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In my opinion, the philosophy held within religions offer very useful supports to manage one’s own mind.
Mind control of one’s own mind.
And when one is on a downward spiral mentally, one needs the toughest controls.
Now, everyone at some time or the other says or does things that one regrets. Some regrets are easy to get over and others are harder to deal with.
And that’s when forgiving oneself becomes difficult and the spiral begins.
And so many religions have a way out – a ritual or a ceremony through which the universe or God or the greater power is called upon to forgive that sin.
In Hinduism, bathing in the Ganga is that ritual.
Ganga Snaan – the healing ritual for washing off your sins, cleansing your soul and starting afresh.
In Hindi we have a saying: “Maano to Bhagwaan – Na maano to patthar”.
Which means that if you believe, it is God and if you don’t believe it is just a stone. Faith is the demand of every religion.
So if you believe, this ritual works well as mind control.
Here I was trying to perform the Ganga Snaan solemnly.
Knowing that my list of sins is large enough to fill up the ocean, I wasn’t very hopeful of the river washing off much. Yet there I was.
One tentative step at a time I went down the ghat.
The young girl – the caretaker of the homestay – told me to take a deep breath and go on in.
I suspended all thought and went in.
Thinking is the problem… thinking of how cold it was debilitating me – so I had to stop all thoughts and just act.
Went in upto the shoulders. And it was toooo cold. And then to escape from the sensation of the glacier-cold water, I immersed myself completely – head into the water – a Dubki. All the time both my arms had to hold on to the iron railing – letting go would have swept me off and would have been fatal.
During snorkeling, I’ve learnt to hold my breath … sometimes we deep-dive to see more than surface snorkeling would allow. And so I did that. The most magical thing about being under water is how the ears sense the environment completely differently. Even in the still ocean, the sound of the world above is drowned out as salt water fills up the ears.
But here in the Ganga, the powerful sounds of the gushing icy flow was thunderous and filled up my ears more than ever before. And with eyes wide open inside the water watching the blurry petals hurtling past me and breath held tight – I was transported into a higher realm of sensation. Maybe caused by mild asphyxia? A state that many experiment with? Who knows if it is the same feeling that they are after!
I could have stayed there forever.
Each dubki (head-in immersion) made me want more. And I ended up doing 11 dubkis – an auspicious number.
Next time I will do 108.
I don’t know about washing off sins. I don’t know about cleansing.
What I do know is that the brain-freeze and soul-freeze of those moments in the water had a brilliance to it that cannot be explained in words – it has to be experienced.
I also don’t know about meditation. But I did sit at the banks for hours that day. And watched the flow of the river and the sights of other people’s devotion. And allowed a blank mind. And thoughts to descend upon me. New thoughts came. New perspectives. New plans for change. Maybe that is a fresh beginning?
Maano to Bhagwan – Na maano to Patthar.