Ashram experience in India

After my amazing experience in Chennai visiting temples and a school, eating dinner with Ambicka’s family, dancing in the bus with local college student, going to a local movie theater and meeting a movie star was priceless.
I am so thankful for all the amazing people I have met along my way.

The next day, I decided to leave Ambicka’s house with the other student, and we went back to Kochi. We researched about an ashram (monastic community, or religious retreat for Hindus) because we really wanted to find that peace with ourselves; and India just seemed like the perfect place for it. We got in one of those prepaid cabs – there I was again, on another cab adventure lost in India – and gave him the address for the ashram. It took us almost 3 hours to get there. He did tell me it was a little far, but I could not really understand him.

The ashram was really far from everything, and when I first arrived, I was kind of in shocked and surprised. I mean, that was the first time I was doing such thing, and had no idea of what to expect. Everyone was wearing white; I almost thought I was in heaven. There was a big temple, and the fact that it was dark and I was tired, did not help my confusion. They fed us, and brought us to our room.

On the front desk, there was a tall white guy that said “Did you come here for Emma?”
I had no idea who he was talking about, but then i remembered the name of the temple was Emma. I just told him I was there because I was curious, as he looked at me like I crazy.

The room had simply nothing. There was just something on the floor to sleep on, and a small common bathroom. There was also a sink, and nothing else. I saw a lot of stickers all over the place with Emma’s face on it, but still I was too tired to think.

I just laid down, closed my eyes, and slept peacefully. I woke up in the morning with people chanting so loudly that I could hear through the glass window. I woke up so quickly as my curiosity keep growing while I saw people mediating outside. The place was so beautiful, but they made it clear to not take any pictures. Still, I couldn’t help myself. I had to share the beauty I saw from my window that morning.

I started my morning with yoga, what a great way to start my day. I also did some meditation, or at least tried. Since it was morning, I started to notice people more and the place I was at. I still could not understand their whole Emma in a pedestal concept. I mean, who is this lady?

By accident, I saw my really good friend Nate and Shawn after my yoga class. We giggled as we saw each other in the middle of no where in India in a random ashram– what are the odds.

We went to grab a bite, and they had “Western food” and the regular Indian food. People after eating had to wash their own plate. Everybody seemed like they were in a different zone, or different world. I started to get a little freaked out, until Shawn and Nate started to ask me if I did not think that place was a bit weird. I mean, yeah, it is weird, but that is because I am not used to their whole spiritual concept.

Suddenly, they started to chant again, and this time they were chanting Emma’s name in a hundred different ways. We all looked at one another, and I couldn’t stop but to remember the book 1984 when “Big Brother is watching you”, or “Don’t drink the Kool-aid.”

“IT’S A CULT?” We all said it to each other.
That is what it seemed like, and everyone started to freak out. i thought it was funny, than I did freak out when I started to talk to people, and they wouldn’t really talk to me, or would tell me I was so lucky I found Emma. Some of them were there for over 10 years, not able to talk, to travel, to see other things. They have to be in their rooms by 10pm, and awake meditating by 6am.

Oh my God. I thought those things only existed in movies. As everyone freaked out, I took time to absorb it all. I mean, that is their religion, and if Emma is the connection they have between themselves and the spiritual world, is fine. I am already a spiritual person, and although I do not have a human being as a deity, it works for them.

There was a meditation section on the beach, and Emma was there. I finally got to meet her. They told me she travels a lot and I was a very lucky human being that she was there. Go figure.
It was nice trying to meditate on the beach with my eyes closed. When I opened them, I saw hundreds of faithful people praying, and worshiping Emma who was in the middle. Being inside the ashram gave me a sense of alienation from the “Real world.” Living there was like Emma’s world, and I was only there for one night and one day. Maybe some of those people’s lives are so horrible, that they rather be somewhere where they feel safe, and there could be under Emma’s embrace. They do call the “hugging saint” for hugging everyone.

Although all my friends freaked out and thought everyone there was crazy, and that Emma was just a big manipulator, I totally understood those people. I was ready to go as well, I mean, in other words I can call that brainwashed. But it was so interesting to see what I saw. Not just Emma’s face all over the ashram, but even seeing her face inside the temples, in paintings with more than one arm like a legit Hindu god, was just so interesting. Some people have been there their whole lives, I just wonder if they know how is the world outside.

