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My Journey to India 2011 - On the Banks of Mother Ganga

October 6 2011

After participating in the International Yoga Conference in Haridwar, we travel along the banks of Mother Ganga towards Badarikashrama. Our first stop is near the cave of the ancient rishi Vaisishta, which was discovered some hundred years ago. At that time, there was no road leading to the cave – it was surrounded by impenetrable jungle.

In the cave one cannot help being touched by the mystical atmosphere. It feels as if a great personality is sitting next to you, looking through the darkness.
“Who is this?” – I asked the hermit who takes care of the cave.
“It must be Vasishta himself”, he answered, “Saints stay at their bhaitaks (sitting places of meditation) even after they have left their bodies.” Then he relates something which many people have experienced here, “When someone sits in the cave and chants ‘Om Nama Shivaya’, from the back of the cave a deep voice answers ‘Ram Ram’ as if to correct them.”
 
I feel tempted to try it – but our group already started climbing the steep path to our cars. Badrinath is waiting!

By now Shridhar, the organizer of the Bhaktifest, and Bella have joined us. We form a convoy and sometimes join them in their car.

As we drive up the mountains the road becomes more and more dangerous. Sometimes only millimeters separate us from the abyss. Landslides and the monsoon have almost completely eaten away the road. With great efforts the traffic department “Shivalink” has to renew them after each monsoon.
Everywhere creative slogans remind the travelers to be careful:

“Life is a journey, complete it!”

“Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer”

“No race, no rally, enjoy the beauty of the valley”

“Mountains are pleasure if you drive with leisure”

Mother Ganga can be experienced the strongest at her confluences. There are five on the way to Badrinath – Deva, Rudra, Kana, Nanda and Vishnuprayag. We take our bath in all of them.

Let me share something we experienced in Rudraprayag:
We arrived at dusk.  After offering a Ganga arati to the raging waters, we sit down in silence to chant our Gayatri mantras. The 200 steps of the ghata lead us all the way down to Mother Ganga; we are surrounded by her from three sides. Only our backs are not exposed to the breath taking sound. The mighty gusting waves – some up to one meter high – are called “standing waves”. The air is full of prana and spiritual mysteries. We are virtually sitting in the lap of Mother Ganga, thus we can feel her heart speak to us. Everyone in our group gets a message.

There are three levels on which you can see Mother Ganga and communicate with her – as a river, as the presence of strong spiritual energy and finally as a person. We sing kirtans in praise of her, offer lamps and prayers to request her to reveal herself in her personal form. She always responds.

Ten years ago, when I first came here, I almost died. I had ignorantly jumped over the iron fence which keeps the bathers safe. When I had resigned myself to death and said my last prayer, Mother Ganga decided differently, reverted her powerful waves and returned me safely to her bank.
  This year I decide to put my life into her hands again, but differently this time. I open my heart to her. Standing there, completely honest, with no secrets kepx; I ask an important question, just as a child would address his mother. She answered, “Look at me. I flow to the sea with strong force, removing all obstructions. Where do you think I get my strength from? From the lotus feet of the Lord, whom I am connected to since I came to your world! Do the same!”
Clear and relevant advice!

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