Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 2011 Home

Now it is 2011 and March. The season has begun to cool, the trees have begun to turn yellow and are beginning to fall.
Life is tremendous here in the quiet environs of the Mornington Peninsula.
No future travel plans afoot, but one exciting piece of news
I have published my memoir in three volumes entitled 'Indelible Memories'
Check the website for further details and how to purchase. www.nirvanayogacentre.com

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Home again and in peace and silence, friends, and freedom. We don't know we are alive! Looking back on the three weeks in India one must acknowledge the magnificence of the Flow of Life that is India. The sheer numbers of people - how the good earth provides enough food for everyone is beyond understanding.
There is so much simple faith - everyone does survive - true the West has impinged on India in many ways, yet in typical Indian fashion, there is acceptance. At heart there is always humour and friendship. Those lovely dark eyes will light up quickly with a joke, or a friendly chat. It is remarkable to witness the hardship and the happiness as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


After an all night train journey in 3rd class AC, I alighted on the platform of Agra station at about 6.30 a.m. The trip wasn't too bad considering there were 3 layers on each side, and I was on the bottom layer, the man above was a snorer and all others in that tiny space were men. That was ok.
As my feet touched the platform, a man manifested with red teeth from beetle nut, and slicked down hair and rather unkempt. He stated to me "Hotel Maya?" I was confused as I was booked into Hotel Amar, but at that time of the morning and with the red teeth, I lost my sense. "Yes", wail I. So into a taxi we flee, avoiding the pimps, touts and everything else and speed off to Hotel Maya. Only after I had booked myself in, had a shower, breakfast and was back in the taxi for sightseeing, did I smell a rat.
Fortunately Grace my best friend always comes to the rescue - often just in time. Her second name is Reason. So Grace Reason implied to my mind that maybe there has been some mistake, as the red teeth were becoming a bit much and the sleeze and beady eyes - I insisted in stopping immediately, going back to the hotel Maya and ringing my travel man in Varanasi. Sure enough there had been a huge bungle as the travel man in Rishikesh had booked this hotel and I had not cancelled it. So....long story short, I abdicate one hotel for the other and head off to a glamour haunt, instal myself and await the fun.
So Agra really does not seem to have too much going for it except the massive Fort which is spectacular and of course the gorgeous Taj Mahal.
Tomorrow morning is set aside to see the Taj at dawn with the rising sun. This should be as beautiful as promised.
So after that, I will be heading back to Delhi and then home to Aussie land. Back to my Yoga classes, lovely students and beloved family.

