Friday, December 25, 2009

Some lessons i am learning

I walked down the same path today.  Today the people looked a little different to me.  Warm, welcoming faces in contrast to the cold around us.  Its getting cooler here in Boudha these days.  I keep saying to myself i need to buy a jacket but something keeps preventing me.  The jackets are nice here, padded jackets either with down fill or synthetic.  Warm fur on the inside and a weather repellant synthetic fiber on the outside.  When you put one of these on you look puffed up like a marshmallow.  Sometimes i laugh to myself and try to imagine this pathway with a whole lot of marshmallows walking up and down it.  But the jackets are warm.  :)

I met a familiar face today.  We had met before, we exchanged pleasant conversation twice before.  He works at a coffee shop along the path called the dream factory.  While talking, i shivered with the cold.  Immediately he asked me if i had a jacket.  I replied "no but i intend to get one."  Hold on he said.  He leaves and returns a few minutes later with a jacket in hand. a NICE ONE with fur on the inside, fashionable and oh so warm.  He says to me:  "take this, you can have it."  Such kindness.  My heart is overflowing as i write this.  So cold.  So cold on the outside.  Afraid of the warmth yet still longing for it.  Afraid to truly connect, this old cold.  A man who earns less in a year than i would in a week hands me his jacket and my heart melts.  No expectation.  Just kindness.  I didn’t even know his name.  He knew that. "Here take this, you can have it."  He pours me a cup of warm milk tea and excuses himself as he had chores to fulfill.

Now i am left with a nice warm jacket and a big debt to pay.  My heart has been opened by this gift of love.  Its not the jacket its the gesture.  He gave me himself.  His Being.  His nature.  You have to become really vulnerable in order to give like that, especially when your giving causes you pain.  You have to become really vulnerable in order to truly see the gift and to receive it.  I have missed this so many times.  Now there is so much i can give here.  There are so many here who are in need.  True need.  Not for luxuries or niceties but for food, warm clothes and a place to shelter from the weather.

There is a lady who sits outside a monastery in Boudha.  She sits and asks for money.  What she really wants is time.  I did not see this at first.  She speaks Nepali.  I cannot understand most of what she says.  It does not matter.  I would pass her by every morning.  I would place some money on her cloth.  She would see me, but i would not see her.  I refused to.  I preferred the disconnect.  A wrestless contentment.  One day, i saw her with a little boy.  He looked really sick.  His eyes kept drifting off.  I saw the look on her face and knew then that this was her son.  I saw some other ladies, who would also ask for money, come by to help.  The boy looked like he was going to die.  My heart was moved, but i felt a little helpless.  I just stood afar and watched as she put the boy on her back.  (He must have been around 10 years of age) and walked away in desperation.

My heart sank.  I went into the monastery and could not focus on my art classes that day.  All i could think about was the boy.  I came by the next day feeling really sorrowful and desperate.  I felt like this lady belonged to me.  That her son did as well.  I felt sorrow for my inaction.  I just wanted to see her there.  I wanted to see her smile as she usually did.  I wanted to know that everything was okay.  But she wasn’t there.  There was just an empty space.  I was so sad.  I went back home and asked for another chance.  Two days later i saw her there.  Her son was there as well.  He looked healthy.  This time i did not pass her.  This time i sat down, and smiled. 

We are now friends.  The lady, her son and myself.  We do things together.  Her son and i.  We share.  He speaks my language so well.  Once i rushed past her.  Once, i was so busy.  I thought that she wanted my money.  I placed it on her cloth with haste and as i did, i looked at the hurt expression on her face.  I betrayed her.  I betrayed myself.  I betrayed the true meaning of our relationship.  Now, whenever i see her, she asks me to sit down and i do. She blesses me.  She does not expect money.  Sometimes i give, sometimes i don’t.  Its a nice feeling to feel connected like this. 

There is a man here who gave me his guitar to use for my duration of stay here.  There is a boy who gave me his portable hard drive, there are two teachers who give me their time without expectation of pay. I get chai everytime i sit down at a family restaurant here.  Sometimes they dont accept my money.  They smile and say see you tomorrow. I cannot begin to understand where this comes from.  I feel so indebted to all.  I am so grateful.  I am grateful to the man who gave me a jacket for the cold.  I am grateful to the lady who gave me her loving kindness.  I am grateful for the guitar, for the teachings, for the food, for the warmth, for the time that people take to show me love.  The more i spend time with people here, i realise how far i am from the truth of human existence.  I realise that I have made people, life and things a prop for my selfish existence. I realise slowly that things are just an excuse for hearts to get closer.   Money and things are a mere excuse for souls to unite.  This is the goal.  If we lose sight of this then there is only emptiness in the exchange.

I have read these words by Kahlil Gibran so many times before but am only begining to understand it now because of the kindness of the people here in Boudha:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An email to Kindness

Vishalin Vandiar 
Mia Voss

Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 11:36 AM
Re: Beautiful Soul

hide details Sep 15
Hello my love

This is great news.  You have been a testimony of love, patience and perseverance.  I have been thinking of you a lot Aminia.  You would really love it here.  I have had so many adventures already that it will take a long time to start putting them on the blog (i am determined to do so and will however :)

I have met some very special beings, the likes of which i have never met before.  I have been in the presence of those who have transcended ego and they have welcomed me with love.  I have looked into the eyes of those in whom the entire universe seems to exist and have been drawn to tears by loves pure gaze.  I have walked at least 19km of mountains through glaciers to the source: the glacier where Ganga is born.  I have followed my heart through passes into villages where i have been welcomed as god.  I have made family and friends there.  I have communicated with so few words and am learning how to communicate with heart.  Kindness is born here.  Love in the expression of kindness is the language of the villagers. I have stayed at an ashram where people from all over the world meet from different walks of life to do intense yoga, sadhana and chanting at least twice a day.  These things have an ability to change ones constitution.  I am hoping i would be the better for it.  I have meditated in a hall with the most revered sadhus and rishis in the north districts.  I was the only non-renunciate there.  I have done a course on Ayurvedic massasge and Abhyanga and have been giving  massages at the ashram in Rishikesh.  :) (practice makes perfect)

I have been drinking the local water.  Eating the local food.  Playing in the mud. dancing in the rain.  laughing with the children.  prostrating on the roadside in front of murtis and idols.  teasing the cows.  laughing with the beggars.  swimming in the ganges.  walking barefoot.  picking flowers.  meditating with rishis.  I have not been sick to date (touch wood).  this feels like home.

