India is an experience, an intense experience. No one who visits there is unaffected. Many feel an overpowering urge to leave after only a few weeks in this country. For others it may take several months. But nearly everyone reaches a point where India gets to them so much that they need a break or to get away. But many of those will also tell you they are already planning a return trip in the near future.
My experience of India was only 10 days. But on that 10th day, I was ready to be back in the sanity and normalness of my home and country. It was an incredible journey, one that I will treasure for a long time. I had a particular reason for coming to India. Specifically this was the time of my 4th Jupiter return, an astrological phenomena that occurs approximately every 12 years. The return of Jupiter to its place in our natal chart signifies a rebirth of our spirituality. I met my guru and moved into an yoga ashram on my 2nd Jupiter return. I spent my 3rd alone, reading ancient yogic texts and wishing I was in India. Since I lived at an ashram for 10 years I have always wanted to visit India for myself. The spirituality of India, and yoga in particular, are the things I feel dearest to my heart spiritually speaking. Since I finally had the means to accomplish this desire to see India, I took it. I was not disappointed.
Knowing I was going to do some shopping while I was there, I arrived in New Delhi at 10:30 pm with nothing but a backpack. I didn’t even have a room reserved. But I had my trusty guide book for India and quickly made arrangements for a room and a cab to take me there. An hour later I was settled into a very shabby room at the Hotel Blue, for about 4 bucks a night.
The motorized rickshaw is your best means of transportation. Figure about 20 rupees (40 cents) per kilometer, which is dirt cheap compared to American taxis.
Fortunately, the next morning I met someone who turned out to be my best guide and helper. His name was Fayaz and he and I spent most of my time together while I was in Delhi. He spoke great English and knew where to find everything I was looking for at great prices. He used his own van to drive me around and made most of my trip enjoyable and easy. I plan to connect with him again if I go there.
From Delhi I made two trips, one to the town of Vrindavan to visit a Hare Krishna temple run by the ISKCON folks. My second trip was to visit the temple that housed my grandfather guru, Lord Lakulish. More on that later.
Spirituality is a big part of India’s culture. It pervades everything. Every rickshaw I rode in had its array of pictures of the driver’s dieties. India has a lot of dieties, chiefly Krishna, Shiva, Rama, Kali, Gayatri, Amba, Laksmi, Ganesha, and other enlightened beings such as Guru Nanak and many others. Songs praising them are heard and their pictures appear everywhere. My main reason for going to India was to see Lord Shiva, well actually his 28th incarnation whose name is Lord Lakulish.
As poor as most Indians are, they are very also very industrious. Some know that in order to survive each day they have to earn at least 10 rupees (about 20 cents).
This gets them enough food to eat and that is all they need usually since they live and sleep on the street. There are some beggars too, but a lot less than one might expect. Most seem to have found some way to earn their rupees.
The cost of living is very inexpensive, even in major cities like Delhi. Its even less in the country. This is a great benefit for the traveler. If you care to save as much as possible, you could pay no more than 10 rupees for every meal. Just eating at most places will cost no more than a dollar. Rooms range from $2 on up. But in Delhi you can get a very comfortable room with AC for about $15 a night or less. Travel around the city and to neighboring cities is very inexpensive. I hired my own taxi to drive me to Vrindavan, a 3 hour drive, spend the night and drive me back. The cost? 1800 rupees which is about $40. He found his own accommodations for the night too. Driving around town is a snap using both the automotive and bicycle-driven rickshaws. The usual cost ranges from 20 cents to a dollar. The bottom line is that most of any traveler’s expenses in India are going to be a fraction of what they are in their native country.
For a land that is, for the most part, desert-like and featureless, Indians create some of the most colorful and beautiful art I have ever seen. Most all of their handicrafts are beautiful, if not exquisite. If you are in the mood, as I was, to find some beautiful original works of art to beautify your house, you will feel like India is heaven. For example, tangkhas, which are Tibetan mandala type paintings cost a fraction of what you would pay for ones in the states. I have seen ones that would easily sell for $1500 or more here for less than $400. And, you get to pick from an incredible selection.
There are carpets, paintings, carvings, brass statues, fabrics of every description such as silk and Kashmir, and a host of other beautiful items, all made by hand and most being one of a kind originals. It is truly a shopper’s paradise. And, to top it off, Americans pay no duty. However, there are some things you should be aware of if you go there.
One of the ‘Bazaars’ or shopping areas of town. This one is in Old Delhi near the Red Fort. Notice the continual stream of bicycle rickshaws, the only means of transportation on this narrow lane.
Most everyone you meet in India is a tout. And there is a general understanding, though certainly not publicized, that anyone who manages to get you to visit a particular establishment will be rewarded by that place of business. And their reward means higher prices to you. The more you pay attention as you move around and meet people the more you realize just how pervasive this touting network is. These folks know pretty much the things you will be wanting to do, see and buy. If they can get you or convince you to do it in association with them, they will make money. And making money is a major preoccupation in India. Most everyone you meet is being driven by that one primary motive.
Delhi is the capitol of India. With 9 million people, it is a thriving metropolis, mostly apparently bent on one thing – getting more money. I have always noticed that people who like money are good at math. Most Diamonds are good at math. This is because the love of money involves counting. Well then, India must be a country of Diamonds because Indians are good at math. Some of the world’s greatest minds are found here. And the computer age is dawning in a new era for these otherwise poor people. Not all are hard-working and productive but most are.
