checked the train tickets and was surprised to find the train is at 5:15 p.m. !!! The first thing that came to my mind was to board the train from Hosur instead of Majestic and it will give an additional one hour 15 minutes time, but Hubbiji was of the point of view of that let us not take the risk as we have not boarded any train from Hosur station till date. He also said that the cabs will not take us to Hosur as they mostly won’t have the interstate permit. So the plan was to reach Majestic.

The cook was supposed to come at 5:00 (that day being a Friday we were supposed to have dinner at home as we cannot eat anything outside due to Santoshi Mata pooja at home), immediately called-up the cook and asked him to come right away, fortunately he was at his home and not cooking at some other house so he came down. Started cooking and we started packing. The plan was to put things in the bag only on Friday once we were back from office. Also rather than packing the food we thought we will quickly gulp it down, it will save time we thought. So finished with that. But daughterji is a person who will not eat under pressure. Kids observe all that goes around in the house, she understood the complete scenario and was concentrating only on the fact that we should make it for the station. For her this break was all the more required. By the time we finished all this it was already 3:45 p.m.

The cab arrived at 3:50 p.m. types and we rushed for Majestic station. While in the cab, I posted messages on the messenger about the current state of affairs, parents on the group started praying for us so that we should make it to the station and also suggestion started coming-in, one of them was to board the train from Hosur instead. Till that time we were of the firm belief that we would board the train from Majestic station itself. One of the reason was we had checked with the cab driver, he said he will not be able to go to Hosur. We were also hoping that the train might get delayed by few minutes which will give us a cushion of making it to Majestic. But thanks to the Bangalore traffic we managed to reach Kormangala’s Forum junction only by 4:40 p.m.types. In the meantime, messages starting flooding the communicator’s inbox with other parents saying we have reached majestic, we are about to reach, we have boarded the train etc. Now that people had boarded the train and train was on platform (it starts from Majestic) we were sure that the train is on time. That was the time when we asked the driver to take a U-turn and drop us at the Hosur toll gate, we thought let us take a chance. Fortunately the moment we got down at Hosur toll gate we saw one ST bus waiting on the toll gate, since we were not sure about the destination of the bus, I rushed to the bus and checked with the Conductor if it will go to Hosur. The moment the Conductor said yes, we hopped on it. Fortunately, in the bus met one person who was also going to Hosur to board the same train J. We got down a little prior to bus stop, took an auto and nicely managed to reach station at 5:50 p.m. itself, safely having a buffer of 20 minutes. After reaching the platform we waited there for one and a half hour J, as the train got delayed in between Majestic and Hosur.

By the time we boarded the train we were so tired with all those stunts that we had performed some time back and daughterji was also too bored with the wait time. We boarded the train, fed a bit to my daughter and within few minutes we three went to sleep. Had set an alarm for morning 3:15, the designated arrival time of the train was 3:30 a.m. As soon as the alarm rang I jumped off the berth and called-out hubbiji to get down the berth. While I was calling him another person jumped from the upper berth and walked with me to the door to check if the station had come. But the train was running late and we were still around 45 kms away from Virudhunagar, thanks to GPS and mobile data for giving us such accurate information and being available in between stations respectively. When we walked back to our berths, that time only we came to know that we were going for the same trek J. A round of introduction went for some time and then we sat back again on our seats waiting for the train to reach its destination.

And in some time we could see Virudhunagar the long waited station. As soon as we reached the platform mapped the faces with all the messenger names, especially the ones which were virtually part of our Hosur stunt. As soon as we came out of the platform we were welcomed by the volunteer group. We were briefed about the further plan of ladies being dropped at the Kalyan mantapam for getting ready and gents to be taken to Mango farm for the same. In close to an hour we reached the Kalyan Mantapam, a neat and tidy place for us to get ready. We all, with a mix of ladies, one aunt and two kids quickly got ready. By the time we got ready, the bus also came back. The bus had gone to drop those few gents (who were also seated in that bus) to the Mango farm. We boarded the bus and it took us to the Mango farm. Mango farm was too good to describe in words, huge mango trees laden with mangoes, some of the mangoes were at the reach of a six year old kid. The sizes of the mangoes were truly in proportion to the size of the trees. We walked over the mud road of the mango farm to reach the middle of the farm where breakfast was arranged for us. Once we reached the place we found the Indian style chulas were lit and big big vessels sitting atop busy in cooking stuff for us. Within no time we were served with healthy, organic and delicious spread of breakfast. The taste was just yum. There were few local people who were cooking, serving and arranging for the breakfast along with the volunteers. No doubt Volunteers were serving with all their grace and humility, not less were the local people. They were truly enjoying the serving part of it. Each one of us had a lofty share and was still relishing the lingering taste of the food, suddenly came our team volunteers asking us to get ready for a shoot with the drone camera J. In a little time, we were able to see the drone camera flying on our head capturing each and every movement of ours. Some of us, who were very eager to see the other side of the technology, went and peeped into the tab which was displaying the video being captured by the drone. The clarity was very good.

