As meditation centres go, you cannot find a better place in the world than the hills overlooking Lake Begnas in Kaski. Just 40 minutes east of Pokhara, the location amidst lush forests and the Annapurnas reflected on the ripples of the lake, is soothing even for those who don't come here for meditation classes.
Dhamma Pokhara was established three years ago here to conduct meditation courses that participants say has transformed their lives. The once-a-month training is conducted by teachers nominated by guru S N Goenka in the tradition of the Sayagi U Ba Khin. Participants say they are at ease even before the course starts because of the serenity of the surroundings, and the tranquility enhances the process to purify their minds.
"I never believed such a beautiful place existed in the world," said a student of vipassana after completing her course recently.
Vipassana's origins date back to the time of the Buddha more than 2,500 years ago when a rich and generous man, Anath Pindika, purchased a plot of land for a meditation centre from a prince by paying an exhorbitant sum.
When people asked him why he paid so much, he is said to have replied: "The price tag is nothing compared the benefit it would give to people."
The Dhamma Pokhara centre was similarly bought by Ratna Devi Bajracharya, a devotee and student of Vipassana from Kathmandu, who donated the property to establish a meditation centre even though she could have easily sold the prime tourism real estate that stretches from the top of a ridge down to the banks of the lake. But, like Anath Pindika, she decided to set up a meditation centre to help people stressed by the demands of a modern lifestyle.
Donations from vipassana teachers, students, organisations made Pokhara's meditation centre possible. Nepal Vipassana Center helped with conducting the meditation courses in the early days.
Dhamma Pokhara is already very popular among Nepal-based expats and tourists, as well as locals for its 10-day vipassana course. "I just wish there were more Nepalis who would learn this wonderful technique of purifying the mind," says Nara Bahadur Guruji who runs the centre.
Just as the tourism brochures say about Nepal, it could also be said of Dhamma Pokhara: "Once is not enough."
Vedic yagya in Panauti, STUTI SHARMA