India with Judson 2017 travel blog

Traffic congestion


Western yogis and bathers

Sarnath w tThai and Sri Lankan statues

Reclining Buddha, Sarnath

The highlight of yesterday was after we slipped the candles and flowers into the Ganges. As we approached our hotel, Brian and I decided to continue up the steps and along the lane to Lahiri Mahasaya's home to see if it was open for meditation. The gate was unlocked, the front door was open, but huge metal gates (similar to old elevator doors) were locked tight. We sat for a moment on the marble ledges, and took some photos through the grating.

In several moments a man appeared, unlocked the gates, welcomed us in, and said he was a devotee of Lahiri's. He left us in the hall checking out framed photos of the Guru, of Babaji, of Yogananda, and Christ, along with many other unknown sages. He came back with more keys, and proceeded to show us around.

Four more rooms - housing a Babaji statue of marble and meditation room; three marble statues of Lahiri, his son, and his father; two separate rooms, each with a three foot Shiva Lingham made from black stone. Also a white marble mandir holding Lahiri's ashes, and some soil or rock from Babaji's cave. Brian says Babaji's ancient scrolls are also in the monument, but I didn't hear that part.

We were able to do a half hour meditation with him, and another devotee who arrived part way through. Another Caucasian woman was looking for the location as we left going back to the Sita Guest House.

It was very uplifting and peaceful. This is the place Lahiri would levitate and also go into Samadhi.

Back at the hotel. It's not every bathroom in the world, where you can sit on the throne and listen to badly sung, but utterly devotional bhajans, and blowing conchs, to brighten your morning ablutions.

Out the window we see Indians bathing in the Ganges, and three western women doing their asana yoga on the cement Ghats. Boats overflowing with tourists continue to ply the waters - day and night.

It has cost me 300 rupees from the hotel manager to supposedly confirm our plane tickets for Wednesday.

How can one intensify the chaos and sensual assaults in this city? By taking a tuk tuk from the main road near the main Ghats to Sarnath, 14 kilometres away! We thought Jud should have the last say in today's activities, and so he wanted to spend 300 rupees on a tuk tuk, rather than 2,000 rupees in an air conditioned car. So on we went for about two hours each way, having to keep knees and elbows inside so the Bulls' or cows' horns don't gore us, nor the other traffic vehicles clip parts of us off. Smoggy, and constant horn honking, and many potholes, but we made it.

Sarnath today is 10 times better than 40 years ago, when all there was to see was the stupa to walk around for free. Now it costs a foreigner 200 rupees. But the newer section with the 80 foot Buddha statue, and the Thai and Sri Lankan statues is very beautiful and peaceful, and free. With Jud along we didn't take time to meditate there but it would have been lovely. Apparently 7,000 followers of the Dalai Llama are housed just behind these statues, and the Thailand students or renunciants are housed to the left of this area.

It's a pretty place for weddings and there was a wedding party setting up across the street next to the area where textiles and trinkets made by these renunciants are sold without tax, to support the programs.

Now to compound all this stress on the senses, the Wastenage appetite kicked into high gear for dinner, and after walking for several kilometres while checking out 6 restaurants for chicken dishes, in a vegetarian city, we were persuaded to hop on a bicycle rickshaw (2 in front, Jud facing back) and were taken for more adventures to the Muslim section at least a half hour away (after dark). Ultimately we had a good meal, but when he returned us, we doubled the payment for the rickshaw driver and gave him some food, due to his workout carrying all three of us.

It's been a full day in this ancient city, created 1,100 years B.C. It is one of the oldest continuously lived in cities in the world, and the infrastructure has not kept up to the steam engine, the gas fired vehicles, the airplanes and trains disgorging thousands of tourists daily. Despite its potholed roads and filthy air, it is the spiritual capital of India and it all seems to work in some crazy 'other worldly' fashion. There seems to be more bovine on the streets than any Alberta cattle ranch, yet traffic continues around them.

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