Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bishnupur: Land of Terracotta and Rich History

bishnupur west bengal terracotta temples

A quaint village once, the first impression of Bishnupur was totally surprising because the richness of heritage wasn't reflected on the overall ambiance of the place. When I first came to visit the place, it was no different from regular sleepy town in West Bengal. People out there took the heritage matter very nonchalantly as I could easily see houses were built on the same spot where these ancient terracotta temples and remnants of erstwhile rulers had embellished the place. People dipped in the same heritage lake where once Mallah kings built dam and other things. Most of these wonderful work of art was neglected for decades, suffered vagaries of weather and stolen.

Bishnupur boasts of a rich history, though during the passage of time the glory somewhere lost in oblivion. The ancient terracotta relics were no doubt wonderful, a treat for any history or archaeological student, or matter-of-fact any creative person, but somewhere I felt the sweet spot was missing, which I found in Agra, Rajasthan and other ancient and medieval historical places.

History of Bishnupur

bishnupur terracotta temples
@ Radha Madhav Temple
The history of this ancient town is mired in stories, myths, certain fantasized tales. Legend says in 7th century BC, the king of Jayanagar, a small province near Vrindavan, went for pilgrimage to Puri (modern day Odisha) with his pregnant wife. On the way to Puri, his wife experienced a labor pain, so they stopped at Laugram village near modern day Kotulpur, and bore a boy in a hut of a Brahmin family. After spending sometimes there, probably provided enough wealth to Brahmin family, they went to fulfill their pilgrimage ambition.

In those days it took years to reach one place to others, so the boy started to grow in the village with Brahmin family. One day while grazing his cows, the Brahmin saw an incredible scene where the little boy fell asleep on the field, and a big snake protected his head from scorching heat with its big hood. After seeing this, the old Brahmin realized that it was not a regular incident, and the boy had some extraordinary caliber, so then onward he took special care of the child. He had initiated special training for the boy including wrestling, sword fight and in-depth study on Hindu scriptures. In the premature age of 15, the boy got fame as a wrestler, and the local king titled him with ‘King of Wrestler’. We don’t know anything about his real father though, but we learned that in the later years he was crowned as the local king and famous as ‘Adi Mallah’ or first ‘Raghubir’. Later, he had shifted his capital to Bishnupur and created famous Mrinamoyee Temple. The successor of the king, Raghubir the 2nd had transformed himself into a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu and created lots of temples in that region. The name Bishnupur was given in respect of Lord Vishnu and idolized the God everyone in the province.
FYi


There are number of festivals and fairs organized in Bishnupur. You can enjoy the trip more if you land at the right time.

April 14 – Lord Shiva Festival where from different people from nearby villages come to here to enjoy few days of Lord Shiva festival.

August 16 – Jhapan Utsav is popular in Bishnupur and also known for its uniqueness in Bengal. Here snake charmers come with their pets and show different snake stunts.

December 23-27 – Bishnupur Mela, the famous one where artisans, singers, baul artists all come to the place and exhibit their talent.

Journey to Bishnupur

joypur forest road bishnupur
Winding through Joypur Forest road
The journey to Bishnupur was one hell of a ride! It took more than 5 hours to cover 145 km because of bumpy road all throughout till Joynagar. I and my friend had started early morning from Kolkata in his hatchback. The road till Dankuni was relatively smooth but things turned into ugly sore when we crossed Dankuni flyover and took Ahalabai Holkar Road. The road till Champadanga was so pathetic, we had to drive at a speed of 20k/h. From Champadanga to Arambagh we were relieved a bit, but again, from onward till Kotulpur, we again experienced bumps every minute.

While returning from Bishnupur, we took a different route, and realized that it was the route to be chosen in the first place. We take Champadanga to Tarekeshwar and via Haripal, Singur reached Durgapur Expressway and reached Kolkata in less 3 hours.

Tips


If you are going by road on your own car, never trust Google Map because it shows the shortest route, which is Dankuni to Champadanga via Ahalabai Holkar Road.

Most of the buses from Kolkata also come through that road, so if you go on public transport, it is recommended to take train from Kolkata. Or come at Kharagpur/Midnapur/Bardhman/Durgapur by train form Howrah.

For more about rail timing and other information, check the below link:

What to see in Bishnupur?

Bishnupur is known for India’s first and the largest terracotta temples. The whole area is sprinkled with numerous temples, relics, gates and other stuff made of terracotta. Terracotta word originated from Latin word, which means Terra = Earth or Clay and Cotta = Dry Coating or Upper Garment of a man. Terracotta means Baked Clay Work.

terracotta crafts on the wall of bishnupur temple
Exquisite Terracotta craft
You have to stay for at least couple of days to explore the place fully. To understand the significance temples, you need to study and see the place from a deeper perspective.

Tips

Don’t miss the Joypur Forest, which is probably the biggest stretch of forest in that region. The forest stretches nearly 120 square kilometers with a watch tower to catch a glimpse of early morning bird watching, cheetals and if lucky wild elephants.

Jorbangla Temple

This wonderful art of clay was built in 1655 AD by King Raghunath Singha Dev II. The walls are carved with stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The roof and temple represents the classical Bengal village huts, and the rooms and walls are carved with medieval battle scenes.

Rashmancha


This is claimed to be the oldest pyramidal tower shaped terracotta temple. The temple is surrounded by turrets ideated by King Bir Himbira in 17th century. 

There are number of other exquisite temples to visit in Bishnupur such as:

  • Radhamadhab Temple
  • Kalachand Temple
  • Radha Govinda Temple
  • Mrinmoyee Temple
  • Chinnamasta Temple
Official Information


Department of Tourism , Government of West Bengal 2, Brabourne Road Kolkata - 700 001 Phone: +91-33-2225-4565/8183/4723-25 Fax:+91-33-2225-4565 E-mail: dtwbtour@vsnl.net

Tourism Centre , 3/2 B.B.D. Bag (East) Kolkata - 700 001 Phone: +91-33-2248 8271/5168 2210-3199, 2243-7260 Fax: +91-33-2248 5168

Tourism Centre, M-4 Building, Hill Cart Road Siliguri, Dist: Darjeeling Ph: +91-353-2511974, 2511979, Telefax: +91-353-2517561

West Bengal Tourism Office, 1, Nehru Road, Darjeeling 734101 (WB) Phone: +91-354-2254050/2254102

West Bengal Tourism Office, State Emporia Building (1st floor) Baba Kharak Singh Marg New Delhi - 110 001 Phone: +91-11-2374 2840

West Bengal Information Bureau, West Bengal Youth Hostel, 18, Wallajah Road, Chennai Phone: +91-44-2841 1046

West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Ltd, Netaji Indoor Stadium Kolkata - 700 021 Phone; +91-33-2248 7302/8256/8242/7318/9416, 2210 3194 Fax: +91-33-2248 8290 E-mail: wbtdc@cal2.vsnl.net.in

What to buy?

terracotta gifts bishnupur

Bankura Horse is famous of its unique terracotta sculpture. These horses are available both in terracotta and wooden versions.

You can also find rich and exquisite Baluchari Saris in Bishnupur. The traditional sarees are crafted with Ramayana and Mahabharata symbols. These days artisans are creating new contemporary designs for tourists.

You can find cheap and variety of conch shell items including beads, decorative pieces, pen stand, incense holder etc. Also, you can buy terracotta conch shells, which is dart cheap.

Tips

Although it is now rare to find Dashaavatar deck of cards in the market, still you can find it in Bishnupur. You go to Shankhari Bazaar (near Madan Mohan temple), Manshatala where Fouzdaar family continues with their traditional craft of this unique Dashavataar cards. 

