Staying at a Flower Filled Sanctuary

Ranchi Travel Blog

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From Ranchi, India, it’s March 3 as I type this from my room at the Yogoda Satsanga, Self Realization Fellowship facility opened by Yogananda…it was a boys school and ashram. He taught here from 1917 until 1920 when he left India for the United States to bring Yoga to westerners. The accommodations here are the most luxurious (clean) and aesthetically beautiful (particularly the many flower gardens) with it’s combination of new and old buildings. The newest temple and meditation hall facilities are virtually all white marble with incredibly cut filigree (the spiritually symbolic lotus flower design is used again and again). There is a back story to our staying here as with every step of this journey but I won’t get into it now. The end result is that we are here (change of plans from the first night here in Ranchi where we stayed in some of the most dirt laden and grungiest of establishments) and we are all quite pleased. I share this room with 4 others. We have 4 beds but since they are a family, the youngest girl, Amanda is sharing a bed with her mom, Linda in order to allow me a bed of my own. Everyone on this trip has a story and Linda’s great challenge is a body ridden with Cancer….all our intentions include seeing her body whole again. She also is here with her two boys, Elton and Michael…um, Amanda is 8 (reminds me so much of Jess at that age), weeks ago when we were getting to know one another, she asked if she could braid my hair, which of course I obliged her as we were otherwise engaged in hours and hours of bus travel. The boys are um, 15 and 14. Anyway, I’m not sure yet but I do believe we may have two more overnight stays here which is very welcome. Clean bathrooms…both western toilet and Indian style is available….clean place to bath and even some hot water….I experienced some warm water once during my first week in India, and this will be the second, that is, if I’m lucky enough to have some tomorrow morning before it gets used up. All water use is limited as is electricity in most all areas we’ve been to in India. Hot or even warm water is rare. Though the water from this one well was warm and it actually made me cautious because it seemed so peculiar. I still don’t know exactly what the conditions were that made it so. Each of our beds here have a mosquito net which is awesome too. And these are the first nights I’ve not slept in a sleeping bag. Today, we spent most of the day at the private home of a family….a home of 40 family members of some means which was very enjoyable and educational and fun for all. So many details of the day could be shared….some highlights are that they are so very hospitable and excited and honored and happy to have had us at their home. For many of them, it’s the first that they’ve met a foreigner. Their English was the best I’ve come across so far…mostly the teenage and early twenties aged children. The fed us well…we’ve been eating very well at this Yogoda Satsanga as well. …their kitchen is feeding us rather than our ashram group’s on the road cooking which is what we’ve been doing up until now. My stomach is more stuffed than it’s been for months and months from this eating yesterday and today. For some reason, people seem to want to slip me extras…which I almost always accept!  : )  Their home has a courtyard in the middle and the most western style living room interior that I’ve yet seen here too. The women were very interested in learning all things about the culture in Canada (where most of our group is from) and the USA.  Much of the talk is about schooling, career and foods.  They so love pizza and pasta and are very interested in any other kind of western fare.

In many respects, what one comes across no matter where they travel is the commonality of human nature and the common trends of developing communities…..people go where the opportunities are…people try to get educations in order to better their lives….people try to alleviate suffering…..people try to find peace in their lives….people dislike too much change too quickly…..people judge….people don’t like the congestion and loss of quaintness that results from the influx of people to the areas of opportunity….etc. etc. I was talking to one girl about fashions. In their household you’d see both traditional Indian Sari’s and western clothing and the girl I was talking to said she doesn’t wear western clothes because she is too large a size to pull it off. Oh boy, that was an interesting conversation…wish I had even more time for it….I may tomorrow…they so was us/me to come back. Ultimately she was talking about others in town commenting on her etc… a negative, judgmental way…something new for Ranchi since it has become more of a hotbed of opportunity vs. it’s smaller town family feel of the past. And this girl was not of any obese size by the way. While we were there, an elder fell down concrete steps and cracked her head…blood spilled, the whole family ran like the wind and reacted as a family would but it quickly was calmed and she was taken to a hospital and all was alright. Tomorrow is the beginning of Holi….3 days of festivities around this holiday which is marking a new year. The celebration for Holi is largely marked by the marking of others with colors….pictures are better than words here…powdered high intensity colors marked, tossed, streaked, poured onto everyone. Anyone can do it to anyone. Today they started it with us and I got marked with red about 4 times on my face (mild compared to what will happen tomorrow) with the exclamation “Happy Holi!” I did it to Scott, on each cheek of his face which pulled him out of the meditation he was trying to have in this corner of the courtyard… ; )  One of the male elders of the home has a commercial printing business….I toured it with him which I really enjoyed since I know a thing or two about such things. He gave me samples of a print job…Happy Holi greeting card as well as a wall calendar poster for the year. We had English style tea. …cookies from a package and crackers like Ritz (here, processed things are desired as they are so accustomed to fresh everything….obviously the reverse of our tastes).


