Sunday, 6 April 2014

Rishikesh the Holy City

My departure to Toronto was delayed due to a official reasons. Now I had 2 months to finish my project. This was after all near the dreaded March 31st financial closing in India. I was stationed at Chandigarh India

To make constructive use of time I decided to visit Rishikesh. I chose Rishikesh as a by product , because Swami Rama’s Ashram was located there. I had discovered Swami Rama on the Internet in 2008 and since then had become well versed in his teachings. 
Swami Rama
 1925 –– 1996
Swami Rama's translation of the Mandukya Upnishad, Enlightenment without God is my favourite philosophy.

One of the sites is dedicated to his teachings. There are 40 hours of videos on the internet which one can see. Swami Rama just made the knowledge of the scriptures easy to understand in this own simple way. 

I wanted to enrol for a course starting March 31 for 14 days. This was about transforming your self by applying the teachings of Swami Rama. There was no vacancy, sold out course. There was a course starting March 7th for 3 days and another course starting on March 20th for 5 days. In between was was 10 days gap which the ashram allowed me to stay as a self directed meditation. 

So I stayed from  March 7th to March 26th in Rishikesh at the Sadhna Mandir Ashram built by Swami Rama, exact co-ordinate of the Ashram is 30.084745, 78.288762. 

To reach there from Chandigarh, it took Rs 50 to reach the bus stand, another Rs 50 to reach Ambala by bus , Rs 65 Train ticket to Rishikesh - 4.5 hours journey, Rs 100 to the Auto Rickshaw to reach the Ashram.
1 USD is equivalent to  Rs 65. So in Rs 265 or $ 4 did a 225 Km journey.
View of the Ganges from the Ashram
The Ashram was simply constructed building with an exquisite garden for meditative walks. It was located 50 feet from a flowing river called the Ganga. This place was a  1 kilometer upstream of  a barrage which diverted the water for electricity generation, so the water was clean and abundant and at least having a width of 1200 feet. I did swim in the holy waters.

The per day fees for the course and to stay there was Rs 750 or $11.50. This included three vegetarian meals daily  and the room rental. The food was adequate and wholesome. You had to wash your own dishes and there was no room service!
View of the garden from the dining room

The first course was taught by Ms Savitri Jugdeo. She was a visiting teacher from Toronto.  She had met Swami Rama in person in the 90’s. Imagine meeting in Rishikesh after originating from the same city.

The second course was more intense  and was taught by  Dr. Prakash Keshaviah. He was IIT Madras graduate and was a practicing PhD engineer in Minnesota, USA. Swami Rama persuaded him to move back to India in 1990 and join the Himalyan Trust Hospital in Dhera Dun, Uttar Khand, India.

During my stay I visited Swami Yoganand Yogacharya and attended his Yoga Class.The Swami is 106 years of age at the time of meeting him.

With Swami Yogananda 
He has his own teeth, own eyes, hears well and is on no medication at all.

He was married and has 10 children. His grandson is  60 years old. He has been a widower for the last 10 years.

He eats once a day a diet of fruits and nuts only. Typically 2 kgs of oranges, walnuts, almonds, cashews, raisins - nut counts 40 units each.
No beverages of any kind except water. He fasts for a week every two months. 

I had the opportunity to ask him directly his secret of longevity.
One of his yoga poses at 106
To have a life filled with love. Love is defined as the absence of hate.
If you don’t do or think of violence you are a loving person. 

Ego, the need for a separate existence, will always steer you away from love.

He practices Sukshma Yoga daily. This is the easiest form of yoga for longevity as is apparent. This allows for the best breathing for health

Eat what you body requires. We do tend to eat 3 times more than what the body needs.

With age we tend to start listening to your body language. If we listen to our bodies early we can no doubt live a healthy longer life.

He says it is best practice to keep a fast once a week for better health. You can in one 24 hour period only drink water. 

I want to talk about the dip in the Ganges in my next post.



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