Elephanta Caves in Mumbai


Getting to Elephant Caves is half the fun.. first a 2 hour boat ride, then a very short toy train ride, then a gauntlet to be run uphill through unending rows of souvenir stalls, finally discovering that the actual site is so small it takes a half hour to cover. But the Sadashiva carving was worth the trip.

I get back in the evening hoping to catch the historic buildings in the Oval Maidan in their illuminated glory, only to find the only building with night illumination is the Mumbai CST! India needs to pay its electric bills..

Mumbai: I Star in a Bollywood Series!


Ok not quite. But I landed a role as an extra for a day for "Jugni Chali Jalandhar", a Hindi TV series. I get to be a security guard for the London Airport and get a 2 second close-up alongside my partner John!


Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when we come for j00!

So my mad dash for Ladakh is delayed for a day..


Ramkund/ Gandhi Memorial

As one of the sites of the Kumbha Mela, I had planned to visit this city from the get go, along with Haridwar, Ujain and Allahabad. The banks of this sacred river where Lord Rama used to bathe in overflow with humanity trading, bathing and playing. Overwhelmed, I find the Narashankar Temple to be quiet and sparsely occupied with devotees, which came as a surprise. Inside it is cool and quiet, with a perceptable aura about its central shiva linga. My meditation there was short but intense.

The Hotel Plaza at Jalgaon

I think this must be the first post I've written about a hotel. But its easily the cleanest, classiest, most attentive and generally desirable budget hotel I've been to in India!

Cream colored walls, white floors, glistening clean bathrooms, and the owner is exceedingly knowledgeable about train routes and touristy info in general. Feast your eyes on the room I have been staying in..


All this in a country who's budget hotels' idea of clean room is when the stains don't rub off.

If you are meaning to explore Ajanta and Ellora caves and are looking for a base, make it the Hotel Plaza at Jalgaon!

Owner is Chatrasen Lapsiya and contact is (0257) 2227354.

Ajanta Caves


"Excuse me, I just thought you might like to know that some of them don't think its respectful to point your feet at the Buddha like that", a fat Spanish tourist pointed out to me as I struggled to take a photo in the dim light of the cave, seated on the floor to steady myself.


In exasperation, I remove my hat and thrust my face close to his. "I'm Asian!" I say perhaps a bit too loudly. The idea of a foreign tourist teaching asian values to an asian was too much of an irony.


But in later moments I had come to understand his well meaning intentions behind it and I regret my outburst. My ego is still very much at large 8(.

What a coincidence to have the latest entry in the Nithyananda Newsletter talk about the Ego.

In Jalgaon

Autobiography of a Yogi : Includes Bonus CDAutobiography of a Yogi is a very engrossing read! In his life recollections he has embedded ideas and notions that are tying up all that I have learnt so far in the past few months into a coherent whole. My head has been in the book since Aurangabad and all through the busride to Jalgaon this morning. That is, till I meet a chatty Indian student on his way to his university in Jalgaon who keeps me company half the trip and buys me the first taste of country roasted corn straight from a charcoal fire - The saying "Guest is God" is upheld as a practice here, one that India can be extremely proud of carrying. Paramahamsa Yogananda himself wrote in appreciation of this in his book.

I have developed a curiosity for Kriya Yoga. I first heard of it from Masha who was initiated while she was a devotee of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and taking courses in Art of Living. Then came Divyanand Swamiji whom we met in Gokarna during the monsoon, who took us to his home up on the hills overlooking the beach. And finally picking up Autobiography of a Yogi, a book strongly recommended by my Guru himself.

Kriya yoga is a meditation technique to control the senses and their grip on consciousness.

Kriya Yoga and Vipassana are now the 2 things on my todo list. I am hoping to attend a 10 day course on Vipassana in Igatpuri in end september, and maybe get deeksha in Kriya Yoga in Rishikesh. Whether I achieve this or not, I leave up to the wisdom and guidance of existance.

Ellora Caves


I bed down in Aurangabad while exploring Ellora Caves today. What an enormous site to cover in a day! It did not help that several of the footpaths leading from cave to cave were closed. This meant several painfully long detours via the vehicular road.


I see a camel today, the very first in my India trip. I guess I must be moving pretty northwards..


