365 Places: Rishikesh
Day 44: Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
Today we return to the realm of places of desire. Rishikesh is a place where I would love to go, partly because of its connection to the hippy trail and partly because of its location, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Rishikesh is also known as a spiritual epicentre and nicknamed “the world capital of Yoga”. Apparently, there are numerous yoga centres that also attract tourists, and that is an interest for us, as we would love to go to a retreat for a couple of weeks. Mr Wikipedia says “It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of moksha, as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it.”
To expand, moksha is a central concept in Hinduism and means emancipation, liberation or release. In eschatological sense, it connotes freedom from saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth. In epistemological and psychological sense, moksha connotes freedom, self-realization and self-knowledge. (From Wikipedia, primary sources listed below)
Rishikesh arguably became famous to the western world when the Beatles went there in the late 1960s to stay at an ashram. Other musicians who later went to Rishikesh to meditate include the Beachboys and Donavan.
We have been talking about a trip to India starting in Rishikesh and travelling down to Kerala, staying with some friends along the way. Aside from the fascinating spiritual context of Rishikesh, we are drawn by the Ganges and the stunning mountain backdrop. It seems like a wonderful starting point for exploring India. What do you think? Any hints?
John Bowker, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0192139658, pp. 650
T. Chatterjea (2003), Knowledge and Freedom in Indian Philosophy, ISBN 978-0739106921, pp 89-102; Quote – “Moksa means freedom”; “Moksa is founded on atmajnana, which is the knowledge of the self.”
E. Deutsch, The self in Advaita Vedanta, in Roy Perrett (Editor), Indian philosophy: metaphysics, Volume 3, ISBN 0-8153-3608-X, Taylor and Francis, pp 343-360;
Jorge Ferrer, Transpersonal knowledge, in Transpersonal Knowing: Exploring the Horizon of Consciousness (editors: Hart et al.), ISBN 978-0791446157, State University of New York Press, Chapter 10
Arvind Sharma, (2000), Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction, Oxford University Press