Tuesday, February 11, 2003

My lavender saree, lights over Mysore Palace, Pilgrimage at Arunachala

Dear Ones:

It has been almost a month I left you the last message. I believe I was waiting for the tailor to finish the blouse and inner skirt for my new silk saree.

I barely had time to put it on and headed to the Puja at Karumayi's ashram. Everyone noticed me when I walked in. I think I overdid just a little--it takes time to get it just right, and adjust to all this culture differences. Even Karunamayi herself made a comment on it: "what a beautiful saree you are wearing" she said when I went for darshan (she gives us blessed water after her lectures and bhajans=chants).

I missed Yogi Ramsuratkumar in Tiruvamalai as he left his body February 20th, 2001 and I got side tracked to somewhere else on my way to Bench Swami, so I missed him to. Instead, I met a young handsome artist and yogi from Kerala, Vasanth Kumar who is making a geometric representation of the Divine Mother, also called Sri Chackra in stain glass for me. He learned how to do it in meditation when Arunachala (yes, the mountain that sits in front of his house) came to him and guided him line by line. (I am telling you, everything here is very misterious, magical and sometimes hard to believe!) I talked with him for a long time asking lots of probing questions before trusting him. I feel he is genuine! So much that I am going back for a seven day course on things that range from hatha yoga to color therapy.

I just got really obessed with the Sri Chackra after one of Karumayi's lectures and went all the way to Kantipuram searching for it, a whole day back and forth in a taxi from Tiruvamalai. I meet the 80th sucessor of Adi Sanchara, a well know sage in India of the 8th century? I got lots of attention from him but no private meeting- he was busy all morning with pujas and then rushed out to Chennai (Madras). I've heard they are very traditional too, and would never give a Sri Chakra away just like that. His assistants gave lots of lectures on how high the practice is, I needed to do a lot practice before touching it. So, I left him a note with my e-mail address per his instructions and I am still waiting for my answer.

It was full moon in Tiruvamalai when I arrived and they were having a special puja at the Ramana ashram-guess what kind? Sri Chackra! Then thousands of people went aroung the mountain (13 km)- I started at 9pm just after the puja and ended at midnight. At 4am the taxi picked me up to go to Kanchipuram, one of the several sacred sites in India. During the walk around Arunachala I had a little bit of flashback during the Camino in Spain. Except that here it was a real pilgrimage. People do it bare feet, with kids sleeping on their arms and stopping at the hundreds of temples on the way, carrying incense, candles and some changing mantras. There was a LOT of commercial dealings too, the vendors would offer anything from coconut water to clothing and pots and pans.

From Tiruvamalai, back to Amritapuri, until February 4th. Amma left at 6:30am for the North India Tour. Ana from Spain and Christine from Mill Valley, CA shared a taxi with me to Varkala after breakfast at 8:30am. We stayed in Varkala for a couple of days at bungalows at the Red House. It was faboulous swimming in a bikini for a change, the water was perfect, and so was the weather, it was hard to leave. Ana and Christine headed to the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in Neyer Dam on the 6th, and I to Mysore.

What a lovely city! The lights on the palace on Sunday were superb! Toping even the fountains at Versailles on Sunday. It was REALLY impressive. I spent the day with Amma (she was in Mysore the 9th and 10th) and in the evening I enjoyed the town, everyone out and about, finishing my night at the Parklane Hotel restaurant. I've been wearing sarees in town and the indians love it. I've gotten so many complements from them. Mysore is a lovely town, Dainie, a young artist from Ireland and I spent good times together going to the market, watching cheesy hindi films, having meals at the Parklane Hotel, sitting at Patabi Jois's (the founder of ashtanga yoga) conference and checking out other yoga classes.

Just quickly, for those of you who have heard about Patabi Jois, his "conference" was kind of a joke, there were only westerners who would take pictures non stop during the 30 minutes Q&A session. Patabi's answers were short and almost incomprehensible as his english is terrible. The only things I could recognize were the sankscrit words he would quote from the Hatha Yoga Pradipka. I felt it was more like a touristic site than a satsang. His new place is really nice though, marble floors and everything.

Amma is now in Bangalore, and so am I (does it look like I am following her?) got here this morning. Amma will do an installation of a Bhramanastan Temple tomorrow, when it is also my birthday, which I will use to "bribe" the line monitors to let me get darshan, which is usually special during our birthdays. In Mysore, it looked like Amma was a politician coming to town. There were big signs about her arrival everywhere! The programs were at one of her schools--it looks like Amma is doing a lot more than what it seems. Schools and charities everywhere, and the number of devotees only increasing. She keeps hugging and hugging, smiling and smiling and the crowds growing and growing. Sometimes not the best people to be around as they push and often don't have consideration for others. Someday we will all rise to Amma's level????!

On the 18th of February (Ricardo's birthday) I am going to Puri- Orissa State. I am going to spend a few days at the Karar Ashram visiting Swami Yogeswarananda Giri, the sucessor of Hariharananda whom I really planned to see but just happened to have dropped the body only a couple of months ago (I keep missing these guys). They are both from the same lineage as Yogananda and I found out Krya Yoga is one of my paths, so there I go. I'll get initiation for level I. To be on the safe side I ran it by Amma and she is in agreament with me following Krya Yoga. Such open minded Guru, how can I not love her. There are other things to do in Puri and Bhubeswarar as well but is this getting long? I agree, it is!

Before I leave you, I just wanted to ackowledge all the help I am getting from my friends over there in the West as they say here. Just wanted to thank Sarah for literally holding my house in Montgomery Creek together, Fabienne for keeping my car in her garage, Ray Yee and Kristy for taking over, Claudia and Cynthia for being ready to jump in and help, Anand and all my gurubies for taking films and envelopes back to California. Anand actually took all my journals to date (they are getting heavy) and half a liter of superb Yurvedic massage oil- left over from my massages at the ashram. Line up for the massages when I return. I got REALLY good at it. He is sendig my journals to Montgomery Creek - they are in a thick envelope Sarah, please guard them with care. I am also sending several boxes, with things I don't need anymore, so hold them for me as you are doing with the others from Europe.

Linda T., Britt and Cynthia, thank you for your snail letters to Amritapuri, they made me really happy. And ALL of you for being your beautiful Selves. Happy 50th birthday to my sister Jeanne and all the aquarians back home (4 brothers and sisters out of ten!) They are having a grand old party back home on the 15th and I will be here singing the blues, mentalizing PARTY!.

Also, for those of you who forgot how to get to my pictures online, go to: www.ofoto.com the email is thousandpetals@yahoo.com and the password is rodin. There are four rolls of films posted there from India (the first 4). You can see me at the tailor wearing the lavender saree and meet mount Arunachala, among other things.

God Bless all of you! A thousand lotus and kisses I love you all, Marisa

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