I will be staying longer.  (i dont know how much longer)  Then i will be off to nepal.  I was at an orphanage in Rishikesh called Ramanas kids.  And it has blown me away.  i have made some good friends there and would like to be further involved.  i have too many things to share.

I miss you very much.  I miss my family as well.  lots of things have been surfacing here that have needed my attention for some time now but i have been unaware of.  India has been healing me to date.  i am very grateful.  To divine Mother in all her love and mercy.  My hope is that Vishalin continues to dissintegrate and dissolve like the incense until all that is left is a sweet aroma for humanity.  Please pray for this.


love and light


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Red Canvas

The moon it gives rise to the waters
and the sun it gives warmth to the sea
the stars they give weight to the moon and the sun
as all hearts are connected you see.

It’s the meaning of love to fulfill itself
It’s the purpose of heart to unite
It’s the freedom of life to rejoice in these bonds
Like the song of the day and the night

As the hues softly bleed on his canvas,
for the one that has chosen to stray
Tales once told, colors bold by eyes filled with youth,
eyes now old by the youth turned away.

And each moment a moment with meaning,
each laughter each song and each play
now these moments are gone and alone does he morn
for the ones, way too soon, gone their way

Bleeding canvases now tell a story
of a love painted luminous gold.
Of a depth that is truer than the bearers of brush
and a heart with its secret untold.

Careless minds wouldn’t see from the distance,
how the distance they brought took away
all the meaning of love, all the purpose of heart
all the song from the night and the day.

Alone have I walked in the forest,
alone have I swam in the sea,
alone I will leave to the furthest of shores,
yet somehow people tarry with me

I’ve learned of the art of detachment
Yet the heart of denial its new
so I’ll sit and I’ll listen while these canvases bleed
as I learn this great mystery from you.

The moon it gives rise to the waters
and the sun it gives warmth to the sea
the stars they give weight to the moon and the sun
Perhaps one day soon we'll all see.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


This space was made for you.
I'm here now.  I will wait for you.
And while i do, I'll rest here in the water.

There's a story i would like to share with you.
It may tear your heart to pieces and shatter your dreams to dust.
It is a story without words. Will you listen?


There's a song i would like to sing to you
It may move your mind to magic and give wings to your weary soul.
It is a song without a tune.  Will you hear?

Staring at a whirlpool of wonder
afraid to move, afraid to touch, afraid to feel.
History is blinding, memories aren't real.

I am here now.  Give me your hand.
I am here now.  With all that i am.
I will not drop you. I will not let you go
Come, find rest here in the water.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The gift of convenience

You who found me here. Do you see?

Do your eyes tell you the truth? Are you one with the masses: the terrifyingly pleasant, smiley faced, consumer eyed crowd that come and go? Its hard to tell for sure in this dim haze.  These eyes long for the light, but closed they will remain, lest they be burned by a lie. Towering above me; standing there, making a shadow, even in my darkness.

You who found me here. What do you see?

Do you see another? What is it that is moving within your heart? Is it pity? Is it guilt? Is it sorrow? For whom? Will you choose again to be blind? You have come from the light have you not? Have the colourful hues blurred your vision like so many times before? I have been waiting here patiently for you in this dark place. Now you are here. By some fate. By some chance or fortune.

You who found me here. Who do you see?

Do you see another? Do not speak to me unless you truly know. This silence is too precious for empty words. Emotions have no say here. Do not wound me by inauthentic expression. If, in me, you see another, turn and go back into the crowd. It is not your time. Go back. Go back to the madding crowd. Go back to the expensive pashminas, the photos of shining pagodas, the Thangka paintings in your backpack that you scored for a penance with a conquering smile. Go back to the lie that satisfies your minds perpetual craving for happiness .

Go tell them about a poor homeless boy that moved you to tears. Tell them how touching this encounter was and what or how much you gave. Be grateful that you are not in his position. And then try to push away the sound of your bleeding heart, wounded by your minds refusal to truly see.

While you walk away from this moment, know this: I will still be waiting here for you patiently. One day you will return. One day you will surrender all the broken pieces of a life divided. One day you will sit here with me in this darkness and truly be at peace. On that day, I will open my eyes and i will see myself....... for the very first time. This is our destiny my beautiful, eternal soul

Mandir Mein

A friend once asked me about a Shiva temple.  If i was asked which would be the best Shiva temple to visit for some kind of enlightenment? I would say: The best one would be the one that exists in the heart.  It may sound Pat and cliche but hear me out at least.  In India and Nepal, I have seen some of the oldest Shiva temples in the world. One of them being Pashupatinath. In Pashupatinath you will see, at any given time, people coming to die in the temple, mothers coming with their new born babies, bodies being burned on pieces of wood, couples coming in for fertility ceremonies, business men coming in for financial blessings. There is death, life and everything in between, all of this can happen at once in the temple. There is chaos and wonder at any given time just like our lives. In the middle of it all is a black stone linga. Darkness. Nothingness. This is the presence of Shiva.

Here is a thought among the many that circulate and are equally true: The temple is our heart. The temple is life. In the middle of the temple is a darkness. From the darkness burns an eternal flame. Shiva means pure Bliss. Pure freedom from the trappings of manifest existence. Shiva is one without a second. One who is complete in the Self. It is better to visit the cave of ones heart where an eternal flame resides then all the temples in the world without meditating the implication.  There is so much to talk about with regards to this.  Shiva.  Mandir.  Self.  What are your thoughts about it?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

08 October - Lost in the Jungle

We all ate together after the satsang. We joined our hearts and hands in prayer, and sat on the floor to eat in the upper room of the ashram. We ate and drank from plates and cups made of leaves. These swami's were simple people yet most held doctorates and were extremely intellectual. After lunch that feeling of restlesness began to grow inside me again. That small voice telling me that i got what i came to this ashram for and that it was time to continue the journey. I bade the swami's farewell, said goodbye to my new friend and mentor Swami Tatwananda and made my way to the town. At the town i paid Rs30 for a shave, i bought a few bananas, some guavas and decided to visit the market. It was fun for a while watching the daily parade but the voice in me started to stir again and i felt a prompting to cross the river unto the other side.

