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India Princeton Day School
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    [post_content] => “Horns honking, motorbikes buzzing, a city of chaos. Pushing through the bustling streets, vendors shout out why their product is best. An intricate, but massive statue of Shiva watches me as I cross the street. A beggar follows as I weave through the reckless traffic. Harmonious Sikh prayers ring around my ears. The melody grows louder and I follow the sound. I turn a corner and am confronted with pure beauty. A milk-white temple, detailed with gold, Sikhs praying and hymns filling my ears. While looking up at this grand masterpiece, I wonder how this spectacular temple could be placed in the middle of such chaos. I did not know this at the time, but now I realize that this was one of many experiences that would prove New Delhi as the city of chaotic perfection.”

“The Gurudwara was a nice place where I could focus on the spirituality within, but also have fun engaging and talking to people as well. To hear the words of the gurus and to see their disciples so devoted to their prayer made me realize how important religion is in one’s life. It was great to see people of all ages bathing and playing in the pool of water. I was honored to get some great photos, and to get to know some of the people.”
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India Princeton Day School

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The Gurudwara

Scott & Ava,India Princeton Day School

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“Horns honking, motorbikes buzzing, a city of chaos. Pushing through the bustling streets, vendors shout out why their product is best. An intricate, but massive statue of Shiva watches me as I cross the street. A beggar follows as I weave through the reckless traffic. Harmonious Sikh prayers ring around my ears. The melody grows […]

Posted On

03/22/15

Author

Scott & Ava

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    [post_content] => “We fear because we do not trust.”
- Puja Swarmiji

“After the fire ceremony, aarti, we went to have satsang with Swarmiji and ask him questions about life. Becca asked how we can control and conquer fear, and his answer was the quote above. At first, I didn’t think much of the quote, but as I write it down and reflect on my life, I realize that I have been “controlled” by my fear. I keep to myself because I don’t know what others will think when I open my mouth, and I don’t know if I’ll be accepted. Fear is the reason I’m quiet, shy, nerdy – whatever you wish to call it. I do not trust that I’ll be accepted. I do not trust that I’ll make friends easily. I do not trust that what I want to say isn’t stupid. Bhagawatiji also told us that anyone who wants us to change for them has a fear of knowing that someone is different from them. You are the real you and you shouldn’t compromise that for anyone. Every nail has a hammer as a counterpart, just like every canvas has a paintbrush. I’ll just have to surround my canvas with paintbrushes who can help me make a picture. I thank India, Swarmiji, Bhagawatiji, for helping me reflect on my life and for helping me find myself.”

“Last night during the satsang, someone asked if they can be spiritual without believing in God. The question really stood out to me, as I feel like I believe in God as a Hindu, but I am not particularly spiritual. Bhagwati’s response to the question made me feel like I might still be spiritual, even though I am not deeply religious and I don’t pray every day. Maybe through my everyday actions I am practicing spirituality."
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India Princeton Day School

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Teachings from the ashram

Michelle & Saarika,India Princeton Day School

Description

“We fear because we do not trust.” – Puja Swarmiji “After the fire ceremony, aarti, we went to have satsang with Swarmiji and ask him questions about life. Becca asked how we can control and conquer fear, and his answer was the quote above. At first, I didn’t think much of the quote, but as […]

Posted On

03/21/15

Author

Michelle & Saarika

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    [post_content] => “As I sat down with an exhausted “huff” on the bench outside the ashram office, I began to gaze around. Silence. Serenity. My eyes were met by the inviting stare of a man dressed in orange robes. His toothless smile told me how welcome I was at his sanctuary. “Namaskar,” I mouthed, with my hands clasped together. He returned the greeting with a gracious nod. Despite my exhaustion from the long hours of travel, I stood up from the bench and walked over to my new friend. After exchanging names with my timid Hindi phrases, I asked him in English: “Why are you here?” – hoping that perhaps I had stumbled upon a high cleric. His soft voice led me through how he had given up his possessions in an attempt to get closer to the divine. This sage man appeared to be truly at peace with himself and the world. This beauty is something I now aspire to achieve.”

