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About Surya's Incense

Surya imports all-natural, finest quality, hand rolled incense sourced from the villages of India.

Since earliest time, sweet fragrances have been associated with refined human activities. Many religions use incense in their traditional ceremonies as natural aromas can uplift the spirit, remove distress, and stimulate healing. They also enhance any space and create a sense of joy. 
 In India, incense is often burned to promote peace, health and prosperity.

Surya Incense mission is to provide India’s finest incense at an affordable price. We are dedicated to superior quality and value. Surya incense contains no charcoal, no chemicals substitutes and is free of animal testing. All ingredients come from suppliers as committed to the preservation of the environment as we are. The incense is sealed inside a cellophane sleeve and colorful packs to maintain freshness. Surya’s simple packaging is 100% recycled paper. Every product is bar coded for easy check out.

All sales benefit the widows of Vrindavan, India

Surya’s Customers

Surya Incense is proud to serve both wholesale and retail customers. We care about our customers and strive to develop long-term relationships that meet or exceed our customers’ expectations. Our reputation depends upon it.

Some of our clients include:

Marley Resort & Spa, Nassau, Bahamas
Ochum New Age Center, Aruba, Dutch Carribean
Astrid Fine Foods, Whistler, BC, Canada
Terra Spirit Essentials, Chilliwack, BC, Canada
Luna Eclectic Emporium, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Meru, Vlodrop, Holland, Netherlands
Special Yoga, London, UK
Hong Kong Cultural Center, Hong Kong, SAR China
Chameleon New Age Salon, Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia

In the United States we are pleased to serve both large firms and retail clients:

Whole Foods Market, Rocky Mountain Region
Cid’s Marketplace, Taos, NM
East End Food Co-op, Pittsburgh, PA
Midnight Sun Imports, Jacksonville, FL
Good Earth Natural Foods, Fairfax, CA
Terrapin Station, Buffalo, NY
Glut Food Co-op, Mt Rainier, MD

 

 













The Indian Town with 6,000 Widows

(http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21859622)

By Anthony Denselow, Vrindavan, 2 May 2013

Thousands of widows have been making their way to one particular town in the north of India. Cast out by their families, or simply alone in the world, some travel hundreds of miles to get there, and nobody quite knows why.

India is jam-packed with holy sites and pilgrimage destinations. But few places are as closely associated with the deity Krishna as is Vrindavan, on the banks of the Yamuna, a few hours’ drive south-east of Delhi.

Here, in this temple-crammed town, the name of Krishna is on everyone’s lips along with the name of his childhood sweetheart, Radha.

Krishna, according to great epic the Mahabharata, was born in the nearby forest and it was around here that the young flute-playing trickster flirted with the cow herders - the gopis - and enjoyed that love affair known to every Hindu with the beautiful, divine Radha.

Radha and Krishna, the two names bound together forever and in the minds of every pilgrim who arrives in town to walk the ritual circuit of temples and bath- ing ghats (steps leading down towards the water).

But Vrindavan has its darker, less-loving side - it is known as “the city of widows”.

Spend a little while observing the pilgrims coming in and out of the temples and you see these widows - usually quite elderly women - dressed in simple white and often begging.

Widows in India no longer throw themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands. But life for them can still be hard.

Considered inauspicious, many soon find they have lost their income and are ostracised in their home villages. Some are sent away by their husbands’ families who want to prevent them inheriting money or property.

Nobody can quite explain why this particular town attracts widows from all around India - particularly, it seems, from Bengal. There are as many as 6,000 of them in this place alone and more in the surrounding countryside.

Some come as genuine pilgrims to devote their remaining years to the service of Radha/Krishna, but many others come here to escape from brutal family homes or have been flung out by their sons and daughters-in-law as unwanted baggage.

This is one unusual aspect of Indian society that the government might prefer the outside world not to see, despite all their genuine efforts to solve the problem.

Delhi-based non-governmental organisation Maitri helps provide food and shelter for some of the widows.

In a small temple, some of them are sitting cross-legged on the courtyard floor while young volunteers slosh out piles of rice and dal. Sitting inside, people in a smaller group tell their stories.

Most had travelled here from West Bengal, for some a journey of over 1,000 miles (1,600km) - often by themselves and many leaving behind friends and grandchildren.

Saif Ali Das is just 60 years old but she looks much older and her walk is lopsided. Her husband was a drunk, she says, who died 12 years ago after a fall. She had a daughter who died in hospital and a son who was murdered over a land dispute. After his death she was left entirely alone and fled to this place that she had heard was safe.

