The much famed IYF popular amongst Yoga lovers across the globe comes back to the holy city of Rishikesh in March, 2019. Here is a wonderful experience sharing of a Yogi from the banks of Maa Gange that happened on the occasion of the festival in March, 2018 at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh.
It’s March the 4th, 2018 evening time as I am sitting on the banks of the Ganga Maiyaa (as we fondly call the river in northern India). “Maiyaa” means mother and the Ganga has always been considered as a mother in this part of the world. Even if we ignore the glorious stories of the Ganga in our ancient texts, we still cannot ignore the fact that we have been brought up in a great way by this river. We have lived here, enjoyed the morning ablutions, the evening prayers, the twilight boat rides, the rituals on the occasions of birth, yajnopavit, death of an ancestor, cleansing the karmic doshas, our farms that feed us have received waters from the Ganga, even the water that we drink comes from the Ganga. Nothing happens here without her. What do you call her? A mother of course.
But for those who seek knowledge, who seek enlightenment and spiritual realization, who seek bliss, Ganga is a Devi. She is a giver. Whether you are sitting on the banks of the Ganga in Rishikesh or in Varanasi, the Ganga draws you into a sort of a void. It has an invisible energy that works big time for seekers. Your mind comes to a standstill, thoughts come to a halt. You become silent and get more inward. It is only in this state that spirituality, meditation and Yoga can happen. Ganga has that magic wand. I have experienced it time and again.
But that day, sitting on the banks of Parmarth Niketan, with the International Yoga Festival 2018 on in full steam and spirit, it was even more. As I opened my eyes, I’d see a lot of people sitting on the ghat. Some were enjoying the view; some were meditating or mantra chanting. And in the background, I’d hear Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati deliver some soul stirring messages to all the seekers including me. There was so much depth yet simplicity in what she said. “You are Yoga” – those words still ring loud in my ears. So simple yet so profound.
In that given moment and space, in the presence of what many call the “Ganga Energy”, and with such beautiful messages that definitely have their seed in the same source that is present in the Ganga as well as us, it was special. The sun was setting and it had been 2 hours since I was sitting still in one place, but for me and many the evening had just begun.
Over 2000 participants from about 100 countries, that’s what the IYF 2018 was. Yoga Practitioners, seekers, trainers and a galaxy of Masters from all over the globe, that’s what the IYF was. Over 70
Masters, hundreds of sessions in 7 days, and all that on the banks of the Ganga in the lap of the Himalayas. This place has always been for the seekers, who seek to experience life in the moment. Life is
beautiful if experienced consciously else it’s all swinging, there is no peace, no bliss, no hope of true ecstasy. The IYF was a great platform for those who seek and I wanted to make the most out of it. The festival was inaugurated on March 3rd by the Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri Venkaiah Naidu.
7 days off, getting the opportunity to meditate on the banks of the Ganga Maa, fall into her embrace, it was magical. Listening to some amazing music by Daphne Tse and group with Yoshi Aono playing the guitar, the evenings were magical. Daphne’s “Saraswati” track was so transporting you to the feet of Maa Saraswati. Experiencing the inner music with such soulful songs and mantra chanting in the outer, it had to be magical. No one seemed restless, no one wanted this to end, and there was no hurry. Stillness had presided over.
Morning sessions by Master Teachers Anand Mehrotra and Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa had a huge number of participants turning out to learn. But from what I saw and experienced, the greatest time of the day was the Aarti time. The aarti was performed every evening in the presence of the Mahayogi Lord Shiva and the Mother Ganga. The
mantra chanting, the kirtans and bhajans, the discourses by HH Swami Chidanand Saraswati and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati in the presence of thousands of seekers, it was collective consciousness in full bloom. The soulful bhajan “Radhe radhe” sung by Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati is still going on as I pen these words. Not everyone would be able to understand the purity and the magic that happened there just by reading this article perhaps. For that, you will have to go and participate yourself next year in 2019. And if you go, do go with an open heart, without being judgemental if possible. If you are judgemental, you may not be able to see the beauty, the purity, and experience the awakening.
The wonders of IYF 2018 though just didn’t stop here. Sivamani at night post aarti was truly unbelievable. For the first time I realized the impact of music in life. Music is the catalyst to bliss. Percussionists like Sivamani have that gift (like Sadhvi Ji truly said – Sivamani is music). His performances made those 7 days even more special an experience and memorable as well. Our gratitude to him! Our gratitude also to the 80 Gurus, Acharyas and Masters from different parts of the globe who shared those invaluable techniques, wisdom and above all love with all the participants.
As the ceremony came to an end on March 7, visitors from all corners of the world, sensed a deep attachment with the 7-day memorable event, the holy land, the magical environment. The festival was a life transforming spiritual retreat, which rejuvenates our body and mind, inspires us, and elevates our thinking to a new level, adding a purpose to our life. The ceremonies, the activities, the people, presented a blend of uniqueness with inter-connect to the amazing world.
The International Yoga Festival is worth attending, to be able to explore your inner self, attain absolute peace and nonchalance, and return back to your regular life with joy and optimism. In my experience and to that of many participants I interacted with, the IYF brings global unity; it’s a great gathering, which is beyond any particular tradition and religion. This event is organized for people to come and experience the key to transformation of their lives and become a part of the mission of World Peace. Be a part of this annual congregation of IYF every year, Experience the joy of freedom and complete harmony.