Come Sit with Me in Rishikesh – An Invitation to My 2023 India Retreat
Welcome to my podcast, The Vedic Worldview. I’m Thom Knoles. I’d like to talk to you about what’s going to happen in January of 2023 in my retreat in Rishikesh, India.
I’m asking for as many Vedic meditators as possible to come and join me, to sit with me in a beautiful setting, hanging above the Ganges River, which we call in India, Ganga.
[00:01:19] Upanishad – Sitting at the Feet
Sitting at the feet of a teacher is a tradition that goes back thousands of years. In fact, there is a particular group of sacred texts known as Upanishad, U-P-A-N-I-S-H-A-D. Upanishad.
And Upanishad is the keeping of stories that various disciples and students of great Masters of the past in India memorialized. They are parables and fables that have an embedded teaching, or many embedded teachings, in them. And the word Upanishad means, sitting at the feet. This is the actual literal meaning of the term Upanishad.
So we’re going to do Upanishad. We’re going to make a highly memorable 10 days of me answering any question. Each time I hold forth on a particular question and give the answer to it, entire new subjects will be opened up. And so the questions and their answers will lead to new questions and their answers. And we’re just going to let this be our theme.
[00:02:38] Rishikesh – A Holy Name for a Holy Place
Rishikesh, on its own, has a name which is the embodiment of a form.
The name means Hrishikesha. Hrishikesha is the old Sanskrit name for the town of Rishikesh. Hrishikesha is one of the names of one of the great gods of the Vedic and Indian mythology, Lord Shiva.
And the mountain range that surrounds the township of Rishikesh is known as the Shivalika. Shivalika means the dreadlocks of hair coming off the head of Lord Shiva.
Coming down through each one of the valleys between this mountain range, which, indeed, comprises the foothills of the Himalayas, in that particular region of the Himalayas, are rivers, and each of these rivers coursing through jungles and forests, empties into the great Ganga, the Ganges River, the most sacred river on Earth.
At this point of the Ganges, because it hasn’t passed much civilization yet, the Ganges River is unpolluted and runs freely, and we have an opportunity, for those of you who would like to be adventurous, to take a dip in that frigid river. It is frigid, but it’s lovely.
It’s one of those experiences that all Indians, more than a billion people, awaken each day and dream of when they’re next going to be able to make a pilgrimage up to Rishikesh in order to take a dip. They call it Snaan, S-N-A-A-N, Snaan. To have Snaan in the beautiful Ganga, the river that comes out of the Himalayas. So we have an opportunity to do that. This is a morning activity for those who’d like to do it.
[00:04:53] Bringing an End to Ignorance
And we have knowledge meetings that last for hours. And why hours? Not because I’m giving you hours of lectures, but I’m answering your questions in detail for hours.
The food that’s prepared there is food that is farm-to-table, fresh, delicious. Of course Indian style, but some Western dishes as well. It’s important for an army of those who are bringing an end to ignorance, the battle with ignorance… the army moves on its stomach and has to be well fed, and we’ve only ever heard the greatest reports about the wondrous food that is served at the beautiful accommodation where we’ll be staying.
The area where we’re staying, though it is on the edge of an urban area, not a very large town, a few hundred thousand, but it has a completely rural feel because you look out and precipitously below the accommodation in which we’re staying, roars the Ganges River, coming out of a canyon, and all around in that direction are forests and mountains, those beautiful Shivalik Ranges.
[00:06:25] Ending the Day With Sama Veda
We have lunchtime, an opportunity for walking and talking and creating more solidity in our friendships and camaraderie. And then we have our afternoon session, more questions and answers, talks on the variety of subjects in which you are interested.
Evening, early evening, we have our meditation program. Of course we meditate morning and evening, but this evening meditation program will be a little extended so that you have the opportunity, relaxedly, to approach your evening program and luxuriate in your meditation state.
And of course, each evening there will be an evening talk, questions and answers from Thom again, followed by what we call Sama Veda.
Sama Veda is the chanting recitation of one of the Vedic treatises, the sound of which is designed to arrange inter-neuronal connections for you to experience the highest Bliss, the Bliss of Unity Consciousness.
[00:07:43] Honored Guests
We will also have certain days where we’ll go off on excursions to local holy sites. One of those places is the home of the Shankaracharya-elect. Shankaracharya means the King of the Yogis, the undisputed preeminent Master of all the Masters of India. Kailashanand Giri. His Holiness Swami Kailashanand Giri will be there to receive us and greet us and give us his blessing. He is very close to us, we are very close to him.
And having an experience like that on its own is wonderful, but there are many other sites around the Rishikesh area that we’ll be going to and exploring, including my old ashram, where I attended with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi so many decades ago, on the forest side of the river.
It’s sitting in a deep forest now and has, in a very charming way, tumbled down into ruins, but, and even so, the feeling there is vibrant and you can sense the presence of my teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
[00:09:05] A Divine Place to Learn Vedic Meditation
For those of you who’ve not yet had an opportunity to learn the beautiful technique of Vedic Meditation, which indeed comes from this particular region of India, where we’ll be visiting in my 2023 retreat in January, I’m happy to announce that you’ll be able to learn with me while you’re there on the retreat.
That may sound like an extraordinary immersion technique, that you learn to meditate right there at the heart of, and the headquarters of, meditation and yoga, of all of India. But in fact, it’s one of the best ways to learn.
The way it would work is that you would come and spend a session with me. I’d meet you individually and teach you your specialized Bija mantra, this is a seed mantra that you will use to practice Vedic Meditation, and that mantra is given by me on the basis of your individual needs. Your individual characteristics are taken into account and I’ll assign a personalized mantra to you for your use there.
Your follow-up program for the next three days will be conducted by my expert colleagues.
And you’ll be able to attend all of my meetings as a brand new meditator. You’ll be a meditator from the first day of your arrival, a practitioner of Vedic Meditation.
So for those of you who are wondering if you can come on the retreat, but you’ve not yet learned our particular technique of Vedic Meditation, rest assured you can come and learn it there, I’ll be your teacher.
[00:10:52] You Were in Rishikesh?
The accommodations that we have there are absolutely superb, and with the most striking view of the most sacred river in the world, as it issues forth from the Himalayas, right where we’ll be sitting.
Our program in India will be relaxed, but fulsome. It will be not a boring moment. The opportunity is one that provides you with an experience that you’ll be talking about to children and nephews and nieces and people for generations to come. One of those legendary events where everyone will say, “What, you were in Rishikesh in January of 2023? Amazing. Amazing. What was it like?”
It will be historic. It’ll be memorable. It will be a lot of fun. You’ll meet wonderful people. Reestablish and strengthen old friendships, if you’ve been before, and forge new camaraderie, if this is your first time.
If you’ve been to India before, it will be a renaissance of your experience in India. If you’ve not yet been to India, it will be an introduction to the most wonderful mystical land on earth. And I guarantee you, you’ll never forget your experience of sitting with me in India. I look forward to sharing time with you there.
Jai Guru Deva