You are who you are wherever you are.
We were presented the option to visit Elephanta Caves (Elephant Island), ruins from the seventh century. Pretty much everyone was on board with going and we set out after an early morning breakfast.
Crossing the streets by foot in Mumbai is no different from playing a human game of Frogger. Remembering to look both ways is key because cars are coming from every direction possible. There are no friendly reminders on the sidewalks like in London, noting which way to look before crossing. Best be on high alert when out and about or you will find yourself splat out. Game over.
“Shortly before the Elephanta temples were created, Bombay had experienced the golden age of the late Guptas, under whom the arts flourished. Sanskrit had been finely polished, and Kalidasa and other writers had helped incite a Hindu religious revival under the court’s liberal patronage. Shaivism, the worship of Shiva, inspired the building of these temples.”
This was lifted from here if you want to read more.
An hour long ferry ride drops you off on a jetty, which one traverses to reach the main island. If I fail to mention the kirtan led by Gaura Vani Aks during the ferry shuttles, I would be cheating the whole experience of visiting the caves. Kirtan (devotional singing) opens your heart and your mind as well as connects you to the people who are singing with you. What better way to prepare for stepping foot on preserved ancient land that also looked like it could be a great location to shoot the next Indiana Jones movie. Sita Ram, Sita Raaaamm, Lakshman Hanuman, Lakshman Hanuman.
Every day is a day with possibilities wherever you are.
This is true on ancient land in India or in your home. How open you are to possibilities is up to you. Your projector or lens through which you experience life makes all the difference. You can be anywhere and have a great day or a crappy day. Something new and exciting can be perceived as new and exciting just as it can be seen as new and scary. Something familiar can be viewed as comfortable and calming or old hat and boring. This is your mind and how you see the world. Is the world coming at you or are you going into the world? Do you find yourself saying, “Well he did that to me, and that’s why I am miserable” or “If none of these doctor’s can fix it then who can”? How does one take “The world is coming at me” view to “I can make a difference in this world” point of view?
The only place to start is with yourself.
Change can only happen if you take action. We’ve all heard about journeys and paths. This is the road to making lasting changes in your life. On this proverbial road you will find love, compassion, joy, discipline, truth, ethics and hard work. Choosing your path is part of the journey and part of the homework to self discovery and healing.
You will still be you. You can’t escape you, but how you see the world, how your mind works, will change. Possible new questions will be, “How can I help you?” or “What do you need?” instead of “I am hungry. I am hot. I am thirsty.” Because you’ve already worked on self, you know you have all that you need, you come from a place of abundance rather than deprivation. You can let go of poverty mentality and be of service to others. This is the shift.
The intention of a pilgrimage (yatra) is to visit holy and sacred places associated with Hindu epics like The Mahabarata or Ramayana. I chose this yatra lead by Raghunath Cappo because I felt connected to him and his teachings. I wanted to experience India through his experiences, teachers and offerings. This is how teachings are passed on. As we were promised pre-voyage, on our first day, copies of The Mahabarata (about a 3 pound hard cover book) were purchased for 500 rupees ($9) and distributed. We were assigned readings throughout the yatra. Honestly it was hard to keep up with the readings with all the travel, connecting with the other yogis, getting some sleep, and in general having an awesome, stimulating time. Thankfully Raghu is a master story teller.
Finally after 10 years of wanting to see India, how I would experience the Motherland for the first time became clear. I had to plan nearly a year in advance to make it happen. Incredibly, within the week that I decided to go on the pilgrimage, my amazing client said she wanted to donate flyer miles to me for when I decide to go to India. I had never mentioned before wanting to go or India for that matter. She intuitively knew. When you are clear with your intentions, and your intentions are grounded in basic goodness, the seas start to part.
We had three nights and two days in Mumbai then off we were to the next destination Udupi in the state of Karnataka. There is something really nice about letting others take charge of the itinerary. I never knew what time the flights were, or the train, or when things were scheduled. What time I needed to be when and where were instructed by Radha-Kunda Das (the “a” at the end of Kunda is silent) the man in charge of all travel, reservations, meals, bookings, etc. Radha-Kunda just may be the most amazing man in robes I will ever meet. More to come on that.
A huge glowing red sunrise greeted us at the airport.
Had I not been going through security check and keeping track of my ticket, passport and carry-on, I would have taken a photo of the best sunrise of the trip and perhaps that I have seen thus far in my life. I took the opportunity to meditate for a half hour while waiting to depart. You are who you are wherever you are.
Editor: Brianna Bemel