31st May - evening
Before starting the shivir on the 1st of June, we were asked to meet at 8pm the day before, on 31st May, and take “sankalp” (promise) that we will abide by all the rules of the shivir and finish all that is assigned to us during that time. This was all to be done in the lecture hall.
I was surprised to see that it was full!! There must have been more than 900 people participating in this 9 day shivir. Wow! Okay, no problem, I found a nice spot in the middle of the hall and sat. Seating was free for all and there were no chairs. It was a large hall, no walls, covered with carpet and we were to sit on the ground. Alright, I think I can do that also. Another thing that took me by surprise was that everyone was sitting straight lines instead of sitting haphazardly. That was another part of a small discipline instilling behavior that Shantikunj is trying to promote (but they are losing – sorry! The people of India just don’t like sitting in lines or doing what they are told to do).
The speaker, Dr. Dutta, got us initiated. He told us that we were embarking on a journey to self discovery and that we should take it seriously. He mentioned some rules, but a number of things were not clear to me, as I realized later. If some the reasons were clearer to me in the beginning, I may have approached the shivir little differently. But no problem, that did not cause too many problems.
The sankalp involved Dr. Dutta telling us to do the jap, eating once a day only and attending everything as seriously as possible. There would be a half day break on the 5th day, i.e. only the morning programs, not the afternoon or evenings ones. That was designed so visitors could go to Har ki Pauri during their stay at Haridwar. The sankalp process ended by chanting a mantra of promise and tying the kalava on the wrist to remind us of our promise. That was the end of that day.
I decided to eat tikki chat and gulaab jaamun for dinner that evening because I knew I would be eating satvik food for the next 9 days!!