Second and Third Day at Ramanashram

June 4.

(This typed yesterday).

Seven more days in India!  One more day at Ramana Maharishi’s ashram!

Right now is the rest period between noon and tea at 4:00.

boys swimming in bathing ghats at ashram

I’m in my little room right now.

After tea will be chanting, meditation, and puja — offering rituals.

place settings

It’s amazing how well you’re taken care of here,

in this beautiful place,

with monkeys —

all for whatever donation you would like to make.  A lot of ashrams have you do “seva,” selfless service, or work, but here they feed you three hot meals a day, usually five or six south Indian dishes, and also do the clean up.

Local sadhus and poor people served free lunch everyday

All the spiritual experience is free, of course, or, rather, all it costs is your head—or, I guess, I mean, your ego. 

(Shiva’s trident left at the top of Mount Arunachala).

I’ve canceled two destinations I had originally planned.  One was a three-day visit to Shantivanam, the monastery/ashram founded by the Benedictine monk Bede Griffiths, who practiced a blend of Christian and Hindu contemplative religions.

If you’ll forgive the philosophical digression — or perhaps I should say uni-gression — Griffith’s believed that what happened to the early Christian Church when it encountered Greek and Roman philosophy and culture ought to happen in its encounter with Hinduism.

When Christianity came west from Jerusalem, spread by Paul, it incorporated many Greek, and then Roman, ideas into its theology and ritual.  The New Testament was, of course, written in Greek, and the Gospel of John is suffused with Greek philosophical ideas. The Greek philosophy of stoicism, for example, posited that the universe is governed by a divine principle of reason, called the “Logos.”  So the Gospel of John begins in Greek, “In the beginning was the Logos,” which is usually translated as “the Word,” a completely Greek idea made central to the Gospel.

Griffiths felt that as the Church incorporated Greek ideas, then, it could incorporate enlightened ideas from other religions and philosophical systems, such as Hinduism, now.  So, his monastery/ashram, Shantivanam, stands as a blending of Christian mystical and Hindu contemplative philosophies.

I thought it would be an important place to visit, since my memoir is going to explore the commonalities among Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist contemplative practices.

But, once I walked through the gates of Ramanashram, I knew I was going to stay here as long as I could.

I also canceled my trip to see the Ellora and Ajanta caves at the end of my journey, so I could spend more time at Ma Indira Devi’s ashram in Pune.

That ashram is my spiritual home.  It’s become clear to me as the days and events have transpired how much this is an interior journey. 

The caves for me would be more of a cultural destination than a spiritual one, at least, on this pilgrimage.

Tomorrow, I’ll write more about the hike up Shiva’s mountain and the visit to the temple town, Tiruvannamalai.    Then, so long to Ramanashram!


2 thoughts on “Second and Third Day at Ramanashram

  1. I’ve actually always wanted to see Ellora too–isn’t that the cave in Forester’s Passage to India? Definitely a cultural destination for me. By the way, Chloe also liked the monkey with the baby bottle. I must say, those monkeys look a little menacing to me!

    • Hi Jennifer!
      My Jennifer and I just watched Passage to India and I had thought they were the same caves, too, but it turns out they were in a different state, farther to the North. The monkeys are sweet, but they will grab anything you put on the ground if nearby! I bought some stone-carved objects on the mountain trail and when I set the bag down to pay the stone carver, a monkey grabbed the bag, thinking it was food, but I scared him sufficiently that he let go and ran off! The goodies would not have been good for his teeth!

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