Seva Kendra Ladnun

Posted: 29.01.2007
Updated on: 02.07.2015


LADNUN

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When H. H. Acharya Mahaprajnaji on the first day of Maryada Mahotsav 2007 announced the name of Sadhvishree Kanchan Prabhaji to do service in the eldest Seva Kendra Ladnun, a long forgotten impression regained actuality & made me search in the archives of HereNow4U.In 2000, during my first visit to spiritual India, Swami Dharmanandji had arranged a trip together to Maryada Mahotsav at Taranagar, Rajasthan. Prehistory

The prehistory to this trip was as remarkable as the trip itself. During her visit to Berlin in 1997, Samani Madhur Pragyaji had awakened my interest for Preksha Meditation. However, time to make a trip to India had not yet come. So, I forgot about all for two years (!). In autumn 1999 only I remembered the books on Preksha Meditation she had handed over to me two years ago, and I started practising on my own. However, I felt the need for further instruction after some time.

In a full-moon night in the first week of January 2000, I saw a big airplane and then an Indian landscape in the sky. The landscape was Rajasthan, as I immediately got to know from my inner. When I reported this to Aparigraha, he simply responded, “OK, now it’s time for your first spiritual trip to India.” I wondered if it would be possible to go on my own, but he encouraged me, “The first trip is best to go without any other company than the Self.” No sooner said than done.

During the next week, my only preparations were booking the flight, getting visa formalities done and making a phone call to Adhyatma Sadhna Kendra. The Kendra's address was noted on a flyer I had received with the books from Samani Madhur Pragyaji in case of looking for further informations. My call to Jain Vishva Bharati Ladnun (JVB Ladnun) noted on another flyer stayed unanswered. Swami Dharmanandji in Delhi had swept away all my doubts by saying, “Please, come!”

When I was there, he asked me if I was interested to participate in a religious festival. When I learned that this would be an occasion to encounter H.H. Acharya Mahaprajna, I happily agreed, as I was eager to meet the initiator of Preksha Meditation.

Another interest was to visit Jain Vishva Bharati Institute (JVBI), deemed University in Ladnun, Rajasthan. When I tried to find Ladnun on the map, it was more not much more difficult in 2000 than it is now. When I got to know that Ladnun is situated between Jaipur and Jodhpur, my interest grew when I learned that Ladnun is a little town in a rural area at the semi-arid outskirts of the desert Thar. Who would be audacious enough to establish an university at the rural outskirts of a desert?!

In Taranagar was my first encounter with H.H. Acharya Mahaprajna (resulting in a complete change of our lives!). As Acharyas of Terapanth Sangh, he and his predecessor, Acharya Tulsi, were and are the spiritual rectors of the university I wanted to visit. As Maryada Mahotsav would start in three days only, I took the opportunity to ask for a lift to Ladnun where I intended to stay for 3 days. Swami Dharmanandji, the great organiser, told me the evening of our arrival in Taranagar that someone from Ladnun who has agreed to take me along in his car would get back home the same night. Some time after Swami Dharmanandji was already on his way back to Delhi, we started to Ladnun. My lift was a medical doctor practising on the campus of Jain Vishva Bharati. What a ride in the starlit night through the desert! We arrived in Ladnun about midnight and the doctor accomodated me in his house, where he lived in a joint family with his wife, sons and grandchildren.

Next morning, it was Sunday, they took me to the campus of Jain Vishva Bharati and accommodated me in Tulsi Adhyatma Needam. I was captivated by the beautiful park and very surprised by the amount of trees (and peacocks) in it. My surprise was increasing, when I learned that the whole campus was deserted because everybody had gone to Taranagar for Guru Darshan of H.H.!

This Sunday seemed to be endless. Thinking of the remaining days, I wondered if I would be able to meditate as much as time was available. Everybody tried to guess what I wanted there, but it was difficult to find a common language, apparently, all fluently English-speaking persons were in Taranagar for the weekend.

Then a couple visited the Needam, took me for a short sightseeing to town and recommended visit of Seva Kendra to me, as at least there would be some nuns who would be happy to receive me.

