130 youngsters from all corners of the world gathered at Chinmaya International Residential School (CIRS) on 25th December 2013. What could it have been that would pull such a crowd of youngsters away from their family, friends, parties, and comforts, missing two of the most internationally celebrated days of the year? And the answer to that my friends, is the Global CHYK Camp, “At The Gateway of Truth”.
These CHYKs were ready to give up their usual lives for a week, to be taken on this spectacular journey by Swami Swaroopanandaji. He delved into the depths of the Kathopanishad, the scripture that unveils the mystery of death and the meaning of life.
Like Naciketa, the CHYKs made their way to the doorway of the Lord of Death, Yamaraj, and waited “3 days and 3 nights” (well, actually, waited for an hour). They stood in steady tapas until Yamaraj arrived with Chitragupta and led us to the Guru (Swamiji) who would reveal to us the highest knowledge.
The next 6 days challenged our previous beliefs, raised new daring questions in our minds, and have undoubtedly given us one of the most unforgettable experience of our lives! We had 3 classes each day with Swamiji, during which we gained awe-inspiring insight into the teachings of Kathopanisad. Meditation classes with Swami Anukoolanandaji gave us an opportunity to work towards mental purification and develop single-pointedness. Activities with Swami Anukoolanandaji, Swamini Surpriyanandaji, and Br. Adarshji brought the knowledge into direct experience, helping us understand the power of Shraddha (faith), the effect of emotions in communication, and exploring present day ethical dilemmas. Discussion groups allowed us to see concrete examples of how to apply the knowledge into practical situations in our lives.
The purity in our surroundings, not just the school, but the people itself, was such a conducive environment to learn in. Together we learned, enjoyed, reveled in the knowledge, supported and encouraged one another, released our inhibitions, and sang and danced together in Satsang!
And the New Year didn’t go unnoticed! We had an amazing celebration of song, dance, stories, and a feast! Did I mention the incredibly delicious food prepared at CIRS every day? One could not imagine a better place and better company to welcome the new year than in Swamiji’s presence, and a group of inspiring individuals.
Following camp, a group of 30 CHYKs continued on the Post Camp Trip with Swamiji to Orissa. Together we visited spiritual icons of Bhubhaneswar, including the Konarak Sun Temple, Lingeshwar and Muktinath temples, and then onto Jagannath Puri. The joys from travelling with Swamiji and spending time with these 30 amazing people is just indescribable.
At the beginning of camp, Swamiji said that this global camp is designed for metamorphosis- where we entered as Caterpillars and emerge as butterflies. All I can say is that this butterfly will be back for camp in 2014! Will you miss me?