I followed suit and after a long crossing on the Uttarkashi bridge and past the other town, I reached the Ganges again. I thought i would sleep by her shores again this night, this time in the more uninhabited part of Uttarkashi. While walking i saw a foot path, almost hidden, near one of the banks. It was leading up and beyond one of the mountains. I knew it was getting late and taking it would be a higher risk but i decided to follow my instincts in any way. After walking for some time, i got a little lost and was a bit worried about my disposition. An old village lady came walking past me. She turned and looked at me, at first with curiosity and asked "Kya jare he" (where are you going) I replied "Me Desh Deko, me hindi thoda jaante hun." (I am looking at the land, I understand a little hindi)

Her look turned to one of concern and she replied: "Challo." I knew that meant follow me, so i did and another adventure ensued. After walking for some time, we came to a home that rested just above the foot of a mountain. There was a river flowing down past it and it had rice paddies surrounding the encarpment. It was a marvellous site. We entered in through the gate of the homestead. There were 3 ladies sitting in the balcony area with 2 children. They seemed startled to see me at first but after the old lady spoke some words in Hindi, they smiled and bid me to sit down. One of the ladies quickly got up to make me some tea and the other to fetch some water. I felt so much at peace, I felt myself generating much love at that point. We tried communicating. They understood a little bit of english and I a little Hindi so it helped. But most of our communication was from heart. Laughter, smiles, hands and the occasional nod of the head. They all seemed so enthusiastic at my arrival and so full of life. They seemed to trust completely. Every gesture that i made invoked a response or a remark from some person in the group to the entire group. I had never been received so warmly and endearingly before.

After a while and in the midst of our communication game, a gentleman came out of the house. He greeted me and sat down next to me with a calm, collected smile. He tried to speak with me in English. His command of the language seemed better than that of the ladies, although it was not much. He welcomed me and the 6 of us sat there and communicated as the sun set in that beautiful Gharwal village in Uttarkashi. As night approached, i was asked to stay over by the man i came to know as Santosh. I shook my head politely and refused but they protested. I was told that what i did was dangerous. That there were wild animals in that part and for someone who doesnt know his way around he shouldnt walk there freely. Secretly i desired to stay, I had formed a deep love for this family. These people were so simple, so beautifully kind, accepting and loving, how could i be anywhere else at this time, how could i be with anyone else?

We took supper that night together, Santosh and I. The ladies and children ate seperate. Such is their custom. Santosh told me that any visitor in their home is an expression of the Divine. I truly felt that in their treatment of me. And so with divine grace we ate together until out bellies were full.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

08 September - Journey Back: Uttarkashi

I awoke yesterday to the sound of the river. How beautiful. How sweet. A bird joined in chorus outside my door and a stray cow from the village outside my back window. I had spent the night in the Chinmaya mission in Uttarkashi. The Ashram is so beautiful and kept so neat and tidy. It sits along the Ganges, further up the hill. It is a hive of activity and a sanctuary of peace. By this i mean that much work gets done here, silently, behind the scenes so to speak. The Chinmaya ashram is a very special place. When one is closer to the Tapovan Kutir with eyes closed, one cannot help but feel the sentient vibrations that constantly resonate in that place.

The day before, whilst sitting on the banks of the Ganga with Swami Tatwananda ji, he shared something with me. This was one of my most memorable conversations with him. Subtle, sentient, sweet and sublime. :) One of the secrets he shared with me was that one of the things that separate Mother Ganges from all other rivers is that she is constantly chanting the Aum. If one can afford to, one can hear it. I had stored this statement somewhere in the back of my mind and had lost the link to it. Nevertheless at 7:00am I sat at the Kutir where Sri Tapovan ji, a wise saint and sage, did his Tapas for more than 30 years. What i experienced was too beautiful for words.

I closed my eyes and i could hear it. The Aum!!! It sounded like a hundred Gregorian, Hindu, Buddhist monks all collectively singing: AUM. It was coming from her. It was coming from the Ganges. It stirred up emotions inside me. I watched as these emotions came to me. I observed the effect it had on my mind and body. I observed the sensations created all through my body. I drifted off.

Work at the Ashram is seamless. I woke up at 5:00am. I took a bath. The ashram had hot water. It felt very different after taking a bath in near freezing water the last four days. Ganges water is cold in the north. I took a bath in Bhojwasa, between Gangotri and Gaumukh and it must have been about 3degrees at most. I washed my clothes and hung them out to dry. I followed through with my practice of Asanas, pranayam and Dhyaan and was out the door by 6:40am. Neville ji, one of the workers at the ashram, was waiting outside to serve me with a nice cup of hot chai. It was still cool outside and the chai was a welcomed relief. I began to make my way to the place that had become so familiar and welcoming to me: Sri Tapovan Maharaj ji's Kutir. I passed Didi who was sweeping the steps so gracefully. I did my namaskar to her and to Sashi ji who's job was to wait on all residents at the guest house. I made my way down the winding path, past the rose bushes and up the stairs into the Kutir. I sat and was at total peace. I heard the Aum again as i closed my eyes. Mother was singing her beautiful song. In the Kutir, i felt and heard these things. I felt the presence of Sri Tapovan ji, I felt the mantras reverberating through the spaces and the walls, through my body and being. I felt great devotion and sacrifice in that place, calling me to a deeper walk.

The bell rang at 8:00am for breakfast. We were served a South Indian breakfast. It included Sambar, Idli and chutney. It was very tasty. :) Afterward i made my way down to the meditation hall next to the Kutir expecting a satsang of sorts with the local ashramites and villagers. Instead Swami's from all the different ashrams in Uttarkashi filtered in, one by one until the room was filled with about 150 swamis, male and female. I was the only person in that entire room that wore clothing that was not Saffron. Further more, i was the only non-swami present. :) I was EXTREMELY uncomfortable, yet excited and humbled at the same time. Slowly the swami's began to interact with me, one by one; a kind gesture, a soft smile, a loving gaze until my inhibitions began to drop and i started to ease into my environment. When this happened it dawned on me that i was not surrounded by personalities or ego but by encompassing love. Mahatma's; humble men who had given up all worldly attachment and small identifications in order to serve humanity at large. These were the real swami's; men and women who have heard the call to serve the world and each other. With deep love and devotion they began to chant the ancient mantras of old, charging the atmosphere with love and divine energy and i out of all people, found myself in the middle of this. How fortunate i was. I closed my eyes again in pure bliss and drifted off.

