Published: January 14th 2008December 15th 2007
I moved from the ashram down to the Swarg Ashram district of Rishikesh where I continued by Yoga, mediation and Reiki practices having found a great teacher doing classes at one the hotels in the area.
Other than yoga and having started to acquainted with my musical side dfuring my stay ashram I decided have a go at learning the Tabla (an Indian Drum) and the Sitar (Indian Guitar like thing). As the most tuneless person in the world and lacking any sense of rhythm I can only assume I suffered a moment of madness in agreeing to a lesson but despite my lack of music abilities I really enjoyed it and will be having a second lesson! If nothing else working two drums is a feat of co-ordination and concentration. Think this has all been inspired by the Aartis that I have been attending by the Ganges each evening even here in town.
Evenings were often spent at the daily Aarti by the Ganges watching how the experts play tabla and listening to the chants sung out by the main or guest singer from the Sri Ved Niketan Ashram. Watching a beautiful sea of Saffron and Burgundy swaying
students as the sunsets and darkness falls is a perfect way to end the day. And as the chants and prayers die down as the aarti comes to an end it is time for the flower and light offering to be floated out onto the Ganges under the watchful eye of a white Shiva statue sat on a small island in the river.
Though on my own the hours passed quickly often by talking with the local Sadhus and Baba by the side of the river, who like myself enjoyed sitting and watching the world pass by. Most of the Babas were happy to just sit and pass the time of day. Veery different from other Sadhus and Babas I had encountered who were often looking for money or to have the photo taken for Rupees but many of the Swarg Ashram Babas are truely spiritual and happy have there photo taken with no request for money in return.
Swarg Ashram does have a definate more spiritual atmosphere to it. And in the 1960's the Beatles thought so too because they came and stayed at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram where they relaxed and wrote songs for their
The ashram is now a crumbling ruin just outside Swarg Ashram after been closed down for tax issues and is slowly been forgetten in time as the jungle swallows up the once glorious buildings. The walled ashram is now closed up and has few visitors but having found the gate unlocked to the grounds I spent several hours walking around this tranquil haven soaking up the atmosphere. As I made my away long the know overgrown pathways I wondered if I was walking where Ringo, Lennon, McCartney or Harrison had set foot, even if they were before my time the legend lives on and plus it was one to tell my Mum who lived through their heyday. And as I looked in one of the dome shaped accomodations which had a flower offering on it I wondered if this was where they had stayed. The time in the grounds was blissful and peaceful and time passed so quicly it was like been in a time warp with the ghost of the past echoing from the stonework now covered in vines. Nature has set up home once again - amazing how quickly it re-establishes its self.
not learning sitar or doing yoga or at the Aartis (if all that is not enough) I spent time just sat on the sandy beaches by the Ganges contemplating life and one thing I have come to learn from my time in Rishikesh is much more about my inner spiritual side and as Proust says 'The voyage of discovery is not in seeing new landscapes but having new eyes' - how very true..... says she that is travelling the world!!!!
Having been in Rishikesh and found a new love of India - the quieter, peaceful side and beautiful countryside of India. Sadly time has run short so not going to get to Boddha Gaya but thinking of returning to India so it will leave something to do. Can't beleive I am thinking of returning but it sort of gets under your skin after a while and I think if you head to the quieter less tourister areas then there is some beautiful parts to see and experience plus if nothing gives you plenty of opportunities to practice Buddhist Patience! - Trains that run 8 hours late, moving off while you run to get on them, Rickshaw drivers trying to
over charge and the constant tooting of horns even when you are not in the way or have no where to move to! But after the ashram I am all chilled out so able to cope....maybe.....
As I sit here in India my email front page reminded me that for many of you will now be in the stages of preparing for Christmas. Seems so strange as I am as far removed from Christmas as can be over here - not even a hint of it here in a town that is so devotely Hindu been located on the Ganges. I briefly felt a pang but it lasted all of a few minutes when I thought of no Xmas shopping to be done though I am going to miss the Christmas get togethers and parties- so next year I will have to celebrate twice as much to catch up!
There are more photos below