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In ancient Indian times the order of society and the worlds around it was kept through the regular practice of sacrificial Vedic fire ceremonies called yagna. These sacrifices made for a more harmonious balance between man and Nature.
On a smaller more personal level sages and spiritual masters were doing sacrifices in the wild. These hermits lived in the vana, or forests where they undertook a personal endeavor in order to achieve a certain goal. This practice is known as tapasya, and the space or clearing in the vana where they practiced was called the tapovana, or grove of worship. Today, Monks and Gurus in the east practice tapasya as a means to purify and strengthen their devotion to God in order to achieve Nirvana, or moksha. A tapasya can also be the act of striving for perfection in a sport, field of knowledge or work. It can also be undertaken to liberate oneself from karma, or the consequences of ones actions, leading to peace within.
Since the beginning of time the earth has gone through changing yugas, or ages. In the land of Bharata, or India there are four yugas. Dharma, or righteousness is perfect in the krita yuga. But in the treta yuga, adharma, evil enters the world and the fibers of time begin to decay. Things worsen further in the dwapara yuga. Finally, the kali yuga, the fourth age, is almost entirely corrupt, dharma barely surviving.
In Indian mythology, whenever times are at their worst, it is believed that a divine incarnation, or an avatar of the God Vishnu is sent to the earth in order to restore Dharma. During a time of adharma, Vishnu, the blue savior in the Indian Trinity, was born as a human prince, Rama, in order to rid the world of darkness. Set in the forested India of prehistoric time is India’s most beloved and enduring legend, The Ramayana. It recounts the story of the great price Rama: his banishment to the vana, or forest; the abduction of his wife, Sita, by the powerful demon Ravana; and Rama’s rescue of her. Rama’s heroic deeds have been the source of inspiration for countless generations of Indians and millions of others worldwide. His path embodies the essence of virtue and spirituality and serves as a code of ethics for people all around the globe.
Rama himself is the Maryada Purushottama, perfect man. This is so because he is God incarnate. Yet, because of who he is and because his mission is to save humankind, he must sacrifice a great deal. How does this relate to the concept of TAPOVANA and the practices we do here? We believe we are all incarnations of the divine, essence of the same energy. We are born perfect. However, due to the conditions we are subjected to in this age that is a point easily missed by us as we mature. Now, an opportunity is upon us to rescue Dharma, the concept of duty, righteousness, morality, justice, cosmic law, harmony, and eternal truth. Restore Love.
The idea of TAPOVANA here in Sag Harbor is very much the same as it was in the groves of India thousands of years ago…an environment, a clearing, a sanctuary for us to meditate, breathe, and move toward bliss. A place for tapasya, personal sacrifice, so we can surrender ourselves as we make an offering of peace back into the Universe. A chance to rehabilitate and heal so our True Selves are revealed. Through a diligent, regular practice, we become closer to Nature. She will reveal her secrets and just as Prince Rama and the rishis of the ancient vanas, we too shall become one with the Universe.