Meditation at the Ganges in Hrsikesh

Question: The Beatles and many other people went to Hrisikesh, a place at the Ganges in India, for learning the science of yoga and meditation. What is so special in this place? Have you been there? And can everyone go there?

Answer: Hrsikesh is the place where the Lord of Rsis, or holy men, is remembered every day. It lies in the Himalayas, in the North of India.

Only in recent years I went there with a small group of devotees. We stayed at the Sand-Seva Asram, and every morning we could just go out of our room and jump into the Ganges. As you can imagine it was cold, clean and pure; the thirsty mans delight. And then we would sit there and chant, as incredible amounts of sacred water rushed by. What a joy to see, while the early morning traffic over Laksma-Yulan foot-bridge started moving. And then we had our class of Srimad Bhagavatam, morning meditation, bhajan, accompanied by holy cows and jumping fishes.

Hrsikesh is a Temple City; some of the yoga ashrams there look more like five star hotels than sacred places of withdrawal from the world. But here and there and everywhere a yogi in his asana is giving his thoughts to Mother Ganga and Lord Siva, who received the Goddess on his head. And we did the beautiful Harinam-sankirtan, which Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave to the hole world.

Winding roads between uncountable asrams, old yogis coming to the door and looking with suprise. Their faces deep and grave. Sometimes somewhat hardened by extensive austerities or prolonged waiting for foreign yoga students. Then all for a sudden, a deep smile flashes from their heart onto their faces. Some lift their arms and wave, 'Come in, lets have a chant together. Let's glorify Lord Hrisikesh in Hrsikesh.' Jay Nitai, jay Gaurahari, jay Prabhupada. What a relief to chant and dance and to produce joy in others. These are precious moments, not to every forget. The lila of the maha-mantra, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Where did we go from here? We crossed over the second bridge and met a blind sadhu, a yogi who worships at least ten different Krsna-deities at the same time. Lets read from Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita he said. Obviously overjoyed, the prabhuji does not want to let us go. More chanting, more Hari-katha, but Bhaktiyoga Swami is already waiting for us. In this stronghold of sanskrit scolars, or impersonal meditators, or commercial yogis we feel so lucky to have found some devotional service at the bank of the Ganges. Another class, another kirtan, another day another month, time does not count, so do not count time. As death will simply come do devour you, absorb your life at once in the heart-felt chanting of the Holy Names and time will stop, because Lord Krsna will take you beyond time and space.

Then we see a poster: 'Techno party in Hrsikesh' and I feel seperation from Sri Vrindavana dhama, the land of Srimate Radharani. Mother Ganges was jealous, because Lord Krsna bathed in His childhood pastimes in the Yamuna. Then, pleased by her prayers, the Lord appeared again as Caitanya Mahaprabhu and performed His childhood pastimes in Mayapur. Eternally united since the Triveni, Ganga and Yamuna flow tightly ambraced down, into the ocean, giving all of us life and joy and the transcendental enviroment.

All these holy places should be spotlessly clean and must be protected against the noise and other Kali-yuga contaminations. If you do not push something up, it will certainly go down. All together we can do it. I hope next time I go there, I can take a big group of kirtaniyas and visit all the asrams with a message of love from the environmental comitee of the WVA.