Where to stay

Well, the best place is to stay is near Joypur Forest where you can find a two resorts with sprawling campus surrounded by lush green ambiance. The atmosphere is pristine, food is good and accommodation is decent. 

If you want to stay in Bishnupur, there are number of lodges ranging from budget to luxury. 

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Kolkata Kaleidoscope – Part 1

As for a city, I will not deny Kolkata has such a life that I haven’t seen so far in other parts of India, though there were instances when I saw lives of people just vanished in a gust; on the roadside, within the darkest miasma of politics, sometimes surrendered to the irresistible initial inertia, unable to break the self-created delusion of grandeur. I may imagine a time when, in the infancy of this city, it would be like a child who began the world, to some extent, and loved to stay out of the doors, even in wet and cold. The city opened to British Raj more openly than any other city in India. The decrepit architectural structures, British relics of erstwhile splendor cast a shadow of past on the present. Things have changed, however. The city has now secured itself into a cocoon that not allows the outside world to take certain inspirations.

There is an entirely a different facet of Kolkata. The city is not a despicable alternative but a precious tenement of those who nurture life from a different dimension. People aren’t the same way deal with daily life, as the emotions run riot and go beyond the regular struggle of survival. India being an insecure nation, most people appear never to have considered what a life is, and are actually starved all their lives because they think they have found a way out to balance their survival process. Ironically, to balance the life, most of them have impersonated a seesaw mechanism where life’s become a Herculean task. In a way, Kolkata is still saturated with imaginations, laughs from simple pleasures of life, strongly hold the past musing and let the future born out of the present. Some ambitious optimists do not see as a positive sign of life, but an extreme form of pessimism. It may be true in a certain way, especially if you see the decrepit economy of this royal city; the poverty permeates villages of the state and struggles of young people for a stability and economic prosperity. Despite every adversity the city bears, nobody can deny the simple fact that the city has this queer and irresistible charm that holds everything in a fine balance.

Picture Gallery

salt lake stadium football match east bengal mohan bagan
Yubabharati (Salt Lake Stadium)


east bengal mohan bagan match
Frenzy Crowd @ East Bengal v/s Mohan Bagan Football Match

ponds in kolkata
No city in India I guess these prevalent ponds everywhere


durga puja 2015 kolkata
Bengalis quintessential reason of rejoice


old  tea stall in kolkata
Is it a tea stall from 2015?!?!


Age-old Scottish Church College kolkata
Age-old Scottish Church College


kolkata old buildings north kolkata
These type of architectural beauty is still very much evident in Kolkata



Religion tied in a banayan tree


The street reminds me my school days

Dragging Life in the City of Joy

Relics of Past Grandeur


Long Play


Open to modernism yet tightly hold traditionalism 


It's just change the symbol of party


I guess Bengalis have greatest love for plants, in whatever form


Livelihood


1917 - still going strong

roadside old people in kolkata
Livelihood


Mighty Ganga, breathing life in the veins of the city

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Where to meditate in India to find maximum energy source?

1. Kasar Devi in Uttarakhand


kasar devi uttarakhand kumaon

I love Kasar Devi, not just because of its isolated ambiance but I had experienced a peculiar energy in the whole valley. I first visited this small hill-top village in 2007 when I had no idea about the place. Kasar Devi is less known destination though it is just 30 km away from Almora. Tourists go to Almora and then travel to popular places like Binsar, Patal Bhubeneshwar and other places, ignoring this small hippie junction of Kumaon.

Kasar Devi was first mentioned in Swami Vivekanada’s diary as a spiritual center. Later on Walter Evans-Wentz who translated the Tibetan Book of the Dead lived here for some time. People actually don’t know but this small hamlet was a focal point of many spiritual seekers from different segments of life. Danish mystic Sunyata Baba (Alfred Sorensen) lived here for 30 years, from 1930 to 1960. There are other famous people like Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, George Harrison, Timothy Leary, DH Lawrence spent some time at some part of their lives here.

