Journey of a Lifetime

A participant shares her experience of the journey of a lifetime, the piligrimage to Kailash and Manasarovar with Sadhguru.
 
 
 
 
Journey of a Lifetime

Parul Shah journeyed to Kailash and Manasarovar with Sadhguru and Isha. She tells us her experience of the journey of a lifetime.

No images could have prepared me for the overpowering scale and surreal beauty of the Tibetan plateau. So mesmerized was I by the infinite horizons, and the dry and arid landscape that had no trees, no bushes, no birds and no butterflies; just remoteness – nomad’s land. I was not sure whether all this was real or if I was dreaming. We had started off from the Nepalese-Chinese border in off-road vehicles. After a few hours of driving, we stopped at a particular place to wait for the other vehicles in our group to catch up. Waiting in a land with endless infinite space, not going anywhere, not coming anywhere, where vision stops only at the deep blue sky with its innumerous mysteries, I was constantly reminded of the insignificance of this body which I call myself. Night had fallen when the last vehicles arrived and we continued our journey.

We reached Saga – a town somewhere midway between the Nepal-Tibet border and Kailash. Saga is the town. What do I mean? It is at Saga that high-altitude sickness really gets you. Dull continuous waves of pain roll through your head, and the stomach threatens to heave at the slightest excuse. The Tibetan guides told us that if we could make it past Saga without coming down with respiratory problems, the rest of the trip would be fine too. Thankfully our whole group made it through; nobody had to head back to Nepal.

The next leg of the journey was to take us to Paryang, the last overnight stop before Manasarovar. On the way, everything seemed to strike directly: the penetrating and pervasive light, the relentless wind, the sand that was blasting the skin, all were indicating how tiny, or rather how infinitely miniscule we humans are. The encounter with the sky, the land and her people has probably carved out a space within many of us, a space that cannot be replicated or elicited by any other place in the world.

That night in Paryang, the waiting to reach Manasarovar became unbearable. As the journey began the next day morning, my heart started beating heavily.

That night in Paryang, the waiting to reach Manasarovar became unbearable. As the journey began the next day morning, my heart started beating heavily. Now and then, nomads who dwelled in the wide plains caught my eyes. They lived a life as it must have been for centuries; a serene, undisturbed life. I wondered if their arduous life is a struggle for survival, or the victory of humanity.

When we finally reached Manasarovar, I was just overwhelmed by this space – it was silent, serene and mysterious. There was this dark blue-green lake, the complimenting sky, and an endless horizon with huge mountains, each different in its glory, some snow-capped and others in all shades of brown and grey. Questions came up in my mind. Who am I anyway? What is this life all about? As the day passed into night, it seemed as if light and darkness moved in and out of each other, with the winds blowing strong.

The following day, after a meditation process led by Sadhguru, we took a dip in the sacred water. Those moments in the freezing water were ecstatic. It was as if I simply drowned myself in the glory of the lake, yet waiting for the sight of Kailash, waiting for the clouds to relent.

We stayed at Manasarovar for the night. And suddenly, a most blissful moment descended upon us: the overcast sky opened up, just enough to see the sacred mountain in the distance...

We stayed at Manasarovar for the night. And suddenly, a most blissful moment descended upon us: the overcast sky opened up, just enough to see the sacred mountain in the distance, its peak covered with bright white snow, gleaming in the golden rays of the sun. The view stirred my soul; it was love at first sight – the legendary Kailash!

Next day, when the trek to Kailash began, everyone’s mood was ecstatic with anticipation. And as if nature was welcoming us, it started to snow. During the course of the trek, a sacred mantra kept us moving. Breath became a silent prayer, a divine moment, being connected with a divine force, which kept recharging us. I began to question all the so-called knowing that I had. What was I? Who was I? Why was I? Moving ahead, we saw two different faces of the Solitary One. I could not place them as two sides of the same mountain, such a dramatic change between the two.

Towards evening, we reached the ashram that we were to stay in, which was situated right at the feet of the north face of the Kailash, the giant black rock standing in solitary splendor. I couldn’t take my eyes off that snowcapped mountain; it was as if I was being pulled in by some force, a tremendous gravity.

The next day, during the descent, we saw three Tibetans prostrating at each step on their way to Kailash, without food, water, or anything to shelter them from the ever-changing moods of nature. They left me wondering what devotion means.

The following day, we started our small trek towards the inner parikrama. An initiation process conducted by our Guru there enabled us to experience this sacred space. I felt I was exploding within – I wanted to live and die in that space. I felt completely free, going nowhere, coming from nowhere, just being completely dissolved in that space.

The next day, during the descent, we saw three Tibetans prostrating at each step on their way to Kailash, without food, water, or anything to shelter them from the ever-changing moods of nature. They left me wondering what devotion means.

Usually, a yatra has a particular destination, but the journey itself had become the destination. There is something that has touched me at the deepest level, something which is beyond my understanding. But I know that I want to go there again and again and experience that space, that energy, and be graced by the immensity of Kailash .

This yatra can never really be described or explained in words; it must be experienced.