Tag Archives: Narmada Pilgrimage

India: holding her own

I was asked to write a few words about India to help sooth some of the hearts that are missing Mother India’s expansive embrace. India is an impossible country that will easily defy anything I say about her. Those of you who have met Mother India know her more surely than my words, while those who have not had such a pleasure of meeting her may find my words hollow and empty. The best I can do is cobbling together a few popular prayers to help invoke her presence. Actually, I admit that it’s probably best to keep silent on the matter of India since my words can only lead you away from who is really India. I know that the moment I put my fingers to the keys I will miss the point. Even before that moment, the point is missed on the arising of the first syllable in my mind. Never the less, I will order those syllables and present them here to add a little spice to your memories and imaginings of India.

Om Sri Ganesha Namaha…. Remove the maya and the impurities from my mind so that I can know the truth of this matter. Om Namo Narmada…. Remove the maya and impurities from my senses so that I can see the truth of this matter. Om mataji… thank you for this maya and impurity, without which there could be no experience, no knowledge, no sight. Om Vishnu Om Vishnu Om Vishnu…. Thank you for your dedicated management of the 3 gunas. Om Namah Shivaya…. When all else fails we know Shiva will take care of things. 


 India is like this prayer of mine: she’s made of a bunch of parts that seem to fit together and then given her own meaning by everyone who comes along. But no one can understand her any more than they can understand this prayer; despite the confusion, she leaves you with a nice feeling. I recently watched a three hour video on “how to correctly recite Om” and it left me feeling much more confused about the topic, but somehow more confident to approach it. India is a little like this.

Everyone loves Ganesha. If India changed their tourist motto to “come meet Ganesha,” many more people would flock to the country. But perhaps this is why they don’t use this motto; with Ganesha’s blessing we might scurry in like the charming rats so often pictured with Ganesha to come knaw on a sweetened ball grain that is India, and then what would become of India?

Ganesha can be said to be the pleasure loving side of our minds. And the rat beside him, always knawing on something, just like the mind chewing on the sweetness of our mental impression. The pair of them only serves as distraction, and it’s said that you can plead, appease, or command the removal of their obstruction, as you wish. But before we move on, it’s advised we deal with this pleasure loving side of us that is attached to the sweet fruits of our senses.

Narmada pilgrimage can be said to be a remedy for such attachments. There are numerous remedies of course, but Narmada is a special pilgrimage lasting over three and a half years. Devotees begin with nothing but faith and a song. It sometimes seems as though this is all India has as well: faith and a song. It’s hard to even imagine the kinds of peace and compassion she has inspired though Gandhi and Teresa are testaments to this inspiration. The Narmada pilgrimage is followed by all kinds of people: the poor and landless, criminals in hiding or those seeking some gain, itinerants who are too lazy to get a job and enjoy the simple life by Narmada, and of course the many others singing with devotion the songs of love for their mother/sister/daughter/lover Narmada. Her devotees are Bhaktis spreading peace and love and the fruits of their action. The Sufis and Hare Krishnas follow a similar path sometimes become as wild and natural and loving as a fawn in the forest.

The common word for crazy in India is pagal. This word assumes a degree of satisfaction in ones own mental state. This is why they don’t generally disturb crazy people here, they might not be acting up to society standards but if they’re not hurting anyone, leave them, they’re pagal, and usually happier than the rest of us. And the rest of us could possibly learn something from such satisfaction. Although pagal is certainly distinct from enlightened, there is certainly some connection on an individual basis.

After a few trips to India, she will certainly make you pagal. You feel enlightenment fill your heart and you stop caring for anything else, though in the process you will such feel a great bursting of love as well as your personal boundaries. You become so open and loving and compassionate and so completely pagal friends and family will certainly recognize your pagalness when you get home. Armed with the words of Krishna Murtri or Osho you will expound on the insanities of your friends and families and societies. This is likely only the first sign that enlightenment is possible for you, you may have tapped into your source, but without any control you’re certainly only pagal.

