A monthly event series has been initiated by Swami Ishwarananda for senior citizens. Since its start in September 2011, like minded seniors have come together for a day- long event that is spiritual, informative and relaxing. Each day also includes snacks and chai breaks as well as a sumptuous volunteer cooked lunch over which seniors can mingle, share stories and strike up friendships. Observing the on-going monthly events, its easy to say that seniors are beginning to think of CMLA as their own and have made offers to volunteer at various tasks in the kitchen, the altar and bookstore. Their presence and wisdom is a welcome addition to the regular slate of programs that are held at Rameshwaram.
Just after seniors were dropped off by their office-going family members, the inaugural event began with a talk by Acharya Mahadevji who focused on giving practical tips for the group on making each day meaningful by including Seva and Swadhyaya in their daily lives, among other things.
A yoga session was conducted by VYASA-LA’s K.V.Chakrapani and Mansukhbhai that was introductory in nature, explaining the importance and effect of yoga, followed with some light movements.
In the afternoon there was a detailed talk on Ayurveda and Solutions to Common Health Conditions by Hema Ravikumar of Prasanna Ayurveda.
The day concluded with a bhajan session with Mahadevji accompanied on tabla by Shekhar Ekbote and Ashok Subramaniam.
Mahadevji began the morning with a spiritual discourse where he defined the wisdom provided in the Hindu scriptures for seniors, that they could think about and make their own.
Vidya Venkatesh of Niroga Ayurveda brought her learning from the Patanjali Yoga Peet in Haridwar, to her discussion of pranayama. She demonstrated several in which seniors eagerly participated.
Dr.Rashmi Desai an internal medicine physician brought her knowledge of Vedanta to speak to seniors on an Holistic and Integrated Approach to Health as well as the Role of Probiotics.
Music for the day was rendered by Saraswathy Balu and Tej Ghanshani, both of who sang soulful bhajans accompanied by instrumentalists Ashok Subramaniam and Vilas Jhadav.
Seniors participated in the annual Sevanjali event held at Chinmaya Rameshwaram.
Swami Ishwarananda in his talk, spoke of the immense value that seniors bring to their families and community, reminding them that they were role models and their mindful actions impacted all around them. Bhupendra Soneji, a long time practitioner of yoga, addressed the issue of diabetes amongst seniors and suggested yoga moves that would help alleviate the condition. Ayurvedic practitioner Manjusha Vinjamury made a detailed presentation on Geriatric disorders. It addressed the needs of seniors with herbal remedies and diet.
Professional musicians Hemant Ekbote, Arvind Joshi, Rekha and Harshad Thaker regaled with some bhajans and old time numbers which had the seniors humming along.
On Jan.19, seniors began the monthly meeting hearing Acharya Mahadevji talk about the Facets of Brahman. Shila Patel of Aarogya Spa and Wellness Center held a ayurvedic kichchidi demonstration and gave a talk on nutrition for seniors based on ayurveda. Jiten Gandhi and Steven Kang enlightened the audience on U.S.taxation policies, especially for those with property in India. The day concluded with music by Sanjiv and Geetha Munshi which was enjoyed by all.
Different and unique topics led to animated discussions by the seniors. The subjects that intrigued were those presented by Professor Prem Saint on the ancient civilization that flourished along the river Saraswati and an exposition on acupuncture by Dr.Prasad Vinjamury. The former led to lively questions on the gods worshipped, the timeline of events and the Sanskrit language. And interest was piqued by the presentation on acupuncture with attendees eager to know how the system worked and how it helped in wellness. They were also able to view and handle the needles that are used in its practice. Earlier, as in all CMLA senior monthly events, the morning began with a talk by Acharya Mahadevji. The spiritual talk is a highlight for seniors who like to begin the day on a thoughtful note. The day concluded with a fun session of bingo, played to the multifarious names of Lord Shiva. Coming in the wake of the wonderful Shivaratri sessions just concluded at Rameshwaram, it was a fitting end to a wonderful monthly session!