With that note we embarked on our trek, we were dropped by a bus to the starting point of the trek. So we were a mix of men, women, one aunt and two kids each 2 years girl and 6 years girl. It was a little hot by the time we started; the earlier plan was to start before 7.00 a.m. but got delayed due to Chennai train being delayed. It was around 10:30 a.m. when we started. At the gate we saw one old man selling some drink kinda, our group members explained us that it was palm juice and very good for keeping the body hydrated. It was being served in the palm leaf. Myself and hubbiji had one each and it was very sweet. As soon as we entered the check-in point all of us started with a very good speed. But within 1.5 kms few of us got tired J. Then only we realized how lethargic lifestyle we are living L. But this tiredness continued, the more we went ahead the more it was a problem. The couple with 2 year old girl were forced to pick the baby after 3 kms or so, but kudos to the Mom she managed to climb-up the hill carrying the baby. Moms are really great, she carries the baby for complete 9 months in her womb and if need be she can carry a two year baby to such a trek also. Our kid is 6 years and managed to climb all by herself. In between she was getting tired and a little irritated but after listening to some of the stories she would again start with the same enthusiasm J. Babies at this age are really very innocent you can fool them around for all these things. Though at the age of 6, it was not something impossible for her but given the life-style they lead with all the comfort and luxury around, it was really something to be praised about.

On the way our group people tried supporting us, by offering our daughter to accompany them so that we can relax a bit, they tried things like chocolates etc. J but all in vain. Baby preferred to stick to us, needless to say she eat all the chocolates offered to her without agreeing to the later part of the deal. The trek was amazing with a mix of big rocks, small rocks, uneven road, cemented stairs, sandy path etc. There were small stalls around at a distance of 500 meters, offering cold drinks, lemon juice with some herbs, tea, munching stuff like peanuts, chips etc. At places they were making hot pakoda, ragi-puri kinda. During our in-between breaks we enjoyed a lot of these things along with Glocondine (some local made glucon-D). But that was a life-saver in that burning sun. For parents like us who do not promote all these soft drinks, this was the best way to keep ourselves hydrated. We kept on walking with in-between stops for drinking, eating, resting, clicking photos and asking how far are we from the destination. Best part is, each time we asked someone on his way back to the foothill, we used to get a different answer. Someone would say it is 2 hours, someone would say it is 3 hours from here someone would say it is 4 kms and someone would say it is 5 kms. None of them revealed the exact distance just to make sure we are not discouraged by the distance. Somewhere around half way the volunteers arranged for lunch, we had a nice curd-rice for lunch. The place that we chose for lunch had a lot of monkeys around. So we had lunch in groups, one group of say 5-6 members use to have lunch and the other 2-3 members would shoo away the monkeys. The monkeys though were very smart, they were climbing the small branches on top of our head and were trying to lean from there. Still we managed to somehow finish the lunch.

At around 4:00 p.m. types we reached the first temple of Lord Siva named Sundara Mahalingam. As soon as we reached we had a nice lunch with rice, sambar, rasam, buttermilk and payasam, it was being served as AnnaDhanam (i.e. free food). The best part I noticed there was, each person was supposed to wash their own plate that too with water alone. No soap was being used for washing; only a big vessel filled with water was kept there. We were supposed to pre-rinse the plate with hand and then rinse it in that vessel and the plates were shining crystal clean. What a blessing for the environment – no soap and very minimal water usage. While we were seated outside the temple we noticed one bull coming towards us, the mandir-sevaks asked us to give way to the bull. It seems the bull prefers that particular route, though full of stairs it has been taking that route for its commute and prefers that route itself. Temple was very crowded thus we were not able to take Darshan. So we bowed our heads from outside and started walking for the second temple (its name was Santhana Mahalingam), which was like 164 steps ahead.

By the time we reached the Santhana Mahalingam Temple it was kinda getting dark. Herbal tea – called sukhu was being served (again for free), people who drink tea had it. I tasted it, it was good – aromatic and piping hot and very soothing. By the time we had tea the volunteers made arrangements for us to have a look at the room where we were supposed to sleep at night. One room was arranged for ladies and one for gents. It was not a very hi-fi room but a decent one to give us shelter at night. Then we went to take the Darshan of the Santhana Mahalingam temple, some 15-20 steps from the place where our room was located. It was so calming, people were nicely taking Darshan, no pushing, no shouting, and no rush – nicely took Darshan with calm mind. By the time we came back from the Temple dinner was ready, our group quickly took the dinner as we were instructed to start at 5:30 a.m. next day morning. Each one of us had only one goal in our mind, that was, to go to bed as quickly as possible, sooner we go to bed more time we get for sleep. We entered the room, chit-chat went for some time and then all of us were fast asleep. Morning we woke-up at around 5:00 a.m., there was a group photograph session, though some of us preferred to start walking to save time. We climbed down those 164 stairs to reach Sundar Mahalingam, Abhishek was going on in the Temple, and we nicely took Darshan. People were generous enough to give us way so that we can get a glance of the holy shrine. With a satisfied mind we started our journey back to foothill.