07 September - Journey back: Uttarkashi

People take rest here in this place.  People find home here at Mothers shores.  I met a swami named Hari Om Ganga.  He came from the south in Kerala to help his guru with his cave in Gangotri.  Just to clean it up and make it more secure.  He was not a swami or anything at the time just an ordinary educated man who had an interest in Hatha Yoga.  He ended up staying at Uttarkashi for 15 years.  When i saw him, saffron cloth and all, i recognised a simplicity and a purity in him.

06 September - Journey back to Gangotri

I woke up at 5 this morning to the sound of the conch in Gangotri.  I could hear the Ganga roaring from the room where i spent the night in Ishavasya Ashram in Gangotri.  I shared the room with the four swamijis from the Chinmaya mission in Kerala.  One of the swamijis is swami Tatwananda, the one i have been developing a relationship with. 

The night before was very tough for me, so many thoughts arose from the deep, so many vices, i could literally feel them choking me.  Last night was different though.  :)  There was a power and a deep peace.  I could feel the energy coarsing through me, calling me, waking me up at different times during the night with what seemed like electrical surges through my body.  It was exilerating and exciting.  Last night was very different.

I woke up at 5, took a bath.  The water was very very cold.  :)  Not as cold as my Ganga bath but almost there.  It rained today.  I decided to leave with the four swami's to the Chinmaya mission in Uttarkashi, the place where Sri Tapovanji did his Tapasya for about 30 to 40 years.  It was a funny situation.  None of us could speak fluent Hindi.  (They were Malyali speaking) We took a bus, assuming that the driver would take us to Uttarkashi.  That was not the case.  He took us as far as a village just past Harsil and asked us to get off.  We were a little confused but agreed that the fare he charged us was surprisingly less for an intended journey all the way to Uttarkashi.  A truck driver offered to take us the rest of the route.

We reached the Chinmaya mission around 2:00pm, all cramped up and tired from our 6 hour long journey.  There were 7 people jammed up at the back seat of a truck that was supposed to only carry 4.  Upon arriving at the ashram, swami Tatwananda asked me to follow him whilst the others unpacked.  He took me to what seemed to look like an ordinary porch or patio within the ashram.  He kneeled down in the centre, said a prayer, stood up and asked me to do the same while he made his way to another swamiji in the ashram, paying no attention to me.  I kneeled down and slowly became aware of the sensations in my body.  It seemed like an external force was acting upon it.  There was a tingling sensation and a depth that seemed almost endless.  When i closed my eyes i became aware of very intense sensations in my forehead and upper body as if it was pulsating to a very beautiful rythm.  I did not feel like opening my eyes.  I did not want to.  I felt like i could stay there forever.  After what must have been some time, i could hear swami's voice, it was slowly getting louder as i drifted back into that reality, waking me up from what felt like deep sleep.

I opened my eyes again and could once again hear the river along with the swami, calling me.  Besides him was the other swami.  They both waited patiently, smiling.  Swami Tatwananda introduced his friend as swami Dayananda, the presiding swami of the ashram in Uttarkashi.  After doing my pranams, i was asked to join them for lunch.  I am now writing from my room in the first floor of the ashram.  It is very beautiful up here.  The air is clean and fresh.  The monkeys are going about their usual village taunts and the Ganges is clearly seen and heard.

After lunch, I took a walk with swami Tatwananda along the banks of the Ganges.  She draws all creatures unto her.  We spoke.  We listnened to each other and to her voice that resonated deep within us.  I am truly glad for meeting this man in the saffron cloth.  His eyes are deep, gentle and compassionate and he speaks the truth.  He is with others but he is truly alone.  He is complete in the Self.  In that regard, I too wish to be like him someday. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

05 September - Bhojwasa to Gaumukh continued

Walking up to Bhojwasa, I walked alone.  I had the company of the wild flowers, the insects, the animals that roamed freely but kept to themselves and an occasional pilgrim passing by.  But most of the time, I walked alone.  I saw in the distance four Swami's.  One Swami walked ahead whilst the others followed close by.  I later came to know this Swami as Swami Tatwananda, a Sadhu from Kerala, the Southern part of India.

While walking between him and the group, he would make space beside him.  There seemed to be a silent invitation for me to draw near.  To walk close.  I did.  We walked most of the may in Silence, occasionally smiling at each other.  The rest of the Swami's followed behind.  We eventually made it to Gaumukh.  It was a sight to behold.  A huge figure of an ice mountain shrouded with mist.  Blocks of ice floated down from the big iceberg known as Gaumukh and formed the source of the Ganges.  The water was really cold.  Almost freezing.    We reached there in the early morning, with mist still surrounding most of the mountain, and us.  The mist would clear and we would behold Gaumukh in her splendor.

It was cold.  About 4 degrees.  I was warmly clothed.  As we stood there, the thought came to me:  Okay, this is nice but i am really cold and wouldn't mind being back at my hole in the ground in Bhojwasa around about now.  Just as the thought came to my mind, I saw an old Swami (perhaps in his late 80's) zoom past me with lightning speed.  He was barefooted, skinny and had nothing on him but a shoal around his waste and beads on this neck.  It seemed he was on a mission as he had no time to talk.  I heard later that he is a well respected swami around these parts and that his home was in Tapovan, about 18km away from Gaumukh and 15000 feet above sea level.  He was doing one of his routine walks there.  It was snowing.  He was half naked.  I was not sure that was possible.

