I recently attended the 10th Chinmaya Inspiration Yatra (CIY X). It was my first yatra (a Sanskrit word that translates to "pilgrimage"). On this journey, I visited some holy sites and learned about self development (in the pursuit of eternal happiness).
During the CIY X, I traveled with a group of 34 others including Acharya Vivekji (our guru) to various holy places in Northern India while actively engaging in self development.
In general, this post notes a few details of each day but leaves out things like stopping for bathroom breaks, stopping for chai, and satsang with Vivekji (it can be assumed all of these consistently punctuated the journey). Some stuff has been left out intentionally. Some stuff, inevitably, have been left out unintentionally. This post does not do the yatra justice and is not representative of an attendee's experience.
- Arrived in New Delhi with Gaurav, Sid, and Smaraki
- Stayed at Acharya Vivekji's parents' place
- Tried to pull an all nighter with Gaurav and Sid, fell asleep 4:30AM (India time)
- All alarms failed. Gaurav, Sid and I woke up around 7:00AM
- Had great food including chai, bread pakoda, biscuits, and more (courtesy of Vivekji's grandparents)
- Left Acharya Vivekji's grandparents' place
- Arrived at Chinmaya Mission ashram in New Delhi
- Met other yatris at ashram
- Visited a huge temple, where I got dehydrated
- Left for Haridwar
- Bus drivers made at least 5 U-turns because locations in India aren't documented in Google Maps as well as locations in the USA.
- Arrived at Haridwar at night, stayed in hotel near 2 temples and Ganga river
- Went to Ganga River in Haridwar
- Walked around, put some Ganga water on my head
- Spent time in Uttarkashi like satsang with Vivekji, visited temples, visited Ganga River, saw 2 ppl carrying a cumbersome-looking body bag to the river, and saw charred wood by the side of the river on the round rocks.
- Ate a Cadbury Eclair
- Left for Gangotri
- Gangotri was even colder than Uttarkashi but went there during the day
- Gangotri was deserted except for 3-4 ppl I saw (houses were empty, huts were empty, shops were closed, only sound I could hear was the sound of the river flowing and the group of people I was with), probably because of how cold it is during the winter
- Collected some holy water from the river (tbh I have no interest in collecting "holy" water but I wanted to collect some in a bottle because I know my parents would want it)
- Gangotri was very peaceful
- Came back to Uttarkashi for the night
- Left Uttarkashi for Chandrighar
- Had a great breakfast at Saloniji's family's house
- Ate lunch at super fancy Punjabi restaurant
- Walked around in Golden Temple at night
- Shoes were stolen at the Golden Temple
- Arrived at Siddhabari, almost as cold there as Uttarkashi
- Visited another village helped by CORD
This day I spoke with Vivekji in person. The gist of what I said is that I'm pursuing the comforts of life to be happy but those comforts won't save me from a tragedy. And I'll be greatly dependent upon those comforts for happiness, putting me at risk for sorrow. But even the comforts of life can't gurantee me happiness. And I don't want to attempt to follow the life of one who leaves the material world in pursuit of eternal happiness, because that would be incredibly uncomfortable (freezing cold, no heating, bland food, little to no technology, etc.). Vivekji said the two paths are not mutually exclusive and gave 3 points of advice for self development:
- Continue engaging computer engineering as a career if it helps me grow
- Read Self Unfoldment for 20 min every morning
- Attend the Atma Bodha study group at University of Maryland, College Park
- Others went to another CORD village. I chose to stay in fear of shitting my pants due to the unknown availability of restrooms and my ability to hold was greatly diminished at this point
- CORD served delicious Maggi noodles with homegrown vegetables, and a freshly prepared gulab jamun for lunch
- Watched performances
- Ankur and Gaurav were hilarious
- Formal conclusion to this yatra
- Left Siddhabari
- Ate lunch at McDonald's where I ate a really good McSpicy Paneer burger
- Stayed at Cosy Grand Hotel for the night
- Left Cosy Grand for Vivekji's parents' house
- Vivekji left for Mumbai
- Ate at Social (a hipster, dim-lit, fancy restaurant) somewhere in South Delhi with Sid, Gaurav, Kanchan, Sheethal, and Surya
- Went to Delhi airport and left India with Sid, Smaraki, and Gaurav
- Bless my Mama and Papa for packing thermals for me
- Visited developing, agricultural communities where a great importance was placed on empowering women
- Whatever little food I had was consistently so damn good
- The chai in all the places we stopped was consistently amazing and soothing
- Visited several places for the first time
- Surreal, serene views of mountain ranges, valleys, and hills
- Spent time with like-minded ppl (everyone wanted to improve themselves and be happier)
- Spent time with a couple of friends I hadn't spend much time with recently before the trip
- Realized how dependent I am on comforts I take for granted in the USA (e.g. heating)
- Direction and valuable advice from Vivekji
What I Learned
- "Let go of the illusion of control"
- "To worry is to suffer twice"
- Building positive, meaningful relationships with people is a valuable (and perhaps vital) asset in the pursuit of eternal happiness
Will probably not go on another yatra for a while.
I can keep going on more yatras but in the end, it's ultimately up to I and what I do after this yatra that determines how much and how quickly self development occurs. My plan to grow in 2018 is to read Self Unfoldment each day and attend the Atma Bodha study group at UMD.