| A Generic Yatra Blueprint |
Can one undertake a yatra in a more organized way? Well, several devotees
have put in efforts to document their preparations so that it will be of help
to others. Here is one more such attempt:
* Do a complete yatra sankalpa in your mind. Sankalpa as in mentally preparing
oneself - ideas wise; not the sankalpa ritual.
** You have come to know about a yatra or place from somebody who has done it. Ask for all the details
- the nitty gritty details. Read up the literature, especially on the internet (search google!).
** Ask yourself- does this kind of yatra fit in with your spiritual goals and practices?
Are you getting the inner desire or urge to do it as a special seva to your
Ishta Devata? If so, desire to undertake the journey - it should be an inner call and
journey that goes along with the external yatra. Intensifying your devotion to
your Devi/Devata in your yatra efforts is very important.
** Dont get distracted by 'group-think'. "Somebody asked me to do - so am
just mechanically doing it - I dont understand the finer points and am not
interested in it - I shall blindly follow". This attitude will not get you the
inner satisfaction or progress that others have accomplished with such yatras. And
it exposes you to arguments of the futility and wastefullness of the effort.
* Start planning about two months in advance.
** Design a 40 day sadhana period (the yatra would be the culmination)
- the every day spiritual routine -
***early morning session: prayers (chants, bhajans) and meditations
***the yoga practices, pranayama and dharana / dhyana.
**** to keep the body, mind and spirit in fit form.
***the eating habits
**** think in terms of new philosophy of food intake
rather than in terms of restrictions that are being imposed (and carried
as a burden - this mind-set / cultural hangover / religious descriptions
itself is a self-defeating proposition from a spiritual viewpoint and
represents the degeneration of lofty practices to something you are
not enthusiastic about. Remember that sadhana enthusiasm is a critical
must for any successful yatra - internal and external.)
***evening prayers, chants, bhajans, satsangs and practices.
****the pious folks go in for daily abhisheka, homa etc.
****Has our bhakti increased?
***appropriate upavas and palahar that strengthen the spiritual stamina
rather than weaken it. (If needed, with due doctor recommendation, pop in multi-vitamin tablets
just so you do not starve yourself off vital nutrients).
This upavas is very true for all the five senses as well.
****Cut the gossip - observe mouna and undertake periodic solitude
****Cut the crap readings (tabloids, stinking politics, greed filled
money markets, etc),
****Cut the wrong company instead cultivate satsanga,
****Cut all addictive sensuals: viewings / hearings / smells / touchs / tastes
( the idiot box - TV, FM, the favourite snacking haunt, parties, etc etc),
****Cut the addictive food intake: caffeine, nicotine, alcohol,
as well as all the non-veg gluttony,
****Lead a very conscious, goal oriented daily life! Dont drift!
***decide the 'parameters' of your practice to monitor daily. Obviously, you would monitor
so you can improve and progress - not get dejected or become antagonistic and therefore
fall for comfort of the 'blind-faith' method. It helps to be more conscious in practice. The key words.
Shravana, manana and nidhidhyasana as well as the intense Bhakti for Lord Shiva.
The satsanga and spiritual readings, writings, chantings, japa and meditations etc.
****Have we done our daily spiritual practice with concentration
and with no distractions? What can we do for the next few hours or tomorrow
to ensure that the distractions of today / now will not happen. Think & Act.
****Has our bhakti increased during those times that we focus on Lord Shiva?
****Have we spiritualized our daily normal life activities
#did we do our daily activities and work in the spirit of karma yoga?
#did we do things helpful to others? Compassionately?
#did we pray for others? And handle their inter-personal problems affecting us
with a composed, cool head and warm heart?
#we need to neither succumb to their machinations nor fill up
our minds with resentments and hatred!
#did we pray so that we get the courage and strength to face these situations
in the most appropriate way?
#have we kept up our commitments? Followed dharma?
** Plan and execute the Nitty-gritty details of the external journey
***Hear about the experiences of atleast three successful travellers. But do not be
carried away by their (exclusive) do's and don'ts. Formulate yours!
***Draw a concrete itinerary - the transportation (buses, trains,
flights, taxis, hotels (stay/eating), food points, medical points:
the costs, timings, alternatives as well as difficulties and "do's and dont's".
Also plan what you will do in case of emergencies (think carefully through each of
these possibilities - saying God will take care is NOT an answer (God gave us the brains
so that we can use it effectively and not trouble Her with these matters)):
accidents, injuries, bandhs, inclement
weather, getting robbed, urgent call from home. Neither should worrying and anxiety be
the response! Neither Money nor Insurance may be an answer in many circumstances.
Fully preparing and planning ahead helps!
***Draw up the itinerary and commitments from the travel agencies
****they 'sell high and deliver low!' - so be careful and do the homework to avoid disappointments.
****choose the right one based on several references -- especially those
who think like you and have similar values ( you might discover that
the person whom you trusted for the earlier experience might be having a
very different level of satisfaction and might be vaguely be very positive
-- your assessment of the same yatra after your trip will indicate this).
*** Make a luggage list for packing up for the yatra. When badly done, a lot of
unnecessary stuff is carried around and the most useful items are left out.
**** The clothings: Daily wear, externals (coats, sweaters), puja/temple wear,
rain wear, shoes, head gear, UV protection, dust protection etc
****The baggage: boxes versus lockable bags versus backpacks versus handbags.Decide.
****Medicine list: Palliatives, Preventives, First Aid, Energy boosters, etc
****Books kit: spiritual readings and writings (diary), guide books (lonelyplanet etc),
local language translations book, addresses book, Marking labels etc
****Survival kit: pen knife, scissors, rope, mug, sewing kit, torchlight, pen, paper etc etc
****electronics accessories: camera, tape player, battery charger, batteries, etc.
****the monies + travel documents + identification papers bag.
***Make the purchases.
****advanced reservation tickets, puja items, insurance, medicine, dress, shoes, sandals etc
** On the appointed day / time, start with a simple but effective formal
sankalpa - visit a Lord Ganesha temple and start the (40 day) sadhana.
*** do the coordination follow up. Nothing is ever done with out planning for followups..
** Put in all efforts to make your sadhana successful both before and during the yatra.
Yes, there will be a number of surprises and a number of hurdles
in the practise of the sadhana from people around as well as the circumstances.
*** The more you are dependent on others or on material resources for your sadhana
the more the inconveniences - do the mental tapas inside and observe peace outside.
** After the Yatra, close the sadhana with a formal thanksgiving to the Lord -
visit the Lord Ganesha temple.
*** Meditate and document the lessons learnt and experiences blessed
with. Not many do this vital activity.
*** Ask? Have you become a better human being as well? Better on the virtues of
Bhakti and Viveka and wisdom and patience and compassion and understanding?
*** Have we spent the time, energies, opportunities and monies effectively? Introspect!
Are there better ways of doing the various activities given a future opportunity?
It is not necessary that the Yatra has to be to a far and inaccessible place. It could the nearest hill town with a shrine
to a Devi or Devata. In India, notable are the shrines in Uttaranchal or places down south like Thiruvannamalai. The
most important aspect of the yatra is the devotion and the 'tapas' that goes with it. |