Pilgrim Experience of Northern India
by Michael, California, a pilgrim

Pilgrims at Shiva Circle

Pilgrims at Shiva Circle

A soft landing in Kerala was perfect to prepare us for this pilgrimage to Delhi, Dehradun, Rishkesh, and Haridwar.

Everyday was power packed with saintly people, satsangs, energizing by the Ganges, meditation at holy shrines, guidance through mazes of shops, finding the good food, helping us stay tuned, answering questions, being our port in the storm of sensory bombardment.... no way could a pilgrim land here, become so immediately immersed in profound spiritual influence and be so well cared for. We are eternally grateful for this experience and the deep friendships we forged. India is permanently etched in our beings, a deep heartfelt thanks to you dear souls for making it so. Hari Aum.

Another highlight of our pilgrimage was when Daya and Keshava set up satsang with Mataji Vanamali Devi, a Krishna devotee and disciple of Sri Jayendra Saraswati. That’s a very cool story. Here we all are just tagging along on pilgrimage, read a short de brief of Mataji's saintly life that Keshava gave us and bingo, there she was, there we were, AUM. She graciously welcomed us, a small absolutely precious woman who spoke perfect English in a musical voice. What a treasured experience. The vibrations in the room made us all very alert and almost giddy.

Meditating with Vanamali Devi

Meditating with Vanamali Devi

She invited us to ask questions so Donvieve asked without hesitation, "why am I here?" She responded by pointing to herself and saying, "why am I here?" , and then chuckled musically. "This is God's lila or play." She told us (how I heard it) that on the playing field of life and death, it is all energy transformation, a play of light and shadow. God does not have to put on this show, but is so doing out of Love and delight, Lila. He IS IT. God is the doer. She also said that Japa, the reciting of Gods name, is very important, for at death, Japa is what we ride to merge with God. She said also that Japa when recited over half of your life time, becomes internalized and automatic. (We pilgrims better get more Japa happening and live another 60 years if we want to get in on that action.)

Mataji Vanamali Devi "If you want to overcome duality, accept life as it is... go beyond the attachment to both joy and sorrow."

I asked her a question about how to design a freed up life more from my business of providing food growing systems to a life of service. She chuckled and said "Growing food IS service, nourishing others is service. There's only one thing going on, spiritual growth, life is not secular. Why would you want to get freed up from serving others to serve others? You find self by giving it up to others." I am still absorbing that teaching and feel very blessed.

Pilgrims with Vanamali Devi

Pilgrims with Vanamali Devi

We then sang chants in sanskrit (that was winging it)... her voice was like an instrument, heavenly. Then two young girls came in, sat up in front of the alter with Mataji and sang all the chants. They were pure joy, looking around at us pilgrims fumbling with the sanskrit chants. How delightful. Then we meditated together, what a treasured experience, the entire room buzzed with softness. Prasad was delivered, we accepted it gratefully and bid farewell to Mataji. She blessed us with safe travels. Thanks Daya and Keshava for arranging that. Jane, Judith, Donvieve and I are deeply grateful for this experience. It is rare to be in the presence of saintly devotees, will treasure this always.

Our next adventure was a ride up the Ganges from Rishikesh to meditate in the spiritually powerful cave said to have been home to Sage Vashishta. The road was semi decent. Monkeys everywhere, incredible vistas of the Ganges, road workers camped in huts fixing the roads that are constantly in motion. Daya told us some mythology about the cave that currently a couple rishis are hanging out in their astral bodies deeper in the cave. Wow... rishis are the original yogis that found the way out of Maya and left navigational maps for others to follow, pranyama, asanas, 8 fold path, yamas, niyamas, right attitude, renunciation, etc.

What a thing. The cave was cool, all sound absorbed.... the altar was very sparse, this was a more ascetic kind of shrine. Not much room in the cave but we situated ourselves best we could. I noticed that usually in meditation, I can explore around in space... absorb sounds, like a bellows breathing in and out... but in the cave, it sucked all that up. I found it difficult to soar, like all my senses were absorbed into the rock walls. After awhile when my legs went numb, I imagined why rishis used this cave... in the world, our prana flows out, engaged in the senses, action, distractions, but in the cave. ZIP. There's no distraction, no where to go but inside. I suppose for very focused beings, this would be a perfect environment for deep meditation.

Just downstream from this shrine is the cave where Swami Kriyananda spent a month in seclusion. Tried to go in but there were people living in there so we dipped our bodies in the Ganges.

It was pretty clean up there, no cities above us to pollute. Sadhus were hanging around washing clothes, dipping early in the Ganges.

No way can we share the deep impact of India with others... it's in the heart, guarded. We will carve along the grain. Love to all of you great souls... so privileged we are to have shared time together on so many levels. So blessed.....


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