I can’t wait to return to India for a spiritual temple tour! I have been to India twice now and after each time I returned home, I said to myself, well, I can scratch that off my list of experiences. But India calls you back to experience that deep stillness in your soul and the feeling of flower petals dropping into your heart. I know some of you will say, but there are SO many people, limited or nil sanitation, worries about what you will eat (cleanliness), constant loudness of many varying sounds and the hustle and bustle of all who live there. But within all this chaos, there is this indescribable peace; the Shanti of India.
The first time I went to India was in 2007 with my guru, Namadeva Acharya (Thomas Ashley-Farrand) for the Shree Ashtavinayaka Darshan (pilgrimage) visiting the eight holy shrines of Ganapati in Maharashtra. Words could never describe all of my experiences, but I will list a few here – Peace pouring down like rain that brought tears to my eyes when meeting the Jagadgurus in Kanchi Math. At the Rama Krishna Centre in Bangalore, I sat outside on a rock with my feet grounded to the earth. My meditation was short due to time limitations but very intense. I could feel all of my chakras vibrating all at the same time. When I stood up, I could feel all of my energy lodged into the earth and I could not move my feet; possibly an indication that I did not want to leave yet. Attended an evening puja and when the priest rang his bell, I could feel intense heat and an upward flame burning from my forehead where the marking lines of Vishnu were drawn. Meditated at a Ganesh temple feeling my heart full, chakras vibrating in my hands with purple lights clouding my vision. In a meditation in the Himalayas, felt like my hands and feet had separated from my body. These are just a few of my experiences. Seven years later in 2014, I returned to India again visiting Rishikesh, Haridwar, Vrindavan, Mathura, Agra and Jaipur with many more wonderful experiences that I will never forget.
India calls again, four years in this upcoming March, when I am leading my own tour (Harmony Spiritual Temple Tour in Tamil Nadu, March 12-27, 2018). My tour guide is Mina Tilakraj who has worked 30 years in tourism and whom I met in 2014. I have extensively researched everything for the tour, all planned and ready to go! I am taking a small group but there is room for you if you wish to experience a dedicated Sadhana practice in India. Tamil Nadu has 33,000 ancient temples and I have selected very special ones. We will visit the five temples for the elements (earth, wind, fire, air, ether) and the nine planets (Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu) plus visit many other temples for Shiva (including one temple with 468 Lingams), Parvati, Brahma, Saraswati, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Krishna, Rama, Shesha Naga, Sudarshana Chakra, Kali, Narasimba, Durga, Ganesha, Hanuman, Bhuvaneswari, Yama, Mother Gayatri and Dhanvantari.
At each temple there will be a planned Sadhana practice (pranayama, mantra, meditation, mudra and journaling in a tour book I will be providing to all aspirants). This tour is totally spiritual; our main goal. Oh yeah, with a little bit of shopping.
By Helen Mikuska, SOYA, E-RYT500, Lead Trainer for SOYA teacher training in Calgary.