“Being here in India is unlike anything I have experienced before. The people we have met are some of the nicest, most caring people I have ever spoken to. Although it can be quite intimidating when people stare or ask to take pictures with us because we look different, we have learned not to worry or take offense because it is just part of Indian culture to be extremely open and friendly. Every time I look around me, I experience something completely new and different. My favorite experience so far was just last night, when we participated in our first aarti, a Hindu fire ceremony. It was incredible to witness something I had learned so much about, and take my understanding of this ceremony to the next level. It was also an honor to be able to sit so close to all of the action, and to get so close to Swarmiji – thanks to Mr Freedholm! This trip has already been a life-changing experience.”

“Crouching, in the stereotypical “stalking pose”, we advanced around the corner. This was our first monkey sighting, so we didn’t want to ruin it. Approaching the monkey, “Todd” as we named him a few seconds prior, we got distracted by a noise coming through the lone red door. Two monkeys jumped out on their hind legs, holding food in their mouth and hands. I sprinted over, and tried to snag a picture. Mid-moment-capturing, Todd comes over screaming. “OH S***!” I leap down the stairs, with the monkey following close behind. He lands on the railing next to my cheek. I nearly fall over in fright, so throw myself out of the door of the stairwell, barely making it to safety.”

“There will always be noise and movement around us, not only in our daily lives at home, but especially in India, walking in between a bull, a car and a dog named Happy. The true moments of self-reflection are stolen, staring into the Ganges River and seeing the cyclical nature of renewal, rebirth and serenity.

“To the people of India, the Ganga means so much. Not only is it a source of beauty, it symbolizes a spiritual awakening that has been manifested by the Goddess Ganga. The serenity found by sitting on the banks of the river is unmatched by anything I’ve seen in India, and is highlighted and exemplified by the gregarious nature of the Indian community.

“The fast water pulls people in, allowing individuals to raft or wash clothes just as easily as the river yields itself as a religious haven for those who have yet to find themselves, to conquer their demons, to conquer fear. The beauty and serenity reaches down into your soul, to where fear is stored, and is eviscerated with the shakti of thousands of years of prayer, reverence, and indisputable blind faith.”
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India Princeton Day School

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Encounters

Devon, Cat, Neil & Shriya,India Princeton Day School

Description

“As I sat down with an exhausted “huff” on the bench outside the ashram office, I began to gaze around. Silence. Serenity. My eyes were met by the inviting stare of a man dressed in orange robes. His toothless smile told me how welcome I was at his sanctuary. “Namaskar,” I mouthed, with my hands […]

Posted On

03/21/15

Author

Devon, Cat, Neil & Shriya

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    [post_content] => “My dad always talks about the necessity of helping others. Giving to others, and helping others, are the number one goals in life. In a place like America, this can sometimes get lost in materialism and pure selfishness. And in America, the people who need help are largely in hiding from my everyday world, so it can be hard to understand why my dad would say something like that. In India, poverty, poor living conditions, poor sanitation etc etc etc exist in complete transparency, and the materialist mindset dissolves. Streets are lined with people looking for anything to help them, even just 10 rupees (about 15 cents). Orange-cloaked holy men, who have rejected all their possessions, will smile at you. They kind of bring clarity to what my dad says. Help others in need. That seems like a pretty basic statement but there is so much truth in it. What is the best way to help people? Can we help everybody? Who needs the most help? There is no answer to these questions, but the worst thing you can do is ignore it and do nothing. The old “at least I tried” is better than “I wish I had tried”.”

“Seeing the kids begging on the side of the road is a moment that really stuck with me. Many members of our group felt so many emotions all at once. Although most felt compelled to help the children, no-one did because we knew there was a bigger problem. Even though some kids turned to begging on their own, many are stuck in a situation where they are working for someone and the money doesn’t even go to them. So while everyone felt a rush of emotions for these children, no-one did anything because it wouldn’t have helped to fix the problem. Thinking back at that moment, all I can think of are those big, brown eyes staring up at me, pleading. This was one of those moments that never would have happened in America. Every once in a while you might see a child begging, but never such big groups.

