Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Off to India–Land of Veda
I leave for India in two weeks, my first trip there. I can hardly believe it. The Taj Mahal. The Ganges. Rishikesh. The Cave of Vasistha. Maybe the exotic step wells or a passing elephant. The Monsoon season. The crowds, the cobras, the dust, the . . . Oops, going off track. Back to land of Veda.
Posted by on 10/6/2013 12:40:00 PMComments 0
Preparing for India

When I first made the decision to go to India, I immediately began making lists in my head of what I needed to take with me. First on my list was a notebook to jot down my impressions (I need to express myself or I start to founder). Second on the list was my new camera, which I hadn’t really learned to use yet (my love of visual expression equals my love of verbal expression), so I’ve been playing with the camera and getting better with it.

Posted by on 10/6/2013 12:44:00 PMComments 0
Following the Master’ Steps
The word Master ranges in meaning from perfecting to controlling to owning. One could perfect a skill, control a situation, or, in the past, even own people (oh, the karma there!). In India, the word Master suggests a deeper level of perfecting, owning, and controlling–when those abilities are directed inward. A Master develops his (or her) own inner Being, the Self, coming to know that deep level of silence at the source of all creation. A rare few are able to know this experience so fully that they are able to lead others to this experience. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was such a Master.

Posted by on 10/6/2013 12:51:00 PMComments 0
In Transit
Left Cedar Rapids in a thunderstorm. Choppy flight to Chicago, but events smoothed out at O’Hare. The group decided rightly that we would progress more quickly through the airport if I would use a wheelchair. I agreed and a charming man named Asif from Delhi wheeled us through security points, past all the long lines. We arrive at Air India an hour beforehand, but the flight was already boarded, so no wait there either.
Posted by on 10/6/2013 12:57:00 PMComments 0
Varanasi. How to capture that experience? The air is sweet and filled with dust. The traffic, like in Delhi, is wild and chaotic but, here, filled with rickshaws and cows ambling down the road among the weaving cars and motorcyles. The cows are beautiful and I want to touch each one we pass. On our way from the airport to the hotel, we pass into Old Varanasi, a place different from any other I’ve ever seen. Old Varanasi is built of alleys, not streets, and every alley is smaller than the last.
Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:03:00 PMComments 0
On the Road to Allahabad
We take a car from Varanasi to Allahabad, about an hour and a half trip. Our goal is Maharishi’s Smarek. The trip sounded easy enough; of course, we didn’t really have directions. Our driver’s English is a bit spotty but better than our Hindi, which none of us speak. We feel excited, however, and unwilling to let lack of directions get in our way. We jounce our way over cobblestones on our way out of Varanasi.
Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:05:00 PMComments 0
The Ganges, an Earlier Highlight
One highlight of this trip for me has been the River Ganges itself. The Ganges is a wide, brown river, much like the Mississippi and about the same size. The first night in Varanasi, we stayed at the Alka Hotel, which sits right on the river, literally. The hotel has multiple terraces and balconies that give one an unobstructed view of the Ganges, both immediately below and up and down river.
Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:21:00 PMComments 0
Day of Obstacles
Can’t imagine what this day would have been like if Rajeesh, our driver, hadn’t bought three malas to hang around his Ganesh on the dashboard. We really needed the “Remover of Obstacles” today. 



Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:08:00 PMComments 0
Maharishi’s Smarek
After we glimpse the Smarek across the river and after we stop for directions several times, we drive down a green lane beside the Yamuna. We haven’t gone too far before we see a large sign for the Smarek on our right.

Posted by on 10/6/2013 12:34:00 PMComments 0
The Taj Mahal

Scintillating beauty. White marble with precious gem inlays, set amongst green, spreading lawns and leafy, shady walkways. 

Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:12:00 PMComments 0
My Traveling Companions
I have known my traveling companions, Linda Castillon and Richard Furlough, for many years. We have mainly lived in different parts of the country but connected in Texas, North Carolina, and Fairfield. We also connected because all three of us are cat people. I won’t say how many cats we have among us, but it’s quite a few. 

Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:14:00 PMComments 0
Early Mornings in Bharat Mata
Guest post by Richard Furlough.

Of my varied experiences while traveling through India, some of the most surprising and memorable have been during the hours just before dawn when I’m out walking and exploring this beloved country. Whether participating in the elaborate mahamangala harati ceremony performed at 4:30 every morning at Sri Sailem Jyotir Ling Temple in southern India, taking a dip in the Ganges River from its rocky beach before it enters Rishikesh in northern India, or simply picking flowers in a Delhi park for 5:30 puja, something unexpected and special awaits.
Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:17:00 PMComments 0
Panchakarma is Not for Sissies
My first forays into panchakarma were two-day treatments over weekends that mainly consisted of abhyangas (think hot oil massages) and bastis (think enemas). My friend Linda describes full-course panchakarma as more like boot camp. You need to be geared up and ready to go, and then the treatments just keep coming.
Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:25:00 PMComments 0
Maharishi Vedic Pandits…the Sounds of Heaven on Earth
Guest post by Richard Furlough.

What a gift Maharishi Ayurvedic
Hospital in Delhi now provides by sponsoring five Vedic pandits to come daily and chant the Vedas in the more refined and correct way as recommended and taught by Maharishi. They live at the Maharishi ashram in Noida, and generally arrive around 10:30 each morning (except Sundays) to begin a 2-3 hour ceremony of honoring various aspects of creation through symbolic offerings and Sanskrit recitation of the Vedic scriptures.
Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:29:00 PMComments 0
The Evolving Dinner Table
Our dinner table companions are an evolving international group. Homelands represented include Singapore, an island off Mauritius, Bali, England, Germany, France (Brittany), Iran, Argentina (by way of Skelmersdale and Dubai), and—claiming the largest percentage—Australia and New Zealand. 

Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:26:00 PMComments 0
Leaving India
Doesn’t seem possible that we have been in India almost five weeks and we’re leaving tonight. While at the clinic, it has been an honor to see and be treated by Dr. Raju, the renowned Ayurvedic physician. Linda describes his presence as feeling like father is at home. We honor him. Our thanks to all the staff here who have made us feel so welcome and well cared for during our stay.
Posted by on 10/6/2013 1:30:00 PMComments 0

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