1 April 2014. I was at theof River Ganges, at Rishikesh, Vaan Prastha Ghat.
People from various philosophies visit this place. Rush of believers flood for Ganga Snaan (a dip in the Holy Ganges). After my Yoga class in the morning from 6.30 to 8.00am, I had my breakfast and came down to the ghat for a dip.
Nice, clean water. Chilling, cold, freshly diluted ice. The current was strong. It was difficult to stand even on the bank as you feel that you would drown with the strong flow. Heavy iron chains are provided at this bank so that one can hold the chain tight and take a dip in the river. Still you are afraid that you will drown.
Normally, I dip myself 3 or 5 times in the Ganges. But I recollected an interesting experience my niece Nirmala (Naru) narrated. She went for her bath at Rishikesh, Geeta Bhavan #1 ghat. Close to her was a lady from Eastern Europe taking her dips too. As is her habit, Naru started talking to the European lady in English. The lady replied in Hindi and told Naru ‘Dubki poora lena. Shir aur shir ke hairs bhi bhigana” (Take the dip properly, your head and hair should go in too). Naru was surprised with her reply in Hindi and said: “Kaan meh problem.” (I have a problem in my ears). The lady said ‘haan kaan meh paani jata.’ (Yes, the water does go in the ears.)
After 5 dips Naru stopped. The lady said, “Nahin Nahin, gyarah dubki lena.’ (No-no, you should dip yourself 11 times). When Naru said it was enough for her, the lady insisted, “nahin, nahin 11 lena. Mai count karegi .” (no-no, 11 times. I will count.) She forced Naru to continue and started counting dips “six raam raam, “seven raam raam” and continued till 11 dips were completed.
Today, I was afraid that I had come alone. I double checked to see that I am safe. I held the chain with as strong a grip as possible. I had my first dip, second and third. Normally I feel satisfied, rather I feel tired and complete at 3 dips. But then I recollected the instance Naru had narrated. I took 11 dips!
I do not know whether there is any logic behind this count of 11, but the last 5-6 dips gave me a thrill and pleasure which I have never experienced before. I didn’t know if there was anything surviving or existing in this universe. It was absolute “Soonya” (zero) state of mind. Nothing but energy flowed in.
It is amazing how devoted foreigners are to learn, understand our traditions and implement them. Some of them study our traditions and philosophy deep enough, that they are qualified to teach us our own traditions and learning from our scriptures.
Thereafter every time I was in for river bath, after The Float, I took 11 dips and enjoyed getting in “Soonya” state of mind.