On 1st of May, 2016, my third journey to India began. This time, I headed to Ujjain. It was THE place to be, because it was the place where Kumbh Mela was happening this year, the world’s biggest spiritual festival. My guru Paramahamsa Nithyananda Swamiji invited all his disciples to live in his camp and experience the 21-day meditation program “Shuddhadvaitam” (Sanskrit word means “purely non-dual”). About 2.000 disciples followed his call and gathered in Ujjain at the Nithyananda Camp. The only thing that I really knew about what would be awaiting me there was the following message from Swamiji weeks before the event: “You will live like a Sannyas, but you will go back like a king“.

I arrived in Ujjain on the 2nd of May late in the afternoon. The first item on my list was to register at the welcome desk, located in the meditation hall. After which my friend from my last journey to India was very kind to take me around and show me the camp.

There was a smaller tent hall, the food hall for all the participants of the meditation program and another smaller tent hall that served as the food hall for general public visiting the camp daily. Our camp served free food continuously to all of these visitors, every day. A bigger tent hall decorated in beautiful colors, with lamps and flags was the temple with beautiful statues of 108 deities, admired and worshipped by the public and also the program participants. Guests were welcome to tour the temple, the food hall and the medical camp. The meditation hall, the second food