For our madness of India we need Mataji. If there’s anyone we can rely on to keep things real, it’s Mataji. Ask and you shall receive comes from Mataji. Openness and vulnerability and leaving your lives in the hands of fate is one side of things; the other side of things is to complete our own desires. Open and vulnerable without any direction is wonderful place from where to discover your own direction, but it will lead also to a lot of following other peoples direction and being used to complete their own desires without concern for yours. I believe this is largely why most scriptures advise being in a spiritual community for doing practice: so that you will be in safe hands. But of course we know also that spiritual communities are just as likely to be corrupt as the rest of society (especially where sex, wealth, power, fame, or reputation are involved).

Most of us have only one spiritual community to lean on for comfort and protection, she goes by various names, but she is known as the ground we walk on, the water we drink, the air we breath, the fire in our bellies, and the ground for all of these things. She is Mataji, the great mother who provides everything we could ever want or need. She is also known as Shakti because she provides the power for our senses, our action and our mind. There is no spiritual community greater than the one provided by Mataji.

Walking the streets of India is often an exercise in our faith in the spiritual community of Mataji. When you look at this country and put your mind to the things going on around here you will surely stumble into a less satisfied state of pagal; you’ll want to change everything. But if you just take a couple deep breaths, turn off the mind and start walking everything opens up and it becomes easy to navigate the crowds on the streets as well as the crowds of thoughts in the mind. This is trusts in Mataji, and I surely need her help to get through this article. Trust and write….. trust and walk…. Trust and move forward in life…. Just let time do its work.

Om Vishnu Om Vishnu Om Vishnu…. Vishnu is the sustainer and the preserver of things. Those nice thoughts that rise up, to form nice sentences and ideas that find their way to action shaping the whole world as well as your own inner world are sustained beyond the original moment of inner vibration by Vishnu. Vishnu is the humble labourer taking the three qualities of nature, the purity, the impurity and the action that is always mixing the two, and reshaping the world moment to moment according to the natural laws of Mataji.

When we walk the streets of India, we cannot forget these three qualities of Mataji, which are so expertly operated by Vishnu. The quality of purity (sattwik), which gets the whites white in the Ganges and does not leave dead pilgrims strewn along her banks after drinking the nectar from her flow. What is it about purity that allows us to look past the garbage and the feces and the smells of all of this and tell all our friends how beautiful and uplifting India can be? It’s a tricky one this purity. The quality of impurity, on the other hand, is simple, lazy and inert. We know garbage is nothing like this, but rocks are, which, by simple logic, could make garbage more pure than rocks. But of course simple logic doesn’t work in a country that insists on the reality of even the most wildly imagined thoughts. And since no one around here seems to be keeping it real except the poorest of the poor it can be nice know that Vishnu is always doing his part to keep things in some kind of strange balance.

But for all the comfort and security offered by the likes of Mataji and Vishnu there’s only one man we can always turn to for peace, and that’s Shiva. Some call him the Destroyer, but that’s such a crass name for someone who reabsorbs our every thought into his cooling waters. He’s the one taking all the thoughts, ideas, actions and even sensations away from our conscious experience. He lets us look from one thing to another while completely forgetting about the other thing. So when you’re done reading this article and move on with your day forgetting all about this experience, you can thank Shiva for his graceful way of bringing everything to some end.

And with that said, I pray that this shabby prayer of mine coupled with the shabby explanation will complete my duty to write about this shabby country. On the one hand India seems to be just hanging on by some small corner of a brick, while on the other hand it feels as though it will persist long after the shinny buildings of the west have crumbled, and just by one small corner of a brick holding everything up. You can’t even imagine it could do that, but here it is before you, the impossible, incredible India…. starring Ganesha. 🙂

Humble blessing from Shiva City Varanasi

Om Namah Shivaya

My humble blessings from Shiva City Varanasi.

Om Namah Shivaya