Hurray! ……. flight to Delhi in an hour, completing the last leg of a two month journey …. family Sunday!!! …… still, a part of me will yearn for India, always ….. a country that fascinates and intrigues … steeped in thousands of years of spiritual history, with so many layers, tiers …. just when I think I am saturated with all things Indian, the memory of the energy created every single night at Parmarth during the evening prayers at Ganga Aarti surfaces and I know in my heart that I will return.
A next visit will surely include a volunteer posting of some sort, having discovered the innumerable charitable opportunities here. I have been slowly meandering through the information in Swamiji Chidanand Sarawasti’s book, “Drops of Nectar” …. it covers a host of possibilities for ‘seva’ .. selfless service/volunteering, from the lofty goal of spreading peace and harmony globally, to drafting up a ‘clean action plan’ for the Ganga River, to building and helping out at schools and homes for orphaned children …. The Swami is involved and invested in making life better for millions of people. The more I read, the more I understand why he is held to such high esteem at the ashram …. he is very loved …. another good person, doing good in the world.
While many of my contemporaries are very content to navigate to the desert communities in Arizona, California, Texas to escape our brutal Canadian winters, to live out their senior lives playing golf, tennis, bridge …… I continue to research other options …. probably because I am a lousy golfer and even worse at cards 🙂 In all fairness to life in warmer climates, I have zero complaints about a month or two in La Quinta, especially with family and friends around …. but a serious case of wanderlust just refuses to fade into the sunset …… while others tire of travel with all it’s baggage, I look forward to the next adventure …. perhaps I am infected with a virus, ‘world studies’ or some variety of ‘travel ADD’ !! …. probably incurable 🙂
Yesterday, the yoga instructor at Ananda, spoke a bit before class about Indian and Hindu philosophy in particular …. for a Hindu, there are basically four stages to life ….. only a handful of devout spiritual sorts, mostly the monks, sadhus, swamis etc., are able to fast forward from the first to the last stage …. each is broken very roughly into 25 year segments …
1. Brahmacharya ashrama ….. referred to as the celibate student stage of life
2. Grihastha ashrama ….. marriage, children, establishment of independent lives from that of their parents, acquiring a material life to sustain family, the only stage where acquiring material possessions, indulging in sexual pleasures etc. is encouraged
3. Vanaprastha ashrama ….. moving along to the hermit stage, slowly detaching from one’s children, allowing them the freedom from parental influence and freeing the older generation to explore their own spiritual lives, with no boundaries, a time to employ inclusive love, not exclusive attachment, a time to renounce most physical, material and sexual needs (hmmmm, a bit hard for a Western sort to swallow)
4. Sannyasa ashrama…. a time of total detachment from earthly goods, a wandering recluse, virtually merged with God …. this would accurately describe the 104 year old sadhu we met at the Parmarth! A rather spaced out character indeed!
Detachment is a big deal in Hinduism apparently. Ananda has a philosopher on staff who hosts an open discussion group nightly on the ancient philosophy of Vedanta … enjoyed the opportunities to learn about spiritual issues from a philosophical perspective …… as if the Ayurvedic treatments weren’t enough to entice a return to Ananda, the opportunity to participate in these discussions surely would …… hosted by Roan, an Irish student and devotee of A. Parthasarathy, author of the Vedanta Treatise. Roan is a former lawyer who came to India eight years ago and never left … visits his mum and brothers in Ireland occasionally …. another drop out from ‘normal’ life …… something in the air in India 🙂 …. Certainly an interesting country for spiritual and religious study.
Posting a couple of my favorite moments from the last month including the ecstatic faces of some of our yoga group after our last class … we were all hot and sweaty but glad we stuck it out …. pared down to small numbers by then …. As I took the pictures, I told them it was their graduation photo, hence the big smiles 🙂 ….. Our whole class pooled resources and bought a beautiful ‘sadhu orange’ pashmina scarf for Indu in appreciation for managing to get us all to complete millions of sun salutation asanas!! One random thought here … why do we call a pose, downward dog, instead of ‘strong mountain’ or just ‘mountain’ as they call it in India, where yoga originates??? So poetic, instead of the gross implication of the Western term …. I think everyone should illuminate their yoga
teachers about that 🙂
Om santi santi santi