Spiritual Retreat in India – Uttarkashi Sadhana Camp and Chardham Yatra

It was a scintillating and once-in-a-lifetime experience for members of Chinmaya Mission South Africa, as they undertook a memorable pilgrimage to India along with their Resident Acharya-in-charge, Swami Abhedananda from 28th June to 23rd July 2008. 65 members joined for the trip from the Chinmaya Mission of South Africa, Singapore, India and a few from Middle-East! “Sadhana Camp 2008” as it was titled; included a 6 day residential camp at Tapovan Kutir in Uttarkashi, followed by 15-days of spectacular travel in the towering Himalayan ranges and visiting divine places like Yamunotri, Gangotri, Gomukh, Rudraprayag, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Deoprayag, Rishikesh and Haridwar.

For a majority of South Africans, who had never seen the shores of India ever since their ancestors left India more than 150 years ago; this Yatra with Swamiji back to India was a great milestone in their lives. Places like Gomukh, Kedarnath and Badrinath, where one can feel God’s presence in the most pristine and tangible form, made everyone feel profusely indebted to Swamiji.

Before embarking on the Char Dham yatra, over 31 delegates from South Africa along with Swami Abhedananda arrived on 29th June from Johannesburg to Mumbai and took a chartered bus to visit Chinmaya Vibhooti and seek the blessings of Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayanandaji. The devotees stayed over for a day in Chinmaya Vibhooti and celebrated Guruji’s birthday on 30th June. Guruji conducted a special meeting with all the devotees from South Africa and congratulated them for coming to India on this great yatra. Subsequently the group left for New Delhi to embark on the yatra, where another 34 delegates from Singapore, Middle-East and India joined the group.

After witnessing the spectacular Ganga Aarti at Har-ki-Pauri of Haridwar, the devotees left for Uttarkashi where they witnessed the divine ashram of Swami Tapovanji Maharaj. In the lap of Mother Ganga and under the securing grace of Swami Tapovanji, the devotees attended beautiful discourses of Swami Abhedanandaji on topics like “Aranya Kand” (Shri Ramcharitmanas), “Uddhav Geet” (Srimad Bhagwatam) and most interesting “Prashnottara Ratna Malika” (a text by Adi Shankaracharya) – which was a never-heard subject but most liked by everyone, as it covered fundamentals of right thinking and right living, presented by Shankaracharyaji in a question-answer form. Morning meditation classes followed by four sessions of discourses during the day were sufficient to make everyone feel elevated in the nectarine bliss of the scriptures that was being communicated by Swamiji with unmatched clarity and depth. The devotees also performed Pujya Gurudev’s “Paduka Puja” on one of the days, and also conducted “Samashti Sadhu Bhiksha” for around 80 sadhus and sanyasis at the ashram. After spending six days in Uttarkashi, the delegates left for Yamunotri, followed by Gangotri and trek upto Gomukh – the source of mother Ganga. The devotees felt greatly blessed to have wonderful darshan in Yamunotri and Gangotri temples, and also to see the huge glacier of Gomukh from where Mother Ganga originates. After Gomukh darshan, the delegates returned to Gangotri and then left for Kedarnath where a special Abhishek Puja was organized for all the delegates. From Kedarnath, the group returned to Rudraprayag where everyone had wonderful darshan of “Koteshwar Mahadev” temple. The next day all devotees left for Badrinath where again devotees were blessed to get a special darshan of the Lord. Everyone witnessed the “Shodashopachar Puja – Abhishek – Alankar” sitting right in front of the eternal idol of Lord Badri Narayan. Since it was Guru Poornima also on the same day, all devotees with Swami Abhedananda ji visited “Vyas Gufa” and “Ganesh Gufa”, and also had darshan of “Saraswati River” and “Bheem Pul”. After the blissful darshan in Badrinath, the devotees felt most fulfilled for having completed the Char Dham Yatra by the Lord’s grace. In the evening, devotees performed Gurudev’s paduka puja and chanted bhajans and hymns, followed by a talk by Swamiji on the occasion of Guru Poornima.

On the last day of the camp, all devotees got together for a valedictory function in which Swamiji blessed and congratulated everyone for having completed the entire yatra successfully. Swamiji recommended everyone to dedicate their life in serving Pujya Gurudev and the Mission in whichever capacity they can render their services. The devotees also thanked Swamiji plentifully for undertaking this tough task of bringing so many of us to visit these divine pilgrimages, for taking such loving care of everyone, and for giving us the wealth of the scriptures in such a generous manner. Everyone left for their respective destinations with fulfilled mind with a beautiful urge to serve Pujya Gurudev and His divine Mission!

To view the photographs, click here.


Categories: Spiritual Retreats