Report of 2-day residential program conducted by DISHA at Prashanti Kuteeram

Youngsters listening with rapt attention to an elderly Yogi.

Waking up at dawn and saluting the rising sun through yogasanas.

Dancing with an ecstasy born out of an intense experience of Krishna bhakti.

Voluntarily falling at the feet of elders to seek their blessings.

Taking a vow to lead the rest of their lives in keeping with the precepts of Dharma.

Did reading this make you imagine a setting of disciples in an ashram in ancient times?

Well, we’re sorry to disrupt that fantasy, but we must explain that this, is actually, a bird’s eye view of DISHA’s 2-day residential program held in March 2018 !

At 2 pm on 29th March, 2018, 50 girl students from 2 reputed city institutions drove out of Bengaluru with the DISHA team, to the lush environs of SVYASA University, located on the outskirts of the city.

The program was inaugurated by the famous yoga couple Shri. N.V. Raghuram, Founder President of Yoga Bharati (who is also the President of the DISHA Charitable Trust for Value Initiatives) and Dr. R. Nagaratna, the co-founder of SVYASA University.

Speaking on this occasion, Dr. Nagaratna highlighted the importance of yoga, and its acceptance worldwide even as she urged the students to dig deeper into their own selves, seeking to find the answer to the eternal question of “Who am I, and what is the purpose of my life.”

Sharing his experiences as a globetrotter, representing the country at different forums, Shri. Raghuram explained how anything Indian is so attractive to the world at large. He gave an example of 400 foreigners who changed their names to Indian ones, and then began adopting the quality the new names signified, and found a major change in their lives.

Following the inauguration, a 5-minute video about DISHA Charitable Trust for Value Initiatives was launched by the guests. What set this video apart was the fact that it was shot and edited single-handedly by 16 year old Sarvesh, the son of Shri. Anand Bhargav, a DISHA volunteer from Singapore.

The guests also released the first edition of DISHA’s monthly e-newsletter.

During the post-dinner session, the students from the two institutions – Maharani Lakshmi Ammanni College for Women and MLA Academy of Higher Learning – participated in icebreaker games to get introduced to each other. The day ended with Vande Mataram.

Day 1 of the program began at 5.30 am with a morning prayer, followed by a session of yoga, pranayama and dhyana that instilled enough energy to last the entire day.

The students then joined the SVYASA students for Maitri Milan – a program where they together chanted a few shlokas from the Bhagavad Geeta, following which the meaning of the shlokas was explained by Dr. R. Nagendra, the Chancellor and Founder of SVYASA University.

Dr. Nagendra who is famous for conceptualizing the International Yoga Day, spent time with the DISHA team, and briefed them about the University’s path breaking research in the field of yoga therapy for several illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.

Following breakfast, the students assembled for the session based on the theme of ‘Know Thyself.’ The resource person, Shri. Vinay N. (former GM of RBI, Bengaluru and currently DISHA volunteer), used the tool of the JOHARI WINDOW to help identify one’s strengths and areas of improvement.

This was followed by an interaction with Kum. Madhavi Paranjape (HR Manager in a leading MNC at Bengaluru) who used a PowerPoint presentation to guide the students on ‘Tips for Professional Excellence and Decision Making Skills.’

Next, Dr. Arati V.B. (Director, Vibhu Academy) addressed the students on the theme of how Dharma is the foundation of life and stressed the need to lead a dhaarmik life, with each of one’s actions being based on the precepts of Dharma.

Post lunch, one of the doctors of SVYASA guided the students in the practice of Deep Relaxation Technique that is helpful in achieving deep relaxation within a short time to feel rejuvenated.

This was followed by an activity session in which the DISHA team comprising of Shri. Pramodh N., Smt. Sneha Damle, Shri. Pradeep N., Shri. Madhu, Kum. Smruthi Vaze and Shri. Vinay N, led the students through a wide range of activities to learn about team-building, ethical leadership and communication skills.

Next, renowned speaker Shri. Y.V. Gundu Rao addressed the students on the topic of ‘Ethics in Professional Life.’

After a short break, all the participants assembled in the grounds of Prashanti Kuteeram, and the air reverberated with the sounds of youngsters running, jumping and playing like kids as they were guided through a set of Desi Games by the DISHA volunteers.

After a short break, the students reassembled in a hall where Kum. Smruthi Vaze had drawn a beautiful rangoli of the map of India. Together, all the participants lit small lamps and placed them on the outline of this representation of Bharat Mata, perhaps with a silent vow to serve her in all possible ways.

This was followed by a bhajan and satsang session, that later proved to be the highlight of the entire program. Led by Prof. A. Subramaniam, Director of Adhyatma Yoga, the students lost themselves as they sang bhajans, breaking into impromptu dances around the vigraha of Radhakrishna placed in the centre of the room. So impactful was this experience that the students didn’t want to stop! A student tearfully  explained how she had been an atheist until this moment, when she felt touched by the positive vibrations from the bhajan session.

Following dinner, the students participated in an informal showcasing of their talent through song, dance and role plays. It was indeed a treat to the eyes and ears of the onlookers.

The day ended with Vande Mataram.

Day 2 began with Nature Yoga where the students welcomed the rising sun by doing yoga on the sprawling lawns of Prashanti Kuteeram, in front of the statue of Swami Vivekananda. Prof. A. Subramaniam also gave information about different courses offered by the SVYASA University.

Following breakfast, the first session was conducted by Shri. Pramodh N. of DISHA on the theme of ‘Tejomaya Bharata’. He acquainted the students with ancient India’s contribution to the world, and helped them appreciate how even today, this great country has left her footprints all over the globe.

Next, Prof. Shobha Sundaresan (HOD, Dept of Management Studies, MLACW) used case studies to help the girls understand the ways to find the perfect balance between personal life and career.

This was followed by a session in which Smt. Rekha Ramachandran (Founder, DISHA) spoke about ‘Indian Culture and Womanhood’. She introduced the students to the idea of how Indian women, over the ages, have been practicing sustainable living by focusing on the family and culture.

After lunch, it was time to see off the girls to their homes. In traditional Indian style, the married women on the DISHA volunteers team offered haldi-kumkum to the young girls, along with a small gift comprising two books and a lamp, to remind them of their future roles in lighting up the lives of their fellow-beings. As the students came to receive their gifts, they offered obeisance to Bharat Mata and Swami Vivekananda, resolving to ‘Be good and do good’. So touched were the girls by this ceremony, that many of them fell at the feet of the DISHA volunteers, seeking their blessings for the eventful futures that await them.

This was followed by a feedback session where the students talked about how the program had been full of experiential learning, how they were touched by the significance of the cultural aspects and how the love and affection of the DISHA volunteers had won their minds and hearts, and made them resolve to contribute their bit to Desha and Dharma.

The girls left with a heavy heart. Yet, they were filled with a positive energy and enthusiasm that reflected in the charged atmosphere as they sang “Manushya tu bada mahaan…” and chanted slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jay’.

For the team at DISHA, it was an experiment that paid off – the elements of the entire program, the satvik food, and the radiant, calm ambience of Prashanti Kuteeram had come together in the perfect manner to help the students spend some time connecting with themselves, assess their journey thus far, and chart their future path.

Video report of the residential camp is as below –


To view photos of the camp please click here