Again with the same zeal we started walking back, since our feet and body got used to that walk previous day, the down run was not that difficult. On the way back we took a stopover at the half way through Siva temple. We did not go inside the Siva temple, but there was a small water pond with thousands of tiny fishes, something that attracted my daughter’s attention. She was very excited to see those many fishes. People were actually enjoying fish spa. Myself and my daughter also put our feet inside the pond and kept it for some time without a slight movement. If done so, the fishes will come to eat the dead-skin of your feet. But the moment they touch your feet you get a tickling sensation and we both were moving our feet with that sensation. And zoom they run away, again we need to wait for like seven-eight minutes for them to come back near your feet.

By the time we reached the foot hill it was close to 11:30 a.m., we reached and relished a glass of chilled sugarcane juice, it was such bliss. By the time we could have finished our juice Aunt also followed us. We took an auto arranged by the volunteers and reached our Mango farm. When we reached the mango farm Aunt received a round of standing ovation for completing the trek without the help of a Doli at this age. There we went directly to freshen-up. In some time the session that was arranged with Dr. Selva Shanmugam started. At the very beginning we all introduced ourselves and my daughter got a big round of applause for making it to and fro all by herself. Though my daughter is six years and the trek was not a very big deal for a six year kid, given our lifestyle and the level of comfort that we throw to our kids, it was really a big achievement. Myself and hubbiji were on the eight cloud on our daughter’s achievement. There were couple of our friends who did the trek bare foot, they also got a big round of applause. And then started the sessions by the knowledgeable Doctor, we all were engrossed in the kind of knowledge and revealing facts those were being shared by the doctor. The session continued for close to 4.5 hours with a gap of 45 minutes for lunch. We got a lot of doubts clarified during the session.

As soon as we were done with the workshop, there was a round of ‘bye’ and ‘see you’ for people who were not boarding the return train to B’lore. It was such a superb experience to have so many like-minded (people believing in our ancient holistic way of leading life) people around. We all boarded the bus which took us to the Virudhunagar station. While in the bus few of our friends were still very enthu and were cracking a lot of jokes and revising the workshop stuff, but we three were very tired to even speak a single word and preferred to take a nap. Once we reached station we parked ourselves in the waiting room till the time of the train. Boarded the train around 11:15 p.m. Next day morning we reached Bangalore at around 9:00 a.m. Wow what a relaxing, stress-buster, rejuvenating, refreshing and blissful trip it was.

Author: Amita Pasari

She is a Senior Technical Manager with a reputed IT company and a mother of very cute six year daughter.

My discovery of Sathuragiri has just begun.

When Velu Jayaprakash, the author of Swarnaprashna.org, brought up the idea of visiting Sathuragiri Hills, I found myself instantly agreeing to go on this journey. It was an idea thrown open to all members of our whatsapp group, that have come together to discuss ancient sciences and holistic parenting.

Unlike myself, to agree so readily to undertake a journey of this kind with people I have not met before, but the idea was very exciting and I had immense clarity that this is a trip that I must take.

I chose to drive from my home in Bangalore to Virudhunagar, a small village about an hour’s drive away from Sathuragiri Hills. I spent the night there at a hotel, waiting for the rest of the group, who were to arrive the next day morning.

I woke early next morning and waited for the group to meet me enroute. The drive from Virudhunagar to the base of Sathuragiri was itself very pleasant. This small village had plenty of temples, all washed clean while the incense of sambrani and camphor wafted through the air even before sunrise. Small houses with cow dung cakes on the wall had roosters crying out loud to welcome a brand new day.

We reached the base of the hills and were ushered into a beautiful mango grove, that was our base camp. The mango grove was a very relaxing place, filled with age old trees with trunks so large that I could not get my arms around them. Each tree was organically grown and was in prime health. Few friendly Rajapalayams (Indian Sighthound) scampered around me pouring out their love.

It was here that I finally met  people in the whatsapp group, who were till this point just intelligent posts and a display picture.

