Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fran Gilmore's Spiritual Journey to India

The many levels of the temple represent levels of consciousness.

I returned a few days ago from a month-long trip to India, a pilgrimage really, and I'm just emerging from the cave of jet lag. It's very hard to put into words what this experience was like--it was spiritual and deep. We stayed at an ashram with our leader Russill Paul whom we have known for many years, as a great musician, scholar and teacher.

We visited several Hindu temples, and a yogini center--all female yoginis who run a school for orphan and indigent girls, and also preserve some of the most ancient traditions in the world, in the form of detailed Vedic ceremonies. We witnessed one of these, and you'll see a few pix of it.
Yoginis carry on hours long Vedic ceremony

We also visited a village across the road from the ashram, which the ashram helps. They actually paid off generations-old debts of a group of "untouchables" who were skilled weavers, but really permanent indentured servants. Now they live in the village and earn a living as weavers. The ashram also supports a home for indigent elderly there, and provides milk for school girls. Indigent elderly supported by ashram

When we helped with chopping vegies, we were doing it for our own food and the elderly. They got exactly the same food as we did. It was a nearly all carb diet of mostly rice, beans and vegies. All fresh and organic. The ashram cows provided milk every day. Very grateful to them. I was VERY careful to limit portions, and actually lost 6 lbs.

We were a group of 27 pilgrims from all over the US and Canada, a wonderful group of people. We lived in spartan quarters, and had pretty structured days, including sessions with Russill of meditation, chanting and lecture. Toward the end we had a week of 24/7 silence, though we could speak when necessary, and still had sessions with Russill. I finally found deep internal silence on Day 6--the deepest peace I've ever felt. Hope I can return to that state.

We visited several Hindu temples, were well instructed in proper behavior, and were able to witness the innermost rituals. For the first and last 2 days we had transitional hotels in pretty luxurious beach resorts, and a mad shopping rush at the very end for gifts and whatever.

You can see a sample of pictures here Some of them have captions if you click on the picture.

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