My trip going back to India is one of renewal and continued transformation. India is a place where its very hard to have expectations, but as a third visit I did have some:
- the throngs of people, colors, and sounds
- the feeling of spirit and community
- the goodness of the spiritual aspirants
I would say I had a think pair of glasses with rose-colored lenses on my way to India. Its easy to romantize a place where your heart felt such a strong connection. We all have these places, whether it be that special dinner with a loved one to mark a new commitment to each other or a celebration like a grad ceremony or such. These feelings was what I had with my months in India over 4 years ago.
But what does a place have to do with it? I contemplate this as I consider the definition of a sacred place. The Kumbha Mela occurs at a spot which has been considered a sacred since the Vedic times.
"Sacred spaces have played an important part in the story of humankind. From time immemorial, men and women have made pilgrimages to scared places. Those sacred places may be natural as in the case of Mr. Fuji in Japan, Lha-moi La-tso Lake in Tibet or Mount Kenya in Africa, or they may be constructed sites such as the Shrine at Fatima, the Cathedral at Chartres, the City of the Sun in Peru or the Sweat Lodge of the Plains Indian. But amidst the remarkable diversity of sites and structures that have been regarded as sacred places by different religious communities and cultures there is an equally remarkable consistency of purpose. Sacred places in widely different parts of the world share either one or all of he characteristic functions of sacred places. They are either places of communion between the human sand divine or places of power where human life might be transformed, or places that reflect or embody the scared order of the divine, or all three of these.
It is this combination of place and gesture that allows the schoolar access tot he meaning dimension sof sacred places and the activities that occur there. But it is important, at the same time, to realize that sacred places are not always places that can be entered physically. They are not always sacred lands or temples, or churches or mountains. Sacred places may also be places that one must enter imaginatively, as in the inner geography of the body in yoga, or visually, as in the space of a mandala or sacred design. Or, a sacred place might contain all of these dimensions simultaneously as it calls our attention not only to it environmental setting and outward shape but also toi the inner environment of the mind and imagination."
- River of Grace, M. Darrol Bryant, Environments, University of Waterloo 1994
I would stay India to me has an overall feeling of sacredness underlying every experience I have, including the difficult ones. The first-world per-spectacles have been knocked off and I have made my way to a place called the Kumbha Mela. It is here that I hope to find that interplay and connection to my inner world and the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, Saraswati rivers.