Ashram Living in Rishikesh
Trip Start Jul 21, 2009
196Trip End Jul 21, 2010
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Now we are in Rishikesh - a town renowned for its spirituality. There are numbers of places to practice yoga, meditation, chanting. In 1968, the Beatles spent a few months here engaging in the eastern activities and wrote most of the songs for "The White Album" (one of Mike's favorites). On either side of the river there is a continuous line of ashrams and temples. We are staying at Niketan Partham, the biggest ashram in the town. We are lucky to even get a room – there are several yoga seminars taking place and on the day we leave they are expecting 200 Indian pilgrims for a festival that weekend. The grounds of the ashram are beautiful: lots of flowers and trees which creates a peaceful atmosphere. On the first day we soaked it all in and took a great yoga class – the woman who taught the class had a deep voice and when she chanted you could feel shivers down your spine. What I am grappling with here are the Westerners that we see. It's hard for me not to be cynical – I am trying to keep an open mind. But some Westerners are dressed in all white – and some where intricate turbans on their head. The skeptic in me says come on – stop posing! Are you really into this – or is this just your latest craze? But when we attended an aarti ceremony on the banks of the Ganges at sundown we saw that they were truly into it and knew the Hindu verses of the chants and songs – it became evident that some were very sincere
We are enjoying experiencing a different religion and way of life. First off the ashram has been healthy for us – we go to bed around 8:30pm, we're eating strictly vegetarian (and the food by the way is tremendous!), and we are getting plenty of exercise. In addition to the yoga, yesterday we went on a 5 hour hike in the mountains further up the Ganges. Second, the benefits of meditation: the ability to focus and not get so distracted by the materialistic concerns of modern life is very appealing.
We are glad we are ending our tour of India here – looking at the map we barely scratched the surface of India as a country. It is way too big physically to see in a few weeks – or even a few months. But we are glad we chose to spend a good amount of time in the places we did stay. Maybe another trip to India lies in our future!