Sondi is a tough 80-year-old whose husband died young, she had to bring up her four children by herself. It is her daughter-in-law who effectively threw her out, saying it was her own husband who kept the family going and “as you have not got a husband you will have to look after yourself”.

For many of these Bengalis, surrounded by Hindi speakers, it is as if they are living in a foreign land. Some are feisty and resentful, others broken and afraid.

The authorities run four ashrams - a form of spiritual commune - where some of the women are housed, but many need to beg to pay for rented accommodation. Some claim that the locals treat them quite roughly and it is only the pilgrims who are happy to win spiritual merit by giving them money.

Gauri Dasi left the Bengal border with Bangladesh because of tensions in the area in 1971. She arrived in Vrindavan with her husband, with whom she had three daughters.

He then deserted them and all her daughters were married off when they reached the age of 10.

Dasi has been living alone in Vrindavan for the past 15 years and feels pushed into dedicating her life to the devotion of Radha.

She gets paid a few coins for singing devotional songs in the temples. She has become one of India’s millions who have renounced the world to follow a spiritual path, but she is one of the reluctant ones.

Many of these servants of god appear to live tragic lives on the streets of this romance-drenched town.

The government and pilgrims can help keep these refugees from family life away from starvation, but they are less able to quell injustices and age-old super- stitions in Bengal.

For some here, to even cast an eye on a widow is considered deeply unlucky.

About the Owner

Sita Sharan is the owner and founder of Surya Incense Company, LLC.

Sita Sharan lived in Montreal until 1970, when she heard two Ram Dass recordings on the radio. After listening to Ram Dass’ experiences in India with Neem Karoli Baba, gurus and yogis, she went to India a few months later. Sita met Neem Karoli Baba in February 1971. She remained in India until 1978, living in Benares, as a Vaishnava sadhu, studying music, philosophy and languages. Sita, now an American citizen, founded Surya Incense Company in 1996, and imports and sells her own “Surya” brand of India’s hand-rolled all-natural incense.

One in Two Worlds

By Amy R. Kaplan (Yoga Journal, October 1996, Issue 130)

Even with my eyes closed, I know this can’t be India. The air is too cool, the river too loud. Emerald hummingbirds dart past the windows, and ground squirrels peer in. The heartbeat of a tabla merges with the soothing recitation of ancient Sanskrit mantras. Sita sits cross-legged on a deerskin, raised slightly above the other participants. All around are the accouterments of a Hindu sadhu: fruit, flowers, a conch shell, a large stone Shiva lingam, bells, candles, a bronze Ganesh, and one discordant object – a small American flag.

Sita Sharan is indeed a sadhu (‘virtuous one”) and a priestess in an ascetic discipline that usually disallows women. She spends six months each year following the life of a sadhu in India. The other six months, she lives In the Colorado Mountains as a recluse and occasional lecturer in Hindu ritual and traditional practice. This particular afternoon, she is performing her dally fire ceremony In front of guests.

“Do you have a permit for this?” a Denver woman asks with concern.

Sita laughs. “Of course not. It’s one of so many contradictions. In America they say you cannot make a fire during a drought. In India they say there will never be rain until the sacrifice is made.”

As the room absorbs the gentle smoke and crackling sounds of her ritual offerings, Sita’s pale eyes, blonde hair, and fair complexion warm with the reds, oranges, and golds reflecting off the brass and copper vessels around her. Her guests finger japa (recitation) beads, mesmerized by her soft soprano voice and the deft movements of her hands: pouring, polishing, and tracing patterns in the air to the rhythm of her chanting. Bells sound, then the conch. The sound of the river fills the silence as flower petals fall into the flames, then ghee, spices, and rice.

“I change this puja daily depending on the mood and the time available,” says Sita in a low, animated voice. “These toys?” she asks, indicating the small spinning top, dice, and a tiny gun. “Krishna, he’s a playful one.” She motions to the Indian print at the back of her altar. “He plays with a gun, only this isn’t a gun, it’s a water pistol.”

Before she resumes chanting, she briefly explains, “The fire deity is the priest of the gods. Agni, the many-tongued fire, is the messenger who carries the burnt offerings. Agni purifies everything it is offered, and in exchange blessings are bestowed.”