Just for Seniors met on March 22, 2012. After registration, the seniors enjoyed a wonderful talk by Swami Ishwaranandaji on “Messages from Mahabharata”. After tea break, Dr. Rajendra Prasad gave a presentation on “Cancer Prevention”. In the afternoon, Mr. Bhupendra Soneji gave a presentation on “Yoga for Vital Breathing”. The day ended with wonderful Bhajans by Acharya Mahadevanji.
Acharaya Mahadevanji started the proceedings of the event on April 26, with a talk on “Simple Recipe for Getting Along with People”. After tea break, Dr. Mamatha Sadda gave a presentation on “Potpourri of Gastrointestinal Diseases”. After lunch, there was a talk by Ms. Vidya Kudva on “Nutrition & Diabetes”. The event concluded after another session of wonderful Bhajans by Acharya Mahadevanji.
The Seniors met on May 17, 2012. The event began with a spiritual talk by Acharya Mahadevanji on “At His Lotus Feet”. This was followed by a talk “What you should know about your heart?” by Dr. Nathapet Srinivasan. The afternoon session began with a presentation noon “Yoga for Well-Being” by Ms. Dolly Lai. Later, members of the Swarajali group entertained the Seniors with some wonderful Bhajans.
June meeting of Just for Seniors was held on the 21st. Acharya Mahadevanji gave a talk on “Subhashitas to Ponder On”. Ms. Manu Swamy then gave a presentation on “Yoga for Stress Management”. The seniors got an opportunity to try some basic routines. Dr. Divakar Reddy gave a talk during the afternoon session on “Osteoarthritis – Non-surgical and Surgical Management”. This was followed by Bhajans by members of the Swaranjali group.
The event was held on July 26, and the seniors were treated with a pravachan by Acharya Mahadevanji, a Pranayaama session with Shri Bhupendra Soneji and a musical treat by Smt. Lopa Chatterjee.
Dr. Mahadevanji's PowerPoint pravachan titled, "Rising above Four Undesirables" was centered around the subhashita (a verse of wisdom), that read:
Daridradanashanam danam; Shilam durgati nashnam;
Agyannashini Pragya; Bhavna bhayanashini.
Danam (charity) destroys Poverty; Integrity destroys Adversity;
Awareness destroys Ignorance: Fear is destroyed by Contemplation.
Mahadevanji defined poverty as inability to share of ourselves, of our belongings, our time, our knowledge and our talents. Quoting from Bhagvad Gita, Mahadevanji cited the condition of Arjuna when he complained to Bhagvan Krishna about "karpanya dosha", poverty of spirit, and the Bhagwad Gita elaborates on many strategies for overcoming that human predicament of the poverty of spirit.
Explaining the verse, " Shilam durgati nashnam", meaning, integrity destroys adversity, Mahadevanji cited the examples of Hanumanji, Harishchandra and Mahatma Gandhi who demonstrated that while adversity comes and goes, integrity of character lasts forever, through "thicks and thins" of life.
"Agyanam nashini Pragya", meaning awareness destroys ignorance, is based on the premise that awareness, with right attitude (bhavna), not action, is the antidote for ignorance or avidya.
"Bhavna bhaya nashini", meaning right attitude and contemplation, overcomes fear, because fear makes us lose perspective and worry starts a chain reaction that accentuates fear.
In the session, Pranayam & Meditation Session with Soneji, it was emphasized experience rather than knowledge, as Soneji taught the techniques of pranayam, with constant use of gyan mudra, throughout all practices, since prana is responsible for not only breath, but also awareness. The use of a simple mantra like "So Hum", with inhalation and exhalation, ensures awareness and tranquility. Then Soneji taught the technique of "Aulom-Viloma" Pranayama which balances the energies of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. After that Soneji led the group into meditation, using a meditation technique called "Shreya Meditation", with visualization of energy centers, or chakras in the body.
The meeting ended with melodious presentation of bhajans and ghazals by Lopa Chatterji, who was accompanied by Shekhar on the tabla, and at the beginning, by her daughter Angita.