Monday, June 9, 2014

A Celestial Experience in the Himalayas




The Himalayas! 


Even hearing this name evokes spiritual awe. My kinship with the Himalayas began ever since i read about these hoary mountains and its enlightened sons in the Autobiography of a Yogi. Its snowy peaks, lakes, ancient temples each with a rich past, each with a mystical history considered mythical by many modern minds, never failed to evoke spiritual ferver in my heart. Yet the one place in the Himalayas which holds my heart above all other places is the crest jewel amongst these mountains - Mt Kailash, the Divine Abode! 


There are no mountains like the Himalayas, for in them are Kailash and Mansarovar  
~Skanda Purana


"Hi naresh, can we meet up? I have just been to the Himalayas with my family and had some incredible experiences there that I cannot share with everyone!


I received this call from my friend Prince (name changed) some time back. Intrigued by what he wanted to share, I was eager to meet him. But it was only months later that we could manage to meet. The wait was well worth it. The setting was an evening at the Mahalaxmi temple in Mumbai, during the Navratri festival of 2013.

As we sat in the temple canteen by the seashore, Prince began recounting his pilgrimage to one of the remotest, most difficult and the holiest of regions in the world – Mt Kailash and Mansarover, deep in the heart of icy Himalayas.  I listened to him with rapt attention.

Mansarovar

The air and environment of the Himalayas is divinely charged. People may question my sanity if they were to hear me narrate what I saw and experienced. But the truth is I saw nature responding in unique ways to me if any desire of spiritual nature stirred in my heart. I have witnessed divine signs and forms of sages taking shape in the cloudy sky or in the terrain around me in response to my thought. It was unmistakable and astounding. One evening while in my tent, I noticed the clear shape of Shirdi Sai Baba reflected in a silhouette on my tent. I rushed out to see who it was, but to my surprise found nothing. I couldn't understand what was causing the shadowy form to appear on the tent, yet it was unmistakably the Shirdi Sai form.

We have heard stories from the scriptures that celestial beings are known to come and take a dip in the holy Mansarover. Only those with a pure heart can see these divine beings or perhaps register their presence as light. Naturally each one of us hoped to get such a blessing during this trip. What I now narrate happened one evening as we all camped next to the lake.

Mansarovar at night

Prince continued narrating in a solemn tone,


It was a chilly Himalayan night. At about 10 pm, after dinner, as I headed back towards my tent, I noticed that our group leader, a spiritually advanced soul who we called Sir, was gathering a few people as they prepared to leave for some place. Extremely curious as to where they were venturing so late in the night in this rough terrain, I went and quietly followed the group. We walked a long distance, and I found myself walking by others and along with Sir, who was surprised seeing me and asked “Prince, tu kaise aaya? (How are you here?) Not knowing how to answer I simply smiled in return. Perhaps that disarmed him and he let me come along. We walked about 2-3 kilometers around the lake, when we came upon a small cave almost touching the lake. Sir asked us to sit inside the damp cave and silently look at the lake.

We settled inside and meditatively looked upon the lake. Some time transpired in silent contemplation. It is then that I saw the most fascinating spectacle I had ever seen. Star-like celestial lights from the sky would gracefully float down towards the earth and enter the holy lake with an audible gentle splash sound, and after the dip in the holy waters, the light would gracefully ascend skywards. I looked on in awe and was stunned to say the least. This is something most of us had been talking about and despite the natural skepticism that we all entertain, I too hoped to have such an experience. And here I was looking at this most astounding of sights. I pinched myself now and again to check if I was in my senses. It was clear that others in the group were witnessing this too.

Let us move” Sir announced after we had spend some time in the cave.

He led us to another larger cave and asked us to resume our silent observing. The enchanting scenes continued. I witnessed about 30 – 40 star like ethereal bodies come and take a dip in the Mansarover.  Then Sir asked us if we could hear anything. Taking a cue, we tried to listen to what he was referring to. At first I heard nothing. Then clear sounds began to register in my senses.. the shimmery sounds of anklets, as if some feminine beings wearing anklets were walking by us. It was unmistakable. Sir asked again, “Do you hear anything?” Others too replied that they could hear clear sounds of anklets. “Those are the footsteps of the Apsaras (celestial maidens or nymphs)” Sir revealed simply. I felt I saw clear outlines of a feminine form that was perhaps an Apsara, but I never mentioned it to anyone.

