I flew into Bangalore in order to get to Prashanti Kutiram, a Swami Vivekananda yoga ashram/university, located 30km away from the bustling city centre. By the way, Bangalore has since changed its name to Bengaluru.
I was travelling with a small group of yoga teachers from Singapore and a minivan kindly came to pick us up at the airport. After that it was a scenic ride into the countryside till we reached the edge of dense forest.
Prashanti Kutiram is founded and headed by Dr. Nagendra. Our stay there included attending his lectures and he never failed to impress us with his vast knowledge of yoga especially the science behind the healing and therapeutic effects that yoga is said to have. So, by creating this university dedicated to yoga research, he’s doing a great service by convincing sceptics that it really works. Needless to say, he’s very well regarded as an authority on yoga therapy.
Research is ongoing with data collected from running a daily health centre where all manner of folks will come with all manner of ailments for yoga therapy. We only assisted in small ways due to the fact that we were busy enough with our own program – Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. Those who helped to conduct the sessions included students from their degree programs and those who have graduated. Naturally, participants were highly encouraged to attend diligently till they were discharged.
Programs at Prashanti Kutiram
As a Category A deemed university, Prashanti Kutiram runs yoga programs at undergraduate and graduate levels. We met a girl from Singapore who was nearing the end of her first year there. She had another 2 more years to go till she graduates from the Bachelor program. We were very impressed with her choice of studies, to come all this way for a degree in yoga. The passion! We all felt she had made an excellent choice because Prashanti Kutiram is dedicated to the study of yoga based on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. That’s a very rich Raja Yoga tradition to belong to!
Dormitory and surroundings
We each had a room in the multi-storeyed dormitory. With solar energy heating up the water supply during the day we were ensured we had hot showers in the evenings but only till the water runs out. It was winter while we were there and so it was logical for the hostel to allow hot water for showers only during the evening. During the day, it was so cool that it felt we were walking in a giant naturally air-conditioned environment. You hardly perspired. And any self-respecting yogi wouldn’t find a cold morning shower a problem! All are rooms came with en-suite toilet and shower.
We met students from all over the world staying at the dorm and each had a fascinating story to tell about their choice of an undergraduate program in yoga. To be able to spend 3 years in such a fantastic environment. The entire university is situated right in the middle of a forest with farms all around. Pristine and beautiful.
Arriving there in winter wasn’t as cold as in the north, still, the wind can be chilly towards the end of the day. Showers are then down to just once in the evening when water has been sufficiently heated by the solar panels and the hot water is turned on. But supply is usually limited and thank goodness for our little kettles which we had brought along. That really helped so that we didn’t have to depend on the main hot water supply.
I really liked the place a lot. Peaceful and quiet with a daily routine of chanting the Gita (and that is indeed soul-moving), lectures, classroom sessions, walks, eating in the mess hall, and of course sitting at the feet of the monks as they discoursed about life and its meaning, drawing from the teachings of Vedanta so that we learn to live a better life as human beings. With the monks in residence, and the way the daily routine is set up, the place is really like an ashram in addition to being a university. That’s an awesome combination in my opinion.
And of course, there are the walks into the forest whenever we had the time. There are clear trails to follow and as long as you keep to them, you are quite safe. Sometimes, I would meet villagers along the trail.
You can also arrange for a taxi to go to the city should you need to buy any toiletries that their little sundry shop didn’t have. Frankly, there is no real reason to go because the university even has an internet cafe. The only time we left the grounds was to head to Puttaparthi to spend a day and night at Sai Baba’s ashram. Otherwise, like I said, we were busy enough with our own program.
Go, if you get the chance
Would I encourage you to go? Certainly. If you are looking to deepen your practice in a traditional as well as scientific way, then look no further.
~ ॐ ~