A day at Ganges Ghat at Rishikesh in April 2014.
Just as I was about to enter the river for my bath, I saw one of the sadhu pandits (priest) wearing a white handloom dhoti, just finishing his bath. I knew he was going to chant Hanuman Chalisa (a prayer for Lord Hanuman). I went to him to say “Please wait for me to complete my bath, we will sing Hanuman Chalisa together”. He did not speak. I took my 11 dips and sat next to him. We recited Hanuman Chalisa together.
He was the same sant (saint) who I saw two days ago at the river side. That day, I obseved him as he had his bath while chanting all type of Mantras. He then, sat on the steps and chanted the Hanuman Chalisa with a lovely tune. I was at peace of mind and unknowingly joined him. I thoroughly enjoyed the vibrations. I waited till he completed his jaaps (chants) and was inquisitive to know more about him.
He was about 60 years old and from a village in Bihar. He lost his parents long ago. He did not marry and had no relatives, except for a brother and a nephew, who he had no contact with. He stayed in a temple in his village and was the caretaker. He traveled a lot. He reached Haridwar by train and expected to stay in Rishikesh for 4-5 days before moving to other places. He was planning on reaching Badrinath by foot and expected to reach there by mid-May 2014. On his way, if he feels like it, if he finds it interesting, he’d stay at any place for 4-5 days.
No plans, no itinerary, no reservations for accommodation, no worry about food, no expense budget. He appeared a fully content soul. He would stay in any Ashram which wouldn’t mind giving him some space to sleep, even if it means open space in very cold weather. He’d eat at any of the Ashrams which had complimentary meal arrangements for Sadhus. In case he didn’t get food, he said, he wouldn’t feel hungry; he felt hungry only when he saw food and not otherwise. He had just a dhoti and a spare langot for clothing, which he would wash every day and use.
We, on the other hand, would not bother making travel plans unless we have confirmed reservations, comfortable place to stay, planned arrangements to eat and a load of warm and fancy clothes. Here was a soul who had full mental satisfaction even though he did not have any financial for expenses, accommodation, food arrangements or in fact any materialistic possessions!
Now look at this. Just on the way to Rishikesh, I lost my iphone. It was pinched by someone at Delhi station when it was kept for charging from right under our nose. All my information, contact details, data was lost with the phone. I was very upset. I felt very sad. Losing that phone was almost as if I had lost one of my beloved ones. Is such an attachment necessary? It is bad that we have become so dependant. How did we manage when cell phones did not exist? We probably had better mental peace and less dependency on an external non-living tool? Just compare that to the Sadhu who wasn’t even dependent on living beings and was still happy and content.
Later, I went for a trek from Rishikesh to the Neelkanth mountain. This is located in the centre of a valley, surrounded by mountains all around. It was a circuit trek of about 25 km including a steep climb of about 3000 feet over a distance of 12-13 km.
This is said to be the place where Lord Shiva took his salvation after he consumed the poison, during the Samudra Manthan – to save the universe from destruction, Shiva retained the poison and did not allow it to go down his throat. It created such heat that he had to rest in a cool place. That place was Neelkanth.
(Neelkanth is the same place where it is whispered that Mrs. Jasodaben, the wife of the BJP nominee Mr. Narendra Modi is presently stationed in an Ashram.)
This place could be visited by a vehicle. But we preferred to trek. No doubt it was a hard trek. Since I lost my cell phone, I carried my wife’s phone. It was for the loved ones at home to know our whereabouts. But every time there was a call, it disturbed the peace and trek thrills. When I had such a wonderful time with nature in wonderful company of two daughter-like grand nieces, Archana and Krishna, any call was a disturbance. We gain a lot from modern gadgets, but we lose a lot too!
I wondered if it was really necessary that I buy a new cell phone to live? Since I lost my phone, was this an opportunity to stay without it? I am wondering whether I should buy a phone at all? Can’t I get on without depending on it? Will I not be happier without a cell phone? Why not try at least for a few months to see what difference it makes?
Author: Badri Baldawa Editor: Meeta Kabra