As I entered into my 25th year, I decided to take my fate in my own hands. I left for Kanyakumari from my temporary home at Deolali, Maharashtra where I was staying with my brother. He was in a service at Deolali. On receiving an urgent call from his wife who was expecting a child, my brother left me with some money to go back home in case I needed to go.
Seeing an advertisement in the Times of India, Bombay edition, by Vivekananda Kendra that they were inviting graduates to join their band of 'Life workers' who would be trained at Kanyakumari before sending them throughout India for spreading the message of Swami Vivekananda.
I arrived at Kanyakumari in the morning and after a few hours of patient waiting and interview by Mr. Manian and Dr. Nagendra, I was admitted to the 8th batch of Trainees. Although the training had already started from 1st of Sept. 1978 and I was late by 7 days. I took my training very seriously and enjoyed the lectures on Indian Culture, Yoga, Meditation, health, swamiji's writings. Mr. Eknath Ranade, used to take at least one class everyday. He was not a very good speaker but his real life experience enriched our knowledge bank. Eknath ji had a wonderful organizing capacity thus he was deputed to resolve the Rock Memorial issue. This issue was hanging fire between two communities : Christians and Hindus. The Kanyakumari Church claimed that the twin rocks belonged to Mother Mary and there is no question of allowing a Hindu Temple to come up there. Finally, Eknathji resolved this issue and the Rock Temple was built on the very spot Where Swami Vivekananda Meditated before going to West.
The bell for lunch would go at 12 noon and we all rush to the dining hall. Some days I too had a duty to serve food before I could had my own lunch. After this we were free till 3.30 p.m. when the bell would be sounded to have a tea break. During this free time we could either go to library or take a small nap before catching up with the rest of the day's program. There used to be one more lecture class mainly on some language learning, it was either English or Hindi. After this class we had our games, football, basket ball or plain running. After the games we used to have about 1 hour before the evening meditation. I used to take a long walk with Mr. Kulkarni, who was the senior most person in our group. Although he was a retired person, he had a robust health and always encouraged me with his positive vibes. The days he was busy with some other things, I used to spend my time by the sea with some one else or all by myself.
My duties include serving in the Dining hall, ring the bell as per the day's program. Once I missed out on this bell ringing at 4.30 a.m. as I over slept. For this I became a subject of ridicule for a day. However, I was in time for the prayer at 5.30 a.m. There used to be a Yoga Camp in December. Many elderly people also joined the camp along with younger ones. We did have very good time with them. We also used to help our seniors in conducting Yoga Asanas, Prayers, Meditation, games and now and then a visit to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial.
After games there used to be half an hour devotional session followed by silent meditation on "OM" At 8 in the evening it was dinner time. Once we finished our dinner we used to take a long walk by the sea. The mutual interaction between our seniors and the trainees slated to be at 9 p.m. We used to put many a times many embarrassing questions to our teachers. I also rehearsed for a month to be a part of a small skit to be presented on the last day of our training. We did quite well in that and collected appreciation from all present.
After finishing our training we were given a fortnights duty on the Rock Memorial. We used to take the boat from the mainland to the Rock Memorial and it was a wonderful experience for me. My position was in the hall where a bronze statue of Swami Vivekananda installed standing with cross hands across his breast and as if looking into the future. My principal duty was to explain to the visitors why this Memorial was built and the story of Swamiji's visit to this rock in 1892, Dec. 22nd, 23rd and 24th and his 3 days meditation and how he found his mission in life. While explaining Swamiji's mission and his success at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, USA, I used to feel the spirit of Swami ji inspiring me.
Those fourteen days were most remarkable daysin my life and that stayed on till date.
For an outing we had once tbeen o a hill top by Name 'Marut Malai' We all assembled at the Library Hall one fine morning after breakfast. We were also given a working lunch. When we arrived at the base of the Hill and looked up I felt it was quite a steep climb. Any way we all started with real earnest and we had a race as to who could reach the top first. It was not a continuous ascending but rest included in between. Finally, I was the first one to reach the top. Raghunandan ji was the second person followed me. When I reached the top the surrounding areas were covered with thick fog. As the sun rose higher the fog started vanishing and what a breath taking view was in sight. The expanse of the Arabian sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay Bengal all lay before our eyes. It was such a unique vista that enthralled all of us and we knew how small we are before the nature. There was a Saintly man living in one of the caves in that Hill. We paid a visit to this man and he gave us each one piece of 'Amla" which was sweet and soft. We also heard from him a discourse on how to conduct oneself in life. After paying respects, we took leave of him and left before evening for our Training centre at Kanyakumari.
After completing my 3 months training, I stayed on at Kanyakumari till 13th of January 1979 and left for Hyderabad on being sent there to take charge of the center. My program was to visit Rameshwaram and Chennai before reaching Hyderabad. At Rameshwaram we had a modest accommodation and at Chennai, our publication division was at Triplicane very close to the sea and there was some accommodation for workers passing by that way for a stopover. The day, the 14th of January I was leaving Kanyakumari I was to catch the Rameshwaram Express from the Kanyakumari Bus station but due to my meeting many of the seniors I was late. By the time we reached the main gate by the road, it was time for the bus to reach there. As it was an express bus we did not expect it to stop to pick me up. So we were very tense. If I missed the bus, my further reservation will also be affected. Any way there was noting that we could do. Yes, the bus coming in full speed with its head light on. We all raised our hands and the bus slowed down and stopped. Immediately, the door was opened and I was welcome on board. I waived my hand to say good bye to all present and the door was closed and the bus picked up speed. How did it happen? The mystery was resolved. A yoga student of the recently concluded camp was in the bus next to my seat and he knew that I had booked my ticket that day to travel to Rameshwaram. At the bus stop when he did not see me he anticipated that I would definitely board it from the main gate. Thus he told the driver to stop the bus when he saw us all waiting for the bus. As the suspense ended in a positive way, I felt relieved and I presume others also who came to see me off felt happy. Thus ended my training and stay at Kanyakumari.