Going back to Bhojwasa from Gaumukh i developed a repoir with Swami Tatwananda it seemed.  He always welcomed me beside him/    It was good walking with him.  It was wonderful looking at the peace and calm in his eyes and feeling that so strongly in his presence.  At some point i decided to walk ahead of the group and make my way back to 19km to Gangotri.  I would be there a day earlier and wanted to establish communication with Sunil to let him know.  About 8km down the path, I saw a mountain man walking with his horse.  He asked if i needed a ride.  He asked with an air of desperation in his voice and i could tell that he could use some extra change. I agreed, jumped on the horse and rode back to Gangotri.  There were some very close calls and i was thankful to make it back in one peace.  I made it back to Gangotri well ahead of schedule.  I thought about the others walking behind me and how the path, for all intensive purposes was meant to be walked by foot as i saw it as being meditational and cathartic.  This was not the case with me and i felt a little dissapointed with my decision to ease the load.  I also thought about the horse and the man who would whip it on its rear with a stick.  I realised it may have been a bad idea to have taken the ride.  I will walk to Gaumukh again and back some day soon.  With no horse on the way back though.

Monday, October 19, 2009

05 September - Thoughts on the way to Gaumukh

As i walked through the mountain, i mulled through a few thoughts in my head:

When one truly understands the nature of the ocean; its width, its depth, its hidden mysteries, then one can begin to understand its varied expressions in context.  Let me explain:  To the outside world, the oceans most common expressions are the waves.

Ode to the former self

Words that could help describe the space: 

~Fleetwood Mac
I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky What is love
Can the child within my heart rise above
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life

Well, Ive been afraid of changing
cause Ive built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
Im getting older too

Oh, take my love, take it down
Climb a mountain and turn around
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide will bring it down

If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well maybe the landslide will bring it down

05 September - Creatures of the Night,

(continued from the journey)

I woke up at 5:00am this morning.  Last night was very difficult for me.  It seems i was not alone in this little hole dug into the ground.  There were other creatures there with me.  I realised this the moment four tiny feet made their way across my face mid sleep.  It felt and sounded like a mouse.  I could not see a thing.  It was dark.  I heard many noises and realised that there were other animals in my space and became afraid.  I tucked myself deeper into my sleeping bag, trying to form a hedge of separation between me and this new world i found myself in only to feel something cold and slimy underneath my armpit.  I was filled with disgust and anguish.  I slipped my fingers underneath, pulled out whatever it was that made its home there and flung it against the stone wall surrounding me.

04 September - The Journey,

continued from belonging

I know for sure that i have been to this place before. Everything here is so familiar to me. The flowers, the trees, the rock crevices, the smell of the Himalayan Thulsi. I walked 9 hours today in the Himalayas from Gangotri to the rest stop in Bhojbasha. I crossed 3 rivers, walked along dusty footpaths, saw 3 mountain deer, passed hermitages and caves where sadhus have been living since the time of the ancients. I walked through an amazing forest in Chidwasa. I climbed through rocky crevices and winding pathways. The river is still by my side. She has been constantly leading me. Closer. I am at the rest camp now in Bhojbasa about 12 000 feet above sea level. It is very basic. I am now in a 2x2 hole in the ground covered with metal sheeting. It is dark here. The little light bulb in my room works with solar energy. It has been going off from time to time.

I will take my rest here and tomorrow morning continue toward the source. I have never been a part of scenery this peaceful and pleasant before: the eagles flying above me, the snow-capped mountains, the range of wild flowers in the valleys below me. I feel a deep belonging to this place. I would like the opportunity to continue my sadhana here some day.

Mother guide me. Guru teach me. Spirit find me between these breathes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mystery of Reminiscence

Who and what gave to me the wish to woo thee--
Still, lip to lip, to cling for aye unto thee?

Who made thy glances to my soul the link--
Who bade me burn thy very breath to drink--
 My life in thine to sink?

As from the conqueror's unresisted glaive,
Flies, without strife subdued, the ready slave--
So, when to life's unguarded fort, I see
Thy gaze draw near and near triumphantly--
Yields not my soul to thee?

04 September - Belonging,

continued from Gangotri

Last night we cooked on an open fire. Sunil, his dad and myself. It was cold, around 7 degrees. We all sat around the flame. Spicy noodles, vegetables and ginger chai. It was good. We talked, we laughed, we listened to each other, to the river, to the silence between words. I was tired, it was a long day and was time for bed.

Sunil looked at me with kindness and said, "I am really glad to have met you Vishalin ji. I feel like I have known you, like you are my own brother." I was humbled by his words. I felt the same way toward him. I smiled. I thanked Sunil and his dad for their hospitality and i made my way to my room. Tomorrow would be another long day, I would have to get up at 6:00am the next morning. My trek to Gomukh awaited.

Friday, October 16, 2009

03 - September, Gangotri,


It turns out that Sunil and I really enjoyed each others company. He asked me to come and stay with him and his father in Gangotri. (His mom had passed away) I was happy at his invitation. Gangotri is a very beautiful place. It has a walkway that leads all the way to the main temple. Along the walkway are villagers selling all sorts of amenities. To the far right will be the Ganges flowing fast and loud. On the other side of her banks are many Ashrams where pilgrims take rest. In the old days, many pilgrims would make the journey to Gangotri via foot. Many of them from all over India, including the Southern most part. This would mean years on the road for some. This gives one an idea of how special this place is. It is believed to be charged with the energy of many an aspirant, many a seeker, many a holy man throughout the ages.

Ganga Ma Temple - More than 300 years old

If this is true, i can certainly understand why everything here feels so ethereal to me. I walked with Sunil and he took me straight to the temple where he did his prostrations. The temple is an amazing white stone structure said to be over 300 years old. I bent down to kneel outside the temple gate and i could feel my body shaking. It caught me off guard and i did not know why. I was also a little light headed and Sunil could see the look of bewilderment on my face. He smiled at me and said, come on lets go. It was an encounter for me. I had never had this reaction in any of the other places i had been so far. For Sunil, it was another day of coming home to Mother to say hello and then off to play.

We then walked to his house, a simple two-roomed building on a hill to the left of the Ganges if you stood on her banks and were facing the source. From his house you could see everything, all the other village houses, the main temple, the Ganges and the other Ashrams. If one veered off into the distance, one could see what looked like cave dwellings of holy men in the distance. Yes!!!! In fact there were Caves that were clearly visible in the mountains; and yes some of them looked like they were being inhabited. Excitement began to rise within me. My oh my what a day for an adventure.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Trip to Gangotri,


I left the ashram with renewed strength that morning. A feeling of elation came over me as i walked downriver trying to find my way to the nearest ghat into town.