Related Link

There is a small temple complex built in 2nd century CE, which has an extraordinary place for meditation. Swami Viveknanda meditated here in a cave, which is unfortunately not maintained at all. It is studied that the earth magnetic field is quite remarkable in this particular part of India. Many spiritual aspirants believe this is conducive for meditation and other sadhna (spiritual practices).

2. Bhuj, Gujarat


ancient shiva temple in bhuj gujarat
Ancient Shiva temple in Bhuj
There is a small, parched dry region in the western state of Gujarat, 12 km from Bhuj where a small Shiva temple is situated. This less known temple origin is not confirmed but the Archaeological Survey of India has studied its origin dated back somewhere between 11th or 12th century CE. Very few people know the exact address of this place but there is a signage constructed by ASI that gives the direction of the place.

Related Link

Some spiritual aspirants claim that the place has some extraordinary energy that is too powerful for meditation. You can sit still for the whole day and accumulate power within. There is no disturbance except some squirrel and birds.

3. Arunachala, Thiruvanamalai


arunachala ramana maharishi

Arunachala is famous of Ramana Maharishi’s cave and known as a great energized land for decades. This is the place where Maharishi Ramana had meditated for 22 years. The caves are believed to be highly energized space and many seekers spend days here for meditation.

You can also stay in Ramana Maharishi Ashram, which is managed by the trust. You have to book in advance for your stay. The morning and evening prayers at the ashram temple is truly an exhilarating experience. There is a say that if your intent is clear, you can start at early 4 am and slowly walk the hill clockwise. By the time you cross 3/4ths of the hills, you can directly perceive a huge amount of energy within yourself.
4. Tapovan, Uttrakhand


tapovan gaumukh uttrakhand
Tapovan near Gaumukh
Tapovan is perched at 4500 m with mighty Shivlinga Himalayan range just behind this snow clad meadow. The place is quite hard to access, from Gaumukh one has to trek 4 hours to cover two and half kilometer distance to reach Tapovan.

Related Link


Earlier there were three sadhus and one lady from Israel lived there. Now, when I went there, there was only one sadhu, a young and silence monk lived there. He lived in a well-structured room with all necessary facility. He never speaks but joyful and talks to people with the help of pen and paper. There are trekkers who visit the place and return back after an hour or so, but there are some spiritual aspirants who stay there for a week or even month in tents.

5. Netala, Uttarakhand

netala in uttrakhand, uttarkhashi

Netala is situated 9km from Uttarkashi in the state of Uttarkhand, Garhwal. The small village is located beside river Bhagirathi, which goes on to become Ganga in Devprayag. The place is serene, naturally blissfully and you can sit wherever you want to. Not many tourists come to this place so you can just walk to the middle of river bed and find a rock and meditate.

You can find a few small hotels nearby, though not so good in amenities, still satisfactory for a spiritual seeker.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wandering and meeting sadhus during my Yamunotri pilgrimage


For a long time I was not traveled far distance to mountains but in 2015 Autumn I found a chance to go to my beloved place – Himalayas. I had no work as I was officially unemployed, which gave me the opportunity to travel. I went on thus for a long time, I may say without boasting, faithfully minded my way of living for at least a few days in the Himalayas. I had no laptops, no calls from clients or office; it was absolutely bliss to travel with freedom.

Himalayas have trapped me years ago. It is not just because I like mountains; earlier I thought I liked mountains more than anything else, but there are more things than just stiff mountains that keeps me hold tight for so many years. If you are perceptive enough, you can get certain hints about the true nature of Himalayas, or other way round is to visit those places recurrently to get such a habit, the mountains won’t let you go for rest of your life.  I have learned from my eight years’ experience, it would cost incredibly low to travel in mountains and you are enriched with such wisdom, not just looking at snowy peaks, but the ambiance, people, pilgrimage, overall life all around. To me, Himalayas present the most surprising elements, and one of the elements is various types of sadhus. I have met lots of these wandering monks, most of them were very old, majority was peaceful, and a few were flamboyant. It is a small place to write down all people here; still I try to recapitulate some impressive sadhus and my experiences with them.

