Posts tagged India.

India, With Love

I came to India searching for connections or clues that would somehow bring me closer to my mother’s youth. Experiences that would make me understand why she loved it so much.

My first couples of weeks were filled with moments of regret, anger and a lot of loneliness. There were times I wanted to call it quits and get on a plane to anywhere. I felt like I was yelling at truth to show its face while the whole time it was right there in front of me.

There were times when I asked myself why? Answers seemed to float in the air while I jumped to grab them. They always seemed a little too far to touch.

I was trying too hard. By forcing a connection I kept getting pushed back. I was focusing on the wrong thing. I needed to be open and receive all my experiences as they came without giving them meaning or comparison.

These experiences have shown me so much. A new threshold of patience, appreciation, helplessness and trust has formed. I now know new limits within which will only allow for more to be created.

I saw how curious Indians were by nature. It wasn’t long before I became the same. The more I saw the more I wanted to know.

Through this curiosity I made connections…Connections of my own through experiences of my own. And although different than those of my mother’s the outcome and love for India turned out to be the same.

Swamiji and I after puja

There are plenty of gardens throughout the property mostly of flowers that are used for puja and herbs used for tea.

A small temple was built for the ashram just off the Vishwamitri river. Service is done every morning and its open around the clock for visitors.

Ba standing in one of the driveways

Lunar Birthday, Respect and a Lot of Love

Birthdays are celebrated using the lunar calendar.  I was on the ashram when Swamiji completed another year. We had a group dinner with a few of his favorite dishes and joined by a few of his nearby relatives.

Sweets, a garland made of jasmine and rose pedals are a few offerings used in this birthday ritual.

Each of Swamiji’s sisters took turns placing a string around his wrist adorned with a small rose. This signifies their love for him. 

It was a small ceremony that made me feel blessed to experience. Filled with admiration, respect and a lot of love it was wonderful to see the way a spiritual teacher interacted with his family and how they respected him as a guru.

Ma (a sanyasini) and I after puja

#Guru  #Hindu  #India  #Puja  #Temple  #Sanyasini  

Wearing White, Ancient Scriptures and Filling the Soul

There are a few things that you may not know about life on an ashram. Here are a few that I learned during my time on one…

  • Ashramites wear white everyday 
  • Room and board were covered in exchange for a service within the compound. I helped by setting the tables, washing/drying the dishes and also participated in preparing for special pujas.
  • When greeting a Sannyasa it is customary to touch their feet with both hands, then your eyes or heart followed by touching your head. Some people will remove their shoes and bow before the Sannyasa and then touch their feet. This is out of respect for the guru and acknowledging the student within. This can also be done to your elders as they too have much to teach.
  • Group lectures on the Vedas and the Upanishads were done in Gujarati five days a week. I couldn’t understand Gujarati so Swamiji was kind enough to do it in English one/one every day. Everyone kept telling me how lucky I was. I definitely was.
  • The Sannyasas used dishes, cups and utensils that were considered to be pious and differed from what the Ashramites used.
  • There were no “rules” or “schedule” to keep up with outside of meal times and my one/one with Swamiji. I used my free to time reading books from the ashram library and writing my reflections. Sometimes I meditated, practiced pranayama or yoga.

Life was very simple but filled the soul. 

Phoi became an Ashmramite in 2002. She admits to having many painful years before life on the Ashram and doesn’t ever want to leave. Days were spent learning her story over chai. Memories that will stay close to my heart. 

Ba and Dada became Ashramites ten years ago and have never looked back

Birthday for a God

I was in the ashram for several different holidays/festivals.  One in particular was Janmashtami which is like Christmas for Hindus. It happens to be Lord Krishna’s birthday. The way to celebrate varies from state to state but you typically fast and stay up until midnight which is when Krishna was said to have been born. 

In town huge crowds took to the streets to watch the Govinda sport but on the ashram we celebrated by eating foods you normally wouldn’t eat and had a special puja that included people from the community, prayer and song.

The puja concentrated on a statue of Krishna. It had a few different types of liquids poured over it (ghee, honey, milk etc.) and then cleaned off with water.

Afterwards the statue was decorated and placed on display for a couple of days. Many of the visitors took pictures with it and stayed for a group dinner.

Neti Kriya

It’s a simple procedure for maintaining nasal hygiene by irrigating the nostrils with warm salty water. It effectively removes dirt and bacteria filled mucus from the nasal passages allowing you to breath effortlessly. This ancient yogic purification technique was taught to us in Kdham where we practiced it daily.  I noticed almost immediately the benefits. 

For more info check out

Title: Tratak 9 plays

Here’s a soundbite of a song sung before our tratak meditation session by our instructor. I don’t know the meaning of it but it sounds beautiful to me.

My yoga instructor at Kaivalyadhama

Pottering About

More tid-bits from pottering about in India…

  • Watch your step: In most, if not all parts of India people and farm animals share streets and sidewalks.  Always watch your step. You may walk into a large pile of something unforgiving.
  • Lights out: During this monsoon season power was in and out as was water. Be flexible when not staying at a place with a generator.
  • Public restrooms: Plenty of them but none carry toilet paper or hand soap. Indians wipe with their left hand using just water.
  • Right vs. Left: Eating is done with your right hand only.  Your left is only used for one thing, wiping.
  • Eating Out: When you think eating from a street vendor is a good idea reread bullet number three.
  • Cinema: Even though Bollywood flicks have intermissions many people still prefer to talk on their cell phones while the movie is going.  Just be patient. They eventually hang up.
  • Shoes: Take your shoes off when entering a temple, a home and some businesses. You may want to carry a pair of socks for walking around in the temples.  Floors might be a little sticky in some areas.
  • Admission: There are local and foreign entrance fees that usually reflect a significant difference. I’m not sure how Gandhi would feel about this. If you have a student I.D you can knock off a few rupees.
  • Indian spice: The food is better than you think! If you’re an adventurous eater and want to take a chance and order something new, be prepared for your nose to clear and your eyes to water.
  • Perspiration: During the monsoon heat you will sweat in places you never knew you could. Ladies, this includes you too.
  • Cooling down: Most guesthouses offer cold showers unless advertised as hot. During monsoon a cold shower can be refreshing. In Amritsar I took four in one day.
  • Free water: There are plenty of public water stations in case you’d like to refill your water bottle. Be sure your stomach can handle the water beforehand.