Bodhi – The Meditation Centre at Raga Svara

Each and every space Raga Svara is carefully thought about and designed. Each space is its own unique experience. While each space is unique, they all have a common design philosophy: to create a sense of belonging and purpose. One of the key experiences at Raga is meditation. While designing, one option was to use the large Yoga centre, Antara, as a meditation space as well.  It was (and is) a sensible thing to do. We will be using Antara for meditation as well. However, I wanted a space that was meant exclusively for meditation. In an age of “multiuse” banquets and party plots, regaining a sense of exclusive-use space is a rare experience. Of course, exclusivity does bring sub-optimization with it. However, I think the experience of entering Bodhi and doing nothing and being still inside it is one of the most moving experiences one can have.

Bodhi’s design is a conical structure above the ground. The main seating space is below the ground. A winding circular stairway takes you below and inside the hall. The flat cut out on the top brings natural light inside. The circular space inside with the conical roof makes an incredible acoustic experience. The Om chanting reverberates and echoes back from the walls into your own body and soul. Like all good things in life, it can only be experienced by being here.

Thanks to our design team for these wonderful paintings of the spaces at Raga Svara.

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Anuraga — The Assemblage

Continuing  the series on architecture and landscape at Raga, I am glad to share Anuraga — The Assemblage. Anuraga is the first space you go to when you  enter the campus. As with all spaces in the campus, Anuraga is designed  with co-existence and harmony as its central elements. Anuraga is place  to come together. Anuarag is adjoined by a big open plaza, which is  nestled between old Banyan trees.

These  buildings and landscapes are beautiful. They allow different  interactions and experiences to occur within and around them. I wrote  this earlier when we were designing The Northstar School, that  architecture is not a luxury for us. Raga architecture is not about  making a statement or an impression. For me, our buildings and  landscapes are existential spaces, which are fundamental to establishing  a relationship between us and our environment. This is fundamental to  my thinking about Raga Svara as an institution.

One  way that I think about Raga is through, what I describe, “Porosity of boundaries”. I want to make the solid walls between apparently different  ideas more porous, more accommodating. Ideas which are traditionally  thought of and treated as separate: Bodily health and psychological  health, western philosophy and eastern philosophy, modern medicine and  traditional medicine, recreational space and educational space. These  are just a few that are fused in a meaningful whole at Raga.

And  I’ll repeat again, Raga is unlike any other institution. It is not  possible to put us in any category. I am hoping that you are all able to  find value in what we build.

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Prakriti – The Treatment Centre

Introducing spaces at Raga Svara. We are a world class retreat with some of the best spaces for healing, yoga, meditation, culture and residences. One of the spaces at the retreat is Prakriti, the treatment centre. Prakriti will be central to our “Therapeutic Wellbeing” approach. At Raga, we practice authentic Ayurveda with Ayurvedic doctors of national and international repute. Go to sideeffects.com. Our in house Ayurvedic College and Hospital serve patients from all over the state. Prakriti is nestled deep within the Raga Svara campus and is only open to our retreat guests. Raga Svara is bringing ancient Indian medicine within a world class campus.

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Antara – The Yoga Centre

Antara is the Yoga Centre at Raga Svara. Yoga is one of the core therapeutic experiences at Raga Svara. We had to build a space which honours this critical importance of the space. This beautiful painting gives a sense of the place that Antara will be. Antara is nestled within a Chikoo orchard. There some Mango trees as well which grow through the roof of Antara. 

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Raga Aesthetic

Art and design are central to everything that I do. To me artistic beauty is inextricably linked to moral goodness. Even though it is fluid and subjective, the aesthetic remains connected to and contributes to the experience. The aesthetic, and here I fall back again on Dewey who has had a great influence on me, becomes a kind of judgment, an attitude and an experience. Aesthetic experience is not only about the visual art perceived from a detached vantage, but also includes, especially at Raga Svara, the therapeutic experience, the architectural experience, the culinary experience and the cultural and philosophical experience.

The following picture shows one design motif that represents Raga and its philosophy in certain ways. Gond art is a form of folk & tribal art that is practiced by one of the largest tribes in India – the Gond – who are predominantly from Madhya Pradesh, but also settled in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The work of Gond artists is rooted in their folk tales and culture, and thus story-telling on social hub is a strong element of every painting. With the help of our team of designers and artists, we are creating original works of art that represent the aesthetic experience at Raga Svara. Each piece of work has been made to represent an element of Raga.

One of my goals is to ensure that aesthetic experience does not, in Dewey’s words, “become isolated from the human conditions under which it was brought into being and from the human consequences it engenders in actual life experience.

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Raga Aesthetic – Mandala

We are building a place where we can pause and fight disease.

The core element of our approach is to provide therapeutic relief to the malaise of the body and mind. Ancient Indian wisdom and therapeutic practices of Ayurveda and Yoga are fully realized within our “home”. Co-existence of traditional approaches and modern systems is not only possible but essential to move towards a broader conception of health and wellness. Our goal is not to stop at therapy but rather move towards Eudaimonia, a sense of flourishing, moving from relief of suffering to the cultivation of positive emotional and mental states.

The harmony of body, mind and spirit starts with the focus on the body. Authentic Ayurveda and Yoga practices demand that the individual be ready to take responsibility for her own health. Health is not received but is gained by engaging with the right routines, dietary habits and physical & psychological practices.

We are building a place where we all can learn to heal and fight disease with ancient wisdom and traditions.

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