As i walked i saw a young man dipping his urn into the Ganges. He looked up at me and smiled. I smiled back and greeted him with Namaskar. I asked him where he was going in English and he seemed embarrassed to reply. He spoke in Hindi and from what i gathered he was going to the temple to do his morning oblation. I said "Me tumhare sat chalta hun." meaning I am coming with you. He nodded and we walked together. Something interested me about this particular individual and i wanted to find out why.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

02 September - Waking,

continuedDreaming i could hear the conch. Waking i could see a figure of a man before me, facing the river, deep in prayer. Chandini lay above me accompanied by her entourage of stars. It still seemed night to me, although the familiar sounds around me and the feeling in the air told me that nature was in her early stages, preparing to meet the dawn. I was not sure about the figure before me. My eyes were still blurry and i could not make him out clearly. I looked at my time and it was 3:30am. I blinked my eyes a bit to see more clearly. The man before me wore saffron robes, had a beard and from the little i could make out in the light, looked elderly in composure. I knew that he was either a swami or a sadhu. He was about 6 meters away from me. I was sure he must have seen me.  What was he doing here?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

02 September - My sleep by the Ganges

Walking down the alley way i saw children playing, cows scavenging for food, shopkeepers sitting patiently, waiting for the next customer to contribute to their livelihood. My companion had politely excused himself and i was once again alone. I could hear her getting louder

Sunday, October 11, 2009

02 September - Uttarkashi

The smell of ginger Chai filled my nostrils as i jumped off the bus in Uttarkashi. The old man who i loved so dear had disappeared. I said my goodbyes to Uma and ventured off. I was now in a new town surrounded by traffic; motorbikes, jeeps, trucks, cows, bicycles and buses. This city, like every other city in India, has a rhythm of its own. The sound of a motorcycle horn quickly brought me back into the present moment as the biker had to maneuver around me. I was getting in the way again. :)

I got off the road and onto the pavement filled with different traders, food, fruit and vegetable vendors. It was six in the afternoon and the city was very much alive. A cool breeze blew past me in the middle of the heat and i knew where it came from. She was calling me. Asking me to come and be silent for a while. At that moment, a teenage boy came running up to me repeating the words: "Sir, room?" "Nahi," i replied, "Which is the way to the Ganga?" He pointed towards an alley with a strong look of curiosity all over his face. I walked in the direction of the alley and he followed me, smiling gently and gazing at me from time to time. I entertained his curiosity and started talking with him, we exchanged some hindi and english between the two of us, swopping and dancing around with it as we walked together. It was a pleasant exercise but i was determined to see the Ganges again and be alone with her for a while.

Friday, October 9, 2009

1st September - Pleasant Encounters

I knew i had to leave today. This feeling has been growing inside for a few days. Restlessness. A prompting. At yoga this morning it felt like a fire in my bones. I could not stay. I woke up mid class, ran down to my room, packed a satchel with my tooth brush, soap and an extra change of clothes and left. I did not know where i was going, or how i was going to get there. I just had a strong desire to be close to the Ganges and to follow her close to the source.

I took a Rikshaw to the Rishikesh bus stand. The bus leaves every morning at 7:00am and 10:30 am to Uttarkashi. I learned this at the bus stop. I paid Rs155 and hopped on the bus for a 7 hour ride. There was a swami ji already on the bus. He looked a little dark and unwilling to socialize so i let him be. I had to wait an hour for the bus to leave and was getting hungry so i bought some bananas. They sell for Rs 30 for 12 in Rishikesh. I bought 6. I hopped back on the bus and gave the swami ji one. He smiled and accepted it.

A very friendly character hopped on the bus soon after. All smiles and laughter. Some sunshine in a dark place. :) Uma. She walks in with some fruit and sits in my seat at the front of the bus. She did not know it was my seat at the time. The bus tickets come marked. I learned later that nobody really ever follows the seating arrangements. Its usually a free for all. The bus started to move and i asked her if i could sit next to her. "Sure" she smiled.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Aadays Tisai Aadays ~Guru Nanak Dev Ji's views on outward appearance ~Music by Snatam Kaur Mundaa santokh saram path jholee Dhi-ann kee karen bibhoot Kinta kaal kuaaree kaa-i-aa Jugat dandaa partheet Aa-ee pant'hee sagal jamantee Man jeetai jag jeet. Let contentment be your earrings, humility your begging-bowl and meditation the ashes you apply to your body. Let the thought of death be the patched coat you wear, chastity your way in the world and faith in the Lord your walking stick. See the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humankind as the highest order of Yogis; Conquer your mind, and you shall conquer the world Aadays Tisai Aadays Aad Aneel Anaad Anaahat Jug Jug Ayko Vays All honour to the One, Hail the Primal Being whose attributes cannot be described, Who is without beginning, the Unstruck Sound and whose form is One through every age. Aadays Tisai Aadays Aad Aneel Anaad Anaahat Jug Jug Ayko Vays

