(The titles means Victory to Mother India!)
My Internet connections and wi-fi access has been spotty and unreliable so the following are different thoughts from different moments during the last month here in India. They do not make a complete narrative. Some of the tenses are mixed up as different thoughts were written at different times. Pardon me.
It is Feb 12 and after a week or so of traveling with Radhanath Swami I am back in Delhi for a day before heading to Rishikesh. The last few days at the Kumbh Mela were beyond intense.
I’m not surely really what pulled me to go back to the Kumbh other than getting an invitation from Radhanath Swami to do so. When I was here two weeks ago, it was potent but not like it is now.
There are people everywhere you turn who are getting ready for the main bathing day. I mean seas of people. It is beyond words. Legions of pilgrims, sadhus, house holders and holy men all with God on their mind and praying for the rewards from a bath at the auspicious confluence of the Yamuna and Ganga rivrers.
In the west we don’t have the software installed that allows us to understand what it is that is going on the Kumbha Mela during a peak period. We just don’t have the software. However, if you come to India and take part the software slowly starts to download into your consciousness from the great database in the sky. Very gradually the download progresses and all the little hang ups that you we have disappear. It’s dirty, it’s noisy, it’s crowded, there are too many beggars and whatever other trip is getting in your way fades away when you breathe into it.
Still with that said, I’m not sure why I came back. I suppose that getting to India alone is 75% of the work so since I was already here and had an invitation I thought i might as well take part in the largest festival in the world that is focussed on solely on God.
For me, Feb 10th was a great great moment in my life. Sadly it was dampered when I learned 32 people died trying to get into the holy sangam at the right time. When I first attempted to bathe at 8 am I turned around and went back to my camp because I felt it was too crowded and dangerous. It was just TOO much. And going alone probably wasn’t the best idea. Westerners are like a spectacle at the Kumbh, no matter how “holy” you look or feel.
I went back for attempt number 2 at 1 pm and it was a success. In the middle of millions of people I literally bumped into two friends of mine from Los Angeles. I’m not making it up. I heard my name being called as I was walking…”zach! zach! zach!”
Upon first hearing it I thought it was impossible because the percentage of Westerners at the Kumbh is about .01%. But sure enough, I turned around and there they were! Amazing. Such a small world I suppose. It was so great to be with them when we went to the holy spot at the sangam to bathe at the confluence of the Yamuna and Ganaga rivers. Logistically it also meant we could look after each others things while we took a dip!
It is now Feb 12th and as mentioned am back in Delhi. As amazing as the Kumbh was it did leave me rattled and dirty and hungry. Conditions were fine there and I am not complaining. I think all of the people just really shook me a bit. Because of this I checked into a pretty decent hotel in Delhi for a day to recharge, do laundry, eat Western food, use the Internet and clean up.
I just had dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant and the reality of the class struggles of India really hit me. Of course they are worldwide but it is so pronounced in India. This isn’t a western guilt trip complex, it’s just an observation of my incarnation and others too. I really felt the need to plug back into the Matrix for a day. I’m at where I’m at and that’s ok. I make no false claims at being a full on renunciate.
But it hit me during dinner how crazy and seemingly unfair different incarnations are. Anyone of us could have reincarnated into a poor beggar on the streets of Delhi just as we can take form of a middle class white person from America. Nonetheless, there has to be more that I can do to serve others while I honor my incarnation. How that looks, I’m not sure. But there has to be…
From a couple weeks back…
Of the many great aspects of the Hindu tradition, the ability to plot out maps of different planes of consciousness is one of the most profound. There is but one supreme manifestation of “the one” but there are many lens to view the different energies that make up the amalgam – this is worshiping god in the personal form.
The last two weeks I’ve experienced some very extreme pinball like adventures that have shot me through the energetic games of seeking ones own dharma. In a span of 48 hours I was shot through one of the most intense Shiva darshans and then found my way to one of the most beautiful Krishna lilas imaginable.
With my group, we arrived in Varanasi in a whirlwind of a pace that quite frankly pissed most of the group off. The idea of the “yatra” was lost as we shuttled around India in a hurried pace as most of the group were struggling with sickness, regular meals and sanitation. India, when done this way, is not for beginners. A couple men down, we arrived at our hotel and quickly made a place to conquer an afternoon in Varanasi. Saul was doing his best India negotiator dance thus procuring a tut-tut captain and guide that would take us to a ghat which would introduce us to our boatman.
We arrived at a low key ghat that was very much Varanasi minus the plumes of smoke and ubiquitous beggers. We negotiated a boat that would accommodate our group of 20 and then made our way to the famous Sri Kashi Vishwanath Shiva Mandir. This is where things started to get interesting.
We arrived to the mandir around 430 pm or during prime time was one might say. The maze of ancient Varanasi alley ways and mazes is astonishing and powerful. I was so full of Krishna bliss that the Shiva root destruction of the ego energy really worked me.
After the dogma of the different traditions settles it becomes so fascinating how these different energies talk to each other. There are many wonderful stories that are found in the Indian epics like the story of Hanuman or Gopishwar – in both of these examples Shiva basically wants to hang out or serve an incarnation of Vishnu. In a very very simplistic essence the two energies are just colliding and interacting.
While, admittedly, I lean more towards being a Vaishnav in daily practice I can’t escape the fulfillment of needing to get out of bliss world for a moment to root myself in Shivas love.