Namaste from Rishikesh, India, the yoga capital of the world. Themighty Ganga rages here as it receives melted ice from the nearby Himalayas. It is said that Mother Ganga is so sacred, one drop can wash away the bad karma of a thousand lifetimes.
I am halfway through my India pilgrimage, having previously visited Rajasthan, Varanasi, and Vrindavan. From Rishikesh, I will travel south to Goa and Kerala. In Goa I will study at Shri Kali Ashram, a place of special significance to me as it is where my teacher and dear friend, Chanda Creasy, once immersed in Tantric traditions. I am excited to feel the vibrations of her spiritual home.
Cars, mopeds, and pedestrians zip through narrow streets and every second seems like another collision narrowly avoided. It reminds me of a massive school of fish in the ocean, every organism moving in harmony and never colliding. It indicates what life is like in a country of 1.28 billion people, where 80,000 are born daily and each year the country inflates more than the current populations of Australia and New Zealand combined. Utter chaos is in fact a refined dance as movement becomes liquid and continuous. The most astounding piece of it all is that they do it with a smile and without any sense of competition. Perhaps that is why it works so well: they collectively understand the only way to survive is through cooperation.
I have been blessed to spend part of my journey with fellow teacher Charlotte Healy, who I met in Varanasi after her Seva in Bihar, the poorest region of India. She spent two weeks volunteering at an eye clinic. We sneak off to roof tops to practice asana and have separately concluded that the best, and perhaps only, way to thrive in India is to dissolve any expectations or attachment to outcomes. Only when the illusion of control is humbly surrendered can one receive the gifts of Incredible India.
Together, we stumbled upon an ashram in Vrindivan while in search of an Ayurvedic Cafe. We never found the cafe, but we did find a peaceful paradise and one of our favorite places this far. We were invited to stay for breakfast, given a room to nap through midday heat, offered spiritual counseling, taken to a witness a Vedic fire ritual on the Yamuna River, and once again fed dinner before being driven home in an air conditioned car. Before founding the ashram, the guru spent 3 years and 108 days in a cave meditating without a single disturbance from the outside world. When he emerged, a swelling crowd pronounced him "Yogi Raj" - king of the yogis! Even the sick showed up to be cured by his touch. He renounced this title on the grounds that all beings are equal, with no single person of more or less value than any other. In a country of caste systems and profound economic disparity, I found this both refreshing and inspiring. When asked about the cave, he calmly said, "that was a really good time in my life."
Everywhere I visit I wish I could stay much, much, longer. When locals ask me the difference between India and Washington, the most accurate and effective way I can explain is by saying India is my mother and Washington, DC is my father.
My heart is full of gratitude for all the love and support of my kula across the world. Much love to all! ~Eric~