Sunday, June 14, 2015

A day in Pondicherry and The secret of the Veda

Wide walkway along the beach
The official tourism site of Pondicherry (or Puducherry) says ‘If peace and a break is the most sought after, then Pondicherry is surely the place’, but visiting Sri Aurobindo Ashram was my objective to visiting Pondicherry. Seeing that beach is just few feet’s away from the ashram, a tourist in me woke up, and I could not resist walking along the seaside. Blue waters and restless waves can calm anyone’s mind. Well paved wide walkway along the sea makes the walk pleasurable. You can almost sit almost everywhere along the beach on the pavements and watch the infinite sea. I could see the big ships anchored at a distance and small boats doing some transport from them. Taking a walk further I could spot a tall statue of Mahatma Gandhi. And there is a garden on the other side of the road. It provided relief from the heat and a place to sit and read Sri Aurobindo for hours. I could agree with what was said in the website - If peace and a break is what one is looking for, this is the place.

Ashram Entrance
There was a reason for Sri Aurobindo to come to Pondicherry. He was a freedom fighter and a journalist and he had angered the mighty British on many occasions. He was arrested and released couple of times by the British. When there was a news of he getting arrested again, Aurobindo took the break from British ruled Bengal and moved to Pondicherry which was a French colony. Though he did not support French rule either (he fought for independent India) there was no intimidation for his works here. His interests turned from nationalism to spirituality here though it was an undercurrent during his journalism days. And he transformed himself into a Yogi to take the break from birth-death cycle.

I was attracted to the works of Sri Aurobindo in my efforts to understand the Vedas. What is Veda for you? For some it is scared text. Few believe it is just nomadic ritual. Some use it to please Gods and few for the attention of Demons. There are multiple perspectives to it. But for Sri Aurobindo, it is the vehicle to spirituality. He decodes much of the hymns, and constructs a meaning and purpose of the Veda. He reasons why their purpose is not limited to praying Gods for material benefits but provide a philosophical base to heighten the spiritual awareness. He has written several books on the subject and they can be downloaded for free here:
Since I wanted to hold in my hands and read, I bought hard copies of them during my visit to the ashram.

A rusted cannon in the garden
I went to Pondicherry to get a glimpse of the place where Sri Aurobindo lived and created the masterpieces on Yoga and spirituality. There were many visitors for the same reason and there were lot others too who had come to the town for a weekend break. And the town of Pondicherry does not disappoint any. Your day would be well spent. For those living in Bangalore, it is an overnight journey by road and there are plenty of hotels to stay in Pondy in a wider price range. My unplanned tour confirms, a random visit would do fine as well.

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