uvAcha Quiz – 12

Vikramshila University, an ancient university of India whose ruins are situated in present day Bihar was founded by which Pala ruler

  1. Dharmapala
  2. Devapala
  3. Mahipala
  4. Govindpala

Shilbadra was the head of which university of ancient India

  1. Vallabhi
  2. Nalanda
  3. Vikramshila
  4. Takshashila

In ancient India, Nalanda University was a great centre for the study of –

  1. Hinayana Buddhism
  2. Mahayana Buddhism
  3. Jainism
  4. Hinduism

This university campus was spread across three adjoining hills – Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri

  1. Odantapuri
  2. Somapura
  3. Pushpagiri
  4. Vallabhi

This university was well-known for its specialized training on the subject of Tantrism

  1. Vallabhi
  2. Odantapuri
  3. Takshashila
  4. Vikramshila

 

Answers for uvAcha quiz – 11

(a)  Kathakali (b)  Kuchipudi  (c)  Manipuri  (d)  Bharatnatyam   (e ) Mohiniattam

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Palming

Sit erect with your back straight.  Close your eyes gently.  Concentrate on your natural breathing – inhalation and exhalation.  Count 11 breaths.

Now rub your hands nicely to generate heat.   Place the palm slightly cupped on your closed eyes gently. Ensure that the palms are placed over the eyes in such a way that there is no gap for light to enter.  Do not press the eyeballs.  Allow eyes to relax in complete darkness.  Concentrate on your breathing and feel the warmth of the palms over your eyes.

palming

This practice helps in

  • relaxing your mind and body
  • removing dark circles around your eyes
  • adds glow to your face
  • makes you feel rejuvenated quickly

Sankranti – Dawn of a new Beginning

Pongal / Sankranti is more than new clothes, mouth-watering sweets, TV, latest movies, etc., that go with any festival. It is even more than signifying harvest or harvest festival, as it is popularly known. It marks the dawn of a new beginning…

We need to understand this in light of

  1. The concept of time as understood in this part of the world and
  2. The month-long Thiruppavai / Margazhi / Ayyappa festivals which precedes Pongal/Sankranti

First about the concept of time…

As a day is roughly divided into 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night, a year is divided into six months of day and six months of night.

Roughly coinciding with summer and winter solstices, the period between Jan 15 and Jul 15 is called Uttarayanam or ‘day’ part of the year. The period from Jul 15 to Jan 15 is called Dakshinayanam or ‘night’ part of the year. Considering this the month ‘Margazhi’ falling between Dec 15 to Jan 15 is the pre-dawn hours of the year.

For ages Indians considered the pre-dawn period very auspicious and suitable for meditation and contemplation. Science has now understood and affirms this with predominance of alpha-rays in the environment, changes in ozone layer and other conducive changes in physical, physiological and psychological nature of our body. The same holds true for the month of ‘Margazhi’ which is the pre-dawn period of the year. This is a period marked with lots of festivals and celebrated world over as the divine period of the year.

Significance of the month of ‘Margazhi’ and Thiruppavai…

What is so special about this month? What should one do in this month? Is this month all about rituals and festivals?

As one meditates, rejuvenates and plans for the day during the pre-dawn hours, one need to reflect, ponder, meditate, rejuvenate and plan for the year ahead during this month.

The way to do this is symbolised through the 30 pasurams (stanzas) of Thiruppavai, which are rendered and pondered upon, one on each day. The 30 pasurams of Thiruppavai are but 30 steps to develop the quality of ‘Sattwa’ guna in us. Sattwa guna is signified by the highest qualities – love, care, compassion, empathy, intuition, creativity, planning, all-inclusiveness, etc., one should strive to attain to lead a happy life. In nutshell, it talks about

  • the need to approach a mentor/guru
  • qualities of a good mentee/student
  • qualities of a good mentor/guru
  • right way of approaching a mentor/guru
  • what should one learn from his/her mentor/guru

The goals may be spiritual / material, but the essence of this learning is equally relevant to both. Based on one’s goal, one can reflect upon and plan for the year ahead.

In Tamil it is said ‘Thai pirandal vazhi pirakkum’. It is translated as the birth of ‘Thai’ (the month after Pongal), will open the way forward. As the new harvest also comes home during this period, it is looked forward to with lots of hopes to solve problems. Problems are solved not by following the rituals, but by understanding the significance behind and integrating it into our daily lives.

One need to use this month of festivities and prayers to relax, reflect, ponder, seek necessary guidance, plan and prepare to face the year ahead with rejuvenated vigour and confidence. It is probably for this reason, no personal celebrations like marriages, house-warming ceremonies, naming and cradling ceremonies, etc., are planned during this month. One is provided with enough time to consolidate on the experiences in the year that has gone by, invoke blessings of the divine and start anew with arrival of Pongal or Sankranti.

