There was excitement in the air as our group of Gurukulum students and SRSG Ashram staff started preparing for the trip to Tarkeshwar. Swami Veda had directed us to go to Tarkeshwar during Summer 2009 for an intensive spiritual retreat. I had heard and read about Tarkeshwar and was excited that now I would see the mystery unfold.
Our cars needed to stop along the way to pick up groceries such as subzi (vegetables) and rice; this owing to the fact that Tarkeshwar is an isolated place and provisions need to be carried in, especially for a large group such as ours. We reached Tarkeshwar by mid-afternoon.
Tarkeshwar is situated at a height of 6500 feet. There is an ashram there called Maheshwari Das or Sadhana Mandir. As we walked the path to the ashram, we were mesmerized by the panoramic beauty of this place. The temple is further down and is surrounded by 120-150 foot tall pine trees, creating a haven for spiritual retreat. Nobody knows how ancient the temple of Tarkeshwar is. There is an idol in this temple that is said to have emerged naturally from the earth. The temple is named after a demon called Tarakasur who was killed by Lord Shiva’s son, Kartikeya. Swami Rama was born in a village near to Tarkeshwar. There is a cave just a short walk from the ashram where Swami Rama did six months tapasya.
I am from Garhwal myself, but I had never witnessed such a beautiful place secured in the interior of the Himalayan Mountains. There are two ponds of water. Pilgrims use this water for bathing and other purposes. It is believed that this water has healing powers. Carrying water from the pond for everyday use, sharing rooms, helping the staff in cooking meals, here we were reintroduced to the joy of simple living. Our group felt more connected as family than ever. The entire place is so peaceful and serene, the energies there can induce a meditative state without any effort. The constantly ringing bells of the temple vibrated in the body like the resounding echo of the cosmos, naturally inducing the state of Nada-Yoga.
The environment is very pure around the temple. The breeze through the trees seems to whisper something in the ears. The weather was so cool, like thousands of air conditioners working together. This is an apt place for sadhana and silence. I did not feel like speaking anything, just becoming a part of the valleys, that beauty which lies inside myself too. I felt a sense of completeness, as my mind did not wander anywhere else.
I remembered Swami Rama’s words, “Live with Nature, Walk with Nature and Eat with Nature.”
- Submitted by Rahul
Tarkeshwar Mahadev’s temple is situated in the mountains of Uttarakhand. This place gives us a very beautiful view of the Himalayas. It seems that the Himalayas originate here because you can see four mountain chains sprouting from this place. Tarkeshwar is surrounded by devadaru and pine trees. It is said that Lord Tarkeshwar (Shiva) himself is resting in peace under the shadow of the devadaru trees after destroying the whole world. You need to ring many bells to wake the Lord Shiva because he is in deep sleep.
Devadaru trees are king of that area. Early in the morning when the sun rises, you can see them competing with each other. Every tree wants to see the Lord Sun and pray to bathe in his light. This is why those trees have grown high. The name suggests that the gods themselves stay in those trees and do a Parikrama (devotional circumambulation) of the Lord Shiva.
People go to Tarkeshwar in search of peace. I also went with the same purpose. I went from one tree to another, one mountain to another. Everywhere I found an awful sound and that was my mind. I looked at the trees for a long time. Sometimes, I touched the trunk of one of them and gave my ears to hear something good from them, but my eyes filled with tears. If you are filled with mind pollution, go to a Devadaru tree. Stand at the root and try to look at the top of it; you will find that your ego has vanished and only peace remains.
- Submitted by Acharya Chandramani Shastri, a Sanskrit Scholar and head Gurukulam teacher.