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Spiritual inward journey far away from home

Updated on June 14, 2011

Finding Buddha in the land of my ancestors

After four months teaching at the school in Teesta Valley, we set off on a journey to explore some of the Indian states. I had been to India several times before but never had the courage to visit Bihar, where my ancestors came from over a 100 years ago.

There are several reasons I did not make this journey.

  • When I was growing up in a very multicultural society, although at home we lived a Hindu life, I did not feel any particular attachment to India, having never been there.
  • My ancestors left Bihar because it was and still is one of the poorest state in India and if they had not left, my destiny as a woman would have been terrible (well for me it is unimaginable what I would have been)!
  • Bihar is renowned for the land of Goondas and bandits. This is where Phoolan Devi the famous Bandit Queen, who tried to right the wrongs committed to the poor and the women, was from.

But in the end somewhere deep inside, we all have the desire to know who we really are and to get there we have to know where we come from as far back as we can go.

My interests in Bihar grew over the last 15 years or so when I started reading about Buddha. Buddha was an Indian Prince from Bihar and he reached enlightenment in Bodhgaya a town found in Bihar.

Buddha Statue

Under the Bodhi tree

Often when I have been back to Mauritius, my paradise homeland, people ask me if I am Italian or some other nationality, but the minute we got to Bihar, people were asking me if I was Bihari in bhojpuri, which I know a little because my great grand parents and grand parents still spoke bhojpuri in Mauritius!

I suddenly realised that I fitted in this society and even felt at home there. Our travels took us to the Bodhi (peepal in hindi) tree where Buddha found enlightenment. Actually, the spot is meant to be the same spot and the original tree died but this tree was a sappling of a sappling of the original tree.  Even if this was not the original tree, when I sat there, I felt that I had finally come home.

The presence of something divine can be felt all around Bodhgaya.

3 day Vipassana

After the Bodhi tree experience we decided to do a 3 day meditation course in one of the ashrams in Bodhgaya. Vipassana is an intense form of meditation because you meditate about every single action you carry out. So when you wake up in the morning you mentally tell yourself that you are waking up. When you have your shower, you mentally tell yourself what you are doing. This clears your mind from all the other hindering thoughts and you stay totally in the present moment. We did walking meditation for hours, but each session was one hour and you walk very slowly as you are so connected to each move.

Then eating was another completely different experience! You have to recite in your head as you are bringing food to your mouth, chewing food, swallowing food and so on. I never realised how many steps are involved in all the things we do everyday. But it was the 3 longest days of my life. I was absolutely exhausted from doing very little. We did have one laughing fit when my husband and I looked up at each other at the same time while eating and it was such a hilarious scene that the hilarity of the situation dawned on us at the same time. This was of course controlled very quickly under the disapproving looks of the monks.

During my last hour of walking meditation before finishing the course, my mind suddenly went off like a wild horse. I had just finished writing my first novel, The Snake Spirit Part 1 The Fire Giver and had no idea about Part 2 and in that one hour I could see clearly everything that happens and how the story ends. My mind had emptied totally of everything that there was great creativity that was released.

I don't know if this happens to everyone, but it also happened to my husband, who designed our home in Mauritius in that hour...although we still have not built that house and I still have not finished Part 2 of my novel...


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    • ManuPria profile image

      ManuPria 6 years ago from India

      That's a great spiritual experience, Chaya!

      I find it very difficult to stay at the present moment. I need to try Vipassana meditation. Thanks for the hub :)

    • Carole Anzolletti profile image

      Carole Anzolletti 6 years ago from The Phantom Queen's Labyrinth

      I love this entry, and am reading it at a very pivotal time in my own life. I am a firm believer in everything for a reason, everything has its own time and season...thanks for sharing this, and am grateful to have found it!

    • Chaya Parmessur profile image

      Chaya Parmessur 6 years ago from FRANCE

      Author's response to comments:

      Caroline : we all have another side to us. I am glad I could share this side with you(as well as the partying side=)) )

      Paola and Paul : I figured out that writing hubs was the only way to get you guys talking to me again! Thanks for your support and your humour Paul...I really think you could write some hilarious hubs and become an ace hubber.

      Luvna : Thanks for your very encouraging comment and hope to keep writing with inspirations from all you great people out there!

    • profile image

      Luvna 6 years ago

      Hi Chaya Didi,

      I love how you describe your experience in Bihar. It very inspiring and captivating.

      I believe that someone who go forward and experience things with an open mind, are bond to become a better person inside.

      Love it!



    • profile image

      Paul Foxall 6 years ago

      Hi Chaya,

      What a great idea!

      I too have been in the “spiritually moving situation” of sitting across the table from Rich trying not to laugh while watching him eat!

      How on earth did you manage to get him to slow down and walk?

      On a serious note, it’s a pleasure to be able to share in these personal insights into your rich and varied life experiences.

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      paola lai foxall 6 years ago

      Thank you Chaya, really enjoyed it. I immediately immagined the scene of you and Rich eating and meditating as a movie scene... It could really work!

      Keep going on, I'll be waiting for further updates with interest.

    • profile image

      Caroline 6 years ago

      I had no idea about this side of your life Chaya - looking forward to reading more ..