By Biljana Vozarevic
Some people may think that I went to Kailash to take photos in front of the mountain, which I did 🙂
but yatra is much more than that. It is the pilgrimage to go within and all the circumstances help you to connect to the deepest in yourself. To be uplifted, and to be transformed.
When I came back, a lady doctor at a routine control for infectious diseases for people coming from the high-risk countries such as Nepal, asked me, “Did you have a good time?” “Yes, I did have a good time,” I said, which is a big euphemism for what I went through these days. I had a challenge. I had an opportunity. I had tests. I had situations which invoked the triumph of pure spirit. The experience was really epic for me.
Some time before the trip, when Mohanji was asked how to be eligible for Kailash, he said, “Eligibility for Kailas pilgrimage? If you have faith bigger and taller than Mount Kailas, if your conviction is wider than the dimensions of Manasarovar, if you have zero pretensions, if your surrender to the Lord is absolute, there are no further eligibility criteria. Grace is all you need and faith is the key to ensure grace. This journey is tough. It will test your mettle, your faith, your conviction and commitment to the path of liberation. This is the ultimate pilgrimage! Hence, grace is inevitable, more essential than oxygen. When you face adversities with faith and surrender, the journey will be smooth and enjoyable. When you approach it with expectations and doubts, you will only encounter problems and difficulties. We can decide to go to Kailas. But, unless the Lord permits, we cannot make it. Hence, faith, conviction, silence, prayers, surrender and observation are essential. Kailas has to be experienced, felt, witnessed, and not “seen”. Kailas represents the ultimate aspiration of mankind. Kailas is the ultimate destination. Kailas is Shiva, the state that you are coming from, but forgot as you lived. Shiva is the state that mankind aspires for. This is a journey to the state of our aspiration. This is a journey to the state of Shiva, the consciousness of Shiva, the supreme consciousness. Do not take this trip to “see”. Take this trip to be aware, to feel, to melt. Prepare yourself by increasing your conviction and determination to weather any storms and obstacles. Detach yourself from expectations. Surrender to Shiva and request His support. Be Shiva and you will merge with Kailas spontaneously. Shiva and Kailas are ONE. Silence… Peace… Silence… Peace.. Silence… Peace…”
Before the trip I had several obstacles preventing me from even thinking about it. Mohanji removed them. One of the obstacles was my knee problem where doctor forbade me running or hiking. As a long distance runner it was very difficult for me. But in the end it turned out that I could go to Kailash… It is true that I did per forty sun salutations 4-5 days per week, and 360° meditation every day for a month before the trip. I also chanted Om namah shivaya, as Mohanji says it is a walking stick for this pilgrimage. Yet I knew that only grace would take me there smoothly, without obstacles.
At the hotel in Katmandu I talked briefly to Mohanji and he said, “ You can walk. You have that energy. You may take a porter or pony, but you don’t need it.” THAT gave me the courage to decide not to take either a porter or pony. I was going to be my pony and sherpa. I was going to carry my rucksack myself all the way! When it was time to hire a porter or pony, several people asked me twice, because it was strange and too risky. They said, “Parikrama is tough. You don’t know what could happen along the way. It is full of unpredictability and uncertainty. Take it just in case.” The advice was reasonable, logical and out of good will. But I said no. I was determined, not because of stubborn wish to prove myself. I completely trusted Mohanji’s words. I knew God is potent. God is powerful. He is also merciful and I strongly believed he would allow it. I wanted to celebrate God with my walk. Mohanji was giving me energy. It was enough to surrender.
Mohanji told us, “My task was to bring you to Manasarovar. From Manasarovar onwards is up to your karma. Good luck I’m with you.” And he wished us a successful parikrama. We were there as we were attracted to that huge shiva lingam, high energy place, abode of Shiva himself. Nobody can go there unless Shiva calls. And nobody leaves empty-handed. But to gain anything one must be empty first.
We did preparations on Manasarovar, chanted various chants for cleansing the mind, we participated in Homa ritual which additionally cleansed us. Mohanji took a lot of karmas on himself. Many people do not know how demanding it is for his body. And we became even lighter. We put some seeds and gi into the fire, focusing our mind on removing obstacles. We also did aarti to Kailash, facing it. We could also wish blessings for our family. It all continued for hours and for our own benefit. We were in a kind of half-trance. Mohanji distributed to each of us two rudraksha malas which had been dipped in Manasarovar and blessed by him. I was deeply touched by this gesture. We were also given three silver pieces, a trishul, a snake and a four-petal flower or a four-leaf clover. We threw that into Manasarovar lake as an offering to Kailash. All the time we paid attention not to turn our back to Kailash.