 (Because of the nature of brevity in the blog writing, I just cite here 2015 experiences)

Ram Bharose Ji in Yamunotri

Living there in his small temple cum living room for last 50 years, it is said this ever smiling 80 something saint never crossed the bridge that joins the Yamunotri temple and the road. In winters Yamuntori is shut down completely because of heavy snowfall, but this devotee lives there and every day he does all the regular rituals. He wears minimal clothes and pretty much active doing all his daily chores including cooking, washing etc. 

I had heard his name at Janki Chetti and wanted to meet him. At first when I reached the temple, first thing that captured my attention was his honest and beautiful smile. He meticulously cooked food, served it to his worshiping God and Goddesses. He asked me to take the food and at least asked me four times whether it was all right. We had some talks and then returned back. I would love to stay there for some more time, perhaps couple of days, but somehow I returned back.

Naga sadhu en route Yamuntori


This huge sadhu lives in a cave with a DVD player, mobile phone, speakers, lots of containers and a thick photo album. A druggist with his own whim but calm and composed stature, he offered me smoke, which gladly accepted but unfortunately felt nothing after smoking three rounds. He showed me his photo albums, displaying lots of younger days photographs, naked, stoned, doing all sorts of austerity and acrobatics including twisting his penis with a rod etc. 

He asked me to donate something for his cave that I silently denied. He also said I could stay in the cave as long as I wished but I also refused. He asked me whether I was married or not, and after knowing my marital status, he suggested me to get married. When I rebuked and said I didn’t feel to do that, he asked me to become a ‘baba’. 

I sometimes wonder why it’s necessary to take an extreme step when there is an option to live a good life within the boundary of a regular living. At least I am living it without a pinch of dishonesty in my statement.

Ram Das Mauni Baba


Although he was said to be a mauni (silent) sadhu, he spoke to me a few words. Undoubtedly, he was the best sadhu I have seen so far. Too old to stand straight properly but I never saw him sitting idle in three days. Sometime he was cleaning his temple, sometimes he was feeding his cow, sometimes cutting fruits, but never sitting idle. His worn out loin cloth didn’t properly cover his private parts, but it hardly mattered to him.  Earlier he was completely silent sadhu for more than 20 years, but now, I learned he spoke a little. We had a brief conversation when he asked me what I do. 

Every time I was about to return back from temple, he offered me a piece of fruit. The most impressive feature of this sadhu was his eyes, blood shot, big with a bright glow. It was remarkable eyes, penetrating deep into my hearts and it seemed read all the content.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Rituals and Religion of Ladakh

ladakh teaching monasteries

Politics and national interest have been inextricably and inevitably linked with religion in Ladakh. The success of Buddhism here was not simply a matter of vanquishing its adversaries outside Ladakh – Brahminism in India and the Bon Chos in Tibet. It was the unifying role it played in enlarging autonomous tribal clans intro centralized feudal kingdoms. When fleeing monks and the laity met with strong resistance from local principalities, they were forced to assume a martial character, which ironically added a warlike dimension to a pacifist religion.

Forts and monasteries grew a pace as expansionist kingdoms consolidated their temporal and spiritual powers by extending their frontiers, so establishing Buddhism in Ladakh, Song-sen-gam-po, a legendary figure, was one such tribal chief and in stories about him it is often difficult to sift fact from fiction. Yet it is true that he made deliberate use of religion by contracting marriages with Buddhist princesses from Nepal and China to secure his position, and so founded the first Buddhist kingdom in Tibet. In strategy, he was an inspiration for later Ladakhi kings.

