Let us become nobler

Sanskrit word 'Arya' or 'Aryam' stands for nobility. Let us implore everyone to become noble, the Arya or Aryam. Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Jews, communists or capitalists, rich or poor, clever or dumb, weak, meek or bully. Uncomfortable perhaps are they with other, threatening peace. Ray of hope for the world is ‘include-all’ ideas of ancient Indian wisdom popularly known as Hinduism. Only they knew how to celebrate individuality of each person. Aryas respect ideas of others, respect way of worship of others, help others and become a noble citizen of this wide and varied world. Idea behind this blog is to bring out those ideas and help each of us become better than what we are. 'N' in the 'Aryan', by the way, was a mistake made by colonial 'experts' who wanted to underplay and undermine the culture and religion of those who they clandestinely enslaved.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

14- Kailash, Kathmandu and Kashi – A story of Shiva and me.

(A decade ago after a trip to Tibet, Nepal and India, I wrote down my impressions. It was not meant to be a book, however after it was read by some, it was suggested that if it gets published, interested persons can use it. However I thought (and still think) that the narration was more of a personal quest into Bhagavan Shiva and that it may not interest a wider audience. Therefore instead of commercially publishing it, I thought of placing it on a website of Publishing house Harper Collins’s website known as Authonomy.com. It remained on their website for people to review my narration for many years. However, last year, when Harper Collins shutdown Authonomy.com and I realized that some people still wanted to read my account, I decided to place all 26 chapters of that travelogue on this blog. Reader views and comments are welcome)

Chapter 14.  Rakshas Taal, The Demon lake of Demon-Raavana Fame.

After the dip in Manasarovar, once again we took to the car and proceeded further on the periphery of the lake. At one point another huge lake became visible on the western horizon. The lake has a few islands, unlike the Manasarovar that has none. It was that famous ‘Rakshas-Taal’. ‘Rakshas’ means Demon and ‘Taal’ means Lake, so named because it happens to be the place where Demon Raavan, the King of Lanka and a villain of epic Ramayan had done severe ‘Tapa’ to earn invincible power. As his reward, he did earn, what is popularly known as ‘Atma-Linga’(the essence of Shiva-ness, or Shiva-Power) from Bhagavan Shiva.  Tapa’ is an Indian word that does not have an equivalent in English but it means observing intensive austerity, self-control, labor, patience and studies of scriptures to legitimately obtain hard to get knowledge and/or celestial powers and/or Niravan and/or material gains. Tapa is erroneously identified with English word ‘penance’. Penance is different; it is done as an act of self-punishment to atone self from the sins committed. In the ancient tale, we find an interesting account of how ultimately was Raavan thwarted from becoming a super-power as soon as Raavan’s ulterior motives in acquiring power became exposed. Rakshas-Taal, tainted by Raavan, though receives its water from the springs flowing from holy Mountain Kailash, is not held as holy either by Hindus or by Tibetans. Story of Raavana is good lesson for mankind; if anyone tried hard enough, just as done by Raavana, the God would grant us whatever we want, but if are our intentions unworthy, the granted boon would waste away unceremoniously. Stalin and Hitler are examples in point; they had everything in their power yet today they are held in shame and disdain. In our own lives, it is important to examine our acquisitions and losses, small and big. I have several personal experiences and can vouch for its truthfulness. “Deserve, before you acquire” should be the watch word. Alas, it is easier said than done.


Lake Rakshas-Taal is also a large lake, about 80 km in circumference. Fishing is permissible in this lake. Rakshas-Taal and Manasarovar are separated by just a narrow strip of land; perhaps Mother Nature is trying to say that there is just a narrow difference between divinity and ‘evility’ and only a small but determined effort is needed to cross from evil and come to divine. We need to rise out from our life’s Rakshas-Taal of our life, walk across that narrow strip and plunge into what we may be recognizing as Manasarovar of our life.


We stopped for night in a nice and a fairly ‘new looking’ guesthouse. A signboard informs pilgrims that ‘Indian Heritage Research Foundation’ has built the guesthouse. Swami Chidananda Saraswati is connected with this foundation. The guesthouse is on the edge of Manasarovar, just near the famous Chiu-Gompa monastery that is perched on a hillside. By the time we settled down in our rooms it was dark. Most of us had their dinner and went to bed tired from the exciting yet difficult day.  In the next room we paid visit to our sick colleague. He was apparently feeling fine at Manasarovar and even had a dip there but was now feeling sicker. Advice was coming forth from all quarters that enough was enough. Now that he had rare privilege of holy-dip, of performing pooja at Manasarovar and having darshan of Mount Kailash, the sick tourist should consider his health and head back instead of risking health complications in a territory where medical assistance was impossible to get. But this was a difficult decision to take; it is not easy to tear away from this fine group and to say good bye to magnetic Mount Everest. It was decided to wait and watch health situation till next day. With this we left the room and began our nightly vigil of the starry sky over Manasarovar. Streaks of light filled the sky and delighted our hearts. No one should miss an opportunity like this to observe the night-sky. Tonight we could afford to spend more time out under the sky on the shores of Manasarovar because next day was rather an easy day with only a little drive up to Darchen, base-camp for Mount Kailash. We were amazed, how lighted night-sky can be merely from the light of twinkling stars.


We woke up a bit late. Even the Sherpas seem to have taken a longer rest than usual. Although hot tea-coffee-chocolate-milk etc was ready, the breakfast wasn’t. Probably that was the plan. Sighting the gorgeous Gompa on the nearby hill, no one could resist paying a visit there.


Although it appeared within grasp, visit took good two hours. By the time we returned, piping hot breakfast was waiting for us. Chui-Gompa was not on the top of the hill, but, curiously, perched slightly below its peak, built by carving out the side of the hill and therefore looked intriguing. Colorful buntings inscribed with prayers were fluttering above the Gompa. Its colorfulness was inviting. While the Sherpas were still busy preparing morning breakfast, many of us quietly left our rooms and trekked up the Buddhist monastery. It turned out to be farther and at higher height than what we thought while setting out from our hotel. This was that monastery where many lamas and spiritual masters had performed Tapas over centuries. There were hot water springs here, but we could not get to see them as we had already taken more than estimated time in reaching there and had to turn back. From the height of the Gompa, nothing man-made except our guest house could be spotted on 360° horizon. To one side was visible, the Rakshas taal, sun reflecting from its waters and visible was on the other side, Lake Manasarovar in the backdrop of majestic Mount Kailash. Visiting Chui-Gompa was an unscheduled diversion; however we would have certainly missed if we had not taken personal initiative and made to it.


Back to our guesthouse, overnight, the sick pilgrim had not shown any sign of improvement. His blood sugar had increased and would not come down in spite of higher dose of insulin. He, his wife, doctor pilgrim, and Gautam the group leader were discussing the course of action that they need to take once we reach the next destination – Darchen.


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