Rishikesh, I am sure that most of you are familiar with the place, and for those of don’t know about it. Rishikesh is one of the most spiritual places on the planet, located in the Himalayan foothills beside the Ganga. Ganga is considered holy for the Hindus, and the city is famous as a center of learning yoga and meditation. The place was an alcohol-free, vegetarian ashram town, but the place is filled with pot-smoking baba-jis. Frankly, this was all I knew about it before actually going there myself.
I was basically hitchhiking alone with a backpack around the state of Uttarakhand, and I somehow managed to get a free car ride from Mussoorie to Rishikesh. Before I got there, I enquired about the place you know like where to stay for cheap, where all to go, what all to do and all, and almost everyone suggested the same place “Swarg Ashram”. After I got there high as a kite, I asked an old man “where is the Swarg Ashram?” He was kind enough to agree to take me there as he was going in the same direction. We arrive on the bank of the great river Ganga, and the place was exactly everything that I imagined. The old men point across the river and told me that Swarg Ashram is on the eastern bank and you can get a boat from here. I thank the man and I get a ticket for the boat ride across the Ganga. I get on the boat, and there were a few people on the boat already, a couple of European girls, a full Indian Family, and a few lonely travelers like me. Then a Buddhist monk gets on the boat and sits next to me.
I was looking around and fascinated by the breathtaking beauty of the place, the cold Himalayan winds, and crystal clear water of the Ganga. Suddenly the Monk asks me if I had come alone. I tell him, yeah and I am doing a little soul searching and hitchhiking. Then he tells me that I remind him of the time he first came to Rishikesh and he goes on and tells me about the whole experience. And I ask him how and why did you become a monk, he just smiled and told me that he just knew.
There was this angelic vibe surrounding the man in the red robes or I don’t know if I was too high. The guy looked like he was in the mid-thirties with a shaven head and everything. At that point, I really did not know what to ask him at that point, as he seems cloistered. I asked him the same question “where is the Swarg Ashram?” He said that he will take me there and thanked him. Then he asked if I had enough cash with me and he offered to lend me some. I declined and I told him that I am good. By this time I got the eastern bank and he took me to Swarg Ashram, and I thanked him and he left. But I, when I went inside the place, was full already, so I had to find a place to stay.
I walk around the streets of Rishikesh and I found another ashram. I checked in and got freshened up. Then I thought I will sit at the bank of the river for some time, to absorb the blissful spiritual energy of the Ganga. The moment I got down to the bank, there he was, the monk in the red robe. He smiled and asked if I had got a place to stay, and I told him that I did. At this point, the dumb mind was curious about the things that monk might know like how to get inner peace and all. And I actually asked him this and he told me that I have to let my awareness thrive and shine without needing or seeking it. I have to let go of all the toxic things out of my soul. And he told me that he had a prayer to attend to. And I asked him if I could walk with him and he said no, as he prefers to walk alone. I bid him farewell and he wished the best for my future. He slowly walks away into the night. I sat on the bank of the river, fired up my chillum, and thought about what he told me.