Read more about Ladakh

Ladakhi Buddhism teaching and its stories


sindhu festival in ladakh
Sindhu festival in Ladakh
Ladakhi Buddhism is usually identified with Tibet, although the original inspiration came from Kashmir, probably during the Kushan period. It was later that the Tibetan branch established itself under what is termed the Second Advancement. This was Buddhism in its more developed and institutionalized form, inspired by the teachings of the Indian Monks, Padmasambhaba and Atisa. They had sought asylum in Tibet when Buddhism lost its royal patronage in India, and wanted to reflect the teachings of Sakyamuni as sincerely as possible.

Central to the Buddha’s teaching was the belief that every soul has the capacity to reach a state of enlightenment without the assistance of priest or rituals. Nirvana could be achieved by following the reformist or middle path.

The complexity of Buddhism lies in this concept, where the Bodhisattva returns to the world in several incarnations, striving for the liberation of mankind. A thousand Buddhas, of whom Sakyamuni is the fourth, will have to seek birth for the liberation of human souls. With the development  of the Vajrayna school – the vehicle of the Thunderbolt – Tantric elements from Hinduism also merged into Buddhism. In particular, the feminine principle of power was introduced. As Buddhism spread, it did not suppress the well-developed cosmology of the earlier religion, Bon Chos, but absorbed its gods, demons and its rituals.  Perhaps these are the inspiration for the Dharmapalas, the fierce-looking guardians of the law, who feature in the gompa dance-drama.

Mahayana rituals and traditions


Thiksey Monastery
The theological shift from Hinayana’s ascetic mould to the more practical Mahayana ideal of Bodhisattva removed for Nirvana-seekers the necessity of giving up their worldly concerns. The Mahayana ideal explains the attitude of the lay Buddhist who olds back his own salvation to help others reach the right path.

Related Link

Buddhist Gompas & Healing Practices

As a consequence, Mahayana Buddhism helped intensity the contact between monk and the community. In this process, the representational aspect of the Buddha was deified, and a pantheon with personified forms was the logical consequence. Under the influence of the Bhakti movement, Buddhist practice underwent major changes. The oral tradition came to be systematized into written tests, and the laity to be socially organized into congregations.

Ideas and Icons


The deification of the Buddha developed a complex and fascinating iconography. The basic idea is that of the five Dhyani Buddhas and their related Bodhisattavas, which are elaborated in the mandalas. The Tantric additions of the female deities are not fully evolved in the older temples or gompas.

The gompa is the living vehicle of Ladakhi Buddhism and iconography, the entrance of the du-khang or the main temple is guarded by the lords of the Four Quarters. They can be identified by their colors and attributes: North: Kuvera – yellow banner and mongoose; South: Vimdhaka – green or blue, elephant head and sword; East: Dhritarashtra – white, playing the lute; West: Virupaksha – red, carrying a chorten.

The sidewall of a gallery also has the Wheel of Life represented by three concentric circles. The innermost signifies anger, desire and ignorance, represented by the cock, the serpent, and the pig, respectively. The middle circle represents the six states of existence – the worlds of the gods and demigods, death, hell, animals and men. The outer circle represents the chain of causation through 12 symbols.

Importance is also attached to the Dharmapalas: Mahakala (time), Yamantaka (death), Shugdan and Vajra Bhairava. These are usually to be found in the la-khang or the go-khang, both inner sanctuaries where women were forbidden access. The female deities are represented as Green and White Taras on either side of the Amitabha figure. They appear on the ceiling of the Kaikani Chorten. The Dolma Dolkar and The Dolma – Tara images –are often found the du-khand. Sometimes a special temple is dedicated exclusively to the Taras, like the shrine of Tara Doljan at Spituk, where on days ordained by the Tibetan calendar, glass bangles are offered as part of the fertility rate.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Quest for Krishna consciousness: Ashram life in Vrindavan

vrindavan, anandomoyee ma ashram
Sri Anandomoyee Maa Ashram
I was carrying a book named ‘Death Must Die’, written by Atmananda who was a disciple of Sri Anandomoyee Ma. The book was an account of personal spiritual quest by Blanca, an Austrian lady who left his country in search of spiritual awareness. It was a first-hand account of Blanca, later on Atmananda who had close associations with India’s greatest modern saints, unfolding her personal life from the pages of her diaries.