She adds more wood, dried dung, and aromatics to the flames. May Agni release me from every fault and sin. Swaha. She ritually washes her hands and takes three swallows of water for the purification of body, speech, and mind. 0 Agni, great friendly deity; call forth from the gods benevolence toward heaven and earth for us. Swaha. The flames rise higher. May the waters release their beloved streams. Let ciklita abide in my abode, and cause your mother, the goddess Sri to dwell in my house. Swaha. Outside the aspen trees quiver and a gentle rain begins to fall.

Later we walk by the river and Sita talks about her life.

“All this started at school in Montréal. The Catholic sisters would send me to the neighborhood soda fountain for milkshakes and burgers. On the counter sat a row of swami-shaped napkin holders with penetrating eyes-my first exposure to Eastern philosophy.”

"Whenever I needed an authority to relieve my worries or warn me about the future, I would find a place on a swing-around stool at the counter and, while I composed my questions, I would stare at the swami's foreign face and jeweled turban. The napkins were free, but I saved up my nickels, because for just five cents I could tug on the handle of the holder and get a pink slip of paper printed with an important message: an answer to the questions the priests and nuns couldn’t or wouldn't, answer.

"I was looking for something with more mystery, more reassurance than Catholicism. How could it be that the early Christian martyrs could gain heaven with only one act of faith? It seemed too easy."

In the 1960s her brother went to India, and Sita heard Ram Dass talk on the radio. "He spoke with such authority that that summer I went to his farm in New Hampshire. All I'd read until then was one book on yoga. The Bible says when you find a teacher, you stay with him, and so although Ram Dass brushed me off with only a mala and pictures of himself and his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, it was a kind of starter set for the spiritual life. I knew if he could go to India, so could I. I was 19."

In India Sita studied vipassana meditation with Sri Goenka and Anagarika Menendra, then she and her brother showed Neem Karoli's picture around, trying to get directions to his ashram. She laughs that neither of them knew enough Hindi to understand the answers they received. She ended up in Nainital, where she had gone to ride horses, and showed the picture again. This time she got lucky—the ashram was nearby. "

Neem Karoli Baba's group welcomed me generously, and my training began," Sita recalls. "I had one bag and a blanket, so I learned what renunciation meant." The uncluttered life became an obsession. But Neem Karoli Baba wasn't a curriculum-oriented guru. He was a traditional Hindu saint, who tended to send people elsewhere. Again she was brushed off, this time to Benares to learn music.

 "For years I sat with my singing teacher, the late Amiya Babu, going up and down the scales, imitating like crazy. Neem Karoli Baba thought music would meet my special needs for discipline and soften my emotional edges. But my teacher thought I didn't have enough ability to ever be brought into tune."

 In 1974, after Neem Karoli Baba left his body, Sita traveled on to the kumbha mela (a great religious festival that takes place every six years) where she lived with sadhus, totally outside the company of Westerners. She took on the vermilion trident marking of the Vaishanav sect and moved on to Chitrakoot, the home of Mouni Baba, who would become her spiritual master.

"I knew he could teach me everything I wanted to know. He called my training 'polishing' and sent me on a pilgrimage to the holy places in the Himalayas. I traveled alone for four years as a holy man, from village to village, sleeping by hearths or outdoors and only eating the fruits, vegetables, milk, buckwheat, and potatoes that I was offered. Only once was my being a Westerner and a woman questioned, but after the village headman checked the contents of my bag, he knew I was authentic. In India, there's a higher order of hospitality which over­rides all caste restrictions."


Sometime during the first year in the company of Mouni Baba, he realized Sita didn't yet know Sanskrit. "I was reading to him, the Ramayana text, but only phonetically. Lying there, he made me go over and over each line until I got it right. He should have given me an F and dismissed me, but instead he put his bare foot on my shoulder, and while I slowly put the sounds together, he slid his toe into my ear, like he was making some fine-tuning adjustment. After that I took on a private tutor for Sanskrit and medieval Hindi. I realized that getting by with modern Hindi wasn't enough if I was ever to actually embrace the tradition and become a practitioner."

Years later, with a knowledge of the music and the languages in her pocket, Sita gave herself over totally to the simplicity and ritual of a sadhu's life. She practiced the ancient traditions and highest levels of austerities. With her hair in dreadlocks smeared with ashes, drinking no water, she sat surrounded by fires in the hot season, meditated on winter nights submerged in the freezing waters of the Ganges, and many times repeated the three miles of prostrations around Kamadgiri, one of India's holiest mountains.

