A Dip in the Ganga is Spiritually Beneficial
| Pranav Khullar - 11 Sep 2018

A Dip in the Ganga is Spiritually Beneficial

By Pranav Khullar

Maha Kumbh Mela which comes in every 144 years or after 12 Purna Kumbh Melas, is considered to be once in a lifetime occasion for Hindus.

Held only in Prayag (Allahabad), the Maha Kumbh is attended by millions of devotees who take a dip at the holy water. The last Maha Kumbh was held in 2013 and the next will be held after 144 years. Purana Kumbh Mela is held after every 12 years in Allahabad.

Whether you call it the Maha Kumbh or the Great Pitcher Festival, the depth of meaning underlining the celebratory holy dip is unmistakable.

At the heart of the Kumbh, tradition is the story from the Bhagavata Purana, of the tussle between gods and asuras for the Amrit Kalash, the pot of nectar, which will bestow immortality on those who drink the elixir. At the core of this mystical tale lies a metaphor for the inner struggle between our nobler and our baser instincts. When the higher mind is invoked, we get empowered with the nectar of wisdom and immortality.

We acquire the ability to discriminate between the real and the transient. The lower mind, when engaged, will lead to the predominance of illusion and desire, thus creating its own web of 'immortality', where the temporary is taken to be permanent.

The instinct that we choose to follow is a matter of free will, but the great Kumbh tradition seeks to continually remind us of the call of the higher mind. The metaphor is unmistakable: the human body in itself is the Kumbh or pot.

The churning of inner desires is the prelude to gaining the nectar of true knowledge. The kind of churning that takes place is crucial to what it finally yields. Seers and sages set the tradition in motion of an elaborate once-in-12-years Kumbh Mela congregation to help refocus and reorient the mind towards nobler instincts. 

This 12-year cycle was based on certain planetary configurations that the ancients felt were spiritually beneficial, which are believed to create a highly-charged matrix of energy, which naturally propels the mind towards the search for deeper meaning. Kumbh Mela is an opportunity to pause and reflect, and to reassess one's priorities. 

The ritual bath is a symbolic cleansing, of washing off the 'old' mind and its way of thinking, and beginning afresh with a 'new' mind and attitude.

The Kumbh Mela was seen as a celebratory occasion for the average individual to transform himself by welcoming fresh perspective, by mingling with seekers and monks in an ambience of devotion and vairagya - it is no less an occasion for the seekers themselves, to reaffirm and rededicate themselves to the search for the Higher Self.

The 12-year cycles of the Kumbh have been spread over four different destinations, ensuring that the Kumbh happens every three years. 

The pilgrimage and the ritual bath in the river is a reminder that one needs to get recharged in order to delve deeper into the meaning of life. What better way to do this than in a
satsang of like-minded pilgrims and evolved seekers?

The intent of such mega-religious retreats has been to create an opportunity for each one to interact and benefit from listening to the experiences of like-minded pilgrims.

You can do this best by detaching yourself from your daily anxieties, however momentarily. Every Kumbh congregation seeks to replicate the triumph of the gods, the higher mind, over the asuras, the lower mind. In the quest to obtain the elixir (
realisation of Self through wisdom), each dip and bath in the holy river seeks to mirror this very yearning.

It could also prove to be the transition moment from the individual's I-centric point to getting to feel as being part of a collective whole. It is all about seeking and finding the center of one's being. (First published at www.speakingtree.in Being reproduced with the consent of the writer and courtesy to speakingtree)

(The writer is a senior IAS officer in the Govt. of India)

Photo Courtesy - ANI 

Tags:  Ganga; Spiritualism; Pranav Khullar; Maha Kumbh Mela;  which Purana Kumbh Mela; Hindu; Prayag; Allahabad;


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