“Those kids will forever stick with me, and remind me of how lucky I am. The woman with no arms who was begging made me feel such a flood of emotions. Just thinking how hard it must be for her – having no arms and being forced to beg for a living. I feel blessed just to have a whole body and a family who can support me.”
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India Princeton Day School

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Reflections on begging

James & Emma,India Princeton Day School

Description

“My dad always talks about the necessity of helping others. Giving to others, and helping others, are the number one goals in life. In a place like America, this can sometimes get lost in materialism and pure selfishness. And in America, the people who need help are largely in hiding from my everyday world, so […]

Posted On

03/21/15

Author

James & Emma

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    [post_date] => 2015-03-20 14:49:38
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    [post_content] => Mountains surround us all the time here. They never move or flow. Constantly constant. It is us who moves through them. We walk on them, next to them, across them, and they are always willing to protect us. Mother nature. I know that the mountains can and will be bigger and stronger, but these ones here, right snuggled around me, are all I need. India shows me that beauty doesn’t necessarily come from something that contains the most physical beauty, but more its internal beauty and intention. My mountains do not necessarily contain the most beautiful outside, with their sandy façade and bare brown trees, but that’s the beauty of them. They are the way they are.

My mountains hold an unspeakable beauty that isn’t seen or understood by everyone. It’s easy to miss the mountains. Their spiritualness isn’t as noticeable, but it’s there. They contain all the spirit that Rishikesh sends out, they are a spiritual gate. Without them, life here would be different.
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India Princeton Day School

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Mountains

Helen Healey,India Princeton Day School

Description

Mountains surround us all the time here. They never move or flow. Constantly constant. It is us who moves through them. We walk on them, next to them, across them, and they are always willing to protect us. Mother nature. I know that the mountains can and will be bigger and stronger, but these ones […]

Posted On

03/20/15

Author

Helen Healey

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    [post_content] => Today, we walked along the beaches right next to the Ganges River. Although I didn’t go in, I still felt something that made me feel at ease with everything around me and even with myself. For some reason, the rustle of the water didn’t sound like any river or ocean I’ve heard before. It was peaceful, and all of a sudden, I felt like all my troubles washed away. As I watched the ripples fade away into the water, I realized that all my troubles did too. The sand glistened in the sunlight, just like how the aarti ceremony glistened just as the sun set. Now, sitting here on these rocks, I have a chance again, with this cool breeze on this hot day, to feel that feeling again.
    [post_title] => What the river washes away
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India Princeton Day School

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What the river washes away

Ava Herzer,India Princeton Day School

Description

Today, we walked along the beaches right next to the Ganges River. Although I didn’t go in, I still felt something that made me feel at ease with everything around me and even with myself. For some reason, the rustle of the water didn’t sound like any river or ocean I’ve heard before. It was […]

Posted On

03/20/15

Author

Ava Herzer

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    [post_content] => A lot of this trip has been about surrendering to the moment – stopping to make reflections, meditate on our thoughts, and remove ourselves from the life we left at home. India has been like no other place I have visited before – from the photo ops with eager and friendly locals, to aarti at sunset, sitting alongside devotees in long orange robes worshipping their guru, Swarmiji. After a long and brutal day travelling from Delhi to Rishikesh, we finally arrived at the ashram. The second I set foot in the ashram, a wave of relaxation washed over me. I closed my eyes and stood under the adorned arch, taking a pause in all the rush and craziness of travel. I looked out of the gate of the ashram and across the dirt road to the Ganga. Before I realized my feet were moving, I was wal;king towards the turquoise water, as if the holy water itself was pulling me towards it. I walked across the road, dodging wandering cows, crazy motorists, and people dressed in the most colorful and elaborate clothing. I slid my feet out of my shoes and into the cold, white, marbled floor of the riverside temple. A lovely breeze brushed across my face, tangling my hair. The honking horns and speeding vehicles all trying to pass on another interrupted my thoughts. I looked towards the giant statue of Hanuman, and noticed the sun glistening on his shellac skin. I stop, breathe in the smell of greasy street food and cow dung, and try to prepare myself for the next few days staying at the ashram.
    [post_title] => A moment by the river
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India Princeton Day School

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A moment by the river

Tess Gecha,India Princeton Day School

Description

A lot of this trip has been about surrendering to the moment – stopping to make reflections, meditate on our thoughts, and remove ourselves from the life we left at home. India has been like no other place I have visited before – from the photo ops with eager and friendly locals, to aarti at […]

