Participation in the 26th International Yoga Festival Puducherry

Start Date:  4 Jan, 2020
End Date:    7 Jan, 2020
Location:  Gandhi Thidal, Beach Road and Art and Craft Village, Murungapakkam

The International Yoga Festival 2020 was organised by the Tourism Department of the Government of Puducherry. For the past 25 years the Government of Puducherry has been conducting this festival in the month of January. This is the 26th year of the International Yoga Festival and for the first time Sri Aurobindo Society (also a member Institute of Indian Yoga Association) was invited to participate actively in this International Yoga Festival.

Under the supervision and able guidance of Dr. Sampadananda Mishra a few programmes were organised on behalf of Sri Aurobindo Society. Representatives from Sri Aurobindo Ashram, SACAR, Auroville, Kallarigram actively participated in this collective programme that took place in the Gandhi Thidal opposite to the Mahatma Gandhi statue on the Beach Road.

To mention a few of our work in the programme; Dr. Shruti Bidwaikar from SACAR presented a paper titled Sri Aurobindo – A Mahayogi. 

Here is a summary of Dr. Shruti Bidwaikar’s talk:

The basic premise of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga was to work for the earth and not to run away from here. He acquired certain yogic powers to liberate India from the British rule and then move on to work for the earth. Having realised that the powers that are in the reach of humanity are unable to make much change in the life of people he, along with the Mother, brought in that power which alone could transform the earth and human nature. In order to take this immense task, Sri Aurobindo based himself on all the old yogic experiences which he either got involuntarily or strove to achieve. By the time he moved towards the transforming power called Supermind, he had achieved all the peaks of yogic experiences which have been mentioned in Indian Yogas.

In course of time the yoga of Sri Aurobindo came to be known as Integral Yoga. It is different from other yogas in its aim and objective and method. Its aim transformation and not escape from earth; its method includes descent after ascent, whereas the old yogas stopped with ascent. There was perhaps no conscious effort for the descent. Sri Aurobindo ascended the scales of consciousness and made the descent of the Supramental consciousness possible on earth on 29th February 1956. Such was the dynamism of this Mahayogi who worked only for the earth and humanity and not for his individual salvation.

Shri. Manoj Pavitran from Auroville presented a paper titled Sri Aurobindo and Future Yoga. 

Here is summery of Manoj Pavitran’s talk:

In the world today all things are being cast, shredded into pieces, experimented on, combined and recombined either to perish and provide the scattered material of new forms or to emerge rejuvenated and changed for a fresh term of existence. Indian Yoga, in its essence a special action or formulation of certain great powers of Nature, itself specialised, divided and variously formulated, is potentially one of these dynamic elements of the future life of humanity. But it has first to rediscover itself, bring to the surface the profoundest reason of its being in that general truth and that unceasing aim of Nature which it represents, and find by virtue of this new self-knowledge and self-appreciation its own recovered and larger synthesis.

All life, when we look behind its appearances, is a vast Yoga of Nature who attempts in the conscious and the subconscious to realise her perfection in an ever-increasing expression of her yet unrealised potentialities and to unite herself with her own divine reality. Yoga, as Swami Vivekananda has said, may be regarded as a means of compressing one’s evolution into a single life or a few years or even a few months of bodily existence.

There are two ways of yogic evolution, the yoga of liberation and the yoga of transformation. The yoga liberation is only a beginning of a still more complex yoga of transformation to accelerate human evolution on earth. Man is a transitional being, he is not final said Sri Aurobindo and at present humanity is passing through an evolutionary crisis. The terrestrial evolution must pass beyond man as it has passed beyond the animal and a greater race must come that will be capable of the spiritual change, a form of life must be born that is nearer to the divine. 

