By Harvinder Kaur
The inauguration of the Global Vipassana Pagoda in suburban Mumbai unveils a superb piece of architecture that heightens the city’s tourism appeal, and provides a profound sanctuary for the Mumbai soul.
|Aerial view of the Global Vipassana Pagoda|
Sometimes revolutions happen silently. Like the wordless revolution of Vipassana. It’s always been there – for twenty-five hundred years at least, now ebbing, now flowing. Since Gautam became Buddha – or even earlier. Now Vipassana waves are rising higher as more and more people learn and practice this ancient meditation technique. A wordless, silent change is rippling through, causing a silent revolution – literally.
Perhaps the apex of its influence was felt when the Global Vipassana Pagoda (GVP), built by the sweat, blood and tears of lakhs of Vipassana meditators, was inaugurated on February 8 this year by the president of the land, Smt Pratibha Patil, herself a dedicated Vipassana practitioner. The impressive ceremony included dignitaries such as Sharad Pawar, Union minister of agriculture and consumer affairs, food and public distribution, Chagan Bhujbal, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, the governor of Maharashtra SC Jamir and Priyanka and Robert Vadehra. Life Positive advisor, the renowned Kiran Bedi was also one of the invitees. However, all eyes were on the wheelchair-seated SN Goenka, the architect of the Vipassana movement in India, whose moment it undoubtedly was. In a moving address he said that Vipassana stood for conversion, not from one religion to another, but from misery to happiness and from bondage to freedom.
|Guruji Shri SN Goenka And Mata Ji|
The Global Pagoda comes into being in Mumbai at an opportune time when the city has been freshly ravaged by terrorism and is in need of peace. Vipassana sadhaks never miss an opportunity to underline the secular and universal nature of meditation. While it is associated with the Buddha, its appeal and nature is shown to be scientific and not belief-based, much like hatha yoga. What is interesting, is that unlike many other modern meditation teachings, Vipassana is taught free. Even the boarding and lodging are provided free of cost. It is only after the rigorous 10-day beginner course where the practitioner is meant to lead a puritanical, monk-like life while observing ‘noble silence’ (total silence without words, gestures, or writing) that a donation is accepted. One of the trustees, Vallabh Bhanshali, points out that both the Global Pagoda and the 145 Vipassana centres around the world are primarily built with the donations from grateful Vipassana sadhaks after experiencing its benefits.
The Global Pagoda stands tall overlooking the sea in suburban Mumbai, not only as an architectural delight but more importantly as a spiritual lighthouse for those looking for direction. A treasure awaits those who can go within – not just the pagoda, but themselves.
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