Parmarth Niketan believes in Yoga being a way of life and making one’s life into a prayer to God. Hence they believe a devout person should follow the daily yogic practice, Sanskaras, and Satsangs. Our Yoga expert, Navodita, tells us more about this school of yoga, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Among many schools of Yoga, Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh is one such place where one can learn the intricacies of yoga and such lifestyle. The daily activities at Parmarth Niketan include morning universal prayers, daily yoga and meditation classes, daily Satsang and lectures, kirtan, the well-known Arti at sunset, as well as nature cure and Ayurvedic treatment.
The main proponent of this school of Yoga is His Holiness Pujya Swami Chidananda Saraswati. He is the President and spiritual head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Under his inspiration and leadership, the ashram is not only a spiritual haven but also provides education, training, and healthcare to all who come here. This school believes in Yoga being a way of life and making one’s life into a prayer to God. Hence they believe a devout person should follow the daily yogic practice, Sanskaras, and Satsangs as a way of life.
They, too, focus on the Vedic tradition of austere living from a very young age itself. They believe that ‘Sanskaras’ are the ‘rites of passage’ that a person passes through in life- from conception to death. A closer word to describe this would be ‘sacrament’ which implies an outward celebration or ceremony symbolic of an inward growth, change or grace. The Sanskaras refer to the main religious/spiritual purificatory rites and rituals for sanctifying the body and mind, such that growth is progressively smooth. There are 16 main Sanskaras, four of which are performed with great piety and devotion, on the banks of the River Ganga. These are, Chudakaran Sanskara (Mundan ceremony) or the first haircut, Upanayana Sanskara (Yagnopavit ceremony) or the sacred thread ceremony, Vivaha Sanskara or marriage and Antim Sanskara (Asthi Visarjan) or ash immersion at the time of the death of a person.
Parmarth Niketan, besides spiritual healing and exercises also believes in children’s education and provides free education to children under its Divine Shakti Foundation. The school is called Prakash Bharti. They don’t only believe in Yoga but focus more on making the environment free of problems and believes in service to people, too. They run a Parmarth Gurukul which is full of children who have either been orphaned or whose parents can’t afford to keep them. Gurukul believes that there are lot of children which need not only to be fed and sheltered – they need to be educated and trained so they can be productive members of society. They need to be inculcated with values, ethics, and spirituality which will make them torchbearers of Indian culture.
The Gurukul provides education which includes the following essential elements- a full, standard academic education, training in the ancient Vedic knowledge and traditions, moral and value-based education. Once the children are adopted in the Gurukul, their identity is changed from an ‘orphan’ or ‘poor’ to ‘Rishikumars’. With this simple change, entire identities of these children have changed. Looks of hopelessness transform into one of hope and optimism. Destitution and despair are replaced with pride, faith, and enthusiasm. Besides the Gurukul, Parmarth Niketan runs clinic services on a regular basis- surgical eye camps to camps in cardiology, urology, internal medicine, Ayurveda, homeopathy, Nature Cure, pediatrics, prosthetic limbs, acupressure and much more. Dedicated teams of doctors come from across the country and the world to hold such camps for residents of the Ashram and local residents. The ashram also organizes programmes for conserving the environment on a regular basis- tree plantation programmes, sanitation awareness programmes, organic farming programmes, environmental cleanup programmes and Tirth Conservation and Development programmes. Parmarth is also actively engaged in cow welfare programmes- which include cow sheds, cow care, etc. including getting stray cows from streets to the barns in the ashram. Parmarth believes in holding bhandaras every day for Rrishikumars, Brahmachari, sadhu, and others in need. After performing a sacred puja and celebrating auspicious ceremonies, hundreds are fed on the banks of the Ganga. Bhandaras are thus a regular feature of the ashram. Parmarth also provides yoga teacher training courses on a regular basis. Yoga at the ashram is holistic, spiritually oriented and focused on the deep and sublime traditional ancient yogic discipline as taught by Rishis and sages. Expertise in yoga is attained by devotion, patience and sincerity, and uninterrupted regular practice. In 2-5 weeks, students are healthier, stronger and feel more confident to commit to the yoga way of life.
Parmarth believes that Yoga, according to Bhagwad Gita, has various definitions:
- Equanimity of mind in success and failure
- Discretion in work
- Remover of misery and destroyer of pain
- Giver of infinite happiness
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras define yoga as ‘complete control over patterns or modifications of the mind’ oryogashchittavrittinirodhaha.
- Jnana Yoga: Yoga committed to inquiry
- Karma Yoga: Yoga committed to selfless service and Dharma
- Bhakti Yoga: Yoga devoted to love and devotion to God
- Raja Yoga: Yoga committed to introspection and contemplation
- Hatha Yoga: Yoga devoted to discipline of the body and the balance of the mental, physical and subtle forces of the body through practice of asana and pranayama
Parmarth Niketan thus has many services to offer and works around a philosophy and yoga and active service to preserve humanity and nature. This is different from just practicing a kind of yoga based on scriptures and educational component. Here they believe in living a yogic lifestyle in a practical manner so that society may become a better place to live.
Photos from the Internet.
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Navodita Pande has been practicing yoga since she was 9 years old in Iyengar Yoga. In April 1995, she performed at the International Yoga Seminar. In January 2003, Navodita taught at Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir in New York. Navodita had a Yoga show on NDTV 24×7 and was also the official yoga trainer for Miss Delhi contestants in 2007. She currently teaches Yoga and Reiki to
people in Kanpur.