29 August - Life in Anand Prakash Ashram

Anand Prakash Ashram is situated in Tapovan which is North of Ram Jhoola and Laxman Jhoola. (Tapovan - from the two root words Tapasya - meaning specifically austerity, and more generally spiritual practice, and Vana, meaning forest, or wilderness. Tapovan then translates as forest of spiritual practice, wild place for practicing austerities, etc. ~ Wikipedia) The morning bell rings at 5:30 at the ashram. For those waking up with the bell that gives you half an hour to wash and get ready for yoga and meditation which starts at 6:00am and runs through to 8:00am. Aspirants are encouraged to wake up earlier than 5:30 and start their own practice before the group session. There are a few reasons why it is most suited to do ones practice in the early hours of the morning preferably during 4 to 7: (slight detour :)
1) This is the time when the Kapha Dosha is low in humans and Vata is high. It allows for more intense practice and meditation. According to Ayurveda, there are essentially three types of biological humors which in combination makes up ones inherent psycho-physiological nature or Prakriti. These are Vata, (space and air) Pitta, (fire and water) and Kapha. (water and earth) Along with these humors or Doshas come certain attributes. Human beings are said to be a combination of these Dosha's with any particular one in dominance. When Vata is high it is very conducive to meditation or more sentient and subtle efforts. 2) Thoughts do not really belong to us. They float around in a cloud of consciousness that belong to the human collective. In a specific geographical location, some people find it easy to "zone" into the thoughts of others. This is why in an intimate environment with someone familiar it is easy to think something and immediately find the other person expressing our thoughts in some form or the other. In a busy surround people find it quite noisy, not just outwardly but in the mind as well. A possible explanation is that there are many thoughts circulating the room and one is being bombarded psychically by these. During the early hours, most people are asleep and those who are awake are mostly concerned with spiritual practice which enhances the thought collective at that time and creates a higher resultant vibration for meditation and spiritual practice. We start our class at 6:00am by chanting the Aum. It is still dark outside and a few rays of sun start trickling in through the sky. The room is filled with about 20 to 25 people from different countries. The sound of Aum reverberates through the hall. Everyone is silent. Slowly we begin our practice and work it through to a comfortable sweat, all the while breathing in rhythm and chanting the ancient sanscrit mantras. This creates a strong feeling of oneness in the atmosphere. We usually end our practice with a shoulder stand, (sarvanga asana) fish posture (Matsya asana) and then finally in Shavasana while Gaurav Ji (our instructor) plays a soft meditational or chant CD in the background. He would then do a sequence of relaxation techniques with us, leading into yog nidra (the sleep of the yogis) and when people are ready they can leave. Some stay for a while after, going into deep sleep or conscious sleep. It is a relaxing and deeply meditative experience. After yoga we would make our way down to the dining hall for breakfast. All the food that is prepared at Anand Prakash ashram is prepared according to Ayurvedic principles and is highly Satvic. Tastes real good as well. :) Silence is observed from 9:00pm until 9:00am. Most of us eat in silence enjoying the company of the whole. Its during times like these that i begin to realize how over rated words are and how deeply connective silence can be.
"Brahmarpanam Brahma Havir Brahmagnau Brahmana Hutam Brahmaiva Tena Ghantavyam Brahmakarma Samadhinaha "
This is the prayer we would chant before eating each meal. It translates as:
"The act of offering is God, the oblation is God By God it is offered into the Fire of God. God is That which is to be attained by him who sees God in all"
After breakfast agnihotra ( ) is performed by one of the swamijis at the ashram. Attendance is optional. Alternatively one is free to go into town or sit by the river or read any of the books in the large library at the ashram. Rishikesh is filled with so many things to do for so many people with a variety of likes, one cannot easily get bored here. The ashram itself is so full of unique people coming from so many different walks of life. It makes staying here so interesting.
Lunch is served at 12:30 and our next yoga class starts at 4:30pm and runs through to 6:00pm. Saturdays classes are usually held outside on the beach by the Ganga. My body was very sore at first and now craves the classes. The Agnihotra seems to be having a positive effect on my body and mind as well. All in all this is a good place to learn, grow and heal.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

28th August - Moving Ashrams :)

Today i move out of the Swatantrananda Ashram in Ram Jhoola Rishikesh. I will be moving to Anand Prakash ashram in Laxman Jhoola Rishikesh. Yoga twice a day at 6:00am and at 4:30pm. Agni Homa every morning. Satsang every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. :) Sounds exciting. Lets see.

Monday, September 21, 2009

27th August - Rain in Rishikesh

Got caught in the rain yesterday while walking along the Ganga in Ram Jhoola in Rishikesh. Ram Jhoola is surrounded by temples along the Ganga. It is a very beautiful and unique place. While walking i came across a Rishi under a shelter. I gave my Namaskar to him while hurrying along and i heard a voice behind me as i passed him. I looked and it was him calling me to him. Wow. What did he want, i wondered. I went up to him with reverence. The rain was now pelting down and i was soaked. He called me closer. "What is your name?" He asked. "Vishalin" I replied, anticipating some Sidhi, some grace, some timeless words of wisdom from him. Perhaps something to help me further along the path. He smiled, gestured that i come closer and then whispered in my ear; "Vishalin.....that is a good name. You want to buy Hashish?" I smiled and hurried along my path. The rain was pelting down. My camera was beginning to get wet to i sought some shelter underneath some food and clothing stalls. A voice called out to me. It sounded familiar. It was coming from a coffee shop opposite me. It was my friend Patrick, the French Yoga teacher whom i met at Mukti's restaurant the other day. He had a warm smile on his face and asked me to come in and spend some time with him. He had a friend with Him, another French man named Francois who pulled out a box of Jenga and we played, the three of us, with hot cups of Chai. Perfect way to celebrate a rainy afternoon. After the game of Jenga, which i turn out to be very good at (i have never played it in this life before) :) Patrick asked if i had seen the Aarti at Parmat Neketan? I had not so i decided to go along with him. What an amazing experience. About 500 to 1000 people gather on the ghat with musicians and vedic students chanting the mantras. All in front of an amazing stone carving of Shiva who sits further into the Ganga on a concrete bridge. Alone and untouched. I was very moved being there.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kabir Song

Oh My Soul

Oh my Soul, you come and you go Through the paths of time and space. In useless play you’ll not find the way So set your course and go. Sing such a song with all your life You will never have to sing again. Love such a one with all your heart You will never need to love again. Oh my Soul, you come and you go Through the paths of time and space. In useless play you’ll not find the way So set your course and go. Walk such a path with all your faith You will never have to wander again. Give yourself to such a Guru You will never have to seek again. Oh my Soul, you come and you go Through the paths of time and space. In useless play you’ll not find the way So set your course and go. Pray such a prayer with all your soul You will never have to pray again. Die such a death at the feet of God You will never have to die again.
Oh my Soul, you come and you go Through the paths of time and space. In useless play you’ll not find the way So set your course and go. Breathe my Love Breathe my Love Breathe in the quiet centre.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

25th August - PanchaKarma

I just started a PanchaKarma treatment. Today i will go for Abhyanga (full body Ayurvedic massage) and Shirodhara (Head oil treatment).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