Umm I think this is Cave 14

Osho's Meditation Resort

Osho's Meditation Resort Auditorium

When the connection with a certain Guru and his organisation and teachings isn't there, it certainly shows! I wake up late and miss Osho's famous dynamic meditation!! Instead I find myself having breakfast instead at the German Bakery, non-chalantly entering the resort hours later.

Osho's resort is getting a little dog-eared with age. It certainly still is the snazzy overpriced and polished rich man's resort as advertised, however I could not help but feel that I had painted perhaps too rosy a picture based on the hype I heard about it prior to visiting.

I did not like the use of the color black on all the buildings, nor the faceless, impersonal feel of the featureless monolithic shiny stone clad look that is more at home in an office building than a meditation resort. Perhaps if I had not visited the Isha Meditation Center and Dhyana Linga Temple I would have lower expectations.

If I be a rich man in the near future and need a meditation resort refuge (and assuming my guru hasn't made a resort himself by then), I'm afraid its going to be at the Dhyana Linga Temple.. plus the Isha Temple had a palpable energy field that I did not sense at all when attending the poorly presented meditation sessions conducted under the famous pyramid roof of the Osho Center Auditorium. The only semblance of an aura I felt was when attending the "Silent Sitting" session in front of Osho's Samadhi.

And what a strange Samadhi it was too.. to get there you have to cross 2 rooms, the first is a library full of dusty books, the second is a strange room clad in mirrors from floor to ceiling, with a dentist's chair in the corner.. finally arriving at a room with a marble floor with a natural finish that required us to wear socks to protect its surface.

And how strange it was to have had his remains cremated. As far as I know the remains of enlightened masters are never cremated..


Autobiography of a Yogi : Includes Bonus CDI am watching the snazzy "New India" of Pune and Osho's Meditation Resort whittle my funds away. 180 rupee autorickshaw ride in from the bus stand with late night charges, 728 rupees for Sunderban Hotel Room without even an attached bathroom (which I had to argue incessantly for them to charge me only for one night's stay as opposed to 2, as I had arrived in the night way after their strict check-in time), 200 for food in snazzy but bland Prems Restaurant, 1200 Aids test and registration at the Osho Resort (btw I am HIV negative 8) ), 300 for maroon robes. Way above the 6-800 rupee a day budget I was trying to maintain!

On the light side of things, eating my first real chocolate donut and cinnamon roll I've had since setting foot in India, at the famous German Bakery in Kodagaon Park, was defintely the highlight of the day, as was my locating "Autobiography of a Yogi" when visiting the Gold Ad Labs Shopping Mall.

Tonight will be spent in the serenity of pooja, meditation and reading this intriguing book recommended by my Guru. Already into the first few chapters I found myself in tears at inexplicable points. I will put away the consternation of trying to find a place that will babysit my luggage after the 12pm check out tomorrow for now.

Stuck on the Road to Gulbarga

I take a bus from Bijarpur to Gulbarga hoping to catch a connection to Bidar. The route is so bone jarring I get airborne in my seat at many a bump.. and wonder how the bus manages to stay in one piece during the journey. Within hours after this thought, the bus breaks an axle, as if reading my mind, and we are stranded in the pitch darkness of an unlighted country road.

Without any means to fix this we are forced to squeeze into the next incoming bus. Thats right, two indian busload equivalents squeezed up into one bus! There was only 50kms to go but it was the longest 50kms I've had!

By the time we reach Gobarga it is already 10pm and my bus to Bidar arrives at midnight!

That meant an extremely exhausted backpacker arriving at Bidar in 3am in the morning, yelling his lungs out to wake the sleeping counter staff at the lobbies of the few hotels available for a room, being followed by packs of stray dogs barking at the top of their lungs..

And while settling into a hastily prepared and uncleaned hotel room it dawned on me what an adventure I've gone through. The trip had taken a turn for the monontonous up till this point. So despite myself I find the time to be grateful..

How have I forgotten how fun it was to stay up late at night, or not sleep at all. And here I have all the freedom to do it.


So I've been awake since this morning and I have spent the time in the extremely peaceful and beautiful Bidar Fort ruins.


