Gangotri Expedition

Gangotri Expedition

It’s Monday 21st May 4.30am were at the Sattva Retreat reception fiddling with our bags,

we’re off on a Pilgrimage – an adventure.

It’s 12 days since we completed 300 hour teacher training, and we’re still learning, we’re taking the teachings on the road, up the mountains and too the Source of The Ganga, the Source of the Sattva teachings, too The Land of The Devas!

Three days ago it was announced that Anandji our teacher / Guru (Indian term for spiritual teacher) was going too the Source of the Ganga which comes from a Glacier. Nikolai who had been filming a documentary on Yoga at Sattva during our 200 and 300 hour teacher training was going to film there.

The Sattva team were going along, Anandji said it would incorporate a Spiritual Pilgrimage, did we want too come?

Yes!

We’re going too the source of the Ganga, too a place high in the Mountains called Gurmuk, its starts from a Pilgrimage town called Gangotri. That’s all we know so far, in true Sattva style it’s an instant trip, it’s exciting, an adventure and going into the Unknown.

For three days with full Arjuna Kriya commitment and determination, we began packing, (in between morning Sadhana and Yoga practice of course) checking visa’s and passports for Francesca, too give too the expedition organisers.

The Anatomy of a Trecker image popped up on the Expedition ‘What’s Up group’… we needed Survival stuff!? Whooo hooo, even better! We went into Rishikesh town and scoured the trekking shops, for torches, hiring boots, buying warm added jackets, borrowing clothes and preparing, you’d have though we were going up Everest.

The Schedule looks like this:

  • Day 1- Arrival in Gangotri in the evening, tea, stay in Ashram
  • Day 2- Trek too Bhojbasa (ht 3790 Mts) 14 kms (Yikes!)
  • Day 3- Trek too Tapovan (ht. 4450m.) 7 km
  • Day 4- rest day
  • Day 5 – Trek to Chirbasa (ht 3600m) 12km
  • Day 6 – Trek to Gangotri 9km – Then depart

We would be visiting the temples of the Deities we had been learning about, we were off into the unknown and we went whole heartedly like little children off too spiritual Disneyland! We took a few hours drive too a morning Chai spot regrouping with our convoy of 4×4, feelings very

The quote on the board before we leave says:

You find within your own practice that when you access the great depth of silence within yourself, a different quality of awareness starts too become available to you. A movement of consciousness which is Self-aware. Anandji

We meditate in the car on the way there, we stop off for Chai (yummy) on the way at a couple of outdoor spots and a lavish local lunch the scenery changes, the trees become more northern European, lots of Fir trees, and Christmas trees, it’s like being in Alice in Wonderland, everything seams topsy turvy, inside out and upside down….in a good way.

At Gangotri our convoy of three 4x4s converge, Anandji has arrived first. There are countless people from all around the country getting out of coaches, Pilgrimage buses, cars, motorbikes, being pushed in wheelchairs, and Baba’s in white with they’re feet wrapped in fabric too protect from the cold walking into the town. When we walk into the town with our back packs, we see people having full body dips outside the red and white temple into the rushing Ganga.

Here it is loud,

rushing,

the air is crisp and cold, we change into our puffa jackets.

Donna, Katherine and I do a quick Kriya set co -teaching before dinner. The air is filled with a texture of wonderment and Magic. After Chai ( naturally ) we go too Arti, a huge evening ceremony of light, the Brahmin faces the Cardinal direction with a huge candle holder, he appears to do this in a figure of 8, it’s captivating, beautiful, and ceremonial, he is flanked by two Brahmin holding what looks like a horse hair tail, at certain intervals in the prayers and music, they flick it left and right.

At the end people line up too to into the temple which we also do too climb the stairs into the open temple, Anandji waits at the barrier in front of the deity whilst we go for a blessing, we are given Kumkum (red powder) on our forehead (3rd eye) and milk is poured into our palms, we walk clockwise around the temple touching each wall, in silent meditation and prayer, afterwards we are speechless and walk back too the Ashram in silence.

Anandji later says they have been doing Arti like that for thousands of years, my heart is filled with gratitude that what we’ve been learning at Teacher training is here, and I know the ritual and the symbolism of each act, each light, and gesture, and its as if our Yogi training is being put into practice, here, at nearly 3,00 feet.

The next morning after mediation at 5am, Anandji has organised a Brahmin too do a private morning Pooja ritual for us, by the Ganga, and too tie Sankalpa threads around out wrists too set intentions for our trip, I’m speechless and already my eyes are filling with tears, I think of the Yogi’s who have preceded us here, and thank the for laying the path, and thank life for these gifts these constant blessings reminding us of our connection too each other.

Later after breakfast, we begin the climb, the Sherpas carrying tents, food, our belongings go ahead of us. We enter thee national park, and pause before walking through paths, rocks, we meet others walkers and Pilgrims, we see beautiful giant rocks below, as we climb higher and higher, and gasp as we go. We can’t quite believe it, there are people on Donkeys, we walk over ladders of bamboo and wood too climb over rushing rivers and over boulders, it feels like Lord of the Rings without the trek too Mordor. We do Mala practice as we go, take pictures and pause at the funniest Chai / / lunch / Donkey rest spot, where rice, Dahl, and tea is being served. After a break we make it too our camp site, there is a huge beach of sand that is on the Ganga, it is incongruous, It could be Ghana, and yet there are the beautiful mountains and snow, and bright sunlight and the texture of the air, soooo clean, light and expansive.

The sherpers set up camp, there are 13 of us, there is a tent just for dinner, Nikolai films, and the team set up too film a Wisdom talk for the Sattva family around the world, it is beautiful the sun is going down and catches at the top of the mountain spreading out a Halo of light, and pink and orange glow fills the West and my heart is full too bursting, and expands more too hold the moment, my Sufi heart shines. That night we climb into giant sleeping bags, I feel like caterpillars snuggling down, ‘snug as a bug in a rug’ my mum would say.

The next day after morning Sadhana we go too a new camp, talk of Gurumuk and Tapovan comes up, we might not be able to go too Tapovan, the path has been closed, we focus on the Glacier, it’s what we’ve come for the Source of the teachings, excitement builds, when re we going? Are We There Yet?

We do practice and meditate, Anandji does a wisdom talk about the mountains, we learn that the buildings at Sattva are named after them, the mountains are named after Deities, after lunch , we set off for the Glacier, we are silent and excited, Nikolai films as we go along, we get too a huge rock with a Siva Lingum and a sign saying ‘Gurmuk’ we continue and after intrepid small paths, climbing over huge rocks, the size of buildings we get too a beautiful mountain, it’s the Tapovan mountain we stop too film and do some Kriya there, and after transcendental experience ( naturally ) we go onto the source.

There Ganga gets bigger, more rushing, noisier, colder, the air is thicker with Prana, the side of the mountains become steeper, we see dark rocks in front of us that look like craters made by volcanic rock, it’s the Glacier. We stop. We do prayers. I think of our lineage. I see Anandji on my minds eye, his Guru, I see Yogananda, Sri Yukteshwar, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Babaji, and imagine them grinning, watching us, I give thanks too all that has lead us here. We touch the Ganga, the rocks, we breath, we are still, we are silent, we are always home.

Cloudia Emefa Vardon – Sattva Yogi