We were rejuvenated by a freshly cooked, healthy breakfast. Care had been taken that all meals we had were cooked with wholesome organic produce sponsored by green hands.in

A few minutes walk from the mango grove stood the majestic Sathuragiri Hills. There was a car park at the base with plenty of small shops around. These shops sold everything from sambrani, incense sticks, japa malas and figurines of almost every hindu deity that one could think of.

We began the trek and just a few steps ahead we found a small Ganesh temple. The priest showed aarathi to the deity and filled my hands with a generous amount of divinely smelling vibhuthi. I said a silent prayer that my experience at the hills would be blessed.

The path was lined with people in saffron robes begging for alms. While some looked extremely pious, it was certain that the rest were there only to make a quick buck. I did not feel particularly interested in any of them and simply walked past.

Initially, the trek seemed very easy. The track was neatly laid granite with a step up every hundred meters. “Not bad at all” I thought aloud. We soon encountered a small mound that we had to walk around and then more steps, although this time around, it was cut out of solid rock. Soon the steps stopped exposing a steep terrain of jagged rocks.

The path was fairly crowded. I was informed that the crowd was due to ‘Shani Pradosham’, an occasion according to the hindu calendar. Well, our group did not come here because of this auspicious time. So let us just assume that the universe intended for all of us to be at Sathuragiri at this very particular point of time.

It was just past noon and  was getting very hot. The group began to scatter, each one going according to his or her physical capability. The trek was gruelling at some points, very steep indeed, and then relaxes to an almost horizontal path. There were few small shrines along the path, some seemed very ancient while the rest seemed like recent add-ons.

Every half kilometer or so, one would find a temporary shop set up by the local people selling buttermilk, lime soda and bottled mineral water. I found myself having generous amounts of buttermilk to keep myself hydrated. Although, I must add here that these shops were only set up because of an expectation of large amounts of people visiting. Most often, they would not be present. However the entire group came prepared. We were even offered some organic treats along the way, courtesy… green hands.in

As I walked on, I reached the Naaval Ootru. A small pond most often filled with sacred water laced with miraculous herbs. Sadly, I saw an dry, empty pit. I expected Sathuragiri to have more water all along. I was hoping to see gentle brookes and a cascade of water falls here and there. But the stark reality of water shortage struck very hard. How we human beings are sucking the planet dry would call for another deep discussion. The picture below shows the roots of an old Jamun tree, usually these roots are submerged in the natural pond.

I then reached the Pathanjali Lingam, a cave with an age old lingam,that featured at the end of a very slippery terrain of rock.The only grip being some roots of trees. Much deeper, were some ropes tied together to help the adventurous folk along. There seemed to be some water flow in this region. I could not muster up the courage to jump in the water and wade my way to the cave. A decision that I regretted almost immediately.

As I climbed higher, I found a tribal woman plucking some leaves from a tree. On looking closer, I found these to be Bilva patra (Aegle marmelos) commonly known as Bael. A traditional medicinal herb most often used in any ritual to appease Lord Shiva. I also noticed creepers and shrubs of Shankapushpi flowers (Convolvulus pluricaulis) growing wild. Their white and purple hues breaking the monotony of rock and green in all its splendor. These conch shell shaped flowers are also used in the worship of Lord Shiva. Sathuragiri Hills is a treasure trove of medicinal herbs, I hope to do a more detailed study of these herbs some day.

Further ahead, I caught a glimpse of Thavasi Paarai, the abode of siddhars, still known to meditate here. The route is fairly inaccessible. I tried to find out if there was a way to get there, but most people said it was too dangerous.

We finally reached the summit. It was very crowded On the right paved the way to the Sundara Mahalingam Temple and to the left, the Santana Mahalinga Temple.

I first chose to visit the Sundara Mahalingam temple. It was packed with people who were chanting bajans in praise of Lord Shiva. I chose not to go further when I heard the crowd would clear soon. We as a group intended to stay over night so I always had the option of visiting later and have a quieter moment.

Near the shrine there was a medium sized room with a back door that opens to a wash yard and open forest. This is called the kanji madam. This place was brimming with hospitality and gratitude. Every half hour, a volunteer at the temple would come out and extend a warm welcome to all passersby for a delicious meal. They addressed everyone as ‘Shiva’ here. The meal is absolutely free of cost, however one could leave an offering if they chose to.

We then went to the Santana Mahalinga Temple. I was able to visit this shrine right away. A simple and beautiful place. I enjoyed witnessing the aarathi and exited the temple feeling blessed.

It was evening now and it was getting dark very rapidly. The group had found a hall nearby to rest in, but however I felt the need to find a possibility of sleeping out in the open. I walked back to the Sundara Mahalinga Temple. Most of the crowd had cleared by then. I entered the shrine and found a beautiful Lingam at a slant, decorated with flowers and tulsi leaves. After aarathi, I left the temple and for no apparent reason, I looked up at the sky. It was sprayed with glittering stars. I have never seen the sky so spectacularly beautiful. Amongst the cosmic dust laid the crescent moon just four days before Amavasya.