In the evening, we were called to room 25 for prasad. I knew it was important to use every chance for accepting good wishes or blessings, and though my apetite was low, I went. Surprisingly, I saw Pandiji who was tying a red or yellow thread on our wrist. I was surprisingly touched by this gesture, happy and grateful for this honest, heart-felt support and wishing good luck from his heart. He has the power to bless. He’s a priest from Katmandu, Nepal and he came to Manasarovar for a few days, hosting the pooja ritual there and after that, coming along with us for Kailash parikrama..
I knew that on parikrama what will take us is grace. Keeping the attitude of surrender and trusting that god is merciful, we set off on that once-in-a-lifetime journey.
Day 1. Parikrama started at Yama Dwar. It is a place also called The Gate of Immortality. The idea is to tell your mind that you are leaving your past behind you completely. There are many prayer flags there and some people also leave a piece of clothes there, symbolically detaching from things, past and everything that is transitory and what is not a person o being itself. We walked around Yama Dwar three times and then went through it and rang the bell inside. On coming out, I immerged uplifted with this ceremony which served like a kick-start for parikrama. Reactivation for new life ahead 🙂
This first day was warm with sunshine, we carried winter jackets as we were prepared for cold or even hostile weather. But it was hot, fortunately I wore a T-shirt so I carried two jackets in hands. Day was such a gift, like a kiss from divine. It motherly nurtured us along the way. The air was dry and I sipped water to keep hydrated. The terrain was more or less plain so it was like a mild preparation for what awaited us the next day. I met Pandiji and he gave me an apple wedge which was in that walk particularly refreshing and nourishing. We also saw an animal that I had never seen before. It was something between a squirrel and a monkey… We continued at his pace till the end.
Day 2. The second day we started early, at about 7 o’clock I picked my rucksack and went. It was chilly and fresh and very pleasant for walking. At first it was dry, but later it rained several times, as if the weather was doing abishek to us blessing us, so even during these showers it was still very friendly :). The first part of the track was uphill, along with narrow track and later it was covered with stones the size of melons and watermelons. I was grateful for good hiking shoes keeping my ankles stable. Even for ponies it was difficult to climb. They struggled with the stones carrying people or bags on their backs. I counted and synchronised my breaths and steps – one, two – inhale – one, two – exhale. Then as my heart rate increased I changed to one step – inhale, one step – exhale. As I was approaching the peak i.e. Dolma La Pass, my heart rate started beating even faster, so I inserted 10-20 second breaks. I went 10-20 steps then I made 10-20 second break then again… In that way I kept my walking steady. At that most difficult part, a Tibetan lady offered me a candy. I don’t usually eat candies but at that moment I felt very grateful to her for such act of kindness, as the candy was well lubricating the throat in dry air. It melted in my mouth and breathing was easier and added necessary energy.
Suddenly I felt somebody pushing me from behind. Was it a pony? Well several times it was a pony, ha, ha, but this time it was pushing me forward. Some unknown man from Tibet or at least he looked like a Tibetan, started pushing me from behind holding his hand at the bottom of the rucksack so I (we) speeded up. It lasted a few minutes. It was like a surge of pace and again grace. If he had asked me to help me to carry my bag, I would have flatly refused with “No, thank you.” But this man didn’t even ask! Lol. No coincidences. I thanked him and continued.
At Dolma La Pass, a lady started singing… I felt triumphant, though I was aware that there was still a long way to go. Then soon at the beautiful, turquoise Gauri Kund lake I met Mohanji and hugged him. I’ll always remember that hug. I was out of this world to share that moment with him. I joined the group and we continued carefully downwards together. After that we had a short break at a tent where some of us took refreshments or hot meal and we continued 12 km along the plain track. That latest part I was mostly on my own.
Day 3. The third part of parikrama consisted of 8km walk and after taking pictures with the sense of achievement, the rest of the way we went by bus.
Finished. Ultimate pilgrimage done. It is what happened on the outside. What happened inside I cannot explain. This year is the year of horse according to the Chinese calendar and parikrama is equal to 12 parikramas other years. So each step did 12 times more cleansing and churning. With Mohanji’s grace, we used this once-in-a-lifetime chance well. I did what I though I couldn’t. The thought that it’s beyond my possibilities lost its authority, and THAT was liberating. Besides that, I live with new, fresh, deeper tranquility now.
Read Bilja’s other Kailash experiences: