It’s with joy and gratitude to God that we share with you the events that occurred during the past two weeks here in India. It began with the first of two consecutive weekend pilgrimages to Babaji’s Cave on Drongiri Mountain.
A group of about forty-two pilgrims gathered in the cold, dark, and smog at the Delhi train station in the early morning of Oct. 21 to proceed by train and bus to our hotel, Woodsvilla, in Ranikhet. We arrived about 5:00 pm, in time to check into our rooms and enjoy the magnificent view of the snow-capped Himalayas, radiant in the sunset.
No photo can ever capture the beauty and power of the Himalayas. They stand like deities, removed from this world yet benignly blessing it. In their presence, it’s hard to let the mind descend into egoic concerns or petty problems.
The next day was a retreat for the pilgrims at the hotel, which we had almost entirely to ourselves. To prepare for the ascent the next day to Babaji’s Cave, we had long meditations, maintained silence, did journal writing, and concluded with an outdoor fire ceremony after dinner.
The next morning we traveled by bus to the place where the walk to the cave begins. The ride was in itself a spiritual and bonding event, as the leaders chanted and read from the Autobiography about Babaji. Daya and Keshava have been leading pilgrimages throughout India for the past several years, and we can’t praise them enough for the well-organized and joyful experience they create. Haridas and Roma also helped lead the trip, and brought a group of about twenty pilgrims from their center in Bangalore.
Our guide, Mahavir, has been helping to organize Ananda pilgrimages to India since our first trips there. He is a quiet, dignified man with a deep spiritual vibration. Mahavir shared with us an experience that he had had some years ago before becoming a tour guide. Babaji appeared to him and told him that he would be working with spiritual people and showing them the holy places of India.
Several of the pilgrims had physical challenges, and we had concern about their ability to make the ascent. The first half hour is a gentle uphill climb on a gravel road, but the next thirty to forty minutes is a steep path with many roots and loose rocks along the way. Everyone is encouraged to go at his or her own pace, but the 6,000-foot altitude also adds to the challenge.
However, once the climb begins, a kind of magic takes over, and one by one everyone was carried along by Babaji’s grace and made it to the top. Once there, we meditated in the cave for a total of three hours in groups of twelve. Many people felt blessed and changed afterward. Later that evening as the group entered the dining room of the hotel for dinner, everyone’s face shone with radiant joy.
The next day the pilgrims left to return home, but we had other plans. We began a five-hour drive by taxi to Abbot Mount, a retreat center near Lohaghat that has a magnificent view of the Himalayas. We felt very fortunate to have a week of seclusion there, which somehow felt to have been both arranged and blessed by Babaji. We were able to integrate the experience during the long hours of meditation and quiet walks through the foothills with the mountains always in sight. This whole area is associated with the Pandavas and our line of gurus.
After a week we returned to Woodsvilla in Ranikhet to join Daya, Keshava, Shurjo, and Narayani and a second group of about forty pilgrims. This time there was a large contingent of friends from Ananda’s Pune City Center.
Each pilgrimage is different in many ways, but similar in the most important one: the devotion of each person that has guided them to leave home, job, family behind for this weekend, at least, in the quest of God. Many in both groups said that they felt Babaji had both called them, and made it possible for them to come.
As we sat meditating once more where Babaji manifested a golden palace and initiated Lahiri Mahasaya into Kriya Yoga, we felt in some deep way like we had come home. Much more could be said about the experiences of the past two weeks, but that can be done in person after we return.
Now we are in Pune, where we’ll begin a weekend retreat tonight and have a large public talk in town Sunday morning. As soon as we landed, we visited Tushti and Surendra at their flat in Pune City. She is holding up well from her chemotherapy treatments, and Willow’s presence is a great help, support, and comfort to her. They will all be flying back to Portland on Nov. 19 to finish her treatments there.
Thank you for your ongoing prayers. We daily feel the love and strength that comes from them. May God and Guru bless you always.
In their love,
Jyotish and Devi