Tuesday, January 29, 2019
The latest from author Andrew Harvey...
This is a rare opportunity to travel with an immensely gifted spiritual teacher.
I am overjoyed to invite you to join me on a pilgrimage of Northern India on a path to Divine Love: Sacred North India, February 13-27, 2020. Although I was born in south India, I spent most of my childhood in the north, in Delhi, and it was there that I first awoke to the magic of India and became saturated in, and permanently changed by, its sacred atmosphere. Each of the places we are going to visit has a profound personal resonance for me, one enriched and expanded by four decades of constant return. It will be an honour to share with you the many-coursed feast of artistic and spiritual beauty this trip so sumptuously lays out.
Our pilgrimage is dedicated to an exploration and celebration of the splendour and radical ecstatic creativity of Divine Love in all of its forms, and the mystical paths to love in Sufism and Hinduism. The Sufi and Hindu vision of Divine Love has had the deepest imaginable influence on my own and I will share my essence of what I have learned from the two traditions as well as three essential heart practices, two from the Sufis and one from the Vedic tradition that you can use for the rest of your life, whatever path you are on, to deepen your experience of the Divine.
In Delhi I will take you to the places I wandered in and adored as a child—especially the Red Fort, which awoke in me a passionate curiosity for the Mughal world that has lasted all my life. Then we are off to Udaipur. How to describe Udaipur? You’d have to be Shakespeare on opium to begin to convey its refined ecstatic beauty, the beauty of a whole civilization that cultivated the highest sacred aesthetic as a way of divinizing life. After relishing the lake palaces of Udaipur, we will visit the most resplendent of the Maharaja cities as my mother used to call them: Jaipur. I had the honour of going around the palaces of Jaipur with the old maharani of Jaipur, someone of the greatest inner and outer beauty, and I will share with you the vision I received from her of the inner world of this ancient city.
By now, our souls I pray, will be intoxicated enough to approach the greatest monument to both human and divine love, the Taj Mahal. I first saw the Taj when I was four years old; that ecstatic memory I am convinced led me to my passion for Rumi and to the treasures of the Sufi tradition. I have spent a lifetime contemplating and studying the Taj and will share with you the latest research that reveals the Taj as a Sufi mystical monument representing nothing less, in its white splendour, than the Throne of God himself.
In Agra I will lead you into one of the great mysteries, that of the story in life of Shah Jahan’s eldest son, Dara Shikoh. Dara Shikoh has been an obsession of mine for fifty years. He was a great artist, mystical poet, writer and visionary who would have been Emperor had he not been murdered by his younger brother, Aurangzeb, who also imprisoned his father, Shah Jihan, and seized the throne. I will share with you Dara Shikoh’s profound vision of a universal religion uniting Hinduism and Islam and grounded in Divine Love.
With the magnificence of Agra alive in ourselves, we will then go to Khajuraho, where I will give an essential overview of the Shaivite Tantric tradition that I myself have been trained in and aspire to follow. The great Shaivite mystic, Alain Danielou, said to me, “Khajuraho is the revelation of the divine body and its inherent tenderness, ecstasy and freedom.” The sculptures of the temples at Khajuraho show human love at its most passionate meeting Divine Love at its most exalted in an explosion of radical beauty that has permanently altered my own understanding of love and sexuality, and will yours.
Our pilgrimage ends in four glorious days in Varanasi, the old Banaras, my favourite place on earth. Varanasi is quite simply the essence of sacred India, a wild holy thrilling marriage of opposites, India’s holiest city, sacred for millennia to Shiva. As we revel in its ceremonies and meditate by the Ganges, our guide will be the greatest mystic Banaras and India ever produced – the 15th century weaver Kabir, who sang his astounding songs in Varanasi’s winding, crowded streets. I have just spent five years producing my new book, Turn Me to Gold – 108 Poems of Kabir, and long to introduce you to his incisive, fiery revolutionary voice and to the path of transfiguration through Divine Love that he pioneered for us. Kabir is with Rumi one of humanity’s two universal mystical poets and an essential guide to the birth of an embodied divine humanity.
As you can see, my heart is brimming over at the thought of our pilgrimage. I hope I have said enough to give you a rich taste of what inspiration and joy await you. Please join me on an unforgettable pilgrimage into the heart of Sufi and Hindu India and into the softly blazing heart of Divine Love itself.
*Be sure to check out our journey. The Sacred Heart of Sri Lanka, March 1-12, 2020, to take advantage of a unique opportunity to visit both India and Sri Lanka with me!