I sprawled my bedsheet on the pavement outside the temple and gathered some rest. Not the best sleep, but it sufficed. At 3;30 am, I woke to find myself blanketed in mist. Again volunteers at the temple were inviting passersby, this time for some piping hot coffee. It was certainly welcome and soothing.

I found myself a spot directly opposite the Mahalingam. There were about fifteen people meditating there. I sat there and closed my eyes. I went into a very deep meditative state. Peaceful, Silent, Bliss are words that could come close in describing how I felt that very moment. I strive to get this state of meditation when I practice back home in Bangalore. At times I cannot even come close. I presume, that’s why the knowledgeable siddhars still choose to meditate on these hills.

After meditation I briefly met the group and started descending while it was still dark. Dawn breaking at Sathuragiri is spectacular. A feast for all senses. The sky broke into a deep orange and there were hundreds of birds all chirping at the same time. I just paused there to soak up every bit of this beautiful experience.

The descent was very rapid. At times I had to check my speed and slow down on purpose. After a very few breaks, I reached the base. I bowed down at the Ganesh temple where I stood the day before, feeling a deep sense of gratitude and achievement.

I was expecting myself to be overcome with fatigue but surprisingly, I felt rejuvenated. After a scrumptious breakfast at the mango grove, we were addressed by Dr. Selva Shanmugam, a professor of Siddha medicine. An honest and humble individual who explained how to incorporate the science of siddha into our day to day activities. The more I heard, the more I understood that although Siddha is such a deep subject, the philosophies are very simple and could be easily woven into my city bred life.

The time had come where I had to leave. On the drive back home, I was listening to some soulful music, while I asked myself… ‘would I do this again?’ My mind instantly portrayed a picture perfect of all the minor difficulties I had during the trip, but deeper within there was an assured feeling that I would most certainly return.

My discovery of Sathuragiri has just begun.

Author: Prasad Naidu

Prasad is father of two loveable boys. Runs a spa in Bangalore. Loves gardening, reading and meditation.

The abode of Siddhars – Sathuragiri

Holding the worlds apart, as the Heavens high He spreads;
Himself the scorching Fire, Sun and Moon,
Himself the Mother that sends down the rains
Himself the mountains strong and oceans cold.
– A poetic verse no.10 from Tirumantiram

Shiva, the mighty god of gods, is revered since many yugas in India. Shiva, also represents the higher consciousness which is present in all of us. India has always been a land of seekers, a place where people have questioned life, wondered what it is beyond the world projected by the five senses. From the various yugas, the mystery of life has been questioned and debated. Few of them turned inwards to understand. Such mystics who have spent their whole life and various births to solve this riddle, consider india to be such a blessed land which has given them opportunity to delve deeper into their self. The seers/yogis/mystics who have transcended their mind and bodies have found shiva as a subtler form of higher consciousness within them.

Space intermingling with space,
Nectar drowning in nectar,
Light dissolving in light-
The elect are they, the siva-siddhas.
Who these splendid visions perceive
– Poetic verse no. 124 from Tirumantiram

Siddhars, are such seers who have risen to their higher selves across many ages. They have attained few siddhis and are regarded to have magical powers and they bring forth their knowledge to common folk to help them through the samsara of life. Many such siddhars are still believed to live in their astral bodies in one mystical mountain called Sathurgiri, in south India, which is considered as the embodiment of Shiva himself. Many spiritual aspirants from all over the world come and seek blessings of the lords and siddhars. The picture above depicts siddhar Agastiar on a bark of a tree.

This mystical mountain is square shaped and is surrounded by four hills – hence the name chathuragiri (chaturam – square, giri – hills). These four surrounding hills, also represent the four vedas.The legend has it that, when lord Hanuman was passing by Sathuragiri with the Sanjeevani hill, Siddhars requested him to give a fragment of Sanjeevani mountain to them. It is due to this fragment which lord Hanuman happily gave them, this hill contains many medicinal herbs and plants.The center point of the hill is also known by the name of Sanjeevamalai. Sathuragiri still houses many rare and kaya kalpha herbs. Siddhars in their various works have mentioned the preparations of these herbs to heal and transcend the body and mind.