Another important festival of this month is Ayyappa vratham which also culminates with makara jyothi on the day of makara sankranti / pongal. Having a darshan of makara jyothi is symbolic of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after a month-long penance.

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Why should we not learn yoga from a book or dvd?

The other day my yoga teacher shared an interesting experience. A woman from a club called him to conduct a yoga awareness session ACOGYT (Awakening Call of Golden Yoga Tradition) for her members. She had a strange request. He shouldn’t talk during the session as their members can’t understand English. He was requested to directly teach the practices. Wondering how to conduct an introductory awareness session without talking, he arrived at the venue. Ten minutes into the session he figured that most of the members can understand English. He went ahead with the session in the typical ACOGYT way predominantly interactive with some practices interwoven to make it experiential.

By the end of the session, the audience was enthralled. They were all physically, emotionally, intellectually and psychically charged. The organiser approached him in the end and apologised, ‘I didn’t know you speak so well. I didn’t want my members to get bored. Please do not take it otherwise. Thank you so much for the wonderful session’.

Similar is the experience during several ACOGYT sessions – even sceptic and uninterested members among audience end up getting involved and inspired. This is because as an expert trainer he knows to connect with his students / audience.

Yoga is a powerful tool to positively influence, integrate and harmonise all facets of human personality – physical, physiological, vital, mental, emotional and intellectual. This requires the teacher connects with the audience. We normally start any yoga session with the prayer – “Sahana vavatu, Sahanau Bhunatthu, Saha viryam Karavavahai, Tejasvinavadheethamasthu, Mavidvishavahai”. Through this prayer both the teacher and student seek to connect with each other.

Learning Yoga is about connecting with the teacher

Each individual is unique and has different needs. Same practice administered with varying levels of intensity can have varying effects on the physical and mental level of the student. A good yoga trainer understands this well and gives necessary inputs gauging the needs of the student.

Moreover, yoga deals with energy levels of the student. A yoga trainer invigorates the student during a session by connecting with each of his students.

Caught up with the new trend of e-learning and distance learning one is frenzy about learning yoga from a book,  a TV show or DVD. These can definitely not help achieve the objective of Yoga? Yes, one can use these for additional inputs to be clarified later with the teacher.

If you are serious about learning yoga the right way and benefit most from Yogic wisdom, you need to get hold of a good trainer nearby, and not pick up a book or DVD from a nearby store.

2014 – The Year That Was – A recap…

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2014 started with a wonderful ten-day trip to Bihar School of Yoga and Rikhiapeeth with 60+ children from 7 schools who participated in Children Yoga Festival 2013 commemorating Golden Jubilee of Bihar School of Yoga.

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This was followed by a grand finale of Children Yoga Festival 2013 and release of Ankur Katha 2013 – a collection of stories by children for children in presence of His Excellency Rosaiah ji, Governor of Tamilnadu.

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Principal’s conclave one each at Chennai and Cuddalore to reach the message of Jiva Vigyan (LIFE-SKILLS education) to the schools with a combined participation from around 60 schools.

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Inauguration of Ankur Kshetra to reach our yoga and life skills programs to common public during later part of the year.

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Inauguration of SSM lecture series by H.H. Tridandi Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji at Satyananda Yoga Centre, Triplicane in December 2014.

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New business associations and collaborations, more schools, educational institutions and bodies in Tamilnadu and neighbouring states evincing interest in our Satyananda Yoga and Jiva Vigyan programs, 2014 has been an overall positive year bringing more hopes for a promising year 2015 ahead.

We at Ankur and BLISS Group are thankful to each one of you, especially Satyananda Yoga family, who made this possible for a bootstrap start-up which was established two years ago to make the future of our upcoming generation happily successful, significantly contributing to the skill force of resurgent India.

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Looking forward to your continued support and patronage in the journey ahead.

Anti-stress methodology in adults and children

Right understanding or Right knowledge is the perfect antidote to master stress. With the right understanding of prevailing stressful situation one has to explore and evolve alternate modes of handling it to come out of stress.

An adult empowered with various experiences, is more mature and is better placed to take appropriate decision even under stressful situations. Anti-stress measures in adults progresses through the stages of relaxation, acceptance and understanding based on the situation one is in. Intervention can be through yogic tools and techniques for relaxation; counselling; SWAN method to prioritize and solve problems; satsang – right company of friends, mentors and guides; and medication where stress has manifested at the physical level as disease.

SmileInStress

Smile-In-Stress

A child is dependent and has to abide by the decisions and instructions from parents at home and teachers at school. He/she has neither the requisite experience, skill, maturity nor bandwidth to take decisions. The responsibility for eliminating stress from a child’s life lies in its perpetrators – family, teachers and the education system.

They have to be provided a stress-free environment with appropriate tools and techniques.

