– By Katarina Mitra (Sarasvati), Katarina is a mystic based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
I grew up in a home where Hindu Gods were no foreign phenomena, my mother studied the Yoga Sutras and my father was well versed in many ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts. When I was around 6 years old I opened two books, one was Western Religions and one was Eastern Religions, I immediately felt drawn to the Eastern one, it felt right in my heart and I felt a sense of peace and understanding. When I opened a page which was a spread of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and I was fascinated, so I asked my father, wow what is this? He said, those are Hindu Gods, in India they have many Gods and Goddesses, it is called polytheism. I was so happy to discover polytheism, which meant many in one. It sparked something within me and I took a better look at the Gods and I said to him, I understand father, Brahman is the one and all these Gods are us, the manifestations of Brahman. Somehow Hinduism made sense to me in an early age, and that view remained to be my primary view of reality through out life, no matter what spiritual path I was immersed at the time. My ethnicity is Eurasian, I am born in former Yugoslavia, a place near the passage between East and West in the most Eastern part of Europe, we had many empires, Persian, Ottoman, Roman and so on pass through, so I can certainly conclude that some interesting genetics have mixed in from who knows when. This may have explained my connection to Hindu Gods at an early age, but it could have been just simply karma, we are time travelers, our souls never die.
Before my father passed away he told me that there is one thing I must do, which was to go to India and learn everything there is to learn, because India was the place in this modern world which held the secrets of the universe. He said, you will learn everything you need to know there. I waited a long time until I was ready, and at the age of 29 I took my first trip. When I arrived in Delhi I felt such warmth from the land, I felt like I came to a familiar place, and the first morning I woke up I spent in tears crying because I heard so many names of the divine chanted all around me, I felt like I finally found a place which resonated with my soul.
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Traveling in India as a woman alone is dangerous and yet somehow I managed to stay well and generally safe on my pilgrimages. Often in times of danger, I would call the names of Hindu Gods for help and I was somehow protected, at times I had to use my danda and at other times many Indian families and Sadhus also helped me, fed me and protected me on my journey of finding what my father sent me out to find.
In between all the manifestations of Gods and Goddesses, the infinite beauty of the divine within and out, I have found my most favorite place, which was the Ganga. The first time I saw her, I knew I found it, I found God, I found what I was looking for all my life and I cried. I fell into some sort of a divine trance, I walked bare foot in Varanasi where this took place, because I saw how holy the place was. I was let into the Hindu only temple in this trance, and I saw the beauty of the Shiva Lingum at the Vishwanath temple and I felt I was receiving blessings. Somehow everything I was seeking was there in this holy river, so I continued to follow her to Rishikesh. She made me feel blissed out, at peace and connected to what I was truly seeking. She was enlightenment itself, this is why and I finally understood who Mother Ganga was. She is liberation, this is why she sits on top of Shivas jata, she is the Sahasrara chakra, she is Moksha. The Ganga showed me the truth, she showed me the essence of the self and the universe which was only love. This word love is too limited to describe it, Sanskrit has 96 words for love, English only one. Regardless of what the words were, I found what I was looking for and I was blessed.
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India is changing fast and becoming more westernized and modernized while people are losing their ancient culture fast. I can only hope that India will not completely loose its beautiful rich spiritual culture, because India will always be a gateway of enlightenment for me.