a time for change

Here in Montreal,

After the long months of winter, there are some memorable moments,

as we listen for the first time since last fall, the sound of birds singing,

or we awake one morning to the sounds of the Canadian geese who are flying back after their

stay in South, sounds that tell us that winter is over and warmer days are here.

Ecclesiastes 3 (New American Standard Bible)   A Time for Everything

1There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
2A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
3A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
5A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
6A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
8A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.”

And back in India:
Dera Dhun turns out to be jarringly noisy. I guess it was too contrasting in comparison to the quiet of the forest in Rishikesh. Luckily I was there simply to purchase the train ticket on the “Varanasi Express”.
We had two major stops. One was when an argument broke out between the train driver and the fire-men and they stopped the train. On another occasion, someone pulled a switch which sent the train on a wrong line. We were delayed for long hours. I made friends with a Jain family and when the train stopped, they invited me to their house to spend the night. I slept on the roof with the stars above my head. It was lovely. I had been here before in 1971!

*There are different versions to it, but the common belief is that Buddha preached his first sermon to the five ascetics with whom he fasted and meditated for six years before his enlightenment. Even though the ascetics had lost faith in him after Buddha broke his fast or penance which were the order of the day among the ascetics then, when he came to Sarnath to find them they felt impelled to rise and pay him homage. These five ascetics became the first converts to Buddhism and formed the first ‘Sangha’, for popularising the teaching of the great ascetic, world-wide. Every Buddhist seeks to visit Saranath once in his lifetime.

Although Sarnath was amongst one of the first Buddhist pilgrimage site to be explored by the British, it was Anagarika Dharmapala, a Buddhist in the early 19th century who was instrumental in the restoration of Sarnath’s monuments which was in a state of decay and neglect. Through his writings, speeches and pleadings to wealthy Indians and westerners he raised money not only for the restoration of the site but also for the construction of ‘Mulagandhakuti Vihara’- a Buddhist temple (1931) in the Deer Park.

There are a number of twentieth century Buddhist temples in Sarnath, built and maintained by monks from Tibet, China and Japan, but the main attraction is the Deer Park with its ruins of several monuments. On the way to the deer park is the ‘Chaukhandi Stupa’ the spot where the Buddha met the five ascetics, dating back to the fifth century or earlier. During Emperor Akbar’s time, an octagonal tower was built on top of the stupa by his Governor Govardan to commemorate Humayun’s visit to the place. Inside the deer park is the ‘Dharmekha Stupa’ which is believed to be the spot where Buddha gave his first sermon. (Wilkepedia)

I was invited for dinner at a small Capucin friary. The monks there were both from Quebec and they welcomed me very cordially. I always remember that we had corn on the cob, Quebec-style. It was a typical Quebecois dinner and i thought it was really s p very thoughtful of them. They knew that I did not get a chance to find a place to stay and so after dinner, one of the monks placed me on the back of his scooter and drove me over to the Bishop’s residence. He assured me that there they had lots of guests rooms consisting in small cottages, on the grounds. On arriving we met the Bishop taking a walk in the gardens. He welcomed me and said I was welcome to stay as long as I wanted.
He advised me to take the early morning bus and go down to the river and get on a government tour of the Ganges. “early morning is the best time to visit the ghats”, he said.

Note this correction:
Psalm 34.  8 (Revised Standard Version)
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
Happy are those who take refuge in him.”


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