We decided to catch a train like a local on our way back, which was very interesting. The train ride took a few hours, and everybody stared at us down, because it was weird seeing a tourist catching a train on that area. My friends are white, which caused even more confusion on those locals’ minds.
We sat at the “women only” train side, without noticing. A lot of men were giving the guys weird looks. We felt really uncomfortable at first, but they finally got used to our faces after a little awhile, and even giggled at us.

The police man from the train was also very nice to us, and told us where to get off. When I first arrived, the first thing I saw was my “Safe zone”, which was the gate. I was safe again! I mean, I was always safe, but crossing the gate and walking in the ship, it gives me a sense of accomplishment that I made it back; funny, because every time I get back, I feel renewed.

Experiencia em um santuario na India

Depois da experiencia maravilhosa que tive em Chennai, visitando templos e uma escola, jantando com a familia de Ambicka, bancando no onibus com universitarios locais, assistindo um filme em um cinema local e ainda por cima conhecendo um ator famoso, nao teve preco.
Eu sou muito agradecida por todas as pessoas maravilhosas que eu tenho conhecido durante a minha trajetoria.

No dia seguinte, eu deicidi deixar a casa de Ambicka com a outra estudante, e pegamos um voo devolta para Kochi. Tinhamos pesquisado sobre um ashram (lugar que as pessoas rezam, geralmente para Hindu) porque queriamos encontrar aquela paz com nos mesmas; e a India me parecia o lugar perfeito para isso. Novamente entramos em um daqueles taxis- ali eu estava novamente, em outra aventura em um taxi perdida na India – e dei para ele o endereco. Levou quase 3 horas para chegar la. Ele me disse que era um pouco longe, mas eu nao entendi muito bem.

O santuario era muito longe de tudo. Logo quando chegamos, entrei em choque e fiquei surpresa. Era a minha primeira vez fazendo algo do tipo, e nao tinha nem ideia do que esperar. Todos estavam vestidos de branco; quase tive a percepcao que estava no ceu. Tinha um templo imenso, mas o fato que estava escuro e eu cansada, nao ajudou a minha confusao. Eles nos deram comida, muito estranha, e nos trouxe para o quarto.

Na recepcao, tinha uma branquelo alto que me disse “Voce veio aqui para conhecer Emma?”
Eu nao tinha nem ideia de quem ele tava falando, mas me lembrei que o nome do templo era Emma. Eu somente disse a ele que estava curiosa, enquanto ele me olhava como se eu fosse doida.

No quarto, nao tinha simplesmente nada. Tinha um colchao jogado no chao, e um banheiro pequeno. Tambem tinha uma pia e mais nada. Vi varios adesivos com a cara de Emma estampada neles, mesmo assim, estava muito cansada para pensar.

Eu somente deitei, fechei os olhos, e dormi. Acordei de manha com pessoas cantando tao alto que o som conseguia ultrapassar as janelas de vidro. Eu acordei rapido enquanto a minha curiosidade crescia mais ainda, vendo pessoas meditando la fora. O lugr era tao lindo, e eles deixaram claro que nao podia tirar fotos. Mesmo assim, eu nao me contive. Eu tinha que compartillhar a beleza e a paz desse lugar que eu vi da minha janela aquela manha.

Eu comecei a minha manha com yoga, que otimo jeito que comecar o meu dia. Tambem tentei meditar um pouco. Ja que era pela manha, eu comecei a prestar mais atencao nas pessoas, e no lugar que eu estava. Eu ainda nao coseguia entender o conceito de Emma. Quem era essa mulher?

Sem querer, eu encontrei grandes amigos do navio, Nate e Shawn depois da aula de yoga. Rimos quando nos encontramos sem querer no meio da India em um ashram – loucura.

Fomos comer algo, e tinha comidas diferentes, como se fosse uma separacao de comida para turistas e Indianos. Esse lugar tinha mais gente de fora morando la, do que locais Indianos pelo que percebi. As pessoas tinham que lavar o seu propio prato. Todos pareciam que estavam em outra zona, ou em um mundo completamente diferente. Eu comecei a me assustar, ate que Shawn e Nate comecaram a me perguntar se eu nao achava aquele lugar estranho. Sim, e estranho, mas acho que so porque nao me acostumei ainda com o conceito espiritual deles.