  • The tools for providing right inputs and counsel could be bedtime stories, parents playing with them, friendly discussions, etc., Remember “the best gift parents can give to their child is, their time”.
  • Appropriate asana practices, pranayama, yoga nidra and other relaxation practices are yogic tools available to alleviate stress through relaxation both in adults and children.
  • Keep the negative environmental factors at bay or provide the right inputs about negatively influencing elements around them. For this a parent has to give some time to the child, be aware and observant about their environment, inputs, movements, changes in behaviour, etc.,
  • Diet – when, what, how much, prepared by whom, etc. also plays a role on influencing stress.

To do the above efficiently, parents and teachers need to be in a relaxed, energised and empowered state.

In situations where parents and teachers have a little role to play appropriate inputs through counselling may help. For example, education system may put pressure on the child. This is beyond the scope of parents and teachers to correct. However, they can take the effort to represent to the appropriate authorities with suggestions for improvisation. This effort could be in addition to counselling the child and keeping them in a relaxed state.

Hence, stress mastery through right understanding is the route for adults. Stress alleviation through relaxation is the best option available for children. During late-adolescence or early adulthood one can explore counselling along with relaxation techniques to handle stress.

As a person moves from a dependent (child) stage to independent (adult) stage one progresses from managing stress to mastering stress.

Ancient Indian Univerisities

Since the times of vedic civilization, through gurukuls and ashrams, education always had prominence in Indian society. And with evolving times, many centers of learning were established across ancient India of which Takshashila and Nalanda are the most famous ones known today. Below is a list of major ancient universities that flourished across ancient India.

Takshashila University

 Taksha

Takshashila (1000 BC to 500 AD), one of the universities in ancient Bharat is also the oldest amongst the universities on earth.  Each teacher was an institution and enjoyed full autonomy in his work.  Takshashila was a home to over 10,500 students where the students from across the world came and specialised in over 64 different fields of study like vedas, grammar, philosophy, ayurveda, agriculture, surgery, politics, archery, warfare, astronomy, commerce, futurology, music, dance, etc. Takshashila can be hailed as the intellectual capital of Bharat.

Vikramashila University

 Vikramshila-University

Vikramashila (1203 AD to 1800) was founded by King Dharmapala in the eighth century. It was comparable to Nalanda University that flourished during as well, with over 100 teachers and over 1000 students listed in this University. This university was well-known for its specialized training on the subject of Tantra (Tantrism)

Nalanda Unviersity

Nalanda University, Nalanda, Bihar

Nalanda University (425 AD to 1205 AD) was established by Shakraditya of Gupta dynasty.  Nalanda was the world’s first university to have residential quarters for both students and teachers. It also had large public lecture halls.  The library of this university was the largest library of the ancient world and had thousands of volumes of manuscripts on various subjects like grammar, logic, literature, astrology, astronomy, and medicine.  This was the place which was sanctified by the stay of Buddha and saw a number of discussions on the Buddhist doctrines.

Vallabhi University

 vallabhi univeristy

Valabhi University was established in Saurashtra of modern India.  It championed the cause of Hinayana Buddhism.  Students from across the Gangetic plains came to learn in this university.  Gunamati and Sthiramati, the two famous Buddhist scholars are said to have graduated from this University. This University was popular for its training in secular subjects and students from all over the country came to study in this University.

Pushpagiri University

 pushpagiri

Pushpagiri University was established in 3rd century in ancient Kalinga kingdom and was spread across Cuttack and Jajpur districts. It flourished for the next 800 years till 11th century. The university campus was spread across three adjoining hills – Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri. This was one of the most prominent centers of higher education in ancient India along with the universities of Takshashila, Nalanda and Vikramashila.   Lalitgiri is said to have been commissioned by early 2nd century BCE itself and is the oldest Buddhist establishments in the world.

Odantapuri University

 odantapuri

Odantapuri University was established by Dharmapala of Pala dynasty during late 8th century in Magadha (which is in modern day Bihar) and flourished for 400 years till 12th century.  The famous Acharya Sri Ganga who was a professor at the Vikramashila University was a graduate of this Odantapuri University. According to the ancient Tibetan records there were about 12,000 students studying at this University. Ancient Tibetan texts mention this as one among the five great Universities of its time, the other four being Vikramashila, Nalanda, Somapura and Jagaddala Universities – all in ancient India.

 Somapura University

 somapura

Somapura Mahavihara  was established during late 8th century in Bengal and flourished for 400 years till 12th century.  The University spread over 27 acres of land of which the main complex of 21 acres was one of the largest of its kind. It was a major center of learning for Bauddha Dharma (Buddhism), Jina Dharma (Jainism) and Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism). Even today one can find ornamental terracotta on its outer walls depicting the influence of these three traditions.

