from Hindustan Times:
Compared to the other metros, the last one year has seen a remarkable growth of the spiritual phenomenon in Kolkata.
And if one goes by the figures alone, the city elders and the youth have got hooked to the meditation sessions being conducted free of cost by the International Society for Krishna Conciousness (ISKCON) in various parts of the city.
At present, the ISKCON is conducting meditation sessions in more than 64 centres located in various parts of the city like Behala, Lake Town, Dum Dum, Howrah, Salt Lake, Jadavpur, Minto Park, etc. And the ISKCON authorities said that by the end of this year the number of meditation centres would be increased to 100.
In 2004, there were 16 meditation centres, in 2005 it was 32 and by the end of 2006, there were 64 meditation centres centres in the city.
Called the Mahamantra (Hare Krishna) meditation, each class has 15 to 20 participants and one teacher-monk from the ISKCON. Every week, the ISKCON conducts aruond 70 classes. The participants meditate for 15 minutes in the meditation class and then they are asked to meditate daily for 30 minutes.
“This is an unique form of meditation which has been taken from Dhyana Yoga of the Bhagwata Gita. People meditate on the transcendental sound vibratation of Hare Krishna. In this city, it is the middle class comprising professionals and businessmen who are taking this meditation class,” said Ashreya Gouranga Das of ISKCON.
A special meditation session is conducted in the ISKCON headquarters in the city at Minto Park. Here, every Sunday, between 10 am to 5 pm, 100 disciples meditate on Mahamantra. Most of the discipiles after completing their meditation session have lunch (prasadam of the Hare Krishna deity) there before returning home.
“With time, people of all age and profession are realising that meditation helps them to get mental peace and directs them on the right path in their search for the supreme truth. This form of meditation is a huge craze at Mumbai and Delhi, but Kolkata is also catching up fast,” said ISKCON senior monk Varada Krisna Dasa.
Apart from holding meditation sessions for the city people, ISKCON is also taking meditation classes for the students of IIM-Joka, IIT (Kharagpur), Institute of Advanced Management and medical colleges of the city. Conducted by the International Youth Forum of the ISKCON, these classes vary from one day to six months.
ISKCON has set up a medtation centre near IIT (Kharagpur) where more than 50 students before going to their classes, engage in meditation for 2 hrs in the morning. In IIM (Joka), around 20 students at a time take the meditation class of the ISKCON.
In these meditation classes, the students are taught the “Art of Man Control”, “Stress Management”, “Self Discovery” and “Personality Development”. The ISKCON believes, since the students are engaged in tough competitive studies and jobs, the meditation helps them to relax. The meditation helps them to develop higher intellect and spirituality.
“Material life at one point of time leads to frustration. But meditation helps in the growth of the mind and the body, and provides the much-needed tonic required for relaxation. Meditation also increases concentration power, develop focussed approach towards studies and helps to give up mad habits like drug addiction,” said the ISKCON monk Anaga Mohan Das.