Nowadays every other person that we meet is racing against time, stretching and redefining their limits, scaling greater heights trying to reach the zenith in every possible sphere. But the irony is, no matter how blissful these moments may look from a distance they all turn out to be an illusive mirage. Even after reaching the desired position, a constant feeling of void pricks the heart. Fortunate are those who are able to take some time out to ponder about the reason behind this. In most cases, our brain compels us to compete with our peers in achieving the superficial status which is hailed by the society. But deep within, our heart craves for only inner peace and contentment. Sadly, the lifestyle that we adopt in the process of acquiring luxuries of material world takes a toll on our body as well as soul. As is the case with all organic matter, the body embarks on a journey down the hill from the very moment we are born. Even though at the sub conscious level we humans are aware of this, but the conscious mind prefers to remain oblivious to this reality. As a result our self worth thrives on momentary pleasure that one gets in achieving unending milestones in life. Can we afford to play havoc like this with ourselves? In this maddening world we all need some time, just for ourselves so that we are able to bring synergy in our system which is the combination of body and soul. As it is the soul that is what we are which resides in this temporary home called body. Therefore, it is equally important to take care of our spiritual health apart from our physical health, in order to lead a life in harmony.
Last summer, when I decided to contribute in green movement, my husband Anirban thought I wouldn’t last with the movement for long. That was because we were expected to reach the garden by 6 am and I have never been an early bird. But on the contrary he found me challenging my shortcoming with undeterred belief for the cause, which in turn made him to accompany me to the garden. During the time that we spent at the garden, we were encouraged by Mr Sinha to join Anant’s yoga sessions which starts at 5.30 am at the club house. It’s been years since Anant, a resident of the same society where we live, has been conducting yoga sessions free of cost, almost every day. I was surprised to know that even though he does not make a living out of teaching yoga, but despite his professional and personal commitments he has been able to dedicate one hour every day to impart the knowledge which he had acquired and help people out, out of sheer goodwill. As it had been more than twenty days since I was waking up early, somehow I had started to feel confident to spread my wings even further. Thus, I had started contemplating waking up by dawn in order to go for yoga class and the garden there-after. I have experienced the benefits of yoga over my mind and body as I have practiced it before. Therefore, I persuaded my husband to come along as I knew that his chronic allergic conditions could be taken care of by breathing exercises. Finally, with a bit of cajoling he agreed to give it a shot.
On the first day we got up around 4.45 am, after we were ready we left our kid at my parent’s place who lives nearby and hurried towards the club house. As Mr Sinha was unwell he had skipped the class that day. While climbing up the stairs I was thinking that we might get to see a room packed with people. But to my surprise there was none except for Anant that day. He asked us to take our places and the session started with chanting of vedic mantras, followed by different yogic poses, breathing exercises and again concluded with chanting of mantras. Before doing every asana, Anant made sure to brief us about the benefits of that asana. Proper functioning of different organs, increased metabolism, detoxification of the body and above all enhanced mental well-being were some of the benefits he wanted people to experience. It was a different experience for me altogether, amidsts the chants that were echoing in the room, the gusting wind, the sound of birds chirping on trees nearby, the sun sneaking into a grey sky, smittening the eastern horizon with enchanting hues. The serenity in that spectacular moment seemed so surreal. With that sun rise began a new life transforming chapter in our life. We embarked on a journey that promised holistic well-being of the body, soul and spirit.
Initially while we were doing yoga, I realised that over the years our body had lost the flexibility that we had as kids. But Anant and a few others who did yoga regularly were able to move and stretch their body more freely. We were told that with time we could reach their level. Interestingly his yoga sessions looked a bit unconventional to me as it did not fit into the usual notion of a yoga class (I thought yoga is done in silence) as Anant would talk constantly, telling stories to inspire us throughout the session. There were times when I would stop doing yoga and listen to his story and he would say, “don’t stop, you continue. I am telling these stories so that you should not feel monotonous.” One of the stories that I remember vividly is that of an elderly man who was visiting his son. He had lot of ailments and someone had to literally give support while he walked. But after he started doing yoga he can now walk without support. He is continuing practicing yoga every day, wherever he is. And when he visits his son here, he makes sure that he comes to the clubhouse to Anant’s class.
In the next couple of days we found different faces testing the waters in the yoga class. On one day if we had a couple for a company, then the next day we had a reluctant obese teenager apparently pushed by his parents to the class and then a corporate honcho probably in his mid forties, after going through the grinds of erratic lifestyle finally settling down with yoga to bring balance into his life. Next few days a group of zealous men also came for the class and discussed ways of promoting yoga in a big way within the society. But honestly I didn’t see a lot of people coming consistently for the class. Probably only those people continue with the class who either had gained substantially in terms of better health or those who could keep pace with Anant’s indestructible grit, discipline and focus.
I was absolutely amazed by Anant’s commitment towards the cause that he had taken up. He must have tasted success in transforming people’s life but I am sure he must have also experienced disappointments too. But here was a man who did not face dearth of self motivation. Apart from keeping his own morale high, he tried lifting our spirits too by telling us stories of people who have been benefited from yoga. Getting up so early in the morning was the most difficult part, therefore the footfalls were less. But such was his desire to spread awareness for yoga that he would go out of the way to help and hold on to people. For instance, I remember once it had rained heavily the whole night. In the morning we woke up to find it was drizzling outside, we were feeling lazy to leave the comforts of our home and get drenched in the process of venturing out. Therefore, we stopped the alarm clock and went back to sleep. At that time, my husband received a call from Anant. He told us not to skip the class as he was also coming. I wondered who would show such a gesture in today’s time. Another incident which I remember was that when I was suffering from cold for a few days, he told us to buy some Ayurvedic medicine which would give relief within a day. We didn’t take that advice seriously and as a result I was unwell for a few days. Once we resumed our classes he said that the breathing exercise could have helped in that condition. Furthermore after the class, he took Anirban to his home to hand over the medicines. When the world around you crumbles into fragments containing self centered individuals, selflessness and service for the society is a far cry. I was pleasantly surprised to know that even now such people exists in this world who can leave their ego behind and reach out to help others. We gained a lot from Anant’s yoga class. Even though we have stopped going there now, but for my husband there was no looking back. Almost every day he practices yoga at home.
I distinctly remember my first introduction to Rabindra Nath Tagore’s revolutionary poem… “Jodi tor dak shune keu na ashe tobe ekla cholo re”. Which means “if no one responds to your call, then walk alone in your chosen path”. As a kid, I would often think how long can you walk alone if nobody is coming along. But now I see an example in front of me, who is continuing with his journey towards his goal alone for more than 10 years and is still going strong. His conviction over-shadows the roadblocks that comes in his path and there is nothing that can dampen his spirits. One could become spellbound to see him venturing out for the class, in spite of foul weather, sometimes with a headache, sometimes in spite of sleep deprivation due to working late at night. The dedication, tenacity and determination that he exhibits is something which we all can look upto. It is commendable how for years Anant was able to keep the fire within him ignited, defeating negative emotions like self doubt and monotony. I suppose one needs a strange kind of madness or passion to drive the self towards the goal. The same passion I saw in his eyes, which asks him to focus only on his dream of good health for all, without bothering much about anything else. Each one of us have the same fire within us, which needs to be ignited to reach where our heart strives to reach. If we falter in the path towards our desired goal each one of us should remind ourselves “Jodi tor dak shune keu na ashe tobe ekla cholo re”.
– Aradhana Basu Das