Another equally important part of the Indian culture is their religious beliefs and practices. Indians have a truly rich religious culture. It is 10 times more colorful than any other. There are countless Gods and other pious characters from which to draw inspiration. And they do, whether by pasting their images in conspicuous places or by daily ritual. But so much is their spiritual heritage a part of their world that anyone in India will be reminded of it many times during the day. It is very much like America where many of the popular names are taken from saints and biblical figures. But in India it seems that 90% or more of the names are taken from their Gods, etc. The other big difference from America is that most Indians know the stories behind their namesakes. And we must not forget that all of these names are taken from Sanskrit, a truly divine language itself that is not spoken, but only chanted and sung.
On the way to a shopping bazaar, we ran into this marriage parade. This is right in the middle of town! Traffic was a mess.
If the fittest survive, it only stands to reason that the fittest in today’s world are those with the highest intelligence. This certainly appears true in India where knowing more about things can be the difference between eating or not. In general, I found that the most successful people were those who spoke good English.
Vrindavan is the place where Lord Krishna made love to a thousand gopis (cowherd girls) at one time, one of the more famous of his acts. It was sort of comical to me when I found that that since this was considered one of Krishna’s important miracles that it makes Vrindavan a holy place to the Hare Krishna people who live there. Thus, they are not allowed to have sex there themselves. Funny that they are not allowed to have sex in the place where Krishna himself made love to 1,000 women all at the same time in one night. Nearby Mathura is where he was born so basically this is the area where Krishna spent his childhood and adolescence. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the Hare Krishna devotees and others have established centers here. The Krishnas as I call them (ISKCON) have built a beautiful temple where they perform pujas, artis, kirtans, and other ceremonies on a continuous basis. These rituals are at the very heart of their worship since they are on the Bhakti path, or the path of devotion. Chanting, in particular, is seen as the fastest way to the Lord. And from my experience this must be true.
This is how the Hare Krishnas Like to dress up Krishna and Radha in the temple at Vrindavan
They really get into it!
I really enjoyed the chanting and Arti to Lord Krishna. At one point, one of the devotees pushed me into the fray of the dancing and chanting and I really let myself go, enjoying the power and beauty of the Hare Krishna mantra and their great drumming. I have always enjoyed and appreciated the Krishnas and this was just a reminder to me of the power of Bhakti yoga. But something was missing for me. Somehow I sensed that this was not my path. I left feeling contented and glad that I had paid a visit to a holy place, and especially to a Krishna place. After all, my sanskrit name, Aniruddha, was taken from Krishna’s first grandson, the son of Pradyumna, who himself was begat by Krishna and Laxmi.
Their place also has two guest houses , two restaurants, and extensive housing facilities for its resident devotees. I stayed there overnight, which isn’t nearly enough time but was all I had.
But being at the Krishna temple also reminded me that this was not my true path. Though I could really appreciate what they were doing, I could sense that my path lie elsewhere. That elsewhere place was Kayavarohan, the home of Lord Lakulish.
The temple to Lord Lakulish at Kayavarohan.
What is little known is that the temple is a symbolic representation of the human body. The back, taller part is the spinal column with the 7 chakras. Lord Lakulish’s lingam was installed in the temple from the top, symbolizing the high spiritual energies coming down into the human body for its emancipation from the wheel of karma and rebirth.
That is where I went a day after I returned to Delhi from Vrindavan. My years in the ashram were all based upon a path of yoga called the Pashupat Dharma, which was created by Lord Lakulish. He lived about 1500 years before the birth of Christ. In his lifetime he achieved the goal of obtaining a divine body. It would take a long time to describe what that is all about but essentially through the practice of kundalini yoga it is possible to obtain a divine body, one that is everlasting. And this body has the appearance of someone who is about 19 years of age.
The Lingam of Lord Lakulish, sitting in a yoni (vagina). All of Shiva’s symbolism is highly sexual. Notice that the figure of Lord Lakulish has a full erection. The actual height of this is about 5 feet. It is life size.
There is a statue of Lord Lakulish in the Kayavarohan temple, which was built expressively for him. This statue is not really a statue at all. First of all it was found in a farmer’s field about 150 years ago. Scientists in India examined it and discovered that it is composed of meteorite stone. (most Lingams in India are made of sandstone) And it is flawless. They have named it a national treasure. And rarely is a lingam stone found with a figure emerging from the front. That figure, in this case, is Lord Lakulish himself.
Another view of the temple from the front.
I sat at his feet in the temple for two days. I made my spiritual connection and once and for all I know where I belong in terms of spiritual paths. Now, my life makes sense to me and I have restored my practice of yoga and meditation, thanks to Lord Lakulish’s grace.
My personal notes about having his darshan:
Lord Lakulish just sits there, adorned and worshipped. He doesn’t do much but his energy is so strong. I just want to soak up as much of him as I can while I am here. He is sitting there with a rod in one hand and a fruit in the other. His lingam is erect and his form, that of a 19-year old boy, is emerging from a larger lingam. He, and his lingam, are resting in a giant yoni (like a vagina). There is water dripping onto the top of his head constantly. When I look at him I see him smiling a beautiful, eternal and haunting smile. He is the destroyer of ignorance and today his Shakti destroyed mine.
His temple is adorned with the most beautiful female forms I have ever seen. He is the only male in the place, surrounded by goddesses and apsaras (a race of heavenly nymphs). Behind him sits his consort, the beautiful Parvati. Her presence there seems to say, ‘this is the man of men and the God of Gods because only that one is worthy of one such as myself.’
This is how Lord Lakulish usually looks. A Brahman priest is always there to take care of him, adorning him with garlands, flowers, sandalwood paste and tilaks. Ceremonies are performed several times daily.