March 4, 2007

We leave this Yogoda Satstanga tomorrow and will be on the road for a couple of days until we reach Varanasi. I’m so not used to this stuffed feeling in my stomach…I’m very much in the mode of loving all …loving all equally….stuffed stomach, empty stomach, pain, pleasure, cold, hot, dirt, clean….it’s a part of the practice (Kriya Yoga) and it is nice, along with other affirmation-type thought processes. Meditation during dedicated hours of any given day can provide some solace or other states of consciousness for people, but to engage in a conscious walking meditation….keeping highest thoughts of God and all things being centered in divinity throughout a 24 hour period of time really is an amazing thing. It’s a good thing. : )


We avoided getting ‘painted’ this first day of Holi….well, I did get marked by one monk here on my arm with red, that was mild. We avoided it be hunkering down here and intentionally not venturing outside the walls. Probably a good idea.


I washed my hair today with a rationed bucket of hot water….wooooow. Aaaand I used my travel blow dryer.  Aaaaaand, my lost makeup case was returned to me so well well well…these people saw a different Deborah today. Truly though it was a blessing to have lost that case so I didn’t even ever have to think about whether I wanted to use that stuff or not. Today I did, though I could easily see not as we go forward just as I did during the first part of this trip. It really is such a freeing thing as a female to feel so totally comfortable in one’s own skin and around different people and different environments dressed or groomed or makeuped or not. This is something I’ve been aware of for years and working to find that 100% comfort/confidence and this trip has only deepened both my resolve for my confidence to never be altered by such things (good hair day or not) and my belief that it’s worthwhile to be aware of it. So….for me it’s really about not being a slave to any external thing but being at ease with all external things and social/cultural standards etc.  Oh boy, it’s dusk and the skeeters are out. Hello skeeters.. : )  I made really good friends with some flies yesterday….and I don’t know how rare this is but here I was practicing true love and acceptance of flies….but still requesting that one find somewhere else to hang out other than my hand and I put my finger there in front of him so that he could climb on and I could move him.  It was really interesting because I can’t ever recall being able to interact with a fly in a way that the fly did not quickly fly off…when I moved my finger to be right at his eyeballs and he sat there,…I asked and asked for him to adjust to my wishes……he climbed on board my finger and I directed him off and away.  Yep. This is my life. My days have many little experiences like this as awareness is the work of our days on top of or more accurately, while we engage in our daily activities… the laundry I did again today. Outdoor drying of clothes can really be a refreshing thing. CAN be….dependent upon environmental circumstances.


Well, it’s dusk and I’m supposed to get my luggage to the bus for packing so that we’re ready to go tomorrow in the morning. Rain had soaked much of our group’s luggage the other day as we had a very hard rain…..I heard of this and I crossed my fingers that my bag was spared this wet fate since I had my laptop in there…..and it was…spared. Life is interesting and on this trip little things and big things that are happening to people are really starting to seem so clear as to the why’s. Like, what is it about our individual lives that attract certain experiences….why one bag soaked and not another….chance? I’ve never been one to buy into that theory. No, everything is by design even if most times, for most minutes of our lives we truly are oblivious to the design behind our experiences…still, for me, it’s nice to know that there is some design, that this life does actually have great meaning…..ours is the agony of the awaiting to understand it all. And if the big big answer is that it’s God’s playground, a way for the creator to experience himself through this creation…through human beings rediscovering our divine origins, well… has to chuckle over that one.


