Thursday, April 12, 2012

Varanasi-The Oldest and Holiest City Of India

Varanasi is the last planned stop for India-two days Varanasi and then off to Nepal. Sometimes with countries it has turned out that the expression, "Save the best for Last" comes true. But Varanasi was just a mix of best and worst.
The city is full of Hindu temples, ghats, and the famous Ganges river to cleanse away your sins. It is similar to holy cities I have visited previously Pushkar, Rishikesh, Ramishwaram, and Trivinalmalai except it landed on my least favorite in comparison to all other “holy” cities. 

It is approaching April therefore the temperature was very hott.  People were constantly approaching me making it difficult for me to have any peace, space, or silence to self-reflect meditate.  There are a lot of sketchy people.  For example, “Namaste, Would you like some cocaine?”

The ghats are extremely filfthy and there are all kinds of things floating in the holy river including dead bodies. 

In Varanasi, there are two of the largest “burning ghats” in all of India. Since it is a holy place, the bodies are burned in the public ghats and the ashes and sometimes human corpses are thrown into the water. One could imagine that cleansing in this water was not at all appealing with a fowl smell permeating through the air. 

I spent time staring at the men adding logs to the fire and thinking of all the bodies that have been burned right there in that ghat in front of me.  Death staring me directly in the face and the truth being that at any moment our time may be up….

The ghats, series of steps leading down to the river used by pilgrims and bathers, line up along the Ganges river all connecting for a few kilometers.  You can just walk along the river from one ghat to the next with canoes riding through the water and babas, gurus, and sadhus lined up underneath big wooden umbrellas on land.

Many times I felt God testing my patience, but I passed through these tests remaining silent, being kind, and just ignoring certain comments or behaviors i.e. “Can I give you a free massage?” “Do you want some drugs?” These questions do not fit in with this city, but not everyone is following such holy values and traditions.

Again this city presents the best and worst and the best is yet to come.... 

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