The summit of Mount Kailash with text reading KAILASH

Pilgrimage to Mount Kailash

Three Swamis from Skanda Vale recently had the chance of a lifetime to spend a few weeks in the Himalayas, on a pilgrimage at Mount Kailash, the sacred abode of Lord Shiva.

Bathing in the Ganges at Devprayag

So we’re here back in the hotel in Haridwar, and it’s been a momentous day. It’s been an otherwordly sort of day, so I’ll just stick to the facts really, because it’s very hard to encapsulate the subtlety and the depth of what’s happened.

We started this morning going to take a dip in the confluence of two rivers, where it forms the Ganges proper, so you have two rivers coming together. [The Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers meet here to form the Ganges]

Somebody advised Mohanji on the way, somebody phoned him up and emphasised how important it was that we got in the river at that point. So it seemed to have great emphasis. We stopped there, and it was an extraordinary experience. Mohanji had been talking about the Ganges… the fact that it’s a river, but it’s also a celestial river.

And that was our experience of it. I felt a tremendous shakti associated with getting into that water. They have a metal railing where you can actually immerse yourself in the point where the two rivers are coming together.

You have two different bodies of water, mixing together at that point. We went in there, and each time you immerse yourself in the Ganges you can feel your thoughts and your prayers really just being drawn out of you, in this really powerful way.

You felt that every prayer that you offered there was received absolutely and fully. It was a phenomenal experience. The whole river, whilst you’re underwater, appeared to be full of blue light. It all sounds pretty cosmic doesn’t it?!

Visit to Vashistha Cave

That was an amazing experience… and then we moved on after everyone had their baths and whatever, and we had an opportunity to go to the cave where Sage Vashistha meditated, where he lived.

He was Rama’s guru and preceptor many thousands of years ago, and since then a lot of great avatars and saints – Sai Baba and many others – have used that cave as a place to meditate. [You can read a beautiful story of Sai Baba’s visit to this cave]

And now it’s protected as a little ashram, by a very elderly swami called Swami Chaitananda, I think, and we had an opportunity to meet this swami. He’s now in his 80’s – I think he’s 84, and it was an amazing boon to sit there in the room with him. You know, he doesn’t speak very much, and he doesn’t move around a great deal.

He has a great rapport with Mohanji. Apparently he’s normally very severe, and very serious, and very intolerant. He upholds the discipline in that place, because he cares deeply about that cave, and he never wants the energy in that cave to be desecrated in any way.

But today he was in a very congenial, and jovial mood. He allowed everyone to have their photos taken with him, and he spent time with us.

And although we couldn’t converse very openly with him, because his English was very poor, nevertheless, sometimes it felt just overwhelming to be in this man’s presence. What a great man, what a great soul. To actually have that privilege was remarkable and humbling.

The day has been like that, from start to end. We then had another bath in the Ganges, and everybody sort of bathed each other in the end [laughs] it would have looked quite funny if you weren’t part of it. That was very refreshing.

And then we went to sit in the cave and meditate in there. They also had, in the end of the cave, a Shiva Lingam – so we also allowed to do a little abishekam to the Shiva Lingam at the end of the cave.

And it was just thick with this amazing stillness and power. It felt like you could kind of spoon it out of the air and put it in a container and take it away, if you had such a thing.

It’s very difficult to assimilate the whole experience now, but you came out of that cave not the same person that you went into it. And that was again, an amazing blessing and privilege to be able to go in there and perform that puja.

Spending time with Mohanji

Apart from that, just travelling around with Mohanji has been quite an experience, because you see just how dynamically he’s working… continuously.

You ask him something… a small detail, a small question, and he’ll immediately act on it and resolve the problem. That’s the way he’s serving God. In this really articulate, functional, disciplined useful way.

It’s a brilliant example to follow. There’s a lot to learn from him, and it’s been a massive privilege to spend that time with him.

The sacred lineages of Skanda Vale & Vashistha Cave

One other very interesting and important detail, that we’ve just remembered, was that we were talking to Swami Chaitanyananda – his guru was called Swami Purushottamananda Maharaja and as it transpires, looking at the photos in this book – his guru’s guru was our guru [Guru Sri Subramanium] in his previous incarnation.

So that would be Swami Brahmananda [of the Ramakrishna Mission] as Guru’s previous birth. Having pieced it all together we realised this, after we’d spoken to the Swami, and it was an extraordinary feeling of these Divine lineages coming full circle.

We realised the interconnectedness of our lineage in Skanda Vale, and that lineage which is pulsating here, throughout the Himalayas.

The reality that we are this big Divine family and actually the operative force that is happening, governing our lives, is God. It’s very humbling and very exciting when you feel that unfolding process taking place.