“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” – J.K

Aligning to the above quote of the legendary writer J.K, Vikasa Retreat was a plethora of learning. Every second starting from the travel, food, stay and the people we met in these 10 days journey was a huge learning to all of us I believe. Starting this article presenting my gratitude to the College management, CLED, OSA, Anaadi Foundation and the Vikasa fellows for providing me this opportunity to explore. More than a retreat, I would prefer saying this was the exploration of inner self at the Yoga Capital of the world, sacred land of rishis – Rishikesh. There are few moments in life which you will never forget and wish to cherish the moments again and again. One such is the Vikasa Leadership Retreat for me and I personally had a greater understanding about the life and the purpose of living. It was an experiential learning and we came across various perceptions about Life, Leadership and Karma.

About Rishikesh:

Rishikesh, a most tranquil place in northern Uttarakhand, surrounded by hills and bisected by the wide and sluggish Ganges, is often claimed as the `Yoga Capital of the World’. Back in the 1960s Rishikesh gained instant fame as the site where The Beatles came to stay with their guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It is an excellent place to meditate and study yoga. Rishikesh has long been a spiritual centre.
Rishikesh is also known as gateway to the Char Dham. Char Dham is four popular holy temples on the hills (Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri) Thousands of people attracted every year to Rishikesh for spiritual relief, peace, learn yoga, adventure and to take a dip for salvation. The famous among them were Beatles, Kate Winslet and many more others celebrities. It is believed that by meditation in Rishikesh one can get “Moksha” (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth) as well as by holy dip in the river Ganges.

For the adventurous, there are opportunities for white water rafting on the Ganga, Bungy Jumping. The climate here is continental type but its location in the foot hills gives it a pleasant weather throughout the year. One can visit Rishikesh any time of the year.

About Anaadi Foundation:

Anaadi Foundation is a Socio-spiritual organization dedicated to Self-Unfoldment of individuals. Anaadi in Sanskrit means “beginning-less”. The programs offered by Anaadi Foundation are aimed at inspiring young people to lead a self-reliant, sustainable and fulfilled life. Anaadi Foundation offers educational programs and conducts active research based on Indian Sciences including Indian Astronomy, Ayurveda, Cognitive-
Neurosciences from a Yogic Perspective, and Indic ecology. The programs at Anaadi are woven with scientific, historic and psycho-social insights from the Ithihasa and Purana making the content relatable and relevant to a modern audience.

Vikasa Indic Youth Leadership program, summer Himalayan Yatra and Sustainability Immersion Program are flagship programs of the foundation. Anaadi Foundation also conducts Indian Sciences seminar series for school and college students on the achievements and depth of Indic sciences. Education-Rural and Indic, Well-being, Culture and Sustainability are the focus areas of Anaadi Foundation.

Vikasa Leadership Retreat:

Vikasa Leadership Retreat is an experiential learning. The Ithihasa and the Purana are the glorious past that always guide us and sail towards success. This Leadership Retreat clearly helped us to witness the glory and the extra-ordinary messages, lessons from the past. The experiential learning helped us to relate the glorious past with the present life and the governance aspects.
We discussed a lot on the various leaders of Mahabharata and their characteristics. Every chapter and the happenings in the Mahabharata remind us the purpose of life. To attain the purpose of life we need to follow certain things which will lead you to attain the purpose of life.
These are Seven Points/takeaways that I extracted from this experiential learning and wanted to share:

1. Knowledge is blessing, Ignorance Is Sin. There should always be a continuous learning!
2. Karma is a Boomerang – what you sow, you reap!
3. The Pursuit of Knowledge is eternal!
4. The whole idea of life is to attain the knowledge & knowing the one’s own inner-self!
5. The life is to challenge ourselves and pushing our own limits consistently!
6. The one who lives a balance life balancing Dharma, Artha and Kaama attains the Moksha. Moksha is attained when one overcomes ignorance and the desires in life!
7. Being Happy or Sad is always our decision. Always take that decision consciously. What you believe, you become!

