Back to the motherland! The home of yoga, mystics, mantras, sadhus, chanting, samosas, Ayurveda and most of all: devotion and love! Without a guide it’s easy to get lost in the craziness of modern India. To decipher the mystery, Raghunath will be that guide to introduce you to spiritual India.
Visiting like yogis; not tourists.
We’re not going to park it at some hotel and do asanas. This is the real deal. Raghu will take you to the holy cities and villages that have been dear to the yogis and devotees since before recorded time. He will teach asana, and philosophy regularly and give reading assignments from books of ancient India so you can enter into the mood. More than tourism it will be a chance to learn and grow. We’ll learn meditation techniques, study sacred texts, and dine on authentic and excellent vegetarian food. Because he has spent a lot of time in India with sadhus and saints, we will meet up with other guides, friends, Vedic astrologers, palmists, & Swamis whom Raghunath knows of, or has known intimately for years.
We’re going to deepen our understanding of yoga culture. With a proper guide, India can be a portal to another time -- an ancient spiritual culture. It still exists side-by-side with the modern. As you discover it, you will consequently discover yourself a little more -- and your life will never be the same.
SPIRIT OF DEVOTION GANGA PILGRIMAGE September 24 - October 5, 2017
SPIRIT OF DEVOTION GANGA PILGRIMAGE September 24 - October 5, 2017
September 24 - October 5, 2017
9/24 – Arrive in Delhi International Airport in the evening and be picked up and brought to the hotel.
(Option: arrive one day early for sight seeing/ shopping around New Delhi) You will be eating incredible vegetarian/vegan cuisine the entire trip. Please let us know about any special dietary restrictions.
9/25 – Travel to Rishikesh. Early morning drive to Rishikesh.
We will wake up early for a 6.5 hour bus ride to Rishikesh. Bus rides are filled with Kirtan (sacred singing) and Raghunath giving classes on the sacred literature of India).
9/25 – 28 Rishikesh...
Rishikesh is an ancient, breathtaking village in the foothills of the Himalayas along the sacred River Ganga. This has been a holy village, since before recorded time and is the land of Yogis. It has been both frequented and a home to contemporary sages and seekers from Shivananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and even the Beatles. It has been historically linked to the ancient avatars from Rama, Laxman, Balaram as a place of pilgrimage for millenia. Raghu will teach yoga, breathing, and meditation techniques as well as daily sat sangha, teaching the philosophy of ancient Indian texts. He treats these retreats as spiritual educational experiences for seekers on their path, just as pilgrimages have been used for generations.
In Rishikesh, we will visits sacred villages, bathe in the Ganga, visit the temple cave of the sage Vashistha (weather permitting), white water raft down the sacred Ganga, hike to and bathe in a Himalayan waterfall and sing, sing, sing in kirtan fully blowing your heart wide open.
9/28 Leave Rishikesh to Haridwar (30 minutes by our bus)
9/28 - 10/3 – Haridwar
Haridwar literally means the gateway to the Lord. It is 30 minutes south of Rishikesh on the Ganga. We will stay at a wonderful heritage hotel on the Ganga and practice yoga with the most gorgeous view of sacred Mother Ganges.
Mornings will be filled with Raghu's teaching of sacred literature, chanting meditation, reading, and yoga practice. In the evening, we will be walking Hari ki Pauri for the gorgeous Ganga Puja (the offering of ghee lamps and reciting of mantras). This incredible ritual goes on nightly and has been going on since before recorded history. Raghunath explains all that is going on to decipher the mysteries of these ancient, colorful rituals.
We may take day trips to some local temples and the village, which is filled with incredible markets suited for yogis, including books, deities, carvings, clothes, herbs, music, incenses, etc.
10/3 – Leave Haridwar for an 8am early morning train to Mathura/Vrindavan
10/3 - 5 Vrindavan with an optional Taj Mahal trip (this will be a nominal extra charge)
The holy town of Vrindavana is the stronghold of Krishna Bhakti. Here we will have a chance to deeply immerse ourselves in the culture and practice of Bhakti, following in the footsteps of the great saints who have come here for many centuries. Those who have been here before know of the mystic nature of this special holy place, where Bhakti comes naturally. Great contemporary Swami's such as Paramahamsa Yogananda, Neem Karoli Baba, and Srila Prabhupada who spearheaded the Bhakti movement in the west.
We will visit the beautiful Hare Krishna temple, which is both gorgeous and has phenomenal kirtans, which attracts pilgrims from both India and around the world.
