Sometimes when you travel it seems that you are living in a completely different world, apart from reality. It’s like your life has stopped and you’re taking a break, which sometimes can be true. But honestly, more and more I question myself about what is real life? Is it to work 8 hours a day 5 to 6 days a week, waiting for the weekends to spoil a diet, drink with friends, eat nice food and then restart all over again? What is life? What is to be a human being? So let me explain my main reason to be here: I came to India to study Vedanta, which I’ll briefly explain, because like I said, I’m only a student, a child that’s been to school for the first time.
Vedanta is the final part of the Vedas. All the tradition, inclusive the Hinduism comes from the Vedas. IT’s said they were revealed to the old sages, the rishis, and then went on through the guru param param, the teaching from the guru to disciple or student. They are four and at the end of each one, we study a compiled of texts made by gurus (once students). This texts (as far as I have understood) are the Upanisads, each Upanisad is a story that tells the true nature of the self and usually is a story from a father teaching a son, or a famous one when Yama (the death) teaches a boy about it. Basically, they make it easier for our human minds and intellect, limited, to understand the limitless of the being. my first contact with Vedanta was through my yoga teacher trainer back in Brazil, at Humaniversidade, in São Paulo. There some of the teachers usually come to the Swami Dayananda Ashram (where I am now) and They study each year on this camps, there are also regular courses (and some of my teachers also did it) to spend three years studying Sanskrit and Vedanta.
From the beginning, I was amazed by the simplicity of Vedanta. Like one of my teachers said once, understand Vedanta is very simple, but you must have a prepared mind, it’s like grass, when it very dries it burns very easily, but if it’s still green it’s necessary to dry first. And it’s true, it requires a focused mind, free of distractions, to apply the knowledge in our lives. Indeed I find it extremely easy to understand, but once you come back to “reality” or what we call reality, everyday life, it’s a tough job to practice it. But It’s so worth it, the objective of Vedanta is to teach us to be genuinely happy, free of sorrow, to live our lives in a simpler and brighter way by knowing the self, our true nature. I won’t explain further because I don’t feel confident enough to do so, but for now, I’ll just share my experience in this first camp.
Vedanta Camps in Rishikesh
Each year there are camps happening in the Swami Dayananda Ashram in Rishikesh and as far as I’m concerned there are no requirements, just your interest. They usually happen from February to April and you can choose two camps every year (unless you do what I’m doing, staying outside the ashram and attending to the classes, this way you can watch all of them – but always speak with the office first). How to apply? They inform on the website the dates and then you apply, it’s very easy but be aware of the schedule and don’t miss the time, otherwise, it’s likely to be full. If you’re thinking about joining next year (this year is already full), and it’s your first time in India I advise you to stay inside the ashram first and take your time, slowly slowly. But Rishikesh is very touristic and you shall face no such big constrast.
The routine starts very early in the morning with the puja (morning rituals), meditation, and during the day you have the classes among breaks and the meals. The classes take one hour each and at the end of the day, you have the Satsanga, the moment where the students can make questions because during the class only the Swami (teacher) speaks. You may have your meals at the ashram and in the end, you make a donation at the office, for the camps they indicate a value for donation accordingly to the Swami that is lecturing, but they inform by e-mail. By the way, every question you have they always reply the e-mails might take a day or two, but I’ve never had any problem.
Rishikesh is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in India and this time I’m taking my time here, especially because I have rented a house through Airbnb, It feels like home!
The ashram is in front of the Ganga (Ganges river) and it’s extremely nice to walk alongside the river during the breaks. It’s very peaceful compared to other places in India (especially if your first days were spent in chaotic Delhi). But I must say that it’s very very touristic and it sometimes annoys me. Although for the first time it might be nice to have some western feelings if you’re homesick or wish to eat something different from Indian food. I was so surprised to find German bakeries, vegan shops, and all those things. It’s nice of course, but it also can be a distraction and as I said in the beginning, if you come to study you’re trying to prepare your mind to receive the knowledge, so it’s quite challenging to find the balance. So, to be reasonable what I think is that you should take your time, when you feel like walking around just go, take a break, it’s a lot of information.
Sometimes I love to walk around, yesterday I was at the little buddha cafe, roaming around Laxman Jula and it was so lovely! today I don’t feel even like getting out of the house. My tip is to come with time if possible, and do things as they say: Drie Dire, slowly slowly. It’s a nice place to visit (later on I’ll make a post about Rishikesh itself, so I won’t extend myself now).
Today was a short one, but it’s mainly for me to keep going here, often I feel like leaving all kinds of social media, sometimes I feel very introvert, it’s a lot to take in. But one thing that has become very treasured and true to me is to Share, share knowledge, moments, even food withour asking anything in exchange, just for the pleasure of seeing others happy. India is about sharing, life is about sharing, and I’m in love with it.