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 two angels, ancient wisdom seeker, holistic adviser and Soul coach. 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 two angels, ancient wisdom seeker, holistic adviser and Soul coach. You can reach him at velu.jayaprakash AT gmail DOT com

Newsletter July, 2016

The parenting community with roots in holistic living has witnessed organic shaping into a versatile multifaceted platform with all the wonderful and priceless contribution and participation of passionate parents. We are extremely delighted to share our growth with each of you. This newsletter is a sneak peek into our journey. Looking forward for many such self sustained milestones!!

Surekha Kumbhar (India)

Small acts when multiplied by millions of people can transform the world – Howard Zinn

Swarnaprashana is a collective of parents with a dynamic platform for holistic living and approaches. The group’s aspirations are central to authentic holistic practices and revival of ancient wisdom to this time of living. It calls for an efficient integration of these principles into daily lives across the country.

It is amazing to see how a simple parenting community, connected virtually, can contribute so much in their free time.

This season has been amazing and alive with new learnings , Webinars , Meetups , launch of new Indigenous spin offs, growing into new groups and many more parents joining the Whatsapp community and into core team sharing their knowledge and expertise and the ripple effect continues…

SPOTLIGHTS

  • Swarnaprashana Sangam
  • Swarnaprashana logo on Packaging kit
  • Subhashithas by Roopa
  • Touch Therapy by Anandji
  • Webinars : Immunity redefined (Uploaded YouTube version )
  • Dinacharya by Velu Jayaprakash
  • Specialised yoga with Yogacharya by Sri.B.Shankaranarayana Shastri
  • Stargazing with Shiva
  • Ancient Indigenous produce by Greenhands 
  • Homepreneurs time-honored remedies
  • Sanjeevani holistic group ( a dedicated blessings platform )

First Parenting – MEETUPS

Bangalore meet upSwarnaprashana SANGAM witnessed coming together of parents and whole team of swarnaprashana together for the first time for two interesting talks on ancient wisdom and how this group evolved from inception to the present stage by Velu Jayaprakash. He exuberantly unlocked the science behind the ancient practices and traditional home remedies while Manikandan from Greenhands gave a wise talk on Ancient food and passionate revival of the rice and millet varieties. Watch Video

Stargazing

swp-web-star-banner-v2Shiva, a passionate life coach, helped many embark on an ancient practice of Stargazing, Tree Hugging, Gamification of ancient lifestyle. He gave a glimpse on healing trees as per your birth nakshatra. Read more about this here.

A must read: Cosmic healing with birth stars and trees.

Swarnapashana kit gets an upgrade.

When community joined hands, various parents from the whatsapp group stepped outside the virtual world and explored various ways to upgrade the packing. From July, the swp is now shipped in the form of storage vials that is leak proof. Tamper Proof Packaging with branding is worth mentioning.

WEBINARS

Immunity Redefined

First webinar by our parenting community where knowledge sharing desk was decked by healer and acupuncture expert Healer Anand , Ayurveda specialist Dr.lakshmy , Homeopath Dr. sheetal and holistic advisor Mr.Velu Jayaprakash. The same has been uploaded on YouTube. Watch the video here.

Dinacharya

A webinar by Velu jayaprakash. A streamlined smooth transition from Bramhamuhurtham to Rathricharya where the best daily practices and procedures that is advocated by Ayurveda and siddhas which can be followed by one and all were revealed. Video will be uploaded later.

Specialized Yoga with Yogacharya Sri. B. Shankaranarayana Shastri

It was indeed a great privilege to air the latest webinar featuring Yogacharya Sri.B.Shankaranarayana Shastri. It is a humbling experience to have Yoga specialist among us with over 50 years of experience. Special thanks to Roopa of Subhashita fame, a parent from our core team for roping in such an eminent personality.

Ancient Indigenous Food of India

Manikandan of Greehands.in provides the best from natures basket with ancient rice, millet varieties, and various organic supplies along with coldpressed oils, pure desi ghee and other ancient products. The new entrees are Kichali Samba (replacement for regular rice), and Purest world-famous Udankudi palmsugar and palm jaggery.

Parents contribution has scaled up by providing the best and rare HONEY varieties like Jamun honey, Chestnut honey, Himalayan honey by Velu, who collects honey from various sources as a hobby.

ParentPreneurs Krithika, Srinandhini and Ojas home-made remedies are on the shelf with raving reviews. And lot more parents are in the line to share their age old home remedies that are learnt from their grandmothers and other elders. We never knew this will be a platform for sharing the home remedy supplies made by parents with love to others.

