Day 11: Goodbye, India

mooo

While exploring the ruins of Maharishi’s ashram, I came across many trippy murals which made me wonder what folks were on back in the day.

Who knows? Maybe they were simply high on Transcendental Meditation.

lotus guru

Before leaving the ashram, I thanked all the creative souls for sharing their visions of beauty, bliss and the great beyond…

…and contributed a few words for the future.

Hari Om

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Day 10: Maharishi Ashram

Maharishi and Co.On a rainy afternoon in Rishikesh, I had a chance to visit Indian Guru Maharishi’s ashram. A spiritual retreat in the 1960s for creative minds like the Beatles, the former ashram is now retreating into the earth.

Walking alongside cobblestone memories of an era too radical to fathom, I heard occasional gusts of wind sing, “let it be, let it be, let it be, oh let it be, there will be an answer, let it be.”

And so I rolled a fat one and did just that.

Me too!

Day 8: Haridwar

Srila Rockstar

I love this swami! He sits on a golden throne in front of a family restaurant ringing his bell and wearing more eyeliner than Alice Cooper. His name is Chotiwala and he makes the best curd in Haridwar, a holy city in northeast India where Lord Shiva lets down his locks in the form of a river—the mighty Ganga.

Haridwar reminds me of Varanasi (in an uplifting kind of way). Both cities are very old with teeming ghats running along the same river. Sadhus are plentiful, living modestly and worshipping their deities of choice. The aarti ceremonies are awe-inspiring, using fire and song to glorify the five elements. And Lord Shiva is everywhere…

…watching over us with deep affection.

Giant Shiva

Day 7: Mathura

Not much to do in Mathura but shop and temple hop, so I was thrilled to find ancient sculptures at the Government Museum. Throughout its long history, Mathura has seen Buddhist, Jain, Hindu and Vedic spirituality flourish. Many art schools taught students how to build large, ornate works that represented their beliefs. Here are some stunning examples!

Day 6: Vrindavan

 

Shakti Maa

Meandering through Vrindavan is a frenetic thing (which is great for those with adventurous hearts). From dawn to dusk, the city is filled with nonstop energy! People worshipping deities, drinking chai, haggling with merchants, chanting mantras, dodging monkeys and cows, driving to who knows where in cars, bikes and rickety rickshaws. Everyday something new and exciting happens. That’s Vrindavan’s charm (and curse if you step in something mushy).

One of my favorite things to do was walk alongside Yamuna as the sun set and lanterns sailed across her violet waters, hearing the soothing chime of temple bells as swamis commence their nightly puja.

Day 3: Bharatpur

On my 3rd day in India, I stayed with my friend’s family in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of country life. During this precious occasion, Suresh introduced me to his wife and daughter, offered me homemade chai and curd, explained the difference between cows and oxen, gave me a tour of his wheat fields, and accompanied me to the local Shiva Temple (which is looked after by his older brother, Baba Ramdava). As the rooster’s call broke dawn, I watched attentively as Baba cleansed its sacred interior, performed morning puja and recited hymns from the Bhagavad Gita. These rituals would awaken my third eye and keep me in a calm, spiritual state throughout my trip. Hari Om!