Rishikesh completes the end of our trip in India and we are both so glad that we saved the best for last. This small village is filled with wonder, spirituality, art, heart, and soul. Things move slower here…are cleaner here…and as the locals say “everything is beautiful.” There is such an appreciation for everything in this village and when they say this phrase, they mean it from the smallest piece of dirt in the road to the most magnificent views of the Ganges river and everything in between.
Our guide, Raj, was a very charming and soulful gentleman that loved sharing his culture with us. He would try and teach simple Hindu sayings to us and while I would always butcher them, Debbie made it look easy! I enjoyed hearing him sing his mantras in the car as we drove from different ghats and markets. Always praying…always smiling.
As we were driving to our first market, I asked Raj why every taxi we had taken had a statue sitting on the dash of the car. He explained that it was a God of protection and would keep the people inside of the car away from harm and bring them good luck and wealth. This particular statue looked like a beggar and very different from the other Gods such as Shiva or Ganesha who wore elaborate articles of clothing. He explained that this once was a mortal man but once he left Earth he basically became a Saint, which we related to Mother Theresa. I asked Raj how long ago this man died and he looked very confused. “Died? No one dies.” Debbie and I looked at each other perplexed and then it dawned on me. I said, “Oh I meant when his soul left his body and entered Nirvana or began his next life in reincarnation.” Only then did Raj understand.
It inspires me that almost everyone in this country believes there is no finality in death. The cycle of life just continues on to give you more trials, more lessons, and more space for love in your heart. I have never been a fan of organized religion and have subscribed to my own set of beliefs. However, I have been leaning more towards the thought of reincarnation since it would give our lives so much more purpose, explain deja vu, and lighten the fear of passing over to the other side. I have realized that this trip has made me far less fearful of dying. Hinduism is the oldest faith in the world and I have witnessed their beliefs first hand from the cremations on the Ganges in Varnassi to the prayers and rituals they do each and every day. These sacred acts give me so much more peace of mind than traditional burial ceremonies back home.
I keep coming back to the same question on this journey…how do you determine what is your best use of time here on Earth and what will you bring into your next life? If there isn’t a next life, what will you regret most not doing? Time to fix those regrets now before it is too late. Whatever belief system you subscribe to…take it all in because “everything is beautiful ji” and tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Tags: character, faith, Hinduism, India, meaning, perspective, rebirth, reincarnation, SEL, self help, self reflection, travel