Bellur 2010

 

Am einnehmendsten die Kinder: Barfuss laufen sie uns an den Feldern des Dorfrands entgegen und begleiten unsere kleine Prozession lautstark bis zum Tempel.

 

 

 

 

Impressions Bellur 2010

By the name B.K.S. Iyengar we interconnect the greatest living Yoga teacher of our time and the venue of his legacy, Poona. But only few know where Iyengar comes from. Even though he carries his birth place in the first initial of his forename: B for Bellur. A small village in the south of India, two hours drive from Bangalore, where he was born in 1918. There, no road is paved, the houses are small and none of them makes it above two stories. The villagers usually share their home with their cattle, separated only by a simple wall. The major source of income is agriculture and the stone quarry. Many children from Bellur are being sent there to work - for the reward of a warm meal.

B.K.S. Iyengar let the water supply be installed and erected a spacious campus on the village's border which houses a hospital, a secondary school, a boarding house for doctors and teachers, a dwelling for himself (his birth place inside the village has crumpled meanwhile) and will soon also favor a college. Inside the village he has erected a school for the smallest children and a town hall for weddings, festivities and such.

300 children from Bellur and its surroundings are being taught in the Primary School and 300 are being educated, fed, clothed for the schooling semester and given the necessary materials in the Secondary School. The education is free of charge. By this concept of care Iyengar convinced the parents to send their children to school instead of to the quarry and provide the degree of education that allows them later to take their destinies into their own hands.

And Iyengar's engagement targets the mental and spiritual growth, besides the material care for his home community. In the village center, he installed a small temple district with a  Planets-, Hanuman- and a Patanjali temple, the only one of its kind in the world. The restoration of a neighboring 300 year-old Shiva shrine is his next project.

Germany

What begins every morning like a walk to the Patanjali temple becomes a firm ritual which stipulates the rhythm of the day. The walk will lead us to the people of the village, watching us with shy curiosity first, but soon after with an unashamed joy as if we were old acquaintances. Most of us are in India for the first time and will be impressed by the different life, the friendliness of people that are not accustomed to have visitors from Europe. As many hardly speak English we communicate by simple sentences, gestures and mimic. There will always be the inviting movement of the hand to follow into the house, drink some tea and share the food.

The adjoining Puja and Fire ceremony opens a spiritual world for us that is mostly uncommon with Western people. Framed by the morning and the evening Puja our practice takes place in the school-integrated Yogashala under the portraits of  B.K.S. Iyengar and his wife Ramamani whose memory the centre in Bellur is donated to.

Openness and hospitality are omnipresent throughout our stay. Mr. Govinda, his wife Samitra, all teachers, doctors, nurses and guards have been like patron saints to us, caring for us, providing everything and touching us emotionally. For them our visit was a matter of the heart and it became one for us.

like putting on a complicated sari, going through the not less complicated process of acquiring a phone card, first aid or the personal Puja for the deceased father in law of a fellow traveler, attended by half the village population. For this Puja the ancient Shiva temple was unlocked. Three priests conducted the grieving ceremony throughout which prayers, flower offerings and recitals were interwoven with the smoke from countless butter lamps into a vivid impression of Hindu spirituality.

Our hosts would not cease in their care for us until they had us picked up after the several hours of ceremony, in the middle of the night, by the ambulance truck from the institute.

The circles of our quest widened slowly. A first bus ride to Bangalore

We were seen off with an exceptional performance in Bellur. Natarajasana, Rajakapotasana, Kurmasana, Vasishthasana and similar difficult Asanas were demonstrated by students of the  Ramamani Iyengar Secondary School, devotedly, self-evidently and competently. A unique performance and an eminent moment that made us feel that all of us, independent of location and time, nationality and age are united by a comon tie: the Yoga as it is taught by B.K.S. Iyengar.

From Bellur our way led us to the palace of the Maharajah in MysoreKrishnamacharya, taught the Maharajah's family and was active as a scholar. Trailing the tracks of Vishnu follower Iyengar we visit two of the most beautiful Hindu temples of South India in Belur und Somanathpur as well as the Jain sanctuary in Sravana Belgola.

The apogee of our travel comes by meeting with B.K.S. Iyengar in person during the Annual Day on 23rd January in Poona. This is where the circle closes in a fascinating way: from the birth place to the recent domain of this great person and teacher.