The flowers in Swami Rama’s garden were bright with color in the sun. The lawn in the midst of the flowers was overgrown, yet the ashram looked well cared for. A tangible peace permeates the place. Many times in years past I was blessed with staying here, at “Sadhana Mandir,” “temple of practice,” Swami Rama’s ashram beside the River Ganga. I still remember seeing Swami Rama come out every morning, walking the paths with his long legs and great strength. He was so vibrant, so present, and such a mystery to me. He was a Master; not like other people.
One night, on the suggestion of a friend, I repeatedly asked Swami Rama a question in my imagination, and the next morning the real Swami Rama walked up to me and answered my question. I was stunned. Yet that was a small thing for him. For those who knew him, the great gift he gave were his teachings. He conveyed the wisdom of the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition to us direct from the Cave Monasteries where he grew up.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been staying at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, the village of cottages, guest rooms, meditation spaces and students, founded and created by Swami Veda Bharati here in Rishikesh, about a mile from Sadhana Mandir. During this time, I’ve had the great joy of serving as one of the faculty presenting a two-week retreat on relaxation practices leading to yoga nidra, conscious sleep. It was attended by about sixty people from all over the world. The retreat finished yesterday.
This morning, I took a pilgrimage along narrow pathways across fields, past the ancient Virbadra Temple, and along the River Ganga, to Sadhana Mandir. The sun was warm and the river looked beautiful with the mountains and forest in the background.
At Sadhana Mandir, sitting in the meditation hall that holds so many memories for me, I meditated beside the place where at times Swami Rama sat. The sense of silence and a subtle vibration was palpable.
Whenever I come to this magical place, I re-experience the sacredness, the silence, the beauty. It’s not a travel-bug that brings me, but a heart yearning to connect with something truer and deeper. Visiting Swami Veda Bharati and the holy places here in Rishikesh never disappoint.
In the next several years, I plan to come here one or more times each year. If you would like to join me on one of these pilgrimages, email me, and I’ll add you to the list to inform you of upcoming dates.
Additional photos from this pilgrimage:
From left to right: Sandeep, one of the Ashram teachers at Sadhana Mandir who helps guide guests who visit the ashram; Dr. Prabhu, a scientist at the Meditation laboratory where the effects of yoga practices are measured scientifically; and Randall Krause.