Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Pilgrimage to the Himalayas

With Pandit Hari Shankar Dabral
October 22 to November 6, 2012

Beyond Imagination! Pilgrimage to the Himalayas of Northern India

Join Panditji for 16 wonderful days in India - A Journey for your Soul! Join Pandit Dabral this fall and visit many sacred sights of the Himalayan Mountains of Northern India.  Spend time at Swami Rama's ashram in Rishikesh.  Journey to Badrinath, Kalimath, Kedarnath, Joshimath, Triyuginarayan and many other sacred places in the Himalayas. With the last minute cancellation of the 2011 tour we are sure the 2012 trip will fill up quickly. Kindly send us an email by clicking here if you are thinking, dreaming, planning or asking about going.

Please contact the HYMC Team at [email protected] or Panditji at [email protected] for more information.

My Experience on a Pilgrimage to the Himalayas with Panditji

(by Laura)

A pilgrimage can be an excellent opportunity for meditation in action. It begins with a long, relaxing flight which gives you time to withdraw your senses and focus your attention on only being here and now. You can completely relax, knowing all your needs will be taken care of by Pandit Dabral and his excellent team.

When we first arrived at Swami Rama’s ashram, my mind was as cloudy and misty as the Ganges that flowed past my window. Gradually, the serenity that exuded from the structures and the lush gardens began to worm its way into my consciousness. The many peaceful places to sit, breathe and contemplate invited silence. I felt my scalp relax, my forehead, face, throat, arms, inner cavities, my legs and spine – all areas were at complete ease.

Then our upward journey began.  As we travelled towards the Himalayan peaks, I was aware of my breath like never before.  Some breaths were sharp intakes as we traversed the switchback roads and precipitous cliffs, some were relieved exhales as we successfully navigated the narrow lanes but most were slow, deep breaths simply in awe of the very majesty of it all.

Frequently, we were blessed by temple priests.  But continuously, we were blessed with amazing landscapes and towering skylines.  As we gained elevation, the sunlight on the peaks was magical.  The unique environment beckoned   me ever deeper and there was nowhere else you wanted to be except fully present.

One day, we visited a remote village school and peeked inside to quietly observe.  We saw a humble, one-room classroom, and 40 pairs of dark eyes that could not resist staring back at the strange faces in their window.  We left cookies with their teachers for distribution at their discretion. I was struck by the innocence of the scene.

New and exotic sights were around every corner.  Wandering sadhus with coils of hair and multiple necklaces of holy significance, ritual ceremonies that involved rice, flowers and fragrant oils and fantastically painted temple gods that gazed out at us as they had for millennia.  Sari-clad women, heavily laden with animal fodder, somehow managed to always look elegant even while toiling under their loads.  My mantra swirled in my mind.

A gondola ride to one of the world’s highest ski resorts provided panoramic vistas of contented grazing animals.  The mountains seemed so close you might reach out and touch them.  Wild flowers were abundant. I felt outside of time.
In Badrinath, we were privileged to have an audience with Mouni Baba.  With Panditji translating, we asked our questions and took away his answers to digest.  But beware of the wandering Hanuman priest wielding a large club – he will try to knock some sense into you!  But bless you too, of course.

On the way to The Last Tea House in India (close to the border with Tibet), we were treated to a waterfall and the rushing water combined with the sunlight, created a perfect rainbow – could that have been a manifestation of my opening mind?  Daily travel provided ample opportunity for mantra-japa and I found I didn’t want to speak aloud.

We shared the roads with beasts of burden and traffic jams of cargo trucks and buses.  Patience and teamwork was observed, but there were many paths to resolution.  Not unlike my mind’s ongoing struggles with itself.

Speaking of patience, Panditji was a beautiful example of effortless effort and calm, unconditional love.  He offered this with humour and joy every day.

Near any temple, brilliant displays of offerings were available – always red, always bright, usually tinseled or sequined – it was all quite mysterious and foreign to me.  The throngs of people were never-ending – so that’s what a billion people looks like – constant motion.  I tried to still my mind and just observe.

Returning to the ashram, we again enjoyed simple meals in silence – all the better to assimilate and ruminate on what we’d seen and how it had affected each of us.  Certainly, we were all changed forever.

Swami Rama’s presence permeates his ashram; surely he abides there still.  A part of me is still there too - still as in remaining but also still as in suspension of inner turmoil.  Chatter was finally at a standstill.

I ended this pilgrimage with a stay at the Ayurvedic Centre, part of Swami Rama’s Hospital Foundation.  Any apprehension soon evaporated in the welcoming and safe atmosphere.  “Any tension?  Let it go” was their mantra.  And how could you not?  Multiple hands massage, copious amounts of oil and all the steam you could handle worked its magic on the most resistant of knots.  And there were still many, both physical and emotional.

The many doorways along the way – to temples, to meditation halls, to homes, to abandoned buildings – who could imagine what was behind each one?  They symbolized my many barriers – so many latches, locks, door handles, curtains, weathered over centuries or recently constructed, deeply carved or crudely built. But I felt some of my inner barricades creaking open.

Go if you too want to be only in this moment in time, where there is only right here and right now.  It’s truly a journey to the cave of your heart.  And that really never ends.

Two YouTube Videos

Below are two short videos on You Tube for some more information of the beautiful places you may see. 

Pandit Hari Shankar Dabral

Pandit Dabral was born near Dehradun, India, in a family of Sanskrit scholars.  He holds a doctorate in Yoga Philosophy and Sanskrit from Varanasi, India.  A disciple of H. H. Swami Rama of the Himalayas, he has been trained by Swami Veda Bharati and teaches internationally. Trained and authorized by Swami Rama to give initiations, Panditji has initiated many hundreds of people. Panditji is an experienced teacher in the Himalayan Tradition who is capable of bringing the authentic teachings of the yoga masters to all types of students. He is a senior teacher  of  HYT-TTP (Himalayan Yoga Tradition -  Teacher Training Program) and is also a member of the AHYMSIN Spiritual Committee. Panditji is the Spiritual Director of The Himalayan Yoga Meditation Centre (HYMC) in Calgary, Canada.

Editor's Note:

To visit the website of The Himalayan Yoga Meditation Centre, please use this link: http://himalayanmeditation.com/

We invite you to read “Challenges on the Spiritual Path” by Panditji at http://www.ahymsin.org/docs2/News/1107Jul/03.html