This evening of our trip was unexpectedly turning into a supernatural feast. Needless to say I was overwhelmed with emotions by these unique experiences. At this point in time a dog arrived and stood by the cave. Sir explained the significance of the dog, that often departed souls take the form of this dog and come to interact with the relatives who may have arrived in these regions. He asked us to come one by one and meet the dog to see who felt a connection. I didn’t feel any, perhaps someone else did. But my mind was full of conflicting emotions. On one hand I was naturally thrilled on the other hand I felt guilty and sad that my family back in the camp, was completely ignorant of this.

“Its late; lets go.”

We began heading back towards our camp. As we reached back, I saw some people sitting by the lake trying to look for the experience that we all had just had. I felt sorry for them and entered my tent. My aunt noticed my return and asked me where I had been for so long, so late at night. I couldn’t help but narrate to her what I had witnessed. Slowly my mom and others began waking up and listened to my story. Some believed me and were excited by what I had shared. Looking at their excitement, I felt heavy at heart for having enjoyed such a divine experience all by myself.

Someone casually asked if I could lead them back to that place. I will never know what caused me to agree to that idea. I guess the deep desire to help them also witness what I saw, prompted me to take the risk of guiding them by myself in that remote region in the deep of the night.

So at around 2 a.m, a group of us stealthily began to trek through the terrain guided by me. My emotional state overlooked any reason or rationale and gave me the boldness and strength to lead them. I must mention that not all in our group were optimistic or in belief of what I had shared, yet were keen to verify the story.

Himalayan Night

In some time, to my delight and relief, I found the caves we had occupied just a few hours back. I suggested they sit in meditative silence looking at the lake. We all sat down and observed the lake under the starry night. Minutes passed by but this time nothing happened. Neither I nor anyone could see anything extraordinary. I prayed intensely that those with sincere interest be blessed with the same vision that I was blessed with. But nothing happened. No lights descended from the sky, nor were any sounds heard. One by one my family members began giving up. Eventually I also gave up with deep disappointment. 


But our prayers must have been sincere and from the heart, for when we emerged from the cave, a celestial sight awaited us.

Towards our right, across the lake in between two mountains there flashed a bright divine light which was unlike anything any of us had ever seen. The presence of the light evoked spontaneous devotional awe in each of us as there was a conviction within that this is Divinity gracing us in response to our pleas. Not only I, other members of our family felt the divine effect too as they began chanting mantras and stood humbly with folded hands in obeisance to the vision before them. Needless to say the effect was exhilarating and our spirits rose in devotional gratitude. Some younger members of the family tried to click photos of the vision, but each of the pictures emerged blank. 

Within some time the supernal light suddenly disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared. We all stood rooted to our spots in that cold Himalayan night, our eyes streaming tears of gratitude as our hearts soared in joy. For me this had been an emotionally charged night. To add to that, some members of my family began bowing to me, saying that it was purely due to my effort and presence that they were blessed with this vision. I pulled back in horror and began walking away encouraging them to now make their way back to our camping site. As if that wasn’t enough, since it was nearly dawn, a few birds flew above us chirping and I heard some of them clearly call out my name – prince, prince, prince. I thought I was losing it and hearing things. But unfortunately for me others too looked in shock and stated that the birds were indeed calling out my name! Yet again some of my family members began offering me respects saying it was purely through me that they were witnessing such miracles. I couldn’t help but fasten my pace as we headed back to our camp site at the touch of dawn.

The story ends here. As you can see, this is not something that I could share with everyone!”


We sat in silence for a while pondering over the remarkable events of that Himalayan night. 


Prince” I asked after some reflection, “Can you describe for me how that Light looked?”

He replied that he wouldn’t know how to describe it but perhaps could draw the shape of the Light as he remembers it. I gave him a paper and a sketch pen and this is what he drew:




So it looked like a pillar of light?”

No, it wasn’t exactly flat as a pillar. It was rounded on the top and bottom.

You mean like this.. and I drew it again:




Yes, that is exactly how it looked.”

Prince! You realize what this means?

He looked at me wondering what I meant.

You were near Kailash Parbat, the abode of Lord Shiva who is also known as Lingeshwara, and the light you saw, which you all knew to be Divine was ovalish or lingam shaped!”

Prince was silent as he let this sink in.  Then slowly he spoke with a sense of awe :


You are right! Each of us felt in our hearts that the Light we felt honored to see was Divinity itself. With what you just shared, I am now convinced of it beyond a doubt!”

Mansarovar and Kailash

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