Those that are destined to be
Let them be;
Those that are destined not to be
Let them not be;
Those that are destined to go
Let them go;
Those that are destined to come
Let them come;
The mighty Nandi shows all
And witnesses all;
All things appropriate,
He does
To those of tender love for Him.
– Poetic verse no.504, Tirumantiram

It is believed that only when one gets a calling, can the devotee successfully make it to the hill. The devotee needs to surrender himself to the hills and trek through the tough rocky terrain of the hills which is about 7 kms walk from the foothills of Sathuragiri to the hilltop where SundaraMahalingam and Santhana Mahalingam temples exist.The only authorised entry point to Sathuragiri is through Thaniparai town in Virudhunagar district. There are three other routes from Theni and other towns, but it is illegal to take other routes as it may disturb the wildlife and also due to safety issues of the devotees. The pilgrims are allowed only during six auspicious days of the month – i.e. on Amavasya, Poornima and Pradosham days. There are various mattams on the hill top which provide food and shelter for the devotees who throng the hill on these auspicious days. Devotion to their personal god, gives people strength to overcome many obstacles. To take blessings of their lord who sits high upon a mountain, people take on tedious journeys. A varied range of devotees are seen – some get a calling to seek blessings of the hill in their meditations and some bhaktas carry their small child in a doli made of sugarcanes and a cloth and the parents hike the hill along with their infant or toddler.

 

This mystical hill is a hidden treasure for a spiritual aspirant – from
exploring the many hidden caves to meditate or just to breath in the air filled with aroma of herbs, it is one-of-a kind  journey people embark upon.

Author: Smitha Ravi

After working as software developer, I shifted my lens to more soulful work which includes freelancing and teaching computer science. I am passionate about our indian culture and holistic living. Being part of swarnaprashna group, gives me a chance to work along and meet people who share the same passion and learn along the way. You can reach me smitharavi97 AT gmail DOT com

SATHURAGIRI: Penance in Motion

Sathuragiri – the benign looking quaint hills tucked away near the picturesque sleepy town of Watrup (Virudhnagar) belie the arduous journey that lies in wait. At its onset the cemented, mildly elevated pathway appears beseeching, shrouded with thick green vegetation on either side, giving you no clue of the soul-stirring, mind-numbing climb up ahead. But then – to seek oneself one must take a leap of faith into the unknown…

So about a month ago, in blissful oblivion I enrolled myself for this promising spiritual retreat into the Sahyadris.  It not just exceeded my expectation – it actually uplifted me physically, spiritually in a way that cannot be explained – only experienced. And I’m sure the 60 others – old, young, younger – who participated came back ‘richer’ like never before!

Virudhnagar – Watrup,  is not used to city-bred visitors – so it has no resorts or even hotels. Our stop-over after an over-night train journey (that ended at 4am) was at a freshly constructed Kalyan Mantap. The adventure began with the challenge of completing our ablutions in newly constructed basic toilet-cum bath in the courtyard of the Kalyan Mantap.

70 year old mango tree

Soon after, we were transported to a mango farm with trees that are almost 700 years old. This was going to be our abode for the rest of our stay. After a sumptuous breakfast of ponga-rice idly, horse-gram chutney, vada, drumstick sambar and, of course, kesri bath, we were finally set to meet the task master Sathuragiri – or so we thought!

Cemented Pathway

We started off for the foothills equipped with our pouches (backpacks were wisely handed over to porters) and a walking stick treading across the insignificantly elevated cement pathway. Soon an uneven rugged towering rock surface seemed to stare squarely at us! The only way forward was one-step-at-a-time.

Stony Jagged Path

The steep jagged stony path consisted of rocks of uneven length set-up to create some semblance to a pathway, complemented only by a dry ridged roughly cut path created by, perhaps, running water. One wrong step and you could land yourself a sprained ankle. Yes, raw, ruthless and unyielding….as natural as it could get.

Intense Captivating Hills

The strenuous climb put to test our mental strength and determination – shunting out conversation not just with co-climbers but even with oneself! Yes, it was powerful enough to silence even those unhindered thoughts that plague us everday… Our meditative mind contrasted with the forced rhythmic steps, not allowing the body to give up as one negotiated the rigours of that climb; with only enough energy to focus on one goal – reach the summit. Thus, the Sathuragiri hills, to my mind, are an embodiment of the intense and demanding Lord Shiva – a penance in itself. Surrendering in spirit to that journey is the only way to benefit from this extraordinary experience.