Monday, March 16, 2009


"When in India, just surrender". Well, thanks for the reminder. Surrender.
Who to trust as everyone from the tiny kids selling flowers to float down the
Ganges, to the little shops selling matches and soap, to the man who rows the boat, the driver who drives the car, the man who drives the man who drives the boat and the car, to the hotel managers and so on and on it goes like the river itself. Everyone is stripping nd tricking everyone. One could be stripped bare of everything for sure. And that is where the problem lies. One does not WANT to be stripped. One loves holding on to one's self image, one's belongings, one's money, ones's dignity.
The early morning boat ride was interesting - the life at the waters edge brings one to a reality rarely experienced - the filthy edges of the Ganga here in Varanasi are trusted and treated as pristine and holy Mother's Love. Everyone sinks beneath the surface and worships the waters; prayers with heartfelt cravings being offered to Her. The dead bodies burn along the ghats and the buildings have watched as millions have lived, died and burned. They stand blackened by the funeral pyre smoke.
Life goes on in a wonderful tumultuous way, with people, animals and birds all involved in the early morning ritual of prayer. Yogis yoga, monks monk, birds sing, people chatter, cows sway on their way, and dogs scrounge amongst the rubble piled up. The washermen and women slap the clothes on rocks while they stand waist deep in the water. Then they spread the clothes out on the banks to dry. This is the washing service provided by the hotels in the area of the ghats. Incredibly all clothes come back clean, ironed and folded.
The buildings are ancient like this city. Maharajas have gone, but the buildings are still here. Some only have birds and monkeys for inhabitants, with an occasional goat checking out the possiblity of something to eat.
I have a long way to go before I can immerse myself in the waters here. The Ganga in Rishikesh is a brilliant emerald colour, fast flowing and very cold as it has come directly from the Himalaya. Downstream Varanasi has seen a lot of life, and is showing serious signs of pollution. Even so people fill containers for drinking, and wash themselves in delight each morning. So who am I to judge?
I come from a very different culture where we are still unable to deal with a blackout or a shortage of anykind. Here blackouts happen every day for a few hours at a time. Just part of life. Accept. No ego. The Whole is too big to control.
Tomorrow I will depart Varanasi and go by train to Agra and bow to the Taj Mahal.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Arati on the Ganga here in Varanasi is a brand new experience. It is ages old and seems it has been done in this way for ever and ever. The simplicity of it all, the earthiness, the symbolism, the purity albeit amongst the stones, mud and village life brings the ritual to life in such a profound manner. There is a tiny little wooden platform set up at dusk, with a few items for the Arati. A beautiful young sannyasin (I think he is) comes dressed in golden clothes. He has a serious and divine face. He stands on the platform facing Mother Ganga and proceeds to do many arm waving in wide circles and then above his head. Facing each side in slow progression, north, south, east and west. Always ending facing the Ganga. He proceeds from small items of flame to giant items, with the same movements and seriousness. There are a few people standing around striking bells and one shaking a drum rattle. The entire ceremony takes from sunset to dark, probably about 45 minutes, and then suddenly it is over and everyone runs down to the waters edge and scoops up waters and drinks, dropping water on their head, eyes, and throat, heart.
Then we go back and the young sannyasin goes back to his little wooden platform, and we all crowd around for the red dot on our forehead.
I felt that I was back when Amma was a young girl in her village in Vallickavu in Kerala, when she danced with swords on the bare earth and was wild and free.
Afterwards I ate on the steps with others and the food was really delicious - it was cooking there on the ghat. I saw a dusty young girl of about 9 looking hungrily at the food and gestured for her to sit and have some. The man cooking understood and began preparing her plate, when another young girl manifested so she came too and then a young boy. The man offered them all a plate and between the four of us I paid about 160 rupees which is .... you work it out at 30 rps to 1 AUS$. We all wiped our lips, smiled at each other and faded into the ether as we had come.
Today I have been treated by chance to another wonderful event. A concert on the rooftop of the Ganga View Hotel of a beautiful dance and music event. Katak dance from Northern India. Very special and I have videoed the entire performance.
Things are looking bright - and today I saw a burning body on a pyre with the family of the dead one sitting close by watching. It seems such a great way to finish this life - and was for me - inspiring.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Driving through dusty streets with extreme poverty on all sides was very upsetting particulary watching man pedalled rickshaws pulling weights far too heavy - and a ghastly sight of a poor Brahmin bull trying to pull a cart with about 40 huge sacks of grain on a cart. The poor beast's legs buckled beneath it, and its front legs left the ground. It gave its all to move forward, and I wonder how many days before it dies of sheer gut strength exhaustion beyond endurance. The same card load was coming behind and this time the poor beast had a horrid bar over its neck and it was so heavy that its poor head almost touched the ground, and the man making the beast move forward was trying desperately to help by shifting the bar, but it only nearly broke the neck of the animal.
Then there were children, wild, windswept, unkempt, never washed, scawny and dangerously close to getting run over in groups of 4 or 5, and so much so much so much hardship everywhere.
I really began to wish and beg not to be here. What priviledged people we are in the West in so many ways. The people here are working their guts out to live. There are so many rogues here and no wonder. The Lonely Planet book did warn to be very careful not to go in taxis and be taken to hotels at the drivers wish.
So I carefully went to the Pre Paid counter immediately after getting my suitcase and was given a taxi and a guide from that counter. To cut a horror story short, let us suffice to tell that he was an absolute crook and God came to my rescue. I became very aggressive and told him I would fight him to achieve my choice. Finally he caved and with great triumph I have found myself in the No. ! glorious hotel called Ganga View and it is verymuch like a Mogul Palace with beautiful paintings, photos, extrordinary books of Tantric Yoga, Ancient Indian worrks of Art and sll sitting on tables in a very beautiful setting for one to read at one's desire. It is so amazing, standing on the balcomy overlooking the Ganges here, and seeing boatload of up to 30 people floating down the Ganga. There are usually many boats just floating with all these people aboard. A flash of colours as they slowly flow with the river. It is very symbolic. And entoxicating.
It is veryhard to adjust to the extremes of pain and pleasure. I do feel incredibly blessed and spoilt. What to do? Just flow along with the river, and I pray you do not think me glib in saying that. I am in love with the Varanasi I find myself in. It has a most peculiar spiritual atmosphere, that makes one feel very high


This is Ashok's message to us all - I promised him I would put it on the Internet and he gave me permission to do so. The words are his.

"If we take out the blood (petrol) from the body of the Mother, what will happen?
If we take out the heart (coal) from the body of the Mother, then what will happen?
If we take out the bones and the flesh (organs) of the body of the Mother, what
will happen?
If we take out the water (white blood) from the body of the Mother, what will

If we will not STOP all this production we are not going to be saved by the Nature.
The scientists of the West are crying again and again that ozone gas is breaking day by day and one day we all will sink one day.
Nature could not help it.
This fact has recently been told by Guru Agrahara Nagrag who lives at Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh. He has given the solution to save the Mother Earth. Anybody who wants to save the Mother - all the scientists should go there to understand the thing in the right way."........Ashok Jain