The sylvan campus of Students’ Home is a kind of wonderland to all its denizens. We live here joyously and vigorously. We are disciplined, but not bounded by sheer rules. The idea–“maximum of freedom and minimum of restraints”—can palpably be felt here, resulting in the spontaneous growth of its inhabitants. A harmonious development of the ‘hand, head and heart’ is the secret of their growth. The very philosophy of Students’ Home– “simple living and high thinking”—seems to have its reach to the heaven and rooting in the ground.
The Holy Trio—Sri Sri Thakur, Sri SriMaa, and Swamiji— graciously shower their blessings upon the ashramites and guide their life in the right direction. Every day, the Ashrama-life begins at dawn with the rising bell ataround 5 O’ Clock in the morning. Amidst the calm and serene atmosphere, the Morning Prayer awakens everybody with a rejuvenating wake-up note. The vivacious nature—the gentle breeze playing on the green leaves, birds singing on the boughs and stretching their wings for their first flight, the petals of the flowers bathing in the rising sun— stirs up the very core of our heart and inspires us to cast our vision towards the ethereal.
We take our breakfast and then sit for the daily study. The ‘Study-hour’ is maintained for two-three hours, two-three hours of concentrated study. We are the ‘tutor’ and we are the ‘tutee’; we are the ‘teacher’ and we are the ‘taught’. We believe that whatever a man knows is actually what he discovers from within; he unveils, as it were, the cover off from the soul.
After the intense study is over, we go for swimming in the pond (Thakur Pukur); some acrobatic performances in the water are seen often. Then we have our mean and get ready for heading towards our respective schools or colleges.
The quiet hours from 11 am to 4 pm in the Students’ Home are something to be felt and enjoyed whole-heartedly. The bright sunny atmosphere and the absolute silence prevailing all over the Ashrama remind one the greatness of the place, which is in the stark contrast with the congested and dingy city life. Here, the air carries the fragrance of purity and simplicity. The sublime thoughts and ideas flowing underneath constitute an Ashrama. Without these sublime vibrations, any gigantic institution will be just like a life-less shadow. With wide open space to roam about, fresh air to breathe in, greeneries to sooth the eyes, pastoral settings to contemplate upon—all these make Students’ Home a veritable Tapovan of recent times.
When the clock strikes 4 in the afternoon we go to the dining-hall to have our Tiffin. Even before the tiffin is finished, comes the call of the playground! In fact, nobody can resist himself from the temptation of playing when such a perfect, green ground isavailable in front. Some go for cricket, some for volley-ball, and some others for badminton. Indoor games like table tennis, caroms are also played with no less enthusiasm. Some of the monastic brothers regularly join the students and share their sportsmanship spirit. Thus, a good communication and a deep intimacy are formed among the inhabitants through games and sports.
As the Sun sets in the western horizon, we congregate at the shrine for the evening Aarati of Sri Ramakrishna, followed by a short reading from Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature. Then we meditate for a while. This brief meditation prepares us for the evening study which continues till 9 p.m. when the bell goes for the dinner.
Nocturnal Gathering, the most interesting event of the day, follows the dinner, in which we assemble for an informal meeting conducted in a free and light-hearted spirit. This nocturnal gathering acts as a soothing balm and refreshes our minds. Here, we share some jokes or some of the humorous incidents of our life. Some mischievous acts of the students are suddenly revealed here, like a bolt from the blue sky. The guilty deserves a light punishment by way of mild ridicules from his friends. Often we are enthralled by the melodious songs sung by some of our fellow brothers!
Pakshik(fortnightly duty) is an integral part of our Ashrama Life. We sincerely carry out our daily duties entrusted upon us by the G.M. (General Manager), who is one amongst the students. All these duties, mainly related to shrine, are performed voluntarily and joyfully. Everything seems to flow like a soft smooth music. These duties instill some of the good qualities in us and make us self-dependent. As a result, we are able to shoulder greater responsibilities without any dread in the later part of our life.
We have an innate love for gardening. And so the Sunday is, to us, a day on which we take the spades, dig the soil, prepare the land, sow the seeds, water the saplings, and look after them with utmost love and care. And the full-bloom flowers get sanctified when they are dedicated to the feet of Sri Sri Thakur, Sri SriMaa and Swamiji.
On the occasion of the Independence Day, we work in our paddy field. This is how we offer our heartiest gratitude to the soil of our motherland! What could be a more solemn and sublime observation than this? We really feel blessed while partaking of the muddy smell of our ‘punyavumi’ and, thus, the false sense of pride of ‘being a university student’ gets shattered and mingles down-to-the-earth.
Our monastic brothers give religious discourses and reply to our queries on Saturdays and Sundays in ‘Study-Circles’ and ‘Religious-Classes’ respectively. These spiritual notes often captivate the young hearts and inspire them to penetrate into the depth of the Reality. It is now wonder that the Students’ Home has been inspiring innumerable students since its inception to embrace the monastic life.
The Home is also a land of festivity! Festivals are celebrated throughout the year. ‘Sri Sri Kali Puja’ is celebrated as the annual festival with great éclat. ‘Sri SriSaraswati Puja’, ‘BhratriBaran Ceremony’, ‘Ratha‑Yatra’, ‘Shiva-Ratri’, ‘Holi, ‘Janmasthami’ and ‘Christmas Eve’ are some of its evergreen festivals celebrated with solemnity and grandeur. The celebrations like ‘Independence Day’, ‘Republic Day’, ‘Rabindra-Jayanti’ and ‘Netaji -Jayanti’ are also observed with true spirit. Besides, we re-unite once in every three years to celebrate and reminisce about the golden days we spent in Students’ Home. The reunion serves as an unbreakable bond between the present-students and the ex-students.
In short, every function is planned and organized by the students under the wise supervision of our monastic brothers. Everybody participates whole-heartedly and enjoys the festival. Enthusiasm of the residents never ebbs in thick and thin.
To those who know, the Sarja Ground in the Dakshin Parais no less an attraction for us! On a day in the January, we arrange for a charuivati (picnic) there.
The Students’ Home is a place where boys of all casts and races mingle and happily leave together without any distinction.Theunselfish love of our monastic brothers kindles lights in our hearts. Their great sacrifice for the cause of the Students’ Home and endless compassion towards all the students weave a common thread of love. Their pure and holy life beckons as ideal for all of us and inspires us to inundate our life with great ideas.
The denizens of Students’ Home continually enrich themselves with the variegated emotions of joy and pathos, laughter and cry, hope and disappointment, pleasure and pain, the comic and the sublime. Here, every moment is special. Every object is animated with an abundant grace of the Holy Trio. Every heart aches for others. Everything is illuminated. Even the ordinary stone radiates the glow of an emerald!
Swami Vivekananda said, “Expansion is life”. The Ashrama life is ever expanding too. Charoivety, charoivety, charoivety….Go on and on and on.