Seva Kendra

What a Monday! From early morning up to 14:00 (recommended time for the visit), I felt like a child being about to be taken to its father’s office for the first time. At 14:00, I passed the gate of JVB campus, moved to the right and proceeded towards my destination. I was told that Seva Kendra easily can be reached after some minutes of walk.

On the street, I met a goup of 16-years-old who wondered in their language (which I do not understand, yet body language and spoken tone) why I was walking alone on their street.

I missed the building, but felt immediately that I had missed it. The 16-years-old were as helpful in finding, as relieved in knowing my destination.

There it was! Nothing special at first sight, but I still was so excited that I forgot to take photo of the entrance, what we did in 2005 on our first walk to town.

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In my memory this photo shows exactly my first impression of Seva Kendra in 2000. In the courtyard near the entrance, Sadhvishrees were occupied with some work. When I approached, they smiled at me as if they were waiting for me since quite some time.

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They took me inside the building, where another group practised perfect cooperation by making threads again out of white Saris. This remembered my mother to me, making yarn again from my undersized sweaters. When doing this with sweaters, one has to hold up the two arms (my part as a child), while the other is furling the clue of yarn. That is how it goes with WOOL.

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However, this was tiny cotton thread! One has to remember exactly the sequence in which the threads from different ends have to be handled! Sadhvishrees were very amused when they noticed my admiration. They were perfectly coordinating the stages of the process, a work special enough to bring one near to despair, because one either has to handle the chaos, as well as to start the whole work new when the sequence is not observed. The most difficult job is the middle position, as here all the different ends come together and have to be managed masterly to get any result of this masterpiece of concentration aiming at being useful for further sewing.

When we went to the first floor, one Sadhvi pointed at my camera with a questioning gesture, asking in body language if I intended to take photos upstairs. My mind was occupied just this moment if this would be permitted.

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Those senior nuns who felt too tired to participate in other activities were meditating or relaxing.

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Others were painting Jain symbols and composing beautiful pictures out of them.

I noticed the tension free atmosphere and immediately felt relaxed and homely. Even the thought of getting older was not as usually accompanied with mixed feelings, but with the thought, ‘that’s how it should and can be at the end of this journey through life’. Never before I had the same feeling inside an institution where old people are looked after. Even the air was fresh and full of energy, transporting the information 'we are humans and masters of our life'. Unlike during other visits to institutions caring for senior people, no sadness rose in me, there was only the insight that on this planet everything is limited in its existence. I wondered how I ever could forget.

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Then the Sadhvishrees, I sincerely apologise for not having noted down their names, showed a choice of handcrafted objects to me, bowls from coconut shells, coloured with tiny brushes and hand-mixed colours. Some had Mantras or prayers in minuscule letters, looking like ornaments from far. All senior Sadhvishrees still were trying to manufacture all kinds of objects for their brothers' and sisters' daily use. Their younger sisters gave assistance to those whose fingers did no more move as usual. I had the impression to visit a big family where everyone is treated with respect and dignity. No loud words, no fast movements, the bodily manifestation of life slowed down cheerfully.

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As most of them observed fast in the week of Maryada Mahotsav, my visit was not limited by any eating time. Nevertheless, when I looked on my watch for the first time during my sojourn, 3,5 hours had passed! This did not not correspond at all to my sense of time. I would have stayed even longer, but felt that 3,5 hours was enough for an unannounced visit. There was something special in the atmosphere of the building, which was not yet disclosed to me, but made me regret that it was time to leave.

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During our 2005 Ladnun visit, in the week of Maryada Mahotsav we were invited for lunch at the former Bengani family seat. From the balcony there we took this photo from the backside of the Seva Kendra. Mr. Bengani explained to us that it was here where spiritual gatherings under guidance of Acharya Tulsi were held and where Munishree Nathmal, now Acharya Mahaprajna, conducted the first Preksha Meditation Camps. When the new campus of JVB Ladnun was bought and the construction works were completed, the former JVB building was answering the needs of time and became Seva Kendra.

By writing this article, when all the memories flew back to my mind, I felt again this extraordinary atmosphere in the building.

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