Ascend The Mind – And Transcend Life

Posted: 30.07.2009
Updated on: 02.12.2010

About the joy of pilgrimage

Life is a pilgrimage. We are launched into it, and through the help of friends, family and society, we somehow find our feet and learn to enjoy the journey. For Jains, one of the most sacred places for pilgrimage is Palitana – an entire city of temples on top of Mount Shatrunjaya in Gujarat. The journey is arduous – not just getting there, but also the steep climb in the hot sun – 3,500 steps in all. Whilst climbing it, I was reminded of my past, my successes,  trials and tribulations, and reaching the summit was for me pure joy and a sense of huge achievement.


http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/persons/Dr._Atul_K._Shah/Ascend_The_Mind/Climbing_the_3_500_steps_to_Moksha_and_Liberation.jpg
Climbing the 3,500 steps to Moksha and Liberation

Like the external journey, there is an inner pilgrimage. Who am I? What am I on this planet for? What should I be doing with my life? Where lies lasting peace and happiness? Having been born a Jain, I feel so fortunate to have inherited this beautiful culture and philosophy of wisdom, and Palitana for me is a truly sublime expression of all that is beautiful and precious in life.

My journey started in London, and after flights, transfers and road travel, I arrived at the Taleti (the valley of Mount Shatrunjaya). I decided to stay at the beautiful new dharamshala (abode of spirit), Kasturdham, built and sponsored by many Jains from the UK and Kenya, whom I know personally. From the moment I arrived, I felt at home. And at peace. My visit coincided with the start of the festival of Chaumasa – the four month rainy season, when monks and nuns are required to stay in one place and not move from village to village. This festival is also a time when ordinary people like myself can come and spend time with the saints, benefit from their wisdom, and deepen our personal quest for enlightenment and liberation. India is the world capital of spiritual festivals, and to experience one personally is the rarest of joys.

To climb the spirit, we need to respect the body. Every day, the body needs food, shelter and clothing. Only when these basic needs are met, do we have the time and possibility of focusing on the divine. At Kasturdham, every effort is made to facilitate this ascent. The accommodation is amazingly clean and spotless, the rooms are spacious and comfortable, and the food is fresh, delicious and nourishing. There is no excuse for stress – it goes away the moment you arrive.


http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/persons/Dr._Atul_K._Shah/Ascend_The_Mind/Exterior_of_Kasturdham_Complex.jpg
Exterior of Kasturdham Complex


http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/persons/Dr._Atul_K._Shah/Ascend_The_Mind/A_Sadhvi__nun__reading_and_reflecting_during_Chaumasa.jpg
A Sadhvi (nun) reading and reflecting during Chaumasa


http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/persons/Dr._Atul_K._Shah/Ascend_The_Mind/Fresh_food_lovingly_prepared_and_served.jpg
Fresh food lovingly prepared and served


There were over one hundred monks and nuns staying in the complex when I arrived – a sea of white, an ocean of peace. Kasturdham was inspired by Acharya Vajransanvijayji and Guru Hemprabhuji, spiritual leaders of the Halari Visa Oshwal community. They had left their worldly life many years ago, to focus on spiritual upliftment and to raise society to new heights of ahimsa and respect for all life. Their very presence electrified the atmosphere, enabling all of us to introspect. The charity of Jains is such that anyone wishing to stay in the complex for the entire festival, could do so for free, so that no money is required for those committed to their deep inner journey.


http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/persons/Dr._Atul_K._Shah/Ascend_The_Mind/The_Interior_of_Kasturdham_Complex.jpg
The Interior of Kasturdham Complex


http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/persons/Dr._Atul_K._Shah/Ascend_The_Mind/Acharya_Vajrasanvijayji.jpg
Acharya Vajrasanvijayji


http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/persons/Dr._Atul_K._Shah/Ascend_The_Mind/A_young_novice_contemplating_his_spiritual_future.jpg
A young novice contemplating his spiritual future?


For women, coming to Kasturdham is a unique opportunity. In Indian culture, the worldly duties and responsibilities of motherhood are very tough, and especially so due to their role in feeding the family. I had always seen that at religious events, the number of women attending outnumbered men by at least five times, and it was clear that they were the ones with the greatest love for spiritual wisdom and the hunger for its realisation. At Kasturdham, they could forget the burden of cooking and cleaning, and rest, recharge and ascend the vast spiritual journey that lies ahead. They have the opportunity  to make this their last life on the Universe, and help them attain the state of Moksha or everlasting freedom and immortality.

http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/persons/Dr._Atul_K._Shah/Ascend_The_Mind/Kasturben_Shah_from_Nairobi.jpg

Kasturben Shah from Nairobi, the lady whose financial  support made it all happen


As a writer, broadcaster and educator of timeless wisdom, I see in Kasturdham a huge launchpad for peace and prosperity. Here, values like charity, community, seva (selfless service), simplicity, beauty, respect for all life, were not just theoretical ideals – I saw them being lived and practiced in front of my very eyes. Come from all corners of the world to rest here. Leave your burdens and worries away to just stop and reflect. Start the inner journey with friends and family – have group discussions, meetings, group meditations and prayers. Use Kasturdham to focus on that which is real and everlasting in life and to declutter your life from all that is false and misleading. And believe me, your moksha will start right here in this life.


http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/persons/Dr._Atul_K._Shah/Ascend_The_Mind/A_view_of_Mount_Shatrunjaya_from_Nilam_Vilas.jpg
A view of Mount Shatrunjaya from Nilam Vilas, the new building donated by Mr. & Mrs. Lalit Doshi of Mombasa


Let us embark on this epic and meaningful journey, and attain liberation in this life.

Kasturdham address:

Taleti Road, Nr. Khimibhai Dharmsala, Plot No.3, Palitana, 364270, Gujarat.

Transport:

Regular flights from Mumbai to Bhavnagar and then 40km taxi to Palitana.
Alternatively, Rajkot is approx 150km away and there are regular buses from there.

Tel: 00-91-2848 242231
Manager: Bhavesh Sanghavi;     
Trustee: Mr. Ramnik Shah
Website: www.kasturdham.org
Email: adijinsevatrust(at)rediffmail.com

Visitors Locations

Click on map to enlarge...