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10 best Vipassana centres in India

अत्तदीपा विहरथ अत्तसरणा अनञ्‍ञसरणा।

धम्मदीपा विहरथ धम्मसरणा अनञ्‍ञसरणा।।

-Make an island of yourself, make yourself your refuge; there is no other refuge.

-Make truth your island, make truth your refuge; there is no other refuge.

Covid-19 feels as though it’s paused the passage of time. During the lockdown, instead of change, there is sameness laced with an all-pervading anxiety. The pandemic has turned into commonplace behaviour, like going for a walk or giving someone a hug, and it feels dangerous. It’s taken away our sense of freedom. “There is no real time to unwind. It isn’t so much because of lack of clear demarcation between work days and weekends as much as the constant uncertainty we all are living in From time to time, we all experience agitation, frustration and disharmony. When we suffer, we do not keep our misery limited to ourselves; instead, we keep distributing it to others.

Vipassana enables us to experience peace and harmony by purifying the mind, freeing it from suffering and the deep-seated causes of suffering. Step by step, the practice leads to the highest spiritual goal of full liberation from all mental defilements. It is a type of yoga exercise, a guided Meditation retreat.

The practice of Vipassana meditation involves following the principles of Dhamma/ Dharma, the universal law of nature. It involves walking on the noble eightfold path, which is broadly categorised into Sila (Morality), Samadhi (concentration) and Pañña (wisdom, insight). To learn Vipassana, it is necessary to take a ten-day residential course under the guidance of a qualified teacher. The courses are conducted at established Vipassana Centers and other non-center locations.

During the entire duration of the retreat, students remain within the course site having no contact with the outer world. They refrain from reading and writing, and suspend all religious practices or other disciplines. During the course, participants follow a prescribed Code of Discipline.

There are many people like Swami Sivananda, Ramdev baba and famous actor like shilpa shetty who practises yoga, meditation and fitness yoga. With the hit of the world pandemic, everything is uncertain. One surely can try your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle at your home. But that also means added work pressure, household chores and a definite toll on mental health. So for the purification of the mind, It is the highest form of awareness—the total perception of the mind-matter phenomena in its true nature is much needed. Here are the top ten vipassana centres we need to unwind post covid.

  1. The Dhamma Pattana Vipassana, Mumbai.

The Dhamma Pattana Vipassana meditation center is part of the magnificent Global Pagoda complex that opened in 2009 near the beach-side Gorai, in the outer northern suburbs of Mumbai. The building is modern, and all rooms are equipped with western facilities and air conditioning. The distinctive feature of the 10-day course taught here is that it's specifically geared towards business executives and professionals. The technique is the same but the course contains additional talks related to using Vipassana principles for dealing with stresses of the business world. The courses fill up very fast and must be booked well in advance.

2. Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri- Nashik.

The world's largest Vipassana meditation center, known as Dhamma Giri, is located at the Vipassana Research Institute at Igatpuri in Maharashtra. It's around three hours from Mumbai and is accessible by train. The center offered its first course to the public in 1976, and now tens of thousands study there every year. The 10-day courses are always in high demand. Despite the center's substantial size, there's a pervasive feeling of peace all around. Over 400 cells are available for individual meditation, which is appealing for those who want to undertake intensive practice in solitude away from other people. The accommodations range from dormitory rooms to single occupancy rooms. Dhamma Thali has the largest capacity after Dhamma Giri in Igatpuri and can accommodate 200 students. This center is also one of the oldest ones in India. Its sprawling campus was built in 1977, amid hills on the outskirts of Jaipur near the Galta Monkey Temple. Students appreciate the center's serene location, and the fact that it's frequented by peacocks and friendly monkeys. About 20% of students are foreigners. The center has a rustic appeal with stone walkways running through it, four meditation halls (two large and two small), and a pagoda with 200 meditation cells. There are single and shared accommodations of varying standards. The newer rooms have western toilets and showers, while you can expect buckets and squat toilets in the others. Make sure you arrive early to increase your chances of getting a good room.

3) Dhamma Bodhi, Bodh Gay- Bihar.

If you fancy meditating at the place where Lord Buddha became enlightened, head to Dhamma Bodhi Vipassana meditation center in Bodh Gaya, Bihar. The recently expanded compound is set on 18 acres of grounds to the west of town, surrounded by agricultural fields near Magadh University. 10-day courses generally start on the first and 16th of every month. There's space for around 80 students at a time. November to February are the busiest months, with foreigners from all over the world attending. Accommodations are provided in single or double cottages with attached bathrooms. The beneficial thing about studying Vipassana meditation in Bodh Gaya is that courses in Buddhist philosophy are also provided by other local organizations. This is convenient for those with an interest in Buddhism.

4) Dhamma Sikhara, Dharamasala