The entire time in Vrindavana will be spent absorbed in all the limbs of Bhakti-yoga including kirtan, hearing from sacred texts, associating with very saintly people, and visiting special holy spots and temples. In Vrindavan, we will minimize our physical yoga practice as the mood in Vrindavan is more kirtan oriented with stories of ancient literature and visits to holy temples. There are always auspicious surprises and unique opportunities arising in Vrindavana. Some of the things we plan to do are:
Nature walks along the old banks of the Yamuna River. The river is known for its rich soil that nourishes various trees and flowers and home to exotic birds, such as parrots and peacocks, and genuine simple villagers living simple, devoted lives.
Visit some of the main temples of Vrindavana and experience the amazing spiritual atmosphere that goes with each one.
Experience incredible kirtans at dusk at the intimate courtyard of the Krsna Balarama Temple.
Visit the holy Yamuna river and the impressive Kesi ghat, giving us a chance to walk the narrow streets of Vrindavana and experience the atmosphere of this holy city.
Visit two charities that will melt your heart. Firstly, the Sandipani Muni School, a place where children from the surrounding villages can freely attend coming from the poorest of the poor. Attend their assembly in the morning and get a chance to meet them and dance with them with such love and affection. Visit their classrooms and experience their environment. Meet the wonderful man behind this vision and see all the work he has done and continues to do today.
Secondly, visit Care for Cows. Abandoned and injured cows are brought to this sanctuary to be taken care of for the rest of their lives with love. Caring for cows is part of the Vrindavana culture. These cows are full of affection and you will have a chance to make friends with the cows, feed them and give lots of hugs!
10/5 – Vrindavana
Our last day in Vrindavan will be left free for people to do their last minute things as we check out of the hotel by 11:00 am. There is the opportunity to shop, revisit temples, etc. A 3-4 hour bus ride will be arranged to take us back to New Delhi for our evening flights, if you are leaving India then.
$3,295 USD (includes a $500 non-refundable deposit to hold your spot; this trip will sell out!
The $3,295 includes:
• Airport pick up & drop off
• All internal travel
• 3 meals a day
• Hotel / Lodging
• White water rafting in the Ganga (weather permitting)
• All yoga sessions & classes given by Raghunath
The $3,295 does NOT include:
• International airfare**
• Spending money
• Rickshaw rides in Vrindavan (however these are inexpensive)
• Your visa or passport.
• A tip is appreciated by my Indian assistant if you liked his help; not mandatory.
**many choose to come a day early to get adjusted to the time zone and catch up on rest. Many flights from the US arrive in the evening and our bus ride leaves early morning, 4:30am on the 25th. If you choose to come a day early we can arrange your hotel and airport pick up. Your hotel will be at your cost but we will pay for the airport pick up & organize it if you arrive the day of OR a day early. Airport drop off for departure from Vrindavan will be arranged and paid for if you are leaving on 10/5. We will help arrange a departure on a later date at your expense (generally less than $80USD).
CODES OF A YOGIC PILGRIMAGE:
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM RAGHUNATH
This trip is pilgrimage and as such, not designed to be a "vacation", but rather a yogic learning experience. Of course, you will see many places and be guided in your travels, but the focus is on spiritual growth and not just sightseeing.
India is a "3rd world" country. Please do not expect ANYTHING to be up to American or European standards. Students sit on the floor (if you need a chair due to health issues it can be arranged) and live simply. Many of the teachers and guest lecturers wear traditional Vaisnava dress (dhotis/robes/saris). We will visit temples, including Hare Krishna temples & ashrams. The pilgrimage includes kirtan (group singing of traditional Sanskrit mantras) as well as japa (individual chanting of mantras on meditation beads). Travel in India can involve some austerity, but our teachers are all seasoned veterans of many pilgrimages. All reasonable measures will be taken to proved and care for students, but the environments through which we will travel will impose limits.
We request guests to follow a codes of behavior compatible with a yogic pilgrimage. This code includes eating exclusively vegetarian or vegan. No meat, fish or eggs. Consumption of alcohol, non-prescribed drugs and use of tobacco is not permitted. We reserve the right to ask anyone to leave the trip at any stage and without any refund for breaching this code of conduct.
Students will see many sights in exotic locations, but the primary purpose of the trip is not sightseeing. We will practice asana, pranayama, Japa meditation, do a lot of kirtan, tell the stories of ancient India, chant mantras and otherwise explore the ancient yogic traditions. This training and journey have been designed in the hope it be a magical, transformative, and life-changing experience!
The itinerary is left slightly flexible because in India sometimes I choose to change plans if there some -thing/festival/or holy person that we may run into unexpectedly. This is the mood of a pilgrimage. We are seeking experience and I will not be too tightly bound by an itinerary.