Astachal and My Art and Habit of Self-introspection

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I enjoyed this view almost every evening for about a decade (from 1975 to 1985) at the Gwalior Fort in India (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwalior). I was then studying at the prestigious boarding school in India, The Scindia School Gwalior (http://www.scindia.edu/). Whilst at school we had a very important and a beautiful ritual, which was the evening prayer congregation of fellow students. This congregation used to take place at “Astachal” the amphitheater of the school. The setting was very serene, scenic and simply beautiful, the amphitheater has a large size statue of Mahatma Gandhi which further overlooks the city of Gwalior with the hills and the sky in distant background (http://www.scindia.edu/asthachal.php). The timing of the evening prayer congregation at Astachal was usually synced with the sunset time of the season.

What I learnt and imbibed as a young student at Astachal was something unique, which serves me well even today and its become my daily habit of doing silent introspection. Whilst introspecting, I look within myself, get in touch with my own feelings and emotions and I ponder over my day; what went well, what didn’t go well, what I did for and to others, what others did for and to me, what made me laugh, happy, exited, sad, etc, etc. I hand over my sad and bad part of the day to my god and during the process of introspection I make resolutions, promises to self and plans for the next day. Every evening after the introspection, I feel the lightest and second best. The day after when i wake up and get ready for the day, I feel the best!!

Since I seem to have achieved some success (at-least my wife and children think so – coz we have grown up together!!) in my career. For the past one decade or so I have been operating as an senior executive in the corporate world – the pressures and stress has only increased and trust me, its always high. There are various things that help me deal with the pressure and stress and this ritual and habit of silent introspection that I imbibed at the Astachal is my daily antidote.

Today I live and work based out of three cities and two continents, every month at a minimum I travel to at least four countries in four different continents, I have a beautiful family that I love, a terrific team that I care for and a fantastic career that I value and to keep it like that, I have to work very hard, make efforts to stay physically and mentally fit and be sincere and true to myself and others. I guess, everybody needs a spiritual fix these days and may be this is my fix, which, I found and imbibed at the Astachal. Last week, when I was having a session with my coach and mentor, I was made to realize that this silent introspection habit is a strength and not many can do it effectively. When asked, how I do it well and effectively. I answered and gave the entire credit to my school, my fellow students, teachers and the ritual I picked up at the Astachal 28 years ago!! so what does this silent introspection help me achieve? it is helps me achieve the five following things:

1) In a meditative form in just 20 mins, I can re-cap my whole day and assess the positive and negative happenings and the related emotions (today not at Astachal but on a flight or in the back seat of my car). I get in touch with my feelings and emotions everyday. Hence, I let go off my negative feelings and emotions every day and I don’t carry them forward.

2) I feel chuffed about my positive feelings and emotions and plan to make them a part of my next day. Helps me stay positive and bright.

3) I apologies to people without any ego, if I have caused them grief and I thank and appreciate people who have helped me and made me feel good, and on almost a daily basis.

4) Most important, I am ready and prepared to have courageous conversation with people who have given me grief and have tried to erode my esteem. I don’t take it lying down!

5) I have a very peaceful and a light evening and enjoy my drink 🙂 and go to bed with reduced stress and pressure.

I dedicate this blog to Mr Chatterjee, our school music teacher who used to often lead us at the Astachal and sing songs such as “Door kahin jab din dhal jaye…” and “Surya asth ho gaya, gagan mast ho gaya…” I still know all these songs by heart. Simply beautiful!! 🙂

Here are a few more pics of Astachal (Courtesy some fellow school boy who clicked them and put them on the web. Thanks mate!!)
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18 thoughts on “Astachal and My Art and Habit of Self-introspection

  1. How beautifully written….
    such simple rituals carried out as a child and so sincerely practiced there on can become a part of your life and go on to be your strengths to face diversities of life confidently and courageous….
    Love you and proud of you:)

  2. Dear Yash,

    What a great update. Today while I was coaching a corporate soul, the point of self awareness and how it is related to self-reflection time was discussed. Your blog note would be quite useful. Thanks for sharing.

    Sandeep

  3. Dear Yashwant Sir, this is highly inspirational. The day I had seen you in AZ and the way you had taken the problems head on and brought about the huge changes with so much of Guts and courage, is something which I will never forget. I have always idolized you, thank you for sharing such a valuable experience, I think it will be of great learning for many. Keep achieving your dreams Sir, all the best to you, always!