Upon arriving in the Vrindavan, the first reaction was to run away. The place didn’t have the charm of Varanasi as I was expecting to be. Moreover, the heat and humidity drained me completely after a few kilometers of walking. I felt a tremendous urge to leave the city without visiting any temple. Almost 2 hours of sauntering around the lanes, temples and ashrams, I couldn’t find a single place to stay.

Then I thought to go to Ramkrishna Mission, but upon arrival I found it as a charitable hospitable. It was a disappointment and again I was walking down the road and suddenly I crossed the ashram of Sri Anandamoyee Ma. Well, it was a fortuitous event, to the best of my belief, which convinced me to get a stay in this sprawling ashram, established in the name of a saint whose book I was reading for last two days. Eventually, I found an appropriate place to stay, with Vidur, a guy from U.P., a regular visitor who cleared some of my doubts about Vrindavan later on.

Evening Bhajan and emotional outburst


In Vrindavan, everyone as it seemed in a comforting illusion, love towards Lord Krishna was imbibed in the whole atmosphere. My intellectual stream of thought made it difficult to understand the essence of their devotion; also I was too wrenched from the religious structure of our society.

My pride was shattered in the first evening when I had attended evening aarti (evening prayer and ceremony) and devotional songs in the ashram. The secretary Shyamal da, a 50 plus old bramachari (celibate monk), sung 14 songs, pouring his emotions into it. I had observed that the whole atmosphere was gradually grasping from the very core of my heart. At the middle of ceremony, my eyes were wet and shed stream of tears.

From the slokas, songs and overall atmosphere, a sense of self-analysis and reflection came automatically wherein the discursive mind was profoundly stilled and from the stillness spontaneously arising a more fundamentally authentic level of consciousness. I must say it was an emotional outburst, but as a “reasonable man”, I was fully aware of things, depending on my direct experience rather than blindly follow a faith.

vrindavan ashram anandamoyee ma temple

There is a profound spiritual unfulfilling feeling for the last 3-4 years that disturbs me immensely. I feel I am at a crossroad of my life where I have to have a strict decision to stick upon. When I saw young westerners and even old ones at ISCKON, I thought why and what drew these men and women to come to Vrindavan. There were old westerners who left their comfort after such a long habitual way of living and embraced Krishna Consciousness in the small, filthy and terribly crowded city like Vrindavan.

Ashram life – seclusion and discipline

In the ashram there were six young boys, all below age 20. I was amazed to see that those boys had dedicated their studies learning Bhagavatam and other Hindu scriptures. All of them were minutely performed all rituals, with complete dedication and love. 


Ashram life was not hard, particularly because I was a traveler or guest there, but I maintained a life of devotee out there. I woke up in the morning then after bath, I went to the temple for morning bhajan and mediation, and then breakfast at ashram. It was very light breakfast, probably some potatoes or chapatti (Indian bread) and a glass of milk. Then I stayed there or roamed around Vrindavan, but personally I didn’t like much the whole surroundings, particularly because of ferocious monkeys and heat. I preferred to stay inside the ashram, read and written down my notes.

isckon temple vrindavan architecture
ISCKON Temple in Vrindavan
Many people ask or wish to ask perhaps, what’s the principle difference living in a secluded place or ashram, if you are doing almost the same routine. Well, there is one principle difference I find while staying in mountains or in ashram or monasteries is the level of concentration, to an extent of heightened awareness. It happens during smoking pot, but solitude living naturally impose that awareness within me, of course without any physical discomfort like marijuana.  

I would wish to stay in that place for more but I have certain works to come back to Delhi. Shymal da (the secretary) asked me to come again and stay there for a few months. He told me that I was in a juncture where I had to decide quick about my life. I understood what he meant and I said prostrate before him and bid adieu. 

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