 "Mouni Baba broke all the rules to initiate me into the exclusively male Tragi tradition of the highest renunciates. When other high-ranking gurus would challenge me, I'd just say, 'You're absolutely right, but I'm only doing as he instructed.' One time in Benares, when we were challenged again, he ended the discussion by saying simply, 'Before god, we are all women.'

"Mouni Baba was my swami in the napkin holder. Despite his gentle nature, he was a five-star general: feared and loved. He practiced only the most extreme orthodoxy. Being with him, I came home, but it wasn't until years later that I learned I could also be at home in the States." With that, she told her lipstick story.

Sita always wears a pale shade of lipstick, a rather unusual practice for a sadhu. "I decided that if I used just a little bit, maybe they wouldn't notice," she says. Once on a visit to a venerated saint in Ayodhya, she dropped her bag and, without her noticing, her Revlon rolled out. As she left, one of the disciples ran after her down the road to return it. "From that point on, using lipstick in India was no longer an issue. He'd seen me wear it, and, by giving it back, he was say­ing it was alright. In India I can wear lipstick without it being a hypocrisy, but in the West people really don't want you sitting on their couches or sleeping on their bed sheets with ashes in your hair."

 Her life in Colorado is solitary and her practice is definitely not fashionable. "I practice the rituals that have their roots in the 4,000-year-old culture of orthodox Hinduism. In the West, the influence of Eastern thought and yoga have become established in the past 30 years. They're nearly mainstream. Now almost every city has a yoga and meditation center. Some are affiliated with big organizations, others are renegade, but they all perform an important service. In this age where the individual creates reality, a tremendous alienation has resulted. These centers are preparing people through physical and mental training to experience a loosening of the mind, moving them toward shared values.

Historians say it takes 50 years for any significant influence to penetrate a culture. We're now 35 years into this shift of consciousness, and in the next 15 years perhaps we'll see something develop from its influence."

 Two weeks later Sita performs another fire puja, this time in the living room of a member of the Indian community. Unlike the Westerners of the previous group, these people, occasionally chanting in unison, allow her to guide them back to a world where they already belong. Afterwards they don't speak in the hushed tones that seem so appropriate in the presence of someone holy. This group's admiration and respect are for Sita's remarkable knowledge and her mastery of the sacred text and traditional ritual.

"Hindus in America only want to remember. They already know what it's about. It's a part of their lives, even without daily practice. When I perform ritual, I feel like I'm repaying a debt to their society, which has enriched my life. I bring them something that has enriched my life."

For Sita, as for all renunciates, the daily practice of virtue is what is most important. "My time in India is like a six-month intensive. Although I don't wear ashes in my hair or on my body anymore, I enjoy the community of holy men and spiritual discourses. You can rarely be alone in India, which is why I also need my six months here."

Living in the Colorado Mountains, she enjoys the luxuries of solitude, clean air, good water, and comfortable weather. She listens only to Hindu spiritual music and classical ragas and maintains her diet of no meat, fish, eggs, onions, or garlic. "It's the simplicity and practice that are important. While life in America is not simple, I serve God just as well here."

Sita does not see herself taking on disciples in the traditional sense, although she speaks publicly on Hinduism and performs fire ceremonies under the aus­pices of her "wide-open secret society," Sackcloth and Ashes. She also teaches rit­ual at Naropa Institute and through the Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda. "I emulate what I've been taught. In the West we tend to think En­lightenment is just a breath away and the end of the road. But it's a project over many lives of practice. I can be helpful only as an example.

"Any transformational aspect of my tradition comes in the context of India. For Westerners, all I can teach is the inherent value of ritual. There's evidence that when people are in holy places they do experience something beneficial. I give them a glimpse into a tradition, a genuineness of lineage separate from me as a person. The practice gives the benefit, not anything I say or do or carry with me."

 A year ago a family visited her in the mountains with their unruly 11-year-old son. He'd seen a fire puja at an ashram in Taos. "Let's have a fire, we must have a fire," he nagged. So she lit one. "But aren't we going to throw any offerings in?" "Okay, I'll give you some offerings," she told him. He protested further: "No, you have to say the words." She chanted some Sanskrit and made a few offerings, but that was not enough. The boy took over, "May my mother and father be happy. Swaha. May my friends get along with each other. Swaha. May there be peace in the world. Swaha."

"It's not the foreign ritual that's important," Sita says. "It's our human condition that's looking for ceremony, worship, and prayer. Even this boy knew the fire had meaning and felt that meaning in the fire."

