Posts from: April 17, 2013

5 Reflections on India. 4th Reflection: Life Preserver

Vishnu is God of Life Preservation so is it any wonder that he is represented by water?
The second leg of our pilgrimage took us from death to life preservation and the City of Allahabad where the three principle rivers of India meet. The vibration is palpable multiplied 108 times by Maha Kumba Mela – the mother of all meetings! – which takes place every 12 years. This particular mela only happens every 144 years which means it’s a once in TWO lifetimes event. And it’s not just Hindus and yogis who come here; there were many Buddhists and also lots of curious new-agers.
We spent a good four days commuting to the mela grounds which are normally just open land outside the main city. For the 2-month event, thousands of tents – some elaborate temporary temples, others simple dwellings – collectively create a vast tent city. It was hard to imagine what the area looked like during non-mela time without all these structures and the sea of people.
The first item on my personal ‘to be’ list was to find a Krishna temple. This happened day 1 when an older Indian gentleman was so moved hearing us chant Sita ram that he escorted us the full 3k to ISKCON where he then sang us the maha mantra in the most soul-seducing baritone. It was incredible how he took us in like that. We felt renewed after walking so long in the dust. I felt like I was drunk from sipping pure water from Narnia! At one point I remember smiling at Cali girls Valerie and Emily thinking, is this real?
It was the last day that my darkest spiritual desires were met: meeting the dreadlocked, chillom-toking, trident-carrying Shiva sadhus. These guys are hardcore coming down from their caves in the Himalayas only every twelve years just for mela. You are lucky if they sport simple robes as most of the time all they have on their skin is naturally-insulating ash left over from puja fires. Astrud was beside herself with excitement and Cristina, Howie my cool-as roommate and myself just had to go with her to the infamous sector 4; a place NOT recommended for westerners.
There was a silence in sector 4 that was distinct from the loud ecstatic chanting that happened everywhere else. Instead of being invited to sit and chat we got careful half-nods and an immediate offer of chillom when we finally dared to sit. We declined the chillom and sat in silence with a black-pupiled sadhu who seemed to size us up for the longest time. When he finally talked it seemed like he needed our spiritual credentials before blessing us with teachings. To be honest I don’t remember too much of what he said. I do remember that he was far more interested in dropping the knowledge to Cristina and Astrud. In a strange way this made sense as sadhus take a vow of celibacy and they rarely even speak to women.
I had lost all sense of time and felt strangely drained and very parched by the time our driver summoned us back to the bus. He said he had a bad feeling. I thought it was just me who felt that, but I personally felt drawn to stay. Astrud remarked ‘That sadhu was a dark-eyed rogue’.
It took me at least two liters of water and a few minutes silent time to feel okay again; to find that equilibrium between having died and having been born. It made me think about how potentially strong our vibrations can be and that our energy can pull others in and bring them up or pull them in and bring us all down. Every single one of us, like water itself, has the power to preserve life. We all have Vishnu consciousness. I guess it’s just a matter of how we use it that makes us who we are.