by Karobi Sachs
We arrived in Varanasi yesterday in what Swamiji said was the worst traffic she had ever seen here, as the millions on the Kumbha Mela pilgrimage continues here to the Ganges in Varanasi. Having been here just a month ago it is easy to see the effect of the holy days on this most holiest of areas. Everywhere is crowded with people coming for or giving blessings. There are tents of sadhus dressed in orange or not dressed but smeared with ash lined up along the ghat at the river bank.
There is so much to describe and my most recent visit to the Kedareshwar Shiva temple is still vibrating inside. Three of us walked in with offerings of flowers and we had to carefully pick our way through the marble halls slick with devotional water.
We moved into the inner sanctum carried along by the crowd of Indian devotees, where there is a natural stone lingam. The Brahmin priest told me to knee down to touch the sacred stone….kneel down in the water and whatever else was on the floor. The first surrender. Then he blessed me, placed sacred ash on my forehead and a dripping wet garland…surrender again. On the way around and out of the sacred room another priest smeared a whole lot of wet sacred ash across my forehead in Shiva stripes, then up and down and across again and another dripping wet holy blessed garland was placed around my neck.
Around the next corner more priests giving blessings from Vishnu and Lakshmi. We went to sit and meditate on the marble floor-but the constant ringing of the bells and the people stopping and taking pictures of us three North Americans was too distracting. We left after a few more introductions by priests to some more sacred murtis almost as besmeared with ash as the Aghoris (naked sadhus) outside. I left feeling like I had taken a full immersion in the Ganga with blessings still buzzing through me as I write this.