  4. Dear Yash,
    Very Inspiring thoughts.That reminds me of Steve Jobs quote; “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
    So true! Thanks for sharing wonderful thoughts.
    Pramod Pedgaonkar

  5. I am going to give it a shot too 🙂 My meditation till date is the long walk I have with music plugged in ,during which I dream, remember my day, forget my worries, forgive people , repent my mistakes …and most importantly discover myself

  6. Dear Yash, thanks for that heartfelt sharing .. ! it reinforces my own belief in the power of being in touch with oneself & how it helps one make positive choices in the moment. That it has helped you scale the heights you have scaled & continue to do is wonderful! best wishes, Natesh (WIPRO)

  7. Dear Yash, very nicely articulated. nostalgic completely !!!. when we grow and attain a position, but inner child always wander for a fragrance, a rhythm, a poetry which cant be explained in words….but am sensing the fragrance of my childhood, listening the music.
    I am grateful to you.
    Regards
    Seema Rekha

  8. Beautifully written. Found your link on LinkedIn and totally understand where you’re coming from. Gwalior is my hometown and my Father, Jayanta Dey, went to Scindia School (Madho House). He always swore by Asthachal and took us to see the amphitheatre there many times. Always a serene location and so beautiful, even more so at sunset. One trip, school was on and we were there at sunset observing all the boys in pjs swarming excitedly to the amphitheatre. All age groups. Showed what it meant even after all these years. Time stands still sometimes. 🙂 I live the Corporate world similar to yours, and sometimes I crave that self discipline to sit down and contemplate.

  9. Outstanding piece yash. Your words have exactly brought the kind of person you are – absolutely true & thank you for sharing it so nicely – always felt its not an easy thing to express a self reflection process – but you have told in such simple way. Great learning from your experience :-).

  10. Nice Writing. Bravo!

    Yes, I too reflect on the Aastachal and for what it stood for at the time – only never “realized” nor “experienced what you write – introspection” and what it meant when I was there – but on reflection in later years (that is now, at what I consider an advanced physical age) have come to fondly recall the evenings in the theater of my mind. Interesting that you experience the “joy” at the back-seat of a car and can do this vicariously. You seem very lucky to do so. Virtualizing Aastachal.

    I too studied at Scindia School and graduated in 1966. Resided in Madhav House.

    But was very sadden to see the state of the School two years ago when I visited there on the quiet (as a tourist) – speaking relatively. To see the School after my truck in life in foreign and far away climes and then to see what became of where I trolled and toiled for many formative years (I entered Scindia when I was in 6th class and graduated with O’levels in 1966) brought unrepressive sadness, at what I saw as very degenerative. Seems that the Scindia’s (Madhav Rao’s descendants)may be Trustee’s-in-name but dropped their avid “financial support” long-ago. It was the Eton of India and now it looks very low-grade.

    Now, I am thinking that perhaps, I want to work to make a material and substantial personal contribution to this institution and am seeking ideas on how best to do so, before my days on earth expire.

    My life has progressed very fruitfully and I thank the Lord for this passage and privilege. Thus I can do what I write singularly as the fountainhead.

    Tell me if you are in the know, how best may we improve the “quality” of the School in multi-facteted ways?

    I can offer many things – e.g. donating “knowledge” from my businesses all across the world now – and then to many vectors (Pharma, Medical devices, Financial Services, Biofuels, Aviation, Logistics, PV-Solar, Real Estate, Manufactured Housing, Phyto-nutrient inspired Cosmetics, Glycol and so on) by endowing chairs of study or other such things – so faculty is motivated to be clever and advanced in their thinking and I help make their lives more worthwhile financially.

    My idea of a “good” philanthropic payback is not just donating “money” but coupling ideas with money and then demand periodic accountability – i.e. to achieve highest output for lowest input and of my mentoring of the craft of smart investing to those who would be charged with the execution.

    Best wishes on your wonderful life –

    Kudos.

    Sunil Suri

    • Thank you so much Mr Suri, I senses and share your emotions. I appreciate your constructive and solution oriented approach. Do try and get in touch with Vikram Mathur who is a old boy and is on the board of governors now. He is very passionate and is likely to make a real difference to the school with guidance from seniors like you.

  11. Dear Yash

    You and your experience is a sea of knowledge for us. The ease and beauty with which you have reflected the importance of a very powerful art “Self-introspection” is outstanding. I will inculcate it as a habbit and make sure i practice it daily. Feel blessed to work under your Leadership.

    Regards
    Rahul Nair

  12. Very nicely written, one of the few pieces that i re-read to absorb it all.

    While we ‘hang out’ with friends, not everyone realizes that we are probably our own truest friends, those who do, regularly ‘hang in’ with self; spend time in solitude and find that many a questions we had, doubts, perturbations, etc. settle down allowing us to “see” and “be”.

  13. Thank you sir for the wonderful tips. I have always been into meditation having done my schooling and college in an ashram (sri sathya sai institute of higher learning, puttaparthi, a cozy bright place like Aasthachal). And your method of silent introspection has helped me cope so well with the culture shock that i faced when i straight landed in mumbai for MBBS. I used to give all my time and mind space to friends, but after practicing your method i have started giving myself some “me time”.
    This is one of the vital keys i have discovered at a crucial point of my life.

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