This might look cliché but seriously when you relate your life with these principles you might feel the relevance of them in your life. One would have crossed all these principles at least once in your life.

To be a leader and imbibe the leadership qualities, one must have experienced all the above. Apart from these principles one thing that I liked a lot was the short stories from Mahabharata and Ramayana which picturized how the constitution of a territory, policy/process, cultural exchanges is linked with the Ithihasa/Purana. The leader figures like Krishna, Arjuna, Yudhistar, Draupathi and their characteristics were well explained.

There were many moral takeaways from the Ithihasa.The three which I liked the most were:

1. Transform your weakness into strength
2. Align individual Goals to organisation’s Goals
3. Quality vs Quantity

Transform your weakness into strength: Pandavas transformed their weaknesses to strengths during the fourteen years of exile. Mahabharata gives many examples to highlight the importance of utilizing time to overcoming your skills like how Arjuna went on a mission to attain the Divyastras or Yudhisthira mastered the Game of Dice. You need to have the passion to dedicate adequate time to learn those skills that can help you overcome your weakness only by which you can be a great manager.
Align individual Goals to organisation’s Goals: Every team member should have individual goals cascaded down from a single Goal and vision of the team. Team members thus feel that their contributions are valuable in achieving the objective/Goal.

Quality vs Quantity: Dhuriyodhana is one of the important character in Mahabharata. In one of the instances he and Arjuna comes face to face with Lord Krishna to provide with the fact that who needs what. To choose between Him or the Aksouni Sainya. Dhuriyodhana chose the Akshouni Sainya and Arjuna chose the Lord himself.Thus, even when Kaurava had 11 armies they could not outperform the Pandavas. Pandavas with the help of Krishna understood the importance of having right person in the right place to win the war. The effectiveness of the business largely depends on the leader’s ability to put the right person at the right place at the right time
In Mahabharata, even when Pandavas and Kauravas had the same goal of defeating each other. The Pandavas were better coordinated as everyone had individual roles in the battle. However on the other side Kauravas had individual motives to soothe their egos in the battle.

Apart from leadership, policy making, life principles we also got opportunity to explore the Vedic mathematics and the interlinked Indic astronomy/astrology. Thanks to Mr.Soorya Narayanan for spending your valuable time with us in-spite your busy research schedule. Thanks to Mr.Venkatapathy and Ms.Varalaxmi for spending your valuable time and ensuring we all get accustomed to the place, do the routine Aasanas/exercises.

Thanks to Ms.Prajna Cauvery for walking us through the Sustainability Initiatives. Thanks Mr.Shyam for running us quickly through policy making through Mahabharatha. Also Thanks for giving Insights for looking the possible sciences from Vedha to use them for the future progression instead looking Vedhas as just a past. Whole Anaadi team were like our mentors and guided us very well during this retreat.
Apart from the life principles we also experienced the Sathvik food, Yogic Meditations, Pranayama, Surya Namaskar and Asanas. These were few that gave us rejuvenation. The 7 days just went off in a flash. Only few places and the people will always be filled with the positive vibrations. I felt and experienced the same in Kriya Tapovan where I had my extra-ordinary 7 days of my life. I must also certainly mention about our excursions to Paramartha Nikethan Ashram and Vasista Guha.

Ganga Arthi at Paramartha Niketan in the banks of glorious Ganges was amazing. Worshiping the mother nature in the form of river with vibrant chanting was amazing and that was the fantastic start to this visionary decade. Visit to Vasishta Guha filled our soul with holy and positive vibes as we had dip in the Mother Ganges. The visit to Vasishta Cave was calm, serene and in a way ardent.

Thanks to Anaadi Foundation for giving us such an amazing experience, plethora of experiential learning and I extend my sincere gratitude to Guru Shri. Adi Narayanan Ji for sharing your wisdom with us in an elegant way of teaching. I personally felt like an ardent disciple and I still wish to learn more from you. Thanks to all the members from Anaadi foundation who helped us in various ways during this soulful journey to Rishikesh.