ABC of Yoga Education – Gill Adarsh Mat.Hr.Sec.School

We Congratulate! the management of Gill Adarsh Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Royapettah for providing the wonderful opportunity to their teachers to attend ABC of YOGA education workshop organised by Ankur Learning Solutions Pvt Ltd and conducted by Satyananda Yoga Education Charitable Trust.

ABC of Yoga education provides an insight into the meaning and depths of education, role of an educator and how Yoga helps an educator (teacher) to ably fulfil his/her responsibility in nurturing holistic and confident adults.

Shri Soundararajan and Shri Ranga Rajan conducted this program to the Junior teachers on 30th Oct 2014. Smt Uma Jeyagopal and Smt Aruna conducted the program for Senior teachers on 6th Dec 2014.

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We appreciate the interest, active and enthusiastic participation by the teachers in this program.

For conducting ABC of Yoga Education program in your school, you may reach us at ankur@blissgroup.com or 98400 76654

That was Wonderful

I was surrounded by darkness. I couldn’t see a thing.   “Where am I?”, I could feel someone near me, but who was it? A small light was beaming miles away. Suddenly someone caught my hand and said, “Ankur, can you see it?” Oh!! That was a relief, it was Ankitha, my twin sister.

We both walked fast to reach it.Just one step and then one more. I stretched my hand to touch the light, Ankitha was still holding my hand tightly. “No!!!”, we both yelled.

Suddenly there was light all over. I turned my head to see Ankitha who was staring at the meadow with her jaw dropping. Suddenly she noticed feathers below her feet.   Ankitha picked it up to examine it. We wondered about its texture and colour. We followed the trial in silence.  Suddenly a lovely cry of a bird startled us. “Wow!!”, it was a bird with majestic blue eyes, long golden red feathers and it gave out a musical cry. “It is a PHOENIX”, she whispered in surprise. It was sitting on a rock. “I am Fawkes, I have been told that the first human to enter this magical world will be the only one who can help me”, she said.

“But what should we do?”,Ankitha asked. “I had a  magical feather with me, that made me special. I lost it and I am getting old. You have to complete your task of getting it. Take right and remember it must be done by sunset”, it said with a twinkle in it’s eyes.

Without another word we took right and Ankitha lead the way. I raised my eyes to see a black door. We ran to the door and pushed it. “Are you nuts Ankur!! Turn left”, she said. There was another door. Putting my head down, I looked at her. She had a scroll of parchment. She read it out aloud,“One will lead you to Heaven and One to Hell. Solve me if you can and that will lead the way. I am so fragile that you can break me by saying my name. And I can help you win the game”

Abinaya-Agastyaa-Shofia

“This is not gonna work!! I am off, that Fawkes is a freak. She must be kidding,” I said. “Ssh! be silent. Ahh!! that is it, it’s SILENCE”, Ankitha said jumping up and down. The door opened and it was dark. A suit of armour was standing on the other side. As I went near it, it took out it’s sword, facing me. “Oh!! My God, am I to fight him?” And there was another sword which came out of thin air. I caught it and the fight began. He swung his sword towards me, but missed me by inches. Far away Ankitha covered her mouth with her hand. The next moment the sword cut me deep in my hand making me bleed. Horror struck me. I just raised my sword and pierced it through his chest. He fell down with a ‘clunk’. It was over, and the door he guarded was open.

We went through the door and to our surprise we saw the feather, but it was about 50 miles away and was floating in mid-air. “How are we to get it ?” she said. And suddenly it struck me, “Maintain Silence”, I said. And the feather slowly settled on my out stretched hand. The next moment we were near Fawkes. “Oh!! Thank you so much dears”, she said. She flew and sat on my hand, got the feather and something like a pearl of tear touched my hand. I winced but the wound in my hand was gone. “You have got to go home, if not now, then you can never”. And with a goodbye, I just opened my eyes to see my house and Ankitha sleeping on her bed.

“That was wonderful!!!”

Story by Y.Abinaya, P.Agastyaa, M.Shofia, Class XI,

Mahatma School, Madurai,

Published in Ankur Katha 2013

CYF 2014 at Chinmaya Vidyalaya

School level event of Children Yoga Festival 2014 was conducted at Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Virugambakkam on 10th Dec 2014. Children presented interesting yoga based themes – Protect flora and fauna, Conserve our forests, Yoga and Health, etc., during the festival.

The festival included – theme based demonstrations, quiz, oratorical skill demonstration, etc., where the children enthusiastically participated.

It was heartening to note that the children have developed a more holistic approach to yoga post their participation in Children Yoga Festival 2013.

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We Congratulate the management and Yoga instructor (Mr Venugopal) of Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Virugambakkam for providing this wonderful opportunity to their students for the second consecutive year.

Hope more schools come forward to provide this wonderful opportunity to introduce to their students a holistic and enjoyable approach to yoga.

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