Monday, November 1, 2010

Lunch at an orphanage and Arti religious ceremonies as the sun set on the Ganga

31 October 2010 Sunday (and 1 November 2010 at the very end mentioned with photos link)

Today consisted mainly of a trip to two events – lunch at the orphanage / school of Ramana Garden and then an evening’s religious ceremony and ritual on the banks of the Ganga.

But first our usual one-hour morning walk – this time joined by both Abe and Anne, as well as Kathy and Gail. We went left (south) again toward the Virbhadra temple, not making a good choice of narrow lanes to follow as some were dead ends. We thought we’d go to the Ganges and head down river if we could.  We first reached to archeological digs of the Virbadhra temple and stood around looking at it, discovering indeed there was a black lingam, though obviously of recent insertion.  Abe read the English far inside which said there were three stages or brick and structure – 1st century AD, 4th century AD and 8th century AD.   

Meanwhile a woman passed by on her way home and said this was a good site to look at.  We then asked her about the singing. All night long there had been pretty loud singing from loud speakers near the Ashram, which kept some people irritatingly awake. She said – oh, yes, that happens every Saturday night – in praise of Bhagavata Mata.  By then, the keeper of the archeological site had arrived, unlocked the gate, and set out some chairs for us.  Which we didn’t use.  He told us in his rustic English – “no photos” – of course we had already taken lots through the close iron bars of the fence before he came. We went on down to the river – it did not have a path down river, so we could not go in that direction.  It was 7:35 by then and time for me to turn back, but the others, except Gail, went on to the barrage again.  Gail and I winded our way back noticing a well-kept for cow at one place – a two large bowls of grain food for her, and a nice burlap cover on her back.

Showered and shaved and off to a very austere breakfast of dal, chai, and puris (not chapattis).

Our 9:30 am class was again taught by Jelle at the Knowledge Center on “Science of Breath”  I though t it was very good – details about the lungs, nostrils, and lots of theories about yoga – Shankara and advaitiya philosophies.  Jeanie kept being skeptical – I asked if Jelle has found his teacher or guru (yes), what chakra he had obtained (the lowest of 6), and if he was conscious of his previous births (I will not discuss that).  Well, an interesting and stimulating talk and discussion.  Anne asking Jelle what he did for fun – in this world and in the inner world?

Off to get on the bus (changing out of my Indian white kurta and payjamas and into my American clothes) and a ride through downtown Rishikesh and the forest again up to Laxman suburb of Dehra Dun, and a walk into back allies in that hilly town to the Ramana Garden café, situated at the school there. An American woman, now known as Prabhavati, started this orphanage and school many years ago after a boy came up to her and she said she’d give him food if he’d go to school.  One of Robert’s Maryville students, who had been on one of his India trips, was working at the school also, Malinda.  We all settled into the soft floor seats behind tables in the café as Malinda told us her story, then we had lunch followed by Prabhavati’s story, and the auctioning off of 4 scarfs and the buying of some jewelry.  A delicious lunch of a creamy carrot soup, followed by either an Italian vegetable ravioli dish, or Himalayan red rice, both with a ‘safe’ salad – and a piece of chocolate cake.  She’s visiting Yogaville in May 2011, so I gave her my card.

Back to the bus (with a bathroom break) and up to a Western grocery store for chocolates and shampoos around 2 or 3 pm. 

And driving back toward Rishikesh, being dropped off at Ram Jula to go to the 4:30 to 6:30 pm Arti ceremonies. Down the 91 steps to cross over a foot (only) bridge to the other side (actually there was motorbike, bicycle, and other traffic besides pedestrians).  Then downstream on a market road, toward the Beatles ashram (but never got there), to the Ram Jula ghat, for an evening of ceremonies, singing, chanting, fire, and worship, sitting on the ghat’s steps, as sun set.  There were young boys dressed in priestly garb, tourists, western and Indian, as well as local people, families, and pilgrims.  All quite enchanting. 

sacred feet in the Ganga
The walk back to the bridge around 6:45 pm was through the dark market street, along the dark bridge, and up the dark 91 steps.  Going through the market, we were continually harassed by young (12 year old) kids with their ‘art’ work, and other merchants calling out to us to stop by.  Kathy kept repeating again and again – we’ll be back tomorrow, tomorrow! Robert called the driver of the bus from the foot of the steps. Saying we’d see him in 10 minutes.  We waited on the side of the road at the top of the steps, maybe for 15 minutes, but the bus came and we headed back.

Since we arrived at supper late, around 7:15 pm, we had to be patient and wait for the second sitting which came in about 20 minutes.  An uninspiring supper of chapatis, rise, dal, subzi (vegetables), hot milk (with two tablespoons sugar for me), and an apple. Abe, Anne, and Kathy were in cahoots, planning for tomorrow’s 5 hour trek form the Ramana Garden area up a mountain and down tomorrow early.

At 8 pm Vishnu gave an hour talk on “Emotional Purification” which started after 10 minutes of guided meditation.  Vishnu listed and described all the bad things one had to purify against, most as a result of uncontrolled desire.  My desire was to stay awake Sunday night, in a way that I had not the night before.  And I succeeded.  Gail also said she had to struggle staying awake.  Abe, Anne, Jennie, and Llyn were absent from that lecture.

Back to room #14 to write this and yesterday’s blog.  Another very different and full day – a great meal at an orphanage / school, and the wonderful Arti or ceremonies on the bank of the Ganga at sunset.

One would hardly suspect that today was Halloween - too much inner life here for that outer fun and frolicing.

1 November 2010. Monday. A day of Meditation, laundry, Indian food, dress, and music.

See photos and a music video clip at India 2010 #11 Meditation

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