Varanasi: The doorway between worlds…
January 31, 2015 • Spiritual Adventures
Day 2: January 31
We got up early this morning and headed to the airport to fly west from Kolkata to the ancient and beautiful city of Varanasi. There are many ways to get to Varanasi but flying is definitely the quickest and easiest. We arrived safely and ventured into town by bus then boarded boats to float up the Ganges river to our gorgeous hotel, the Jukaso Ganges which was built on Guleria Ghat on the banks of the the great Ganges River. Jukaso provides some of the best heritage hospitality, with most of it’s rooms offering fantastic river views.
Known as the spiritual capital of India, this colorful city draws huge numbers of pilgrims, worshipers and tourists alike; to wash away sins in the sacred waters of the Ganges, cremate their loved ones or just absorb the magic of this mystical city. Considered to be one of the oldest living cities in the world Varanasi has been the center for learning and civilization for over 2,000 years. Mark Twain once said that “Benares [Varanasi] is older than history, older than tradition, even older than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together”.
The newer city itself is a buzz with energy but once you venture towards the river through the old town, things quiet down and the atmosphere by the ghats naturally invokes deep reflection on life. Here, the veils between the worlds are thin and life’s most intimate rituals of birth and death take place. Newborns are blessed and welcomed, and the dead are cremated and sent to the inner worlds. This all takes place on the ghats along the Ganges river which truly represents the ebb and flow of life for millions of Hindus.
In today’s class I covered the basics of Hindu beliefs and some of the traditions and rituals that go along with it. I also spoke about going on pilgrimage and the attitude that one must have on such a journey. Humility, obedience, responsiveness and gratitude are necessary qualities on such a spiritual journey. I asked the group today whom amongst them was serious about their journey and were truly seeing a life changing experience. Everyone raised their hand. I love that about this group. We are focused on deep spiritual learning and experience yet throughout the day there is endless laughter amongst us. As my guru wisely once say, “Life is meant to be lived joyously” and we are holding on to that dearly.
Later that evening we attended the Ganga Arathi, a nightly fire ceremony that has been going on for millenniums on the banks of the Ganges river. Many felt that they had returned home….
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