4 - 16 January 2003
Bodhgaya, Jamalpur and the first part of Sikkim.
|Bo tree on the right||Bo tree on the left:-)|
Bohdgaya was very colourful this year as we came just before the Daila Lama was coming. All was being decorated and 1000s of monks and devotees had already assembled. At night the oil lamps were putting the main temple and the area around in a mystical atmosphere.
|1000's of oil lamps||Crossing mountains and rivers...|
One day we went to the cave were Buddha had meditated, it was a refreshing walk away from the crowd till we go closer... 100s of beggars lined up to receive the alms. The cave itself was small and vibrated only the constant sound of coins dropping in the donation box was a bit distracting from meditation... Also human, candles and incense were competing for the same oxygen...
|Very inspired local margii telling about Baba||The tigers grave|
Time in Jamapur, the birthplace of our Guru was recovering time. Quite a few of us had caught sour throats, especially Tanmayii was under the wool for most of the time. Still we had time to see all those places mentioned in peoples experiences with Baba. The place top left was were Baba spend a lot of time to practice Sadhana when he was in primary school, also the Tamarind tree below was one of his spots. All this used to be dense forest where ordinary people wouldn't even dare to go in broad daylight. The Tamarind tree is in death valley, called like this because a whole regiment of the British army had disappeared there... But what ever the scary stories around it, it's a great spot for meditation.
|The tamarind tree in "death Valley". Now one of the few trees left, as it turned into a quarry|
|Our early ancestors also liking the tree.||Flowers on the roof of Baba's house in
After Jamalpur we were going to Sikkim, our original plan to go to Nepal was cancelled due to the unrest there. The easier journey to get there was via Kolkatta so, though not planned we decided to spend few days there. Our camp headquarters has been there for two decades before it moved to Ananda Nagar few years ago. Still many things are managed from there. Our Guru also spend much time there and we had the opportunity to visit His house an do meditation in His room. Also the museum He made from all the presents from all over the globe was really interesting. All things had nametags telling where it was from and who gave it. We found several items from people we knew.
A place where I, and probably most of us, would never go was... very mundane... Pizza Hut:-) After long time away from the food we are accustomed to Pizza was a real treat. Not to forget the Ice-cream sister Shukla', from Italy gave us after the meal!
|Sikkim view, From 2nd highest hill||Typical Buddhist temple with details below|
Sikkim is part of India but very different from the other places we visited. It only joined India few decades ago and had been an independent kingdom since 16th century. Its predominantly Buddhist and the people seem to be still relatively unaffected by the influx of pseudo culture. Although it's promoted as tourist destination we saw very few overseas tourists.
|Lot's of beautiful, bright and boldly coloured temples with fine details.|
|Meditation cave||Children having fun on home made carts.|
At Medan we went to find a cave,. It was one of the four most sacred in Sikkim as one Lama had meditated there for many, many years, in complete darkness and without food. Sustaining himself on the water dripping from the ceiling in a little pool (more like a cup) next to him. It is believed that visiting this place will wash away all sins... I really don't believe it's that easy but it was a place were our meditation was deep and peaceful.
To get there we got on a share jeep but would never have found it if not one of the other pasengers offered to lead us there. Again at the cave, it would have been unlikely we would have found our way it, and even less likely out without our guide. At one point we had to slide on our stomachs to enter the main cave system. It used to go all the way to the other side of the hill, maybe two km, with enough twists and turns to get lost beyond recovery... A cave-in few years ago blocked it not to far from the entrance and unfortunately (or fortunately for those who like me...) I couldn't explore further. This could have been the last issue of the newsletter, if... at least the camera would have been recovered...
The way back was easier but a steep climb up to the main road. Half way a whole group of children raced down the hill on wooden racing cars... I looked dangerous but it seemed to be under control. Just like the sledge riding on the snow in nearby hills I used to do as child... I am sure my parent would have thought it insane if they knew:-) But we did survive and like these kids had lots of fun!
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