23 August - Haridwar to Rishikesh

I left Ram Dev ashram at 4:00pm. Took a bus to the Haridwar bus station. Took a connecting bus to Rishikesh. Passed Harki Poch Palace (this is where the enchanting Aarti celebration takes place in Haridwar) As we drove, on the upper hill, I saw the Mansa Devi temple standing in her splendour. I am making an intention to go there. The two other old temples in Haridwar are the Chande Devi temple and the Bharat Marsha temple. In the bus i met Krishna; a local who was very helpful. I am now at the Art of living Ashram in Rishikesh. Lets see what happens: 19:45 - Had a nice cold bath. (its hot here....about 35deg celcius) Needed it. :) The marble floors here are very attractive and clean. I walked to Swami Dayanand Ashram for the ganga Aarti. It was said to start at 6:30pm. I walked until i could hear the sound of rushing water. Behold the Ganges, about 5 meters ahead of me. Racing down its steep banks. This was the closest i had gotten yet. So beautiful. So majestic. So close to the source. The aarti was being done in a temple in the ashram. I felt like being outside with the Ganges so i sat down, crossed my legs and did a simple meditation. So powerful is the energy of this river. I went for a walk through the local neighbourhood. People live so close by each other here. Windows and doors are always open. Shops are left open with the shopkeeper away for periods of time. I walked the public route through to one of the ghats facing the Ganges. I walked through alleyways where neighbours all shared a single building, cordoned off at different places. Its so amazing to see people live in close community like this. They seem genuinely happy. Its so different from back home. The children here are so beautiful. They take my breathe away every time i see them; every time i hear them singing, laughing, shouting, playing. so much of purity. so much of innocence. It seems behind each shop here is a room where the owner and his family will stay. It seems people here are comfortable with what they have and live for sustainability.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shoes Off

(an evening walk along the Ganges) Tonight i cast these sandals off as i walk this dusty road. These comfort slippers at learnings cost no longer take me home. This road walked by many a saint, many a villager, many a happy child. All barefoot. All given completely to each moment in the journey. All given fully to the road, to the stones and the rubble, to the dirt and to the waste of many an animal and human alike. And if perhaps i should mistakenly step on some creature, this time aware, then maybe i too will know and feel again how precious these fleeting moments are as it steals my numbness from me. On this beautiful evening in Rishikesh, Chandini hides her glorious face from me, revealing only a hint of mischievous smile from behind the blankets of Shiva. She steals my gaze and all other faces and features are lost behind her luminous taunt. I too am faceless and nameless among the tens that walk this path tonight. I am nobody. I am empty and hollow. "It is no longer I that lives........" How freeing the thought. There was once a time when i too was a child. I had no care for social etiquette or compliance. But i felt a deep connection with all and trusted completely. I sang to my sentiment and danced spontaneously to the joy in my heart; naked and barefoot on the dusty street. Completely. Completely. Trust was implicit. I did not care for shoes to protect. Now i walk barefoot in the night, dancing to a strange and soothing melody inside me. Mother is by my side.


Location: Rishikesh
Mother calls. "To him who has ears........" Ever embracing, ever open. All belong to Mother. Mother embraces all. Wrinkled and old throughout the ages yet with such grace she moves as in the prime of her youth. With such loving charm and composure she fulfills her daily chores. With no thought for herself; Mother only knows what is her duty surely as the earth knows its place in the sun. Selfless are Mothers actions. Unconditional is her love. There is no other love like Mothers love. One with the source is Mother. One with the infinite depth. Ageless and beautiful is Mother. Yet many are fooled by her multitude of disguises. By the clothes she may wear. By the colours of her ever-changing skin. By the ashes, by the loin clothes, by the waste of many a villager and city dweller. Many are fooled and turn away from mothers love. Yet mother is pure. And pure she will always remain. There is much life and purity in her plentiful bosom. To the traveler who lives by the senses, he will not see Mother. Instead many distractions he will find. He will quickly move away from her and look to her shores instead where many a lure will lay. But to the one who searches his own heart, he will take refuge in Mother alone. She is harsh to those she loves the most; to those twice born; to those who are not of this world nor the next. Yet she is harsher to those who pursue her deeper still, closer and closer to the Source. If this is your goal then Mother will be relentless. She will test you and try you and be harsher still; that you may know the intentions of your own heart and the nature of the fire in your eyes. In Mother all are one. The little child playing at her side, the rishi, the seeker, the Sadhu, the Shop owner, the leper, the thief, the animals, the excrement, the dead. Mother has no favourites. All is one. All is Brahman. Mother loves completely. When you are embraced by Mother, you feel deeply her love. But deeper still, when you embrace Mother, when all inhibitions are thrown into her currents, you feel love for all. All differences are dissolved. There is no longer big or small, nor rich or poor. There is a deep humility that is felt; A breaking within. A deep thread of connectivity with humanity and with creation. A feeling of selflesness. A feeling of surrender, of non-identity, of non-individuality. There is such a feeling of freedom and such joy that exists. Words cannot do this justice. Yet those that live with her constantly, that speak with her in the early hours of the morning at the break of dawn. Those that interact with her during the day in bath and play, those that sing to her at night with Arti: they know this by heart already. They have made these truths their basis for life here and in their interactions with all. Prayer: Oh divine mother. May you test my heart truly. May you make my intentions pure. You are the only one who can lead me to the Source. To that infinite bliss. To Gangadhara. To Bholenath. To Jagadisha. Even in your chastisement, even in constantly pushing me away from that place. Still i will become more resolute. Still i will become more fervent. Nandi will teach me how to take stance. Gone are the days of the gopi. Gone are the days of the flute and the melodies in the night hours. These have all been washed away by your waters. Mother divine, Courage is also with me. Nandi and Courage are my symbols of strength. I shall walk still to that place. Many Rishis have walked this path. Many have fallen for the jewels along your shores. Let me not be swayed. Let me not stop until i have reached the goal. Shiva!!! This is my prayer oh Mother divine. In many forms you have come to me for many years. In many forms still you will come. I thank you in all of these. Let my eyes be ever open so that the goal may be reached. Let me not drift into dreaming again.