Aihole and Pattadakal


I arrived in Badami last evening and head out to the outlying villages of Aihole and Pattadakal today. I got stranded in Aihole! After visiting the ruined temples there I try to take a bus to Pattadakal only to find that the next bus comes after a 2 hour wait!


So I head back to the main temple in Aihole and start propositioning the tourists there for a ride in their snazzy rented cars. Lo and behold the second group I ask takes me to Pattadakal and I get a free coconut. Thanks a million, Pinaki and Amrita wherever you guys are right now!


Independance Day @ Hampi!


Happy Independance Day India! The locals are out in the truckloads in Hampi. They pass by with their catcalls and their cheers as I plod along with my bicycle through the ruins.

Stone Chariot

The skies bless them with good weather all day. When I reach Vittala Temple in the evening, I am amazed to find clear skies and a warm evening sunlight bathing it in a very photogenic glow!

Hampi isn't Raining!


Fugitives from the west coast monsoon: Masha has gone to Mumbai to party and I'm in Hampi, which seems like the tourist central of South India as there are more tourists here than locals! There is no rain here but the river is swollen with floodwater and some of the roads to key attractions are closed.. sigh.


Internet is 50 rupees an hour in this tourist trap town so I'll be uploading photos in my next destination, perhaps Badami.

Goa in the Monsoon


We reach Goa with the intention of connecting to our next destination, Mumbai for Masha and Hampi for me, and were blessed with gaps in the deluge enough for a half decent trip to old Goa to visit the cathedrals and to fort Aguada.

In the Bom Jesus Cathedral I am aflood with telltale sensations of an energy field. Prior to this I had not realised that such a dogma-driven religion like Christianity would be host to such a spiritual place!

The rains are so intense and incessant the damp comes through the walls. Masha's Rudraksh mala is so overrun with mold that it looks sugar coated!


Have met up with Masha at rain-swept Gokarna. The day after I arrive the heavens decided to show me what the west coast monsoon is capable of. It'd had rained all night and all day.

Yesterday we were blessed with meeting Divyanand Swamiji at the steps of the temple overlooking the town beach, whom Masha had heard about from a friend she made in Kerala. A Sanyassin, Kriya Yoga Archarya and warm-hearted person who is open to discourses on anything under the sun, and who's dwelling is a deserted stone building at the top of the hill with gorgeous views of the beach, he is the quintessential wise man on the hill!


Masha and Divyanand Swamiji at his shelter at the top of a hill overlooking Gokarna beach.

08-08-08 Happy Birthday to Meee

That's right! I'm one of the lucky people having birthdays today.

I'm 34 years into my present incarnation!

Dhyana Linga Temple, Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore

Dhyana Linga Temple Entrance

It's most beautiful modern vedic temple I have ever seen in my life!

I arrived in Pondi from Coimbatore on a rickety bus full of school children eager to practice their English on me. I find the Isha Yoga Center waiting at the end of the bus route.

Not having as much of an affinity to Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev's teachings as compared to my Master's, I was nonetheless taken aback by the photos of the temple on the net and the scientific processes involved in its design and conception, so much so that I resolved to make the trip to Coimbatore for a visit.

The entire ashram is constructed from inexpensive materials and methods characteristic of the rural south indian style in the region. But the terracotta roof and ceiling tiles, painted plaster walls, wrought iron works, granite slabs and blocks, and timber are put together in such a modern, beautiful way as to transcend the utilitarian, pragmatic manner of construction of said rural dwellings. Most creative is the use of the snake symbol popping up as decorative motifs in the most creative of places!

Sadhguru uses the image of the cobra as a symbol for Shiva, the snakes also correspond to the feminine kundalini shakti counterpart.

The Pièce de Résistance is of course the Dhyana Linga, housed in a dome built by unskilled devotee volunteers, yet constructed in such a geometrically precise manner that every small sound in its enclosure is amplified and reveberated into an otherworldly ambience (my guess is that it is in the shape of a parabolic dom centered on the linga itself). Faint lines on its huge monolithic form section it into seven parts corresponding to its unique characteristic of possessing the energies from seven chakras. In place of the conventional yoni base is a serpent coiled seven times.