Amy R. Kaplan is a freelance writer in Boulder, Colorado.

 


 









Towering Tales

http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=4705

Rama's story is recited at Siva's Himalayan home
By Sita Sharan, Colorado, USA

It was Bapu's long-held wish to recite Ramayana on the banks of Lake Manasarovar, beside Mount Kailas, where, according to the sages, Lord Siva first narrated the sacred story of Lord Rama's life to His consort Parvati. I was blessed to be among 197 yatris (pilgrims) in August, 1997, with Rashtriya Sant Shri Morari Bapu gathered on the shores of Lake Manasarovar at a lung-fatiguing 16,000 feet for the renowned religious leader's 519th Ram Katha--presentation of Ramayana through song and inspired lecture. August 15th, India's Independence Day, fell mid-pilgrimage. It dawned cold with the promise of sun. Fresh snow had powdered the surrounding peaks. "On this day," Bapu told us, "our nation celebrates its greatness with the world. Satya and ahimsa--truth and nonviolence--is the strength of the Hindu soul or atma. Its influence has transformed the world. It is the victory of the sadhus, our monastic representatives of truth that make this country great. The road to moksha, liberation from rebirth, is through India."

(RIGHT PHOTO: Rashtriya Sant Shri Morari Bapu holding the flag of India.)

"Manas-Kailas Ram Katha" was inspired by Shri Morari Bapu as a "Prayer for World Peace." For three decades, Bapu has recited the Ramayana in sacred shrines throughout India, in dozens of countries, on land, on the sea and even in the air, on a chartered 747. In charismatic style, he inspires devotion and lends insight into the language and glories of the Ramayana of Tulsidas.

Kailas, the "Abode of Bliss," is the apex around which the world revolves, the Mount Meru of Hindu geography, mountain home of Lord Siva, sacred to five religions and within 50 miles of the source of four of India's major rivers. Kailas and Lake Manasarovar are imbued with Divinity and spirituality. Remoteness and awe-inspiring beauty protects its sanctity.

This was the first large group of Hindus permitted to visit Kailas in over forty years. After 1954, access was restricted due to the China-Tibet disputes. The border was closed in 1962. Policies were relaxed in 1982, and since then a limited number of Hindus have been granted access each year.

Bapu's month-long pilgrimage began on July 26 in Mumbai, India. The group of 197 yatris flew to Kathmandu where we remained for three days before flying to Lhasa, Tibet. Eleven nights were spent in Kathmandu, Lhasa and Shigatse, the rest traveling or at Kailas.

The expenses topped one million US dollars, mostly covered by generous contributions of several devotees of Shri Morari Bapu. The event was organized by the Indo-British Cultural Exchange in affiliation with Sita Ram Seva Trust, UK, and Shree Satguru Seva Foundation, USA. It took several years of negotiations with Chinese and Tibetan officials to secure permission. This unique group was comprised mostly of Gujaratis, many of whom live in India, while others joined the yatra from the US, Canada, England and Africa. The youngest in the group was eighteen years old. The most senior was seventy-three. Hindi and English were the official languages, though Gujarati prevailed in conversation. The entire entourage from Lhasa to Kailas included 100 Tibetan drivers and helpers, 60 Nepali sherpas and 25 Chinese military escorts.

Chinese regulations required each pilgrim to undergo extensive medical tests prior to the arduous pilgrimage. There were several doctors and nurses among the yatris and a vehicle was outfitted as an ambulance. Specialized equipment included high mountain tents, oxygen cylinders, heavy-duty generators, high pressure stoves and infra-red cookers. A thousand cases of mineral water and 10,000 gallons of petrol were on hand. A period of altitude adjustment was required, so we remained in Lhasa for several days before driving 800 miles west across the great plateau of Tibet.

For four days we traveled along sandy and bumpy single-track roads in 55 Toyota Landcruisers. Aside from a few outpost settlements on the route, civilization was reduced to chance encounters with nomads herding their sheep or yaks. Travel was at times improvised, as when one Landcruiser driver opted to ford a major river instead of taking the bridge with the rest of the vehicles--"The engine stalled midstream, and a truck had to tow us out," reported passenger Hasmukh Patel.

Our main camp, Kailas Puram, was situated on the banks of the sacred Lake Manasarovar at 16,000 feet. A satellite phone link was available and helicopter evacuation facilities were in place. Luxurious bedding and thermal wear were provided along with puja articles, dishes, mirrors, walking sticks, a water purifier and canister, to list only a few of the gifts presented to each yatri--it was a "five-star" trekking trip.