Posted On

03/20/15

Author

Tess Gecha

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    [post_content] => Last night I asked Bhagawatiji (a disciple of Swarmiji) the question of how to control or embrace fear, in the hope of settling an internal dispute I had within me at the time. She answered the question in two parts – consciousness and faith. I was told to recognize my fear, and decide whether it is physical or emotional. In my asking, I was hoping for a sudden enlightenment or nirvana; I got exactly the opposite. As I thought deeper and more intensely of my fear I did not feel at peace or serene, I felt rushed, darkened, and even more scared. This made me question the importance of religion and the ashram. Bhagawati ji continued to answer my question. She told me of three men walking through the jungle. Two began to pray and the third began to question his faith. He said: “I do not believe in faith, because if there was a supreme being, why would he place such heavy pumpkins on such tiny vines, and the light mangoes on such a tall, strong tree?” The others had no answer. They fell asleep under the mango tree for a couple of hours when one woke with a mango falling on his head. Immediately he said – “I take it back, I believe! For the divine has a plan.” After this story I began to think about my perspective in relation to my fears. I have assessed my fears, and I just have to wait. Although I personally do not believe in God, I have in fact come to a realization. When you determine and face what your fears are, you can put them in perspective.
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India Princeton Day School

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Questions of fear

Becca Biros,India Princeton Day School

Description

Last night I asked Bhagawatiji (a disciple of Swarmiji) the question of how to control or embrace fear, in the hope of settling an internal dispute I had within me at the time. She answered the question in two parts – consciousness and faith. I was told to recognize my fear, and decide whether it […]

Posted On

03/20/15

Author

Becca Biros

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    [post_content] => While in India my first impression was that India is a country of pure chaos. While staying in Delhi my opinion did not change. Every day we were greeted by a mob of people that were so curious that they watched us. At India Gate, I felt so scared – I have never felt this way. I was terrified that someone would take me away from the group or would try to steal something from me. Even after leaving Delhi my fear of chaos was still persisting. Until we stepped foot in the ashram. Then I have never been as calm. This truly moved me, as it made me feel as if we were living in an oasis, or an island somewhere. In any case, the most influential moment was when Bhagawatiji made her speech during the aarti. I felt so happy and peaceful that I was not sure what to do other than cry. Thankfully, I was not the only person who cried because almost half the group did at some point in the ceremony. Bhagawatiji made me feel at peace with myself and who I am. She has been the most influential person for me.
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India Princeton Day School

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Chaos and calm

Vasya Paushkin,India Princeton Day School

Description

While in India my first impression was that India is a country of pure chaos. While staying in Delhi my opinion did not change. Every day we were greeted by a mob of people that were so curious that they watched us. At India Gate, I felt so scared – I have never felt this […]

Posted On

03/20/15

Author

Vasya Paushkin

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    [post_content] => What is India? India is a land of contrasts. Everywhere you look, there is at once beauty and ugliness, hope and despair, purity and pollution. Wealth and poverty coexist side by side. You days may be filled with moments of joy, clarity and spiritual affirmation, as well as moments of sadness and confusion. And yet, living in these contrasts, you can experience the wholeness of humanity, a full range of emotions, a thorough activation of the senses. India pulls you in – it challenges you to look within and become more self-aware. It challenges you to look out and question why things are the way they are. It is impossible to come back without being changed, even if just a bit. India has the power to move you into the spaces that are at times chaotic and others serene for the mind and body. It is a shock to the system that awakes us from our complaisance, that tests our boundaries, that challenges our assumptions. And yet India also embraces those who are willing to take the plunge with open hearts and open minds. It can nurture our spirit, our bodies and our understanding of ourselves and the greater force of the world. What is India? It is the sum of humanity, alive in all living beings and the wandering passers-by who engage with its truth.
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India Princeton Day School

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What is India?

Maria Shepard,India Princeton Day School

Description

What is India? India is a land of contrasts. Everywhere you look, there is at once beauty and ugliness, hope and despair, purity and pollution. Wealth and poverty coexist side by side. You days may be filled with moments of joy, clarity and spiritual affirmation, as well as moments of sadness and confusion. And yet, […]

Posted On

03/19/15

Author

Maria Shepard

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