Days 4 & 5 in Varanasi
No Internet connection has been available for the last two days. So, the blog posts are maybe a day behind. Oh well. C’est la vie. No really..It is good to be completely unplugged for a bit. The computer compulsion is completely exposed. Oy vey!
These two days have been jammed with activity which reflects the frenetic buzz of this Sacred River City. The highlights are … teaching yoga in a palace called Jukaso on the banks of the Ganges, visits to Hanuman Temple and Durga Temple, a classical Indian singing and harmonium lesson followed by a rocking concert at The Music Melody House featuring Sitar, tabla, and sarangi. At the ‘concert’ which is more like sitting in in a jam session, we have chai, and clap, and sit and listen. The room is super cozy and we are so close to the musicians and their exotic instruments that it feels like a big bowl of rich music soup. We all just swim in it. We walk home through the Burning Ghats where the funerals of men happen all day and night. I can not believe these experiences are not dreams, but the weight of carrying the harmonium through Varanasi keeps me connected to reality. Before bed last night, sitting for meditation on the steps at the River I internally chant my mantra MaranathaMaranathaMaranatha…’Come to me Lord’. Sleep comes easy…
In the morning, I skip the group activity to the Golden Temple (I went there last year) to have sunrise meditation on the roof of the palace and some quiet time at the hotel. There is a full fledged monkey invasion on the terrace outside my room. I watch in awe as they almost wreak total havoc on furniture, light fixtures, and plants. While on the phone alerting the front desk, one smart monkey checks every door knob to the rooms on the terrace to try and enter. Total mayhem! Monkey business here is serious.
After reconnecting with the group, we visit Sarnath which is a 5km field trip out of town which takes about an hour travel time. Sarnath is the ‘birthplace of Buddhism’, called such because it is where the Buddha gave his first sermon. Deep huge historical significance here. Today I learn that Hindus worship the Buddha, along with all of the other deities. Buddhists follow Buddha only. That is massively oversimplifying. But the most important lesson for me once again is that It’s ALL connected and we are all ONE.
Finally, the end of the day takes us to the house of a highly revered Sanskrit grammarian, teacher, writer, artist, and musician named Vagish Sastri. The audience with him has opened up new worlds for me in thought, feeling, and awareness. It’s a whole post’s worth of reflection. More on that later. Peace and love and music from the Motherland.