I stayed overnight in an extremely clean and beautiful room (only 550 rupees!), the whole ashram felt like a five star resort, minus the exorbitant prices.

Meditation sessions in the temple begins with a dip in the Theerthakund, a huge underground pool with a submerged linga made of mercury, sheltered by a vaulted roof with a beautifully colored mural on the ceiling. In its copper lined icy cold confines, your body and mind is prepared via the energised waters to be receptive of the energies from the Dhyana Linga. This I know to be true because the second time I emerged from its waters I felt my body humming with a beautiful intensity!

Dhyana Linga Temple

Inside the temple itself no poojas or ceremonies are performed. Sahdguru intended the temple to be for pure meditation and transcending religious boundaries, hence the name: Dhyana.. the energy field of the Linga is very very strong. It manifested itself as a throbbing on my agnya and pressure in my Sahasrara. In my afternoon meditation session it got to be so intense I actually felt a discomforting headache. The pain went away after another dip in the Theerthakund.

Had I not been in a hurry to reach Gokarna I would have stayed longer!

Leaving Tiruvannamalai

Bhanu, Kamaa and I

Kamaa leaves for Pondicherry to get her Nadi Leaf Astrology reading done and I head to Coimbatore to resume my journeys.

Its hard to keep travelling now after the reason you started travelling for in the first place is fulfilled. After all have I not already found what I've been looking for?

So the journey is no longer a searching. Its now a pilgrimage and a celebration, and a playground of experiences for my new spiritual awareness.

We visit Arunachalaeswara Temple for the last time, thankful that the throng of humanity that was the Vaazhum Valaru crowd were no longer around. While getting darshan of the main Shiva Linga in the temple the priest surprises us by taking 2 garlands off the linga and garlanding us!

And we meet a very friendly Mrs. Bhanu, who's grandfather was a good friend of the late Ramana Maharishi, who spent her time at the temple walking with us and guiding us with detailed explanations.

Goodbye Ma Kamaa!

Daniel is Dead


Some weeks ago, during the Nithyanandam course, I had decided that I was ready for a name change. A spritual name is a name chosen by and given by the Master to aid you on your Sadhana. It is chosen for you alone, it empowers and liberates you, and is a clear pointer to the spiritual path you need to take to your enlightenment.

I sent my application to the Welcome Centre in the Bidadi ashram. Once the application is sent to Swamiji he typically takes 2 days to come up with your name. But the sheer difficulty and inertia in getting the attention of the people at the welcome centre, getting them to hand me a form and getting my form processed pretty much suggested to me that maybe the time was not right for me to get the name. This in addition to having to wait 2 weeks only to find that the application did not reach Swamiji, and he had left the ashram to go to Tiruvannamalai, which according to the welcome center staff meant I could only get my name in January (!!!) pretty much took the wind out of the initial intent.

But in the Vaazhum Valaru (Living Legend) talk I meet a woman who told me to just go and ask Swamiji directly during the energy darshan, thereby bypassing all the red tape and possibly having my name given to me in 2 days time after the darshan. Having nothing to lose I did just that.

I wrote my request on a slip of paper (so I wouldn't be tongue tied in front of him as is usually the case!) and handed it over to him when it was my turn to be in his presence. He smiled as he read it and slammed his thumb on my agnya extra hard. The resultant energy flow into my body was felt like a strong wave that descended and rippled. When it was done he gave me the name then and there!!

"Nithya Priyan" he told me. And, he told me the meaning of the name. Nithya Priyan means Eternal Love.

The ways of the Master are unpredictable and surprising indeed! Eternal Love was radically different from what I had thought my path was supposed to be. I had known of the problems associated with my Anahata and my general lack of meaningful relationships in my life as an obstacle to my enlightenment, but I had no idea it would also be the path I am destined to take to my liberation! But in receiving my name and its meaning, and sitting quietly away from the devotees dancing in celebration to the loud kirtans playing, the little clues that have been there in my all along start falling magically in place and a new perspective dawns in a matter of minutes.

I had been an intellectual person for as long as I know, my self worth has always been directly proportional to the size of my bookshelf and the intensity of my heated discussions. Even after meeting the Master I had kept the idea that my path to enlightenment would involve the gathering of knowledge or Gnana. I see now that it was a pretense all along, the seed sown at an early age when I found I could obtain all the approval and attention I seeked from bookwormish pursuits. I was goaded along that falsehood when I realised that I had an IQ of the top 5% of the population, having been evaluated by a Mensa test.