Derepente, eles comecam a cantar novamente, e dessa vez estavam cantando o nome de Emma em cem maneiras diferente. Nos olhamos para a cara do outro, e nao tive como nao lembrar do livro 1984 quando o “Big Brother esta te olhando”, ou “Nao beba o Kool-aid.”

“E UM CULTO?” Nos falamos para o outro.
Era isso que estava parecendo, dai todos enlouqueceram. Eu achei engracado, e depois eu enlouqueci quando comecei a conversar com as pessoas, e elas nao falavam direito comigo, ou somente me falavam como eu era sortuda de ter encontrado Emma. Algumas pessoas tinham mais de 10 anos ali, sem poder falar, viajar, ou conhecer coisas novas. Eles tinham que estar em seus quartos ate as 10pm, e acordados prontos para meditar as 6am.

Meu Deus. Eu pensei que essas coisas so existiam em filmes. Enquanto todos ficavam loucos e com medo, eu tirei um tempo para absorver tudo. Ali era a religiao deles, e se Emma e a conexao que eles encontraram entre eles e o mundo espiritual, tudo bem. Eu sou uma pessoa espiritualista, e mesmo nao acreditando em um ser humano como um deus, funciona para eles.

Teve uma meditacao na praia pela tarde, e Emma estava la. Eu finalmente pude conhece-la. Eles me disseram que ela viaja muito e que eu tinha muita sorte de ter essa oportunidade. Vai entender. Foi bom tentar meditar na praia, com meus olhos fechados. Quando os abri, vi milhares de pessoas repletas de fe, rezando e venerando Emma, que estava no meio de todos. Estando dentro do ashram me deu um senso de alienacao do “mundo real.” Morando ali era como viver no “mundo de Emma”, e eu so estive la por uma noite e um dia. Talvez a realidade e a vida dessas pessoas sao tao ruins, que eles preferem se sentir protegidos, e essa protecao eles podem encontrar nos bracos de Emma. Eles a chamam de “o santo do abraco” porque ela abraca todos.

Mesmo que todos os meus amigos ficaram com medo e achou que todos ali eram nada mais que loucos, e que Emma era uma grande manipuladora, eu entendi completamnte aquelas pessoas de fe. Eu estava preparada para ir embora, pos em outras pelavras, eu posso chamar aquilo de lavagem cerebral. Mas, foi muito interessante ver o que eu vi. Nao so foi interessante ver a cara de Emma vagando pelo ashram, mas a cara dela estava ate nos templos em quadros com varios bracos que nem um santo Hindu. Algumas pessoas estavam ali a vida inteira, e eu so me pergunto se eles sabem como e o mundo la fora.

Nos decidimos pegar um trem para voltar, que foi tambem muito interessante. O trem levou umas horas para voltar, e todos do trem nos olhavam pos e estranho ver um turista pegando um trem local naquelas areas. Meus amigos sao brancos, o que tambem causou mais confusao na mente dos locais. Sentamos na parte do trem onde dizia “somente mulheres”, claro, sem perceber. Muitos homens estavam olhando para meus amigos com cara feia. Nos sentimos desconfortaveis no inicio, ate que eles se acostumaram com as nossas caras, e ate riram da gente.

O seguranca do trem tambem foi muito bom com a gente e nos disse aonde soltar.
Logo quando eu cheguei, e vi a “zona segura”, que e o portao. Eu estava segura novamente! Nao que eu nunca estivesse, mas atravessar o portao e entrar no navio, traz uma sensacao de conquista por ter voltado; engracado, porque todas as vezes que volto, eu me sinto renovada.

Categories: India | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Ashram experience in India

  1. James Gonser

    I’m glad you saw Emma and all the rest, but I’m glad you got out safely as well.

  2. debi balmilero

    Wow! – interesting that we can all exist in the same world! most of us just go on about our lives doing what we are supposed to and are brainwashed by the media and by the current culture but to read about someone actually being worshipped as a centering is surprising in this day and age…. makes me feel we are all susceptible on some level… love your thoughts… please keep us connected along your journey.

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