Every year, I visit Rishikesh in Himalaya but this time I got a chance to visit devbhoomi (God’s own earth) in the Hindu month of Shravan (July – Aug). Shravan month is sacred in Hindu system for various festivals that are celebrated during this period like Janamashtami (Lord Krishna’s birthday), Raksha Bandhan, Naag Panchami, Basava Panchami etc. Shravani Mela is a major festival time at Deoghar in Jharkhand with thousands of saffron-clad pilgrims bringing holy water around 100 km on foot from the Ganges at Sultanganj.
|Shiva Statue at Haridwar|
As I was in Delhi during the time of Kanwar Yatra, I thought of going to Rishikesh to bring Ganga Jal (Holy Ganges Water) for the rituals in home. So here is my pilgrimage to Rishikesh from Dehradun divided in Two Parts, (due to the length of the post was too big to be unleashed on un-suspecting readers J). The story below is from the DAY ONE and to read the second part, DAY TWO, click here…
|Sculpture of Lord Krisha as Charioteer, giving knowledge of Bhagwat Gita |
to warrior Arjuna at Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh
yada yada hi dharmasya | glanir bhavati bharata ||
abhyutthanam adharmasya | tadatmanam srjamy aham ||
Praritranaya Sadhunam | Vinashaya Cha Dushkritam ||
Dharamasansthapnaya |Sambhavami Yuge-Yuge.||
– BHAGWAT GITA CHAPTER IV – SHLOKA 7-8
(To hear this shloka, click here)
(Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion--at that time I descend Myself. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age.)
My journey started from Delhi, by Rajdhani Express, one of the fastest train to reach Dehradun. I usually travel to Rishikesh, by road, but because of the large rush of Kanwarias, the road from Delhi to Rishikesh via Meerut, Roorkee etc is closed for traffic. Well, this kind of thing can only happen in India I guess. The idea was to reach Dehradun and then after over night stay, planned to visit Rishikesh, starting very early in the morning.
The rains has swept the forest, the land and the atmosphere clean and pure. The clouds in the distance hugging the mountain hills, were almost giving you a call to change your course and head for those peaks.
On the way, there I saw prayer flags of Buddhist wondering about those monks and kind of searched them around. I have special affinity towards Buddhism, as I believe in their concept of peace and harmony, to a large extent. As it was getting delayed and could not find anyone around, I moved on, as the distance was long and I had to reach Rishikesh before the sun was high in the east.
The weather was lovely, the clouds gave me company all the way from Dehradun and at the Triveni Ghat, they come out in full form. Hiding the distant Himalayan peaks from view and soft falling rain drops, made the first impression of Holy River Ganges, an amazing experience. Compared to all the times, that I have had visited this Devabhoomi, the river was in full flow. it reminded me of the recent devastation, the cloud burst and floods in the upper region of Himalaya, specially in Kedarnath, this river has brought on its way. The life is not only about salvation and enlightenment or even of living in karma, but also of being compassionate and soulful in the face of calamity and difficulties. I was happy the way, the local people have had taken this in their stride and brought the normalcy back in their life, after a devastating catastrophe that left 10s of thousand dead.
Unusually, the Triveni Ghat was uncrowded and the banks of the river afforded a lovely view of the long stretch of the beach. I could see my brother in law who accompanied me in this journey in the distance...
Reaching the final destination, at last I was relieved. The soft spray from the waves of Ganges, from the steps of the ghat, washed away all the exertion and tiredness. In the back ground, two of the fishermen, were fishing for things (Netting Coins, offerings and some times I was told, dead bodies in recent times) and the other side of the bank, was the beginning of the forest, that is said to contain wild elephant, assorted animals and many yogis who live in isolation. On the way to Neelkanth Mahadev Temple (probably the most powerful temple of Lord Shiva around Rishikesh, 30 KM's by road and 12 KMs by trek), some times one does come across some of them.
In the distant bank, a family moved along, probably in search of a place to bath and refresh. The way kids were hanging on to the mother, it looked more like a search of secluded spot for feeding them.
And another women, found a spot along the bank to probably meditate on this around her and her life... seeking solution or solitude or just a time to reflect. I find that the banks of the Ganges, in itself is a powerful trigger to push you on a journey of self discovery. If you just let yourself flow in the flow of Ganges, you will probably end up flowering within... and that's one of the reason, Rishikesh - The Spiritual Capital of the World, beckons me all the time.
But then there is day to day life... like this girl focused on reaching her school, that's further down the river. Determination on her face speaks a lot about her way of worship. Gnana Yoga perhaps...
After spending the day in the Triveni Ghat, having a most refreshing bath in the river, cleansing myself of toxicity of urban living, meditating for hours along the bank, I reluctantly moved back to the place where my brother-in-law has parked his beautiful yellow Nano car. A long last look back, revealed that the monsoon clouds have lifted a little to give me the glimpse of distant mountain peaks (One of them is Neel Kanth Mahadev peak). This reminded me of my last visit there. I remembered Shiva silently, seeking Neelkanth's blessings for family, friends and every one around me...
The journey back is always full of emotions, reverie and deep feeling of bliss. The mantra yoga chant always fills me with energy and reverence for the universal soul and cosmic design. How the freshness of the road side flowers, fruits and vegetables, permeates within the heart, making Purusha (Man/soul) and Prakriti (Nature) one, within; reminding that there is nothing separate, every thing that is there, is there because of you, connected with you, your path and the cosmic design. If only one can realise that the dreams, desires and destination is not isolated events, occuring in separate time and space but in this reality of 'now' and here, Life will become beautiful on its own, without a need to dream, to desire and of destination.
No one reaches any where by walking but by knowing where to go.
And the path is always there... for you to know, if only you look for it within...
... Contd DAY TWO
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya