In the Footsteps of Giants: The Saints of India

There’s this stigma around the ancient sages of Bharat’s history that often inhibits the youth of our contemporary world from understanding the beauty of their timeless teachings. Particularly with the influence of scientific developments, the idea of religion itself has often been deemed whimsical and lacking proper foundation.

Cue Global CHYK Camp, “In the Footsteps of Giants”.

Exploring the life, dynamism, and sheer greatness of 7 saints over 7 days, Swami Swaroopananda and our camp acharyas (Swami Anukoolananda, Swamini Supriyananda and Br. Gopalji) completely took away the falsehoods of man-made customs, bringing forward the essence that pervades all religions. This was not a camp that compelled young adults to adhere to the “do”s and “don’t”s of religion. This was not a camp that made us fear. This was a camp that taught us to be unparalleled in all our pursuits. It was a camp that taught us to be fearless in our devotion, strong in our conviction, and grateful to the masters who made Vedanta so accessible.

Swamiji showed us how applying Vedanta to our daily lives, as these great Masters did, is anything but ordinary. It is in fact revolutionary. The most forward-thinking dynamism we gained from the camp stemmed from the most ancient scriptures, proving that this knowledge and religion itself is beyond the measure of time and audience – it is pure Bliss. In this way, we learnt to be centered in the Self, instead of self-centered!

As well as Swamiji’s mind-blowingly logical and come-to-class-30-minutes-early-to-get-front-row-seats kind of talks, the camp had discussion and activity groups in which we were given an opportunity to reflect on what we’d learnt, and how to implement it outside of the pure atmosphere of CIRS. Be it in the intellectual discussion of our newest knowledge, the silent introspection in the beautiful school grounds, or in the colourful Holi festival, each activity made us feel more immersed in the endless beauty of Vedanta. Through each saint, we learnt a multitude of teachings, and yet all the knowledge we gained made us realise that there is only one Teaching, one Truth. However, for the benefit of the tenuous human intellect, these Masters gave us a variety of forms – service, knowledge, devotion – to make these teachings more readily applicable to us.

To reflect on this camp without expressing the gratitude and Bhakti that each and every attendee felt, would be to describe fire without the element of heat. The inexplicable allure of these saints through their pure love and compassion was undeniable, and quickly, we became the group of 91 young adults that sung and reveled in the praises of their Guru in front of a public cinema in Coimbatore! Realising the perfection that these Masters saw in us made us grateful for their conviction in our potential, and grateful for the opportunity to express our true nature – happiness.

Over the seven days, which went by all too quickly, not only were the CHYKs privy to the simplification of the highest Knowledge, but we also formed friendships that are sure to hold true to the opening line of the Mission pledge, “we stand as one family”.