How shrivelled my heart must have looked to Swamiji during that first darshan, when he had put his finger on it! To have had the key to my enlightenment fall into atrophy all this while. To have ignored all the signs and hints in place of the suggestions from a misleading, chattering mind.

For even when I was busy trying to be who I am not, did I not respond to ideas and people in an intense emotional manner? How did I not see my violent mood swings as symptomatic of an untapped and ungoverned source of energy? Why did I not relate to the times when I threw myself so completely into relationships so as to be coughed up completely messed up at the other end? How have I glossed over the truth that the most important decisions I have made in my life were the result of intense emotional impulses, hidden by a patina of post-rationalisation? How does all this relate to the cold, intellectual persona I had thought myself out to be?

And the clues that were given since my coming to India.. during the friendship meditation with Masha in BSP, she told me she saw into my heart and that it was so pure. While talking to a lady during Nithyanandam she had told me I had the warmest smile she had ever seen. And a strange chance meeting with a man who told me Enlightment is possible for me in a very short period, that he had a feeling something was holding me back in the past but no longer. It only dawned in me later the significance of the meeting, when I remembered that he introduced himself as a HEART SURGEON.

As I sat I repeated the name to myself. "Nithya Priyan" I said in wonder at how much in love with the name I was, and how inadequate my old name is compared with it. I repeated it like a mantra and it changed me inside. My heart exploded and the tears began.

So Daniel is dead to me now, he is part of a past patchwork of ideas and experiences borrowed and slapped together in order to be loved and accepted. As Nithya Priyan my awareness feels constantly flooded with a white noise, a feeling of love for everything or nothing in particular, and a concrete connection to my Master who made it all happen.

To have your entire life put in perspective, to have your future path mapped out for you with so much understanding, I can't help but feel blessed. I have big shoes to fill and I will fill it best I can!

Vaazhum Valaru


In Vaazhum Valaru (Living Legend) Swamiji returned to his home town of Tiruvannamalai, spending 3 days recounting his history and his path to enlightment.

Outside of the wedding hall where he gave his discourses we had roamed the streets in processions and were taken to see the special places he had spent his time as a kid.

It was a great experience but with over 1000 participants there was the long food queues, the pushing and shoving, the stampedes and the crush to unclutch from!

Back in Tiruvannamalai

Ma Kamaa on Arunachala Hill

Nithyanandam is over. It had been 12 days of extremely intensive meditation and I am extremely grateful to have been able to attend it. We were told not to disclose course details (so as not to spoil the fun for non-participants who wish to sign up for the next one). What I can say though is that I've felt real changes happen during and after the course. My mind chatter is now almost non-existant. The sweet blissful high I felt during my first Kundalini awakening I feel now every time I meditate, and sometimes when I am not! And friends staying in the ashram but not participating in the course have said that the participants actually look different physically after completing the course. Swamiji had worked on our Sangeetha Karmas during the period and we emerged as Tabula Rasas, clean slates unencumbered by the burden of our pasts. I guess it was written on our faces!

I travel to Tiruvannamalai with Ma Kamaa, an extremely blessed american lady who is a Poojacharya at the LA ashram, and Ma Vibhuuti.

To come back to this town again is such a blessing. This time around I am able to feel the peace welling up from the very ground of this place as a very real sensation. Inside Arunachalaeswara temple I am overcome with a very solid wave of energy each time I near a diety for Darshan. I was not able to feel any of this the first time around. The Nithyanandam course must have done something to me!

My Agnya and Sahasrara which had been very active since the course go into overdrive here. A strong buzzing feeling and pressure in the Sahasrara, and an intense throbbing in the agnya.

Last night Ma Kamaa tells me one night that she had a darshan of Shiva and Ganesha while staring at my face. She saw them between my Agnya and Sahasrara and that they were working on my transformation.

Kamaa herself has had so many inexplicable things happen to her. And here in the spiritual center of India the experiences are really ramping up for her. But I am not allowed to blog about them =P.