The following article on a trip to Kailash appeared in the magazine Hinduism Today, Jan-Feb-Mar 2012 edition.  The article itself is a account of experiences and renationalisation of the author, TS Mohan, on the completion of his trip to Kailash – and his take on the state of culture of piligrimage that is such a integral part of our culture.  The original article itself can be read in the magazine, which can be downloaded here

Looking back at the more than seven years since the blessed experience of my Holy Kailash Yatra, I stand amazed at how much work it was to prepare and then do it. But I am much more in awe of how much I benefited. Immensely is a word that would not do it justice.

It is true that concrete blessings manifest. The only property I own, in the heart of Bangalore, came to me in auspicious ways right after my return. But most of the benefits have come at a sookshmam, or subtle level. No doubt we often follow an act of worship, with a request trailing the prayer; but this was not my motivation at all. All boons from the pilgrimage were just an incidental consequence. All that I did it was an offering to Siva – Sivaarpanamasthu. Yet, this yatra indeed had a significantly deep impact on me, my personal life and my world view.

The Kailash Yatra enhanced my understanding and faith in Lord Siva, the versatile God who is simultaneously experienced by many  as an accomplished yogi amongst the living the divine and the dead; as a householder like many of us, setting an example of a spiritual family life and marriage; and Lord Siva – the accomplished sadhaka in Kailash, steady, calm and absorbed as Parabrahman.

I now see Siva as Mount Kailash, who stands still and resilient despite the erosion, the ravaging mountain slides, corroding streams and rivers around it. He is a true sannaysin and parivrajakacharya. And within my heart, my eternal Siva remains an inspiration for leading a life of sadhana, appropriately blending modern day commitments with spiritual practices, for that leads to an unruffled, steady determination that results in success.

The holy Kailash Yatra freed me from incongruous notions about how we treat other religions and our own. Seeing Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Bon-pas simultaneously and harmoniously worshipping Kailash was overwhelming. The Bon-pa and the Hindu wished each other “Aum Namah Sivaya” and “Taashi Delek”  with true mutual respect.  We celebrated the differences, rather than being either exclusivist on one extreme or diluting our faith on the other. In this light, the bland and mildly offensive term “tolerance”(would you “tolerate” your guests?) and the extremes of terrorism seemed more absurd.

After my return, something that jarringly stood out was the extent to which the society opposes the spiritual drive that impelled me to do the yatra. The impulse for a pilgrimage is embedded in our spiritual traditions. Yet these traditions are daily eroded by insidious attacks coming from inimical and intolerant modern or secular lifestyles. The sensory stimulations of modern life are largely adharmic; how do we keep from being sabotaged by them? How to preserve and protect the profound purity found in an experience such as the pilgrimage to Kailash? The printed media, TV and the Internet erode our inner life. In fact,  neither the schooling system nor our contemporary culture respect  a need for sadhana.

What has happened to the practicing Hindus? We allowed our spiritual traditions to become merely tolerated with contempt, pushed to the sidelines of a modern society, rather than being at the centre of what a person should pursue. That harms the nurturing of a culture that embraces Sadhana in every day Hindu family life. It is up to us to strengthen our sadhanaas, in spite of the opposition, and engage in religious festivities with the family and the community.

I would like to add key insights about a post Kailash yatra. First customize and finetune your personal goals, having a clear plan that is aligned with your Sadhana and spiritual values. Second, each one of us should go on a piligrimage at least twice a year, preferably with the family, for living Hinduism to the fullest is the best way of sharing blessings with all of them.

Where shall we go for a spiritual or adhyatmic, yatra? There are plenty of temples, ashrams and destinations.Just start searching.

From within the India, for those who cannot go to Mount Kailash, there is the yatra to Adi Kailash(the Om Parvati mountain, strikingly similar to Kailash) in Uttaranchal. The trek is organized by the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam in the summers.

Lord Siva can be sincerely worshipped anywhere, be it in the Himalayas or on the banks of the Wailau river on Kauai. Let us pray that our sadhana efforts hold on strong, and that by worshipping Siva, we can transform for the better both ourselves and the world.

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