last days by the River

Somebody was asking me if re-reading and writing all about my experiences in India brought back some emotions and sadness or regrets. Emotions yes of course, we are human beings and emotions are always there especially concerning high moments of our lives. and we have heart and not being stoic, we feel emotion.

Its good to see from a distance like watching a play which we saw years ago. The actors have aged and some have moved on but the story is always intriguing. After all, our life is a story, remember what Shakespeare said, “this world is a stage and we are all actors.”  Nothing to be dramatic about. Its just like that.

Some of our friends could relate some very interesting stories of their lives also but maybe they just don’t have the time. I am lucky to have the time right now and because I don’t know when again I will have this time, I am writing it now.  I do hope you find it entertaining.

After that period in the forest and I had the opportunity to stay some more time in Rishikesh in a fairly comfortable yet simple place, I was very lucky as it gave me the chance to adjust myself before moving on.

That area of Rishikesh was so lovely, almost like a holiday area with a vast choice of reasonably cheap restaurants and places to lodge, and blessed with the presence of the River Ganges where one could always find a clean and peaceful spot to swim. It was also a very prayerful area where many people came for that unique reason of being in a retreat.  Some were awaiting transportation to climb further up North. Some stayed in ashrams and attended spiritual lectures and prayers in the choice of many temples.

I had a good night’s sleep at Fr. George’s place and with meditation,mass and breakfast, we set out together. He wanted to have some dialogue with a sadhu. I found one who lived in a Kutir (hut) on the outskirts of the city close to the river. He was originally a lawyer who gave up his profession, threw away all his credentials and lived a life of a renounciant, begging his food every day. He accepted to receive us and so we went.

Fr. George although born and brought up in India, had never spoken to one. He welcomed us and I took some notes. He told us how he was disappointed with his career as a lawyer in Delhi and he gave it all up.
“Ever since, my life has changed and I am at peace. Once we seize the imperishable nature of this world, peace comes. It comes through understanding and not through repetition” he said. I asked him if he did not consider that understanding comes through the grace of God. “Of course” he said, “Grace is always there and even your presence here is grace”   “Is this understanding knowledge, gyana?’ I asked and he said “Yes, you can find this in Vedic commentaries”
Fr. George told him that he wondered how could he give up his career as a lawyer to live here and do nothing, and beg for his food etc. The sadhu looked at him and said “One may choose to work as a lawyer and serve the country.  I chose to give it up and live for God alone.
Just as the one who makes a choice is free to chose, so too, it is my privilege to serve who I chose.”
Of all the things he said, I enjoyed that the most. he spoke an impeccable English and he also remarked that he was not alone on this path.

He pointed to another hut further up the river and he said “In that hut lives a sadhu from Spain. That man has taken all his identity papers, his passport and every form of identity and burnt them and thrown them into the Ganges. He is ‘nobody’ now and yet he is so happy and at peace because he belongs to God”

It was with great joy we met this man and what a joy it will be to meet him again!

The walk back from there all along the river and over the bridge was fairly a quiet one and I looked at the river which kept on flowing, always flowing, always …

“Remember, sang the Ganga,
When you were all children in my River

Remember, she sang, when I taught you of the Giver
Remember when you, the child became the sadhu who sat by my River

Remember the flames that danced from my dhuni
Rememeber my chela, to always know me.”
(Ma Jaya Sati)

It was a wonderful day as we ran into Claude, and Jacques, a French lad and also Sr. Ananda and also Barath, a lad from Nepal. It was so strange to meet them all. They were friends I met when I stayed at the ashram with Abde before leaving for the pilgrimage up to the source of the Ganges. They were all going for lunch in a restaurant somewhere and we asked to join them. It was like a pre-planned farewell.  We exchanged addresses and I remember corresponding for a while but then there was a fire and I lost all their correspondence. There was no internet like today and so I never saw or heard from any of them any more. I do believe in faith, we will meet again.

We all met by the River and we said good bye by the River as dusk came and the darkness of the Mother came over and the stars came up and danced on the breast of the River, as some
placed flowers and lights floated and incense rose

and we could hear the bells and conches blowing …..calling her children home……..


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