Visited an ashram deep inside the mela today. We walked for several hours to get there but it was worth every step. We were greeted with open arms and incredible hospitality when we arrived. There are multiple Europeans living in camp there including one from US. We are able to converse in English. The surroundings are extremely simple and we realize immediately that in our camp we have been living in luxury by most other standards.
I’ve never eaten at a happier table. I never have FELT the blessing instead of just hearing it. There is so much love in the food it is truly Prasad and a gift to partake of it with others. We eat with our fingers from bowls made of pressed leaves and we laugh and love much during our meal together.
The people in India never suffer from the American disease of loneliness. They live together, work together, walk together, eat together and sleep together. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Maybe there just isn’t enough space per person to be alone anywhere here.
Togetherness is abundant in India and especially the mela where we are even more condensed. I think maybe that’s one of the reasons they are so happy.
My take away for the day, Less is More. Less stuff, less stress, less worry, less aloneness, less work, = More Happy. Isn’t that the secret elixir we are all looking for?
May you be happy, may you be healthy, and may you be at peace.
Namaste and Jai Ma to all.
And to my beloved Kripalu sisters Crystal and April , Jai Bhagwan
Coming back to the blog after a few days and I am excited to read all your entries. I close my eyes and imagine what it feels like to be where you are. Trying to imagine what it feels like to be quiet with self, whispering to the River that draws you toward her in quiet contemplation, and jubilant joy, yet being surrounded by millions of people. There is an article in the Wall Street Journal about the Kumbh Mela and a rather large picture of the river. It puts me right in there with you. They say it’s India’s holiest, “where drops of the nectar of immortality are believed to have been spilled from a pitcher by the gods at creation.” A lone man is in the middle of it, shirtless, hands in prayer, head bowed, eyes closed, with many strands of beads – large, very large beads – around his neck and shoulders almost as if he were chained to the river by them. I am drawn to his side in my imaginary thoughts. In the background are the millions on the bank. They actually say the crowd expected on 2/10 was 15 million. Your 1.2 million number maybe is a low estimate!?!? And yet there is joy with it all as I hear you say, peace and fulfillment. Masses coming together for a common purpose I guess and they come in peace. Not something many societies could do. It is an interesting article and I will save it for you. The description of the logistics of managing all those people and all they have to do sounds like a challenge and an art, but like you say, they have been doing it for millions of years. The preparation seems massive, even having to bring in a temporary electrical grid to accommodate. If you feel like you are in luxury while the “outside” is not, you are probably correct. They’ve done quite a bit to make this happen. It says this is the largest religious gathering on earth. Professors at Harvard study its “construction” to apply to urban conditions. You have certainly chosen a rare experience indeed. What an adventure. Its many aspects will be your teacher and your guide for years to come. I imagine the man in the picture coming out of the water with a joyful heart and women beside me, who I assume go in dressed, coming out the same but with wet clothes clinging to their skins, not caring they are wet and sticky. Getting in at that area you described where the Ganges meets the sacred Yamuna must be especially meaningful. According to the article, there is also a mythical river, the Saraswati, which is believed to meet at that spot but flows underground, contributing to the sacredness and uniqueness of that area. The people that gather, the people you meet, the sharing of time seems to be most significant. Rivers flowing, unions in marriage, time passing, young getting older, walking meditation, one step here and one step there, one breath here and one step there, groups in different camps, the hungry staring out, crowds everywhere, crowds nowhere, feeling life, feeling love, feeling, feeling, just feeling, energy building, and with all there is joy. I see you smiling. I see you uplifting others with your presence and hugs – all to hear the voice within and to be heard by those outside yourself. To feel that life is meaningful. That it has a purpose. To feel love. Here in the USA we will have a week of love as Valentine’s day approaches. Already I see couples with red bags at restaurants, tissue paper peeking from the top. I see those that sneak to the rest room to write that last little note on a card full of sparkly hearts and a pink envelope. Hand holding. Soft words spoken. Young ladies sitting in excited anticipation of what might be inside those bags or little boxes. Togetherness is the message and so it is that maybe as we go through this week anyway, here in this country, we might come closer to sharing the joy in the togetherness you are so in the midst of – not needing those red bags and pink envelopes. This week we take special time out of our routines to reach out, be less alone and more connected, a little less stress and less work maybe to FEEL the feelings that bubble up within when we think of those we love. And so I will think of you and your pilgrimage as I celebrate love with those here dear to me. I believe less is more, and as I spend this year making “less ” of the things/paperwork I live with, to make “more” of my life, I can especially relate. But when it comes to love, we must agree it may not apply. “Abundant love” is what someone told me the other day she felt of her newborn child. I know you understand, “no vessel large enough to contain……spilling everywhere, spreading out into infinity”. Know that you are loved here by many. Keep that list close to you that you told me about how to manage crowds to stay safe. May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be at peace, Namaste, Liliana.