Jyotir Lingum Yatra
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Yesterday we traveled by bus to the 8th Jyotir Lingum at Nageshwar. Happily, they overestimated the length of the bus ride, which was closer to 4.5 hours vs. 6 hours each way. The driver was really hauling butt, though. I certainly could not read or knit with all of the bumps!
In any case, we arrived shortly after noon, and did not have to wait very long at all to be accommodated by the priests. Dozens would have been happy to help us, but for whatever reason we were lead by what seemed to me to be a team of brothers. I smiled at what to me seemed like a little sibling rivalry.
This temple was set up in something of an usual fashion. Where the lingum is usually visible while one is in the que, this lingum was actually in a sort of underground chamber that we had to all climb down to get into for darshan. The chamber itself was a steam bath, very chaotic and crowded. Again and again I am grateful for our teachers, Anandi Ma and Bapuji, because there is no way otherwise I would ever have access to these kinds of places and experiences otherwise!
Even the orientation of the temple was unusual, and if I heard the legend correctly, the temple shifted from facing east due to some yogic phenomenon, but I will have to get all the details at a later date. Undoubtedly, though, the effects of centuries of worship were absolutely pallatable in this place, and many members of the group, including yours truly, enjoyed meditating here.
There was a point where the chanting of the priests, the recorded "Om Namah Shivaya" loop, babies crying, people yelling, and bells clanging was overwhelming, and I could imagine how one's sanity could be challenged in this environment. Being able to quiet one's own mind would be crucial.