Yesterday we connected with Malay again. His cough is much better (although I saw him smoking a beedi this morning for which I chastised him ;) Naughty Saddhu). He told us about the Ganga Sagar festival on 14th January. It sounds ridiculously hectic (as all Indian festivals do), but would provide us with a once in a lifetime experience if we’re willing to push through the pain barrier (which we are ;)). Over 1 million people will attend, and all of them will cram on to the small island of Sagar south of Calcutta – where the Ganges river runs into the Bay of Bengal. Nix trekked to the source of the Ganges in Gaumukh last year whilst I was in Mumbai playing a gig, so it will be good to see the delta as a completion of sorts. It is said that a dip in the Ganga at this time and place will wash away all past sins. I’m up for that. I’d best do some serious sinning between now and then.... We’re going to have to psych ourselves up big time for a crowd of that magnitude. Malay said he’s keen to meet us there, which would be great. It’s very helpful to journey with a Saddhu where melas are concerned - sort of like getting a VIP pass to festies elsewhere in the world ;) We had a good chat with him again about “life tips” ;) Here are the crib notes.... Think of them as a sort of “Spirituality for Dummies”. So, without further ado, here are the 3 obstacles to peace:
1) Thoughts about the past.
2) Attachment to the present.
3) Worry about the future.
Fair enough, I concur with these based on my experiences to date. Although, in my opinion (for what opinions are worth), I would add that they are interchangeable. You can think about, be attached to and worry about the past, present and future.... They are not mutually exclusive.
There are 7 friends along the path (or as Malay calls them “The Magnificent 7” – our buffalo ride out of town really does need to be done. Preferably at sunset, wearing a poncho and a stetson) and these are:
3) Discernment (in other words judgement calls about what is helpful/unhelpful etc).
4) Good company (people or situations).
And to round off today’s class, here are a couple of Hindi thoughts for the day:
“Atithi Devu Bhobo” (Treat your Guests like Gods) – which explains the friendliness and helpfulness we have experienced from so many Indians during our travels. Malay suggested however that he feels this has as much to do with us putting out the good vibe and receiving it back, which felt good to hear. We must be doing something right.
“Santosham Panam Sulcham” (Satisfaction is a great happiness).
Class dismissed. Homework to be on my desk by 9am sharp tomorrow. Anyone failing to comply will be given 1 millennium of meditation and 500,000 pujas to complete by the end of the week.
At lunch today I noticed toilet rolls for sale under the counter which were branded “Eezy Vype”. I found the phonetics very amusing. Little things please little minds as they say - that’s me all over. I suppose they sell toilet rolls at the restaurant in case things go South with what you’ve ordered. I have developed a taste for onion pakoras. They are the Indian vegetarian version of KFC, and they taste fantastic (although my arteries may not agree).
On a side note, I wonder if explorers of old were hippies.... It seems that many of the present day adventurous travelling sorts are. Picture this - Christopher Columbus dressed in Saddhu garb, chuffing a chillum whilst having deep and meaningfuls with his crew.... “Hey guys, I’ve had an idea. How about we sail across this ocean on a voyage of self-discovery? I don’t think we are alone in the universe man.... And I’m not so sure the earth is flat after all.... Pass the smoke Pedro, and what are you doing about the music situation Fernando? We need tunes bro....”
Place your bets now – will Nikki and Michael make it out of Gokarna before Christmas? We almost forgot it’s Christmas since there is a distinct absence of advertising here ;) Happy Christmas :)