Planning a trip is often a tedious task. It requires the traveller to dig deep into the purpose of the voyage and those who choose glamor over meaning often surrender to the normal tourism. I initially opted for different cities within India but at the end, after pondering much over the purpose of my voyage, I chose to spend almost three weeks in the Himachal Pradesh. My thinking was simple: quality of discovery versus quantity in terms of places. I hold no glory in boasting around and stating the number of places I have been to. I feel more accomplished when I take time to understand one place as it is. As a result, I packed everything and left for Himachal Pradesh where I spent approximately three meaningful weeks. Himachal Pradesh is commonly known as Dev Bhoomi (देव-भूमि), the Land of the Gods, in Hinduism.
If I have to write about the three weeks, one blog post will not be enough. In this post, I will focus on one interesting discovery that transpired during my visit to Dharamshala, a hillside city nestling in the forests and home to the Dalai Lama and exiled Tibetans. Before visiting Dharamshala, I had no idea why northern India was filled with Buddhists but during my trip, I visited an important Tibetan museum where everything became clearer to me. I then understood how Buddhism spread through northern India and why the Indian government opened its doors to the exiled Buddhists. The pictures of war broke my heart and moved me to tears in front of everyone in the Tibetan museum.
The photos in the museum were not accompanied with long paragraphs but contained below or next to them few lines. The reason is simple: the pictures were strong enough to speak for themselves.
When I walked down the streets of Dharamshala, the Buddhist culture was evident and I was loving it. The calm monks were walking with their japamala, string of prayer beads, in their hands along the narrow market roads. The thousands of japamala were so beautifully displayed for sale. The boasting monasteries, endless and snow-capped mountain ranges, small cafes and the cows standing in the middle of some roads; all weaved together to paint the picture of a slow-paced and magnificent Dharamshala in my eyes.
I think I was very fortunate to have had the privilege of having tea with some monks while indulging in a profound spiritual conversation with them. They were simple, very positive and humble to me. I wish we could all display these qualities in our daily lives.
But my thirst of spirituality did not end where the monks bid good-bye to me. I travelled for hours in Dharamshala, from temples to monasteries, in search of a deeper understanding. One thing that I also realised in Dharamshala was the fact that on making new friends, it is not an obligation to keep in touch. Our deeds determine the course of our life and our purpose of life directs our deeds. The formula is simple. When we are all visitors or pilgrims, why should we feel the need to stay connected or to establish a new relationship, which is that of friendship. I think we run too much after long-term relationships and fail to appreciate the meaning of a moment. From then, whoever I met on the day, I made the moments meaningful and sought not to stay connected after that. Life goes on. We all move on. Relationships are for the weak, so that they can cling on them and seek support through their storms. Strong are those who understand the fact that, whether we name it or not, we are all connected and we all share a divine connection with each other. If we are all part and parcel of the Supreme, then obviously we are all connected too.
As I progressed in my travelled, I visited the Sahaja Yoga Ashram where I took a meditation class. Nothing could have been more refreshing at that time. The ashram was far from the civilisation. It was surrounded by forests and hills. It was so quiet and the members of the ashram welcomed me with an open heart. They encouraged me to take the meditation class and I have no regrets for having experienced the Sahaja Yoga.
As it was getting colder and the evening was drawing to an end to welcome the night, we had to rush to the hotel but I could not stop by this lake to pause with a wide smile. That smile is enough to tell you that Dharamshala was magic.
Before ending, I would like my readers to know that this post does no justice to Dharamshala because there are so many things to write about that majestic part of India. I have however attempted to bring to you, in the most simple manner, some moments and thoughts from my visit to Dharamshala.