During the first three days, some members of the group performed the parikrama of Kailas. Arrangements had been made for everyone to join the circumambulation, but incidents of acute mountain sickness became a concern--fifteen members had already been evacuated to lower elevations. Bapu appointed 11 representatives for the group and cautioned only those who felt highly motivated to proceed. I was among those who chose to walk the 32 miles around the holy mountain. I had been to all the prominent shrines in the Himalayas, but nothing prepared me for the high-altitude conditions where deep breathing is difficult and even speaking requires great effort.

An old Tibetan sherpa woman led me along the rugged path around Kailas, and at night she slept beside me in the tent. We crossed streams, balancing upon stones and reached Dolma La Pass (above 17,000 feet) early on the second day. It was a triumph. Gazing upon the majestic beauty of Siva's throne, we celebrated with chocolate and dried apricots. The rock strewn descent led across a snow field before reaching the valley floor. I followed the old mountain woman down gentle slopes over grassy fields of delicate flowers back to camp.

August 10 marked the 500th birth anniversary of Sant Sri Tulsi Das. The sun rose to a cloudless sky and temperatures rose into the 70s .There was no wind. "Tulsi Das gave us Ram mantra (sacred word)," said Bapu. "No saint has given so much. In the Kaliyuga (the present Age of Darkness) Ram nam (name) and Ram katha (recitation of Ram's story) removes delusion and instills devotion." Hari Ohm Patel, one of the youngest yatris, recalls the evenings, "We loved to sit near Bapu by his fire and watch the moon and how it would light the whole camp. Kailas glows at night. It was so peaceful. I realized how fortunate I was to come here." The youngsters enjoyed exploring the area on the bright, moon-lit nights.

Shri Morari Bapu recently celebrated his 50th year of his life. A soft rain began to fall as he began the selected chaupai or verse for this katha, "Kailas is the noblest of mountains and very beautiful, since Siva and Parvati have made it their eternal home."

An inspired orator, he quotes scriptures interspersed with singing and chanting. In his unique humor he advised those complaining of sleeplessness: "Reciting the name of Ram at night is the medicine for the body and the soul." He said, "Whatever name pleases you, take it, take refuge." Bapu seldom uses English words, but once he said, "Pilgrimage to a tirtha (holy place) is not a picnic."

Climate is unpredictable in Tibet, particularly during August. Though extreme conditions were expected, fine weather prevailed with the occasional auspicious shower. Every style of jogging suit, fleece-wear and woolen kameez was sported by the participants. But after sunset, when the temperatures dropped, the singular fashion was the group-issued navy German military mountain jacket. Nepali sherpas attended to every detail of earthly comfort. We enjoyed soft beds and excellent vegetarian food.

Three venerable swamis from India graced the yatra with their presence. A Sivalinga was installed upon the banks of Lake Manasarovar. Each evening, the group gathered and sang the entire Sri Ramcharitmanas--story of Rama's life. Into the dark, songs of praise to Lord Siva were chanted, creating a powerful prayer for world peace.

Near the end of the pilgrimage, Saroj Goel said, "I'd return tomorrow. To see Kailas, pure white, shining is beyond description. Taking a bath in Manasarovar, being away from civilization, with no pollution, I felt close to God. It has broadened my outlook. My values have changed, small matters don't bother me now."

The final morning was particularly cold. Frost glistened in the grass as we gathered at dawn to listen to Bapu's closing blessing. "Ramayana is more than words, it is superconsciousness, protected by those who sing it, recite it and ponder its meaning." At this holiest shrine, so close to the home of the Gods where four great rivers arise--Sutlej, Brahmaputra, Indus and Karnali (a Ganges tributary)--Bapu concluded his recitation, saying, "Attain to the heights of Kailas and the depths of Manasarovar."

Hasmukh Patel said about his yatra, "I'm glad I went. Bapu gave me the opportunity to see Kailas and bathe in Manasarovar. Every day when the picture of Kailas and Manasarovar comes before me, I must turn off the car radio and loudly sing the sacred verses in praise of Kailas and Lord Siva."

The Hindu community the world over will share in the fruit of this historic yatra. As mutual understanding develops between India and China, the possibility opens for future pilgrims to reach Kailas without restrictions. On the return journey I heard Tibetan Buddhist drivers singing, "Dalai Lama, Sita Rama..."