Two kids are playing right nearby me and another adult is meditating here too. The kid’s detailed make believe play is really amazing.  This has happened out of necessity. They do not have the spoils of home to entertain them…and this is the case for them for days and weeks on end….and what is the result? I can say it really seems all good. Calm, creativity, behaviors suitable to community living which means learning social skills to deal with others of all ages and in many environments. Sure there’s been some whining but literally a mere fraction of what I’d hear at home from kids over the most minor things. Here, some of the teachings of the Kriya Yoga environment are rubbing off very naturally though they don’t actively meditate or participate in much of the structured instruction. Anyway, as with the myriad of observations I’ve had on this trip, I find it interesting, thought provoking and experientially confirming of cause and effect.


I haven’t purchased much since I’ve been in India and here at the place we’re at they sell many great books and audio recordings which I’m tempted to pick up for many people…they are available back home but the prices here in Rupees are inexpensive…but, I likely won’t. Still, there is a part of me that wishes I could just download my brain to so many people in my life and others I don’t even yet know so that they may benefit from my travels without having to go through the same perils. But, I guess each of our lives present the perils we need/want for the purposes of our respective highest good. So…there….I won’t worry about having to buy books or inspiration and wisdom for people.


Yesterday Scott mentioned that he’s thinking more and more that he’d like to spend all of our remaining days back in Allahabad at the ashram instead of siteseeing elsewhere etc.  But, he adds that each day is a new day of discernment. It’s true, that each day is a big day and can change mindsets quickly…so I’m comfortable not knowing what we’re going to end up doing. We have a bit of time before we have to make hard plans.  I’ve heard mixed reviews on visiting the Taj Mahal…..Overall, no matter where you go or what you want to see it pretty much requires some demanding travel so one is always weighing out…is it worth it? This is also why the actual traveling part must become a real part of the journey….the journey being as much the destination as much as the planned destination is.  Uh, if you know what I mean.


I have to rearrange packing again since this time I’m not going to pack my laptop in my luggage that is going on top of the bus (in the past, my bag got some special treatment in that it was stored inside the second vehicle traveling with us….first reason was because I potentially would need new changes of clothes because I was going through them so fast when I had my explosive diarrhea! And then, because it got torn really badly and it was all I could do to try to keep the thing held together with electrical tape, string and bungee cords at different times throughout the trip. What a hoot.


Today, two more people left us to head back home. We are becoming a wee bit of a smaller group which will help with the space challenges on the bus etc. The goodbye’s seem to go on for hours before people leave and they really can be lovely. This one person today so heartfeltly expressed to me what she thought of me including just stating that I am such a beautiful woman…and believe me she was talking about physical looks last because I’ve been in quite the ‘natural’…I’d like to say “super-natural” form over these weeks and have not put effort into projecting any sort of aesthetic beauty perceived by western standards.  Anyway…of course it’s nice to hear heartfelt compliments, though I learned long ago that when we compliment others….when we see beauty in people and things and we comment, what’s really happening is that the person making the comment is the one who possesses the awareness, the eye, the thought, the perception of something being beautiful……so when 10 people see a rose and one person is so moved, maybe even to tears of joy because of the beauty they see….well, is it the beauty of the rose which is most prominent in that moment or the individual’s consciousness that is attuned to seeing beauty in that rose or maybe in another person or whatever.  Anyway, I think I’m saying this here because when she was saying those nice things to me, I was moved, but just as much because I kept seeing in her this beauty…this interest and desire and eye for seeing beauty in others or in objects etc. I said something very likely to this effect to her, but not really….guess I wanted to get it out into the universe. She may already know that this was my thought.


Man! When will I stop typing? Soon. Love you all. One day at a time here…..I’m good….I’m pleased enough to continue this journey though also can envision truly enjoying our return back home when it is time.


Oh boy…..outbursts are happening around me….I’m very very calm and can play a role in helping out here…..





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photo by: kanishk24