Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee - The Isha Institute of Inner Sciences in North America, under the auspices of Isha Foundation, officially celebrated the grand opening of its center on June 21, 2006. Founder Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a yogi and profound mystic of our times, graced this significant occasion and welcomed over 350 meditators from various countries. Situated and spread over 1300 acres in the Cumberland Plateau, an area of lush green covered mountains in Tennessee, the institute will serve as a retreat center for advanced programs offered by Isha, a wellness rejuvenation center, and a residential community for international meditators. Most importantly, it will be a sacred space where spiritual seekers can deepen their quest under the guidance of one of the adept yogis alive today. In that sense, the center will also be unique in offering spiritual methods in North America that have been developed over thousands of years among the yogic circles in India. Sadhguru remarked at the opening that “this is a step to create a space that will witness mystical dimensions that have never been witnessed in this part of the world”. This was ample impetus for the celebration that ensued that night, even though one wasn’t needed as enthusiastic volunteers of the organization were elated to finally have their own nest in the lap of Southeastern United States.
For an organization that is reputed for its spirited and selfless volunteers and in what seems like a natural synergy, the institute found its home in Tennessee, also known as the volunteer state. One of the original thirteen states of the USA, it was an initial frontier for the pioneers from Europe. For thousands of years before that, it was also home to the native Indians who held a very intimate connection with the land revering it as their mother. For anyone that has visited the newly opened center, just the physical beauty of the land is undeniable. It boasts twin waterfalls that drop about 100 ft, bluffs from which one can directly witness the sun vanishing behind twelve mountain peaks, and a placid lake that adorns the western part of the land.
A core group of fulltime volunteers moved onto the land a few months ago and soon after set a seemingly impossible objective of completing program and lodging facilities to accommodate about 500 people by the opening date. Mother Nature had other ideas. Several weeks passed and the construction was plagued by rains and thunderstorms, almost slowing the progress to a grueling halt. Then, three weeks ago, Sadhguru visited the fledgling center for an update. He could only spend a day on that trip, but the residents and volunteers felt that his support may come in other ways. Whether it is a miracle, or an unlikely coincidence, not a single drop of rain fell over the next three weeks. Formalities out of the way and construction permits in hand, roads were cleared, infrastructure was established, and buildings started sprouting everywhere. Of course, many volunteers extended themselves well beyond their capacities to get the center built. Some worked full work weeks and traveled overnight by road to help in the construction over the weekends, only to travel back overnight for another working week. Minutes before the starting time, the last piece of carpet was laid at the entrance of the program hall and the celebrations started.
Hidden talents started to surface as Isha meditators from all over North America, Europe, and India gave their performances. Some sang country duets, others danced to traditional Indian classical music, but no Isha event can ever be complete without the thundering tribal drum beats. It wasn’t long before the attendees started swaying and not much after that everyone was on their feet. Having built up an appetite, an array of appetizers and entrees that had been lovingly prepared by the volunteers featuring cuisines from seven different regions of the world were served. As the night progressed, the attendees retreated to their lodges in preparation for the first residential program that was to start the next day. The work had to continue.
The future plans for the center are even more exuberant. To effectively be able to serve a seeking population of millions in the Western world, appropriate plans have been made to construct a 33,000 sq. ft. monolithic dome structure that will allow over 1000 people at a time to participate in the programs. This dome and most of the other structures that will be built will be permeated with the sweat of the volunteers who have already been such a critical part of the first construction that took place on the land. As an acknowledgment of this, Sadhguru remarked. “All the work that they do is in dedication to create a space for self-transformation for seekers and for the future generations.” Noting the dedication of the volunteers, he concluded, “it is a privilege when you get an opportunity to create something much bigger than yourself, it is always a great privilege”.
To the volunteers, it has been a great privilege to involve themselves in a project whose fundamental purpose is to bring human wellbeing to large populations in the West. It is this promise that has motivated them to build a center which would have a life far beyond their own.
Isha Foundation is an international public service organization dedicated to self-realization. It is registered in India and the USA as a non-profit 501c(3) tax-exempt organization. It does not propagate any particular ideology, religion, caste, color, creed or cult and works towards the spiritual enrichment of all people. Isha Yoga programs are offered in the US and India. For more information call 1 866 424-4742 or visit