Unity Plaza Visionary’s India Sojourn – Week 1-2 by Alex Coley, NAI Hallmark Partners

Friends,

Thanks for tuning in to view Alex’s first and second weeks journey through India on his way to the Himalayan Mountains.  He arrived in the greatest mountain range in the world at 4am our time this morning, as evidenced by the most recent email received.  An image of this is shared as the last passage in the thread below.

Alex has provided anecdotes and images from each day of his trek to share with those interested and curious.  Please take a moment and peruse his travel chronicles to you.  I have added an “enchanting” mp3 and additional definitions below to enhance your experience.  Enjoy!

Much appreciated,   Jen Jones   ~   Executive Director  |  Unity Plaza  |   904.363.9002  |  jj@unityplaza.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 13, 2014

Location Map

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Approaching the Deepalaya School In Delhi, India.

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Entrance to the school.

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The formidable students of the Deepalaya School.

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Their inspired inner sanctum.

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Receiving the blessing of Inner Vision…

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Blessing received.

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Next, Humayun’s Tomb…

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Humayun’s tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun in Delhi, India. The tomb was commissioned by Humayun’s first wife Bega Begum in 1569-70, and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, a Persian architect chosen by Bega Begum.

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WWI Monument in Delhi, “India’s Gate”

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Lunch at Lodhi Garden

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Next, visiting the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi

The Raj Ghat is the memorial to Gandhi.   Raj translates to ruler and Ghat is a pass or gateway.  Gandhi was an advocate of non-violence and through his methods won India’s independence in 1947.   He was assassinated in 1948.  He is an inspiration to all who seek this path.   The peace at his memorial is palpable.  The beautiful lotus flowers and the eternal flame can not help but move a visitor.  I am grateful to have stood here.

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January 14, 2014

This Delhi, India “street” is internationally known to garment manufacturers as the place to buy sequence and beads. Electrical code enforcement takes a back seat to commerce.

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This manufacturer is bring his goods to market by ox cart.

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16.5 million people coexist in Delhi. Transportation is an issue. Every conceivable mode and means are used. This morning we took a rickshaw ride through the famous narrow “streets” of Old Delhi.

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Approaching the narrow streets of Old Delhi where each road is known for one specific article or item of merchandise. One road for spices. One road for sequence and beads etc… The little 6×8 spaces do millions in sales. People from around the world make their way here and establish vendor relationships worth millions.

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The gentleman negotiated to impossible streets of the Old Delhi Market for us without incident.  His standard of living is roughly equal to a big city cab driver. This is his vehicle.

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Although India’s Muslim population is only 14% of the total it’s the second largest in number in the world. This Friday Mosque is in active use.

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Built in Delhi by Shah Jahan a Mughal (from which the word mogul derives) emperor famous for building the Taj Mahal in Agra.

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January 15-16, 2014

The stupa where Buddha preached his first sermon.  Just outside Varanasi (Sanskit name is Kashi which means hope and light).

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Visting monks.  It is common for Tibetan monks to wear red.  Why you ask?

All monk’s robes represents the colors of the leaves in autumn, as a reminder that all things are impermanent. But there is no strong reason for why the colors were chosen. Buddhism teaches that all elements of existence are in constant change through an endless cycle of death and re-birth, so the thought of the impermanence of vegetation is an appropriate reminder, and the brief bloom of cherry blossoms affects many aspects of Japanese culture. Ultimately the colors used reflect the materials available in the society of the time, and now have come to also symbolize the sects from which they come.

Common colors of the main sects in these countries include:
Tibet- Red
Burmese- Red
Thai, Cambodian and Laos- bright orange
Sri Lanka- Yellowish/Orangish
China and Korea- Grey
Japan- Black

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Main Street Varanasi, arriving just afternoon.

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Close to the river in Varanasi the roads are closed to buses and cars. Rickshaws are the mode of choice for those who have choice.

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We begin the journey to the Ganges.

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Arriving at in the city of Varanasi for our visit with The Ganges River.

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Close to the Ganges River the crowd builds.

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Sacred cows in an iconic Indian street scene.

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Offerings floating flowers and votive candles. Young people assisting.

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Offers available.

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Finally The Ganges River!   Holy men sit in front of The Ganges and prepare the pilgrim and the devotees for the Aarati ceremony…

Meaning In Sanskrit, the word ‘arti’ – written as ‘aarati’ – is composed of the prefix ‘aa’, meaning complete, and ‘rati’, meaning love. The arti is thus an expression of one’s complete and unflinching love towards God. It is sung and performed with a deep sense of reverence, adoration, and meditative awareness.   See more at: http://londonmandir.baps.org/worship/arti-the-hindu-ceremony-of-light/#sthash.yVtssB9B.dpuf

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At the Ganges ready for Aarati Ceremony.

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Cremations occurring as I wait and watch for the Aarati ceremony to begin.

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Dusk has come and we prepare the candles.

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The arti also features as a component of other, more elaborate rituals within Hindu worship, and is often the concluding prayer in religious assemblies and festivals.

Like other Hindu rituals, the arti has profound spiritual sentiments underlying it.  Just as the wicks burn in the service of the Deities, devotees pray that they, too, can selflessly offer themselves in the service of God.  And as the wicks eventually burn themselves out, devotees pray their ego can similarly be eradicated through such service and humble worship.  Furthermore, just as the wicks provide light and dispel darkness, only the true knowledge of God and the guru can dispel ignorance and false understanding.

Listen here to a brief, beautiful Aarati ceremony set to original musical accompaniment

Alex participating and letting go…

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Turns out this is a daily ceremony at The Ganges River.   Thousands chant and celebrate everyday.   They are lead by holy men.   Amazing moment.

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In the morning, the faithful pray before washing.

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January 21, 2014

For Rumi poetry night at Unity Plaza with whirling dervishes!

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On Safari Outside Jaipur.

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“The Taj Mahal is a teardrop on the check of eternity.”

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This powder is thrown into the air during a festival celebration.

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Jaipur street scene, beautiful.

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Off a country road between Agra and Jaipur.

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Famous Varanasa Silk.

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HIMALAYAS   AT  LAST!

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