Shri Jasnath Asan, Rajasthan, India
Photo © Shri Jasnath Asan, 2016
4 Nov 2016
I arrived the same day as the parrots did.
The rose-ringed parakeets, raucous flying rainbows, excitedly explored the drainage pipes coming out of the fortress wall next to the ancient gates. A graceful arc of Indian black ibis flew overhead, a black drango sat on the handle of the bucket that is lowered by rope to bring up water from the well. Water from the Himalayas they said….pure sweet water filtered by 10,000 years of travel down from the world greatest mountain chain. I really am here, I really am. A year of planning, a lifetime of curiosity and love of the natural world and specifically arid lands has brought me to this place. I am here because I need to be, and somehow I fit within the stream of things. May I remain open and receptive to the gifts that are streaming toward me.
Today is a day just to get oriented and take it easy and to begin to merging to join the join the gentle rhythm of this amazing place.
Here I am sitting cross-legged on a polished marble floor in a 500-year-old-ashram, waiting for breakfast that will be served on small 12” squares x 6” high tables with an elegantly simple metal plate, cup and single small bowl. Before we eat I place my hands, palms together fingers outstretched, and mostly listen, but try to recite the Bhojan Mantra with the others in a melodious soft lyrical prayer.
Om Ann Pate
Annoys No Dehy
Pra Pra Dataram
Parish Unjam No Dhehi
Oh God the giver of food!. May you provide us
with healthy and energy producing food.
Grant happiness to those that give food in charity.
May this food provide energy to all living beings.
We had a light breakfast of bahia (porridge) with cashews into which we added fresh pomegranate. On the side we had slices of apple and mango. Exactly the right fuel for a body still a bit tired from jet lag.
I had the honor of meeting with Shree and Guruji after breakfast regarding the international student project. They are very supportive about the project and recognize that the key the future of our planet is keeping the kids connected to the natural world. From its founding the main goal of the ashram, and is that “all humanity will have an abiding connection with ecology.” Isn’t it what we all are seeking? Isn’t what all of our environmental educators in the Park Service, BLM, US Fish and Wildlife, Clark County Wetlands Park and more - all of us working in the Mojave Desert and beyond - are all trying to impart this to people. It is a goal we must realize for the “eyes of the future that are looking back at us, and they are praying that we see beyond our own time.” (Terry Tempest Williams). It must be the goal of all humanity if we are to survive.
After some discussion we have decided that the STEAM Global project in Rajasthan will mirror what is going on in southern Nevada. We will be picking 15-18 students, ages 8-12, and taking them on at least 3 field trips into the wildland regions of the Thar Desert. During their journey the students will photograph the life and landscapes they find there. The instructors and I will be guiding them to a better understanding of the fragile nature of arid lands and discuss adaptations of the flora and fauna to make their living in a seeming harsh environment. Additionally we will be teaching Leave No Trace principles to the Indian kids but will be adding will be adding a uniquely yogi layer … a trataka (a mindfulness exercise) plus a walking meditation exercises to get the kids to be “mindfully present” through yoga methods before they get off the bus to explore the desert.
At days end we gather at the most sacred part of the ashram, the temple where the mortal remains of 16 generations of Gurus have been interred after they chose to transition we have our puja - a dance, drumming and chanting event. A daily bringing together of souls and a demonstration of respect and a celebration of community.
I will sleep well tonight.
Along the Way
Panchla Siddha, India
Sharon K. Schafer
I paint, photograph, and speak about wild places in an act of reciprocity that is as vital to me as heartbeat or breath.
My interest in the magic and mystery of the natural world lies at the intersection of art and science.
Made possible through
the generosity of
Artists for Conservation
Generous support and inspiration provided by
Shri Jasnath Asan