Sri Aurobindo has mapped out the detailed process of this change as triple transformation. First is the psychic transformation, in which all is in contact with the Divine through the psychic consciousness. The second is the spiritual transformation in which all is merged in the Divine in the cosmic consciousness. The third is the supramental transformation in which all becomes supramentalised in the divine gnostic consciousness. The first two transformations have already been accomplished in the past by rare individuals. But not on a larger collective scale, besides it is only with the last that there can begin the complete  transformation of mind, life and body, according to Sri Aurobindo. This great change is the appearance upon earth of a new race which will be for man what man is for the animal. A divine life in a divine body is the formula of the ideal that we envisage.

The program in the evening on 5th January at Gandhi Thidal started with music where a group of members from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, SAS and Kalarigram headed by Ms. Surabhi Nandi presented an enchanting cultural programme. The team presented a Garland of Devotional Songs for Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. The show began with Maharishi Sri Aurobindo, Jagatha Janani Pranam in which Sri Aurobindo is praised for taking birth in human form to transform the ordinary life to a life divine which sings his glory. This was followed by Maha Bhagvat Roop Lakhe, which speaks of taking refuge in Maa Mira and Sri Aurobindo and requests them, who have given us the mantra of immortality and life divine, to liberate us from desire and anger. The melody and the bhakti bhava brought forth by the singers had engrossed the crowd by this time. By the time Jaya Vandana Gurudev, a song that bows to the greatness of Sri Aurobindo and Jai Sri Aravinda, a Kirtanam in Sanskrit were sung, the mood and the environment had become one of deep devotion. 

 

The second part of the program was presented in dance form and began with a sonnet by Sri Aurobindo – ‘Invitation’, choreographed in free style. The dancers brought the mood and emotion of the sonnet to life with their performance. They then performed Sudararoopam Chidatmakam which had the audience enthralled with it’s sheer simplicity and beauty. The next performance was ‘Life’, a poem by Sri Aurobindo choreographed in free style which brought out the different aspects of life as we go through it. The grand finale was the performance choreographed to a few verses from Sri Aurobindo’s Sanskrit poem Bhavani Bharati which is a prayer to the Supreme Goddess to bless our motherland. In it’s execution and evocation it was the perfect end to this beautifully thought out program that was lovingly put together by the devotees of Sri Aurobindo.

The programme was attended by hundreds of people and was very well appreciated.

Deepa Vaitheeshwaran from Kalarigram gave a wonderful introduction to Sri Aurobindo and his Ashram at the commencement of the cultural event and compered the entire event. In her brief Introduction she  said:

Most of you will be aware of the deep links between Pondicherry and Sri Aurobindo. I’d like to take a few minutes to share some of this history with you. While Sri Aurobindo was continuing his Sadhana in hiding from the British, he received a Divine message which ordered him to go to Pondicherry and continue his work there. Immediately, on the morning of March 31, 1910, Sri Aurobindo commenced his onward journey to Pondicherry from Chandernagore and reached Pondicherry on April 4th 1910. To use his words –
I need some place of refuge in which I can complete my Yoga unassailed and build up other souls around me. It seems to me that Pondicherry is the place appointed by those who are Beyond

The main purpose of Sri Aurobindo’s move to Pondicherry was to focus his work on changing human nature. He believed that “all life is Yoga” and that everything has to be transformed and made divine. During the four following decades, he followed this mantra diligently and showed us the path of Integral Yoga.

In his words:
The object of the yoga is to enter into and be possessed by the Divine Presence and Consciousness, to love the Divine for the Divine’s sake alone, to be tuned in our nature into the nature of the Divine, and in our will and works and life to be the instrument of the Divine. Its object is not to be a great yogi or a Superman (although that may come) or to grab at the Divine for the sake of the ego’s power, pride or pleasure. It is not for Moksha though liberation comes by it and all else may come, but these must not be our objects. The Divine alone is our object.

At the end of the International Yoga Festival, as icing to the cake, SAS was bestowed with the “Award of Excellence” by the Government of Puducherry, Department of Tourism for its active participation in organising the “Mass Yoga Programme”. 

Dr. Sampadananda Mishra received the “Award of Excellence” on behalf of SAS from the dignitaries during the valedictory function that was held on 7th January, 2020 at the Art and Craft Village, Puducherry.