A moment of pride was when Vaccha Band was launched literally in a span of few hours. A parent shares how Vaccha band is a life saviour for kids, a few share their experiences and a parent comes forward to provide it to all of our parent community. Within few hours, everything is conceptualized and implemented…rest is history.

Subhashitha

YouTube is blessed with Subhashithas by Roopa, a parent from our core team who offers her knowledge selflessly with a melodious voice narrating the fables and explaining the Subhashithas. They are epigrammatic poems and their message is an aphorism, maxim, advice, fact, truth, riddle. Long-lived practices came to life again in lives of our kids.

Indian Classical Acupuncture popularly known as Touch Therapy

We are blessed to have Anandhji in our group who has come up to offer his free time to conduct a weekly webcast on “Mind-Body Wisdom, Path to Well-being”  Watch the video here.

Events

Touch Therapy Session for Bangalore parents.

Anandhji practices Indian Classical Acupuncture popularly known as Touch Therapy every 1st and 3rd Saturdays at Indira Nagar, Bangalore. You can reach him with prior appointment.

Satkriya Foundation

Satkriya foundation has organised a fundraising event, Satswara by Sri Shivaranjivi, for and by  a group of Visually challenged people. Few parents partially contributed to this event. We were happy to take part in this initiative. Do follow their page for participation in future activities.

In Media

NEWSBYTES –  It was a day filled with pride as newsbytes has covered Swarnaprashana helping Greenhands.in. Agricultural sector with a share of 10% in nation’s export can be a fertile field for innovative startups.

newsbites media cover WhatsApp-Image-20160721While all these are rolling, the whatsapp community has grown big and two new groups namely Chandan group and Amla group are revived to join our Bramhi Holistic group and Aloevera Holistic group. Each group is named after a herb. To maintain the objective of the group and yet sail through the ebb and flow of the lives of our parents, Sanjeevani group is created as a dedicated group for blessings and prayers. With interesting posts and discussions on spirituality and enlightment.

Whatsapp – Important Discussions

  • Naming with sounds not with letters
  • Stem cell and ancient umbilical cord preservation
  • How we can sync with nature
  • Ekadesi significance
  • Chaturmas..seasonal foods
  • Thirumaloor’s Thirumandhiram.
  • Storing ghee for years for medicinal usage
  • Real truth about cholesterol, gluten sensitivities and myths
  • Chandranamaskar
  • Various Goshala products and importance of Ghee
  • Panchagavya treatment
  • Ancient practices on Vibudhi and its significance
  • Ecofriendly products and practices, terrace gardening
  • Alternate therapies n treatments
  • Schools and holistic education
  • Parenting

The beauty of this parent community is felt when many parents respond in wee hours, pray n follow up too. What better way to use this platform.

Screening through these talks n concerns, many blogs have been added in areas of Health¸Healing, long lived traditional remedies and recipes, Parenting.

In case, if you are not part of this amazing group. Do join us here.

Recent Blogs

  • Ashtavarga Chywanprash
  • Ancient way to test the Mother’s milk
  • Dos and Donts during Summer, Grishmaritu
  • Garbhinicharya paricharya – The ancient art of Conceiving, pregnancy and Post delivery
  • liquid food madness
  • Tharpanam/ Tilodakam
  • Reviving the food we eat
  • Black rice idli
  • Ancient ways to cleanse colon safely
  • Vaccha bracelet
  • Art of Parenting
  • Parenting workshops
  • Specialized yoga with Yogacharya Sri.B.Shankaranarayana Shastri
  • 5 simple home remedies to arrest Vomiting
  • Remedies for cough with simple herbs
  • Indian classical Acupuncture (TOUCH THERAPY)
  • Subhashitas
  • Cosmic healing with Birth stars and trees
  • 7 amazing benefits of clapping

Wrapping up this season here, we venture into more learnings and growing together as a parenting community. We the swarnaprashana team, sincerely thank each and every member who are part of this new momentum of HOLISTIC LIVING.

Miles to go before we sleep…the journey continues…

Author: yamini

I am Yamini, a Science and Education graduate, currently a work from home Mom as Subject Matter Expert - SME at e- learning solutions. Being a learner at heart in a voyage of self discovery for me, Motherhood is a calling and Parenting my passion. Belief in sharing and giving is my faith. Exercising the same faith, would blog on topics of interest like Parenting and education to learn, reflect and grow together. You can teach me at yamini2523 AT gmail DOT com.