Finally - The Shrine

On reaching the summit we met with the twin shrines of Sundar Mahalingam and Chandana Mahalingam which were reverberating with devotees on the auspicious occasion of Shani Pradosham. I could not fathom how people got here ever so often (for regular rituals, poojas…) and felt so humbled, almost embarrassed that I’d made the climb out to be such a Herculean task. Yet, it was…

And just when my body was going into rigor mortis (so it felt) and I couldn’t imagine taking another step – there lay a flight of 300 odd steps to reach the most sacred spot on these hills – the Siddargal Sannati  – the Chandan Mahalingam temple, spectacularly designed with a naturally flowing ‘Ganga’ cutting through rocks within the temple.  This is the most revered space for spiritual seekers – consists of a cave that has been inhabited by 18 Siddas that resonates with cosmic energy. A few minutes of meditation here –the treasure of a lifetime…

As most devotees are locals – there are 2 chowltries (huge hall) constructed at the entrance to provide a place to rest in. The public toilets are unspeakably ill-maintained. We, being novices and city-breds were offered, in an act of kindness, the exclusive priviledge of staying close to the temple is an elongated room – that appeared to be a makeshift cowshed with an uneven dung-seasoned floor – a luxury – as we discovered later that night. Once the crowds poured in – the chowltries were bursting at their seams while we got to sleep fairly soundly on our blue-tarplouline-sheet -lined floor.  Life in these places is simple and one learns to appreciate all those basic amenities that are taken for granted in city-life. What an eye-opener…

As we set out at the crack of dawn on our descent, to the accompaniment of charmingly mesmerizing chirping of birds – we felt enriched, eternally grateful and invigorated encompassed by the morning fresh air and scenic hill sides. The descent for me was as challenging as the climb, as I engaged every muscle to balance, but it left me awestruck as I witnessed several shocking sights ahead: an old toothless lady chanting fervently as she climbed, a stout mother balancing a two-year old on her hip as she climbed, several devotees with 5 kg bags perched on their heads as they climbed and finally a young man precariously balancing a 15kg gas cylinder as he strode up the hills!! Apparently, food and amenities have to find their way to the temple on foot!

Defiant Descend

I have nothing but ADMIRATION for these locals! Being an auspicious Amavasye (no moon night) hoards of devotees of varying ages and sizes ascended, aspiring to visit the Lord that day; while I was using all four limbs to negotiate the precarious descent with my wobbling jelly legs….

A super sense of achievement and a wave of relief engulfed us as we made it beyond the entrance arch to return to the arms of our mango farm. A memorable dicky-ride in an auto and an even more memorable Totti Bath (like maidens of yore, ladies were guided to a small tank filled by a sump pipe in a secluded, sufficiently private for a refreshing bath) amidst coconut farms and mangroves overlooking the Sathuragiri hill range. Soon after we were treated to one more a nutritious power breakfast.

The very special auto-dicky ride

The blue tarpaulin sheet laid beneath an age old mango tree, seemed to beckon us to rest our aching bodies – but it was time for the second highlight of the show – A workshop on traditional food and practices by the famous Dr. Selva Shanmugam. So, yoga master Ganesh, came to our rescue and put us through a quick rejuvenating Yoga Nidra session.  That was aptly followed by a Kriya meditaion conducted by mentor Velu, leaving us all fresh as morning dew.

Lord Shiva is known for his benevolence – and so our atoning climb was duly rewarded with the ‘Var’ of a life-changing workshop by Sidda expert Dr. Selva. What sheer coincidental fortune to have been graced with his presence on that trip. Multiple topics ranging from tips on daily activities to dealing with debilitating common diseases – we lapped it all up coming from that fountain of knowledge!

Now that’s an experience of a life-time and no words can capture the eternal gratitude I have in my heart for this amazing opportunity. To all those who aspire for such an experience, all I say is, wish fervently and open your heart to the generosity of the Universe! All else will follow….

HAR HAR MAHADEV!

Author: Priya Barua

I am a Bangalore bred Konkani married to an Assamese with 2 invaluable assests aged 8 and 13 years. Passed out of Mount Carmel College, worked with Himalya Drug co. as a sub-editor., Citibank in phonebanking customer support, Bausch and Laumb as a window merchandiser, NEXT as a preprocess and soft skill trainer, Academy for Creative Teaching as a teacher trainer and with Buddhischool as a High school IGCSE English teacher, currently a Corrector with English First...

Pure Pink Salt for All

An act of gratitude to bring health into our food. A Greenhands initiative to Donate Pure Pink Salt and not to Vend anymore……

himalayan pink rock salt
from www.greenhands.in

Four years ago, this group started accidentally to remind parents about next Pushya day to administer Swarnaprashana. We never knew it would turn into a holistic group that would expand into various traditional medicinal and lifestyle practices. Very soon it became a community effort, many parents stepped into the show by taking up projects on their shoulders and few made home remedies based products.

On the same lines, when we introduced greenhands project, hoping to share knowledge and not as a sales point. We set a strong standard to protect this platform from any commercial drive rather each shift needs to be People driven and wisdom centric. Over a period of time, awareness of ancient traditional products among our parent community transformed Greenhands project of Mani into a community shopping. Now, many parents work together to get those indigenous food ingredients to each of us every month, one side we work on quality and on other side, we take lot of time and efforts into refinement that is happening in parallel. In spite of all these changing dynamics, we all moved together with high spirits. Above all, every month, we kept pushing ourselves to next level in introducing a new rare indigenous variety and remedy. Its really amazing how a simple whatsapp group has turned into a social enterprise.

When we turn back and ask ourselves ,what kind of positive changes we really made in terms of food in our community. One prominent issue that has surfaced that has been staple in many of our lives are 5 Whites. We at the group, kept on talking about, avoiding 5 type of white food. We want to revive the practices from ancient days, at least do our part of removing one white in every house of our parent group and outside people without any bias or condition.

By Rainer Z ... - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
By Rainer Z Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Salt was one thing, that came to mind. Today, table salt being the main culprit for many health problems. Mani put in lot of efforts to make Pink Salt more affordable. On this Mahalaya amavasya, I proposed Mani about donating Salt for anyone and everyone without any condition, if nature blesses us, we will continue this Salt for all without money or any catch.

All the religious and ancient text talks high of Salt and it has to be donated. Some References are.

“He is the one who has set free the two kinds of water, one sweet and palatable, and the other salty and bitter. And He has made between them a barrier and a forbidding partition.” (Quran, 25:53)

Some mystics have deeply interpreted these verses as referring to the invisible barrier between man’s spiritual perceptions on one side and his worldly desires on the other side

***
Salt is blessed and used with water for baptism
***
Exorcism – Japanese Sumo wrestles throw blessed salt in the ring before wrestling to drive away the evil spirit.
***
A very famous expression ‘being worth one’s salt’ has been consistently associated with ‘salt’ and ‘precious’.
***
‘Salt’ – as a catalyst to India’s freedom struggle – The Dandi March was propelled by salt.
***
The offering of ‘saltless meal’ to departed souls according to hindu traditions signifying salt as an earthly ligature with respect to the cosmos.
***

Garuda Purana Preta Khanda chapter 29 Verse 30­33 states
“Salt is on par with everything divine. It yields everything the person
wishes for himself. No dish is tasteful without salt. Hence, salt is the favourite
with the Pitrs (ancestors).

***

As per the ancient text, Salt is considered to be one of the 10 greatest donations.

Thank you Aicha Imtiaz, Roopa, Sri Nandhini and Yamini for sharing references.

When I shared this proposal, Mani willingly said “Yes, Velu, Let’s do it, at least, I am happy, I am part of removing table salt once and for all, this will bring lot of health benefits especially for parents who never got a chance to taste pure salt.”

That said, our group with Greenhands project will NOT PROVIDE SALT ANY MORE rather, we will Donate 1/2 Kg Pure Pink Salt for any one and everyone. Irrespective of whether you are part of our group or part of core parenting team or take swp from dr. Lakshmi or buy home remedies from other parents or greenhands, any one can book one pack salt / family. You do not have to pay for the salt. (We expect you to cover the DTDC charges of Rs.30 apx). Every month, Greenhands will buy a limited quantity and donate. Hope to cover all of us in our group soon.

For any one, who gets Greenhands Subscription you do not have to book it, the team will automatically, add a salt pack for you.

Many has expressed their willingness to donate in any charity project. In case if you would like to gift or donate salt, do join us for your contribution. To make it transparent, we will open a google doc to track … How many made this healthy shift and what kind of changes we are bringing in lives of people and our society.

Kindly notice, I have not used FREE as i do not believe in Free concept rather I see this as an act of gratitude and responsibility.

On this great day of Mahalaya Amavasya, We share this yet another milestone of our group. Gratitude to all. Let us fight to remove the table salt out of life atleast now!!

Book Here Now!

Author: Velu Jayaprakash

Velu Jayaprakash is a social entrepreneur, product manager, techy, photographer, meditator, father of an angel, ancient wisdom seeker and holistic adviser. You can reach him at velu.jayaprakash AT gmail DOT com

Celebrating Benefits Breastfeeding week, Aug, 1st – 7th.

breastfeeding info graphic poster

Breastfeeding is a divine mothering tool.It’s a natural facet of motherhood that ensures optimal nutrition to cocooning the newborn with emotional connectivity.

This can be achieved by providing proper information, guidance and support by families, health professionals, employers and the social community.

To bring this awareness to light, we are celebrating BREASTFEEDING AWARENESS WEEK from August 1- 7th through our whatsapp community and Facebook media. This is a call for expectant and new mothers and their families to join hands to receive and share as well their stories and experiences supporting each other. We will be also be joined by doctors and healers sharing their knowledge to support the cause.

What are you waiting for join here!

Author: Velu Jayaprakash

Velu Jayaprakash is a social entrepreneur, product manager, techy, photographer, meditator, father of an angel, ancient wisdom seeker and holistic adviser. You can reach him at velu.jayaprakash AT gmail DOT com