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Varanasi, once Banares

I was here where this video is shot. And I saw these people and felt what they speak. Paramahansa Yogananda and his guru, Sri Yukteswar, were in Varanasi when it was still called Banares. Vanranasi is considered the holiest of cities in India.

The streets are small, narrow and crowded. The Ganges, the most sacred river to Hindu, flows by filled with signs of life and the not-so-enticing signs of death. People bathe, swim, drink from and do ablutions in the Ganges as it flows by with bodies both alive and dead, human and animal. The ghats and funeral sites are always overflowing with life and celebrations of death. Many people seek Varanasi as the place to breath their last, so there is a daily patrol to find and remove the bodies whose last light was seen in Varanasi.

Shortly after I returned from my first trip to India, Jerry Garcia died and his band went to Varanasi, walked into the Ganges and paid tribute. I felt the holiness of the site, but I also saw – as an American – that this is the 5th most polluted river in the world. Being rowed down the Ganges in a boat that held eight people was a most enlightening view of cultural differences.

Yet, it was beautiful, stark and peaceful. At the same time, I was also concerned about being immersed in the Holy Ganges if the boat capsized. I was not, but still I returned from India with Typhoid Fever. Can’t blame the Ganges.

This is a short 2 minutes video that reminded me of my trip that I want to share. It is called Beyond:

The full video is also available for viewing:



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Gratitude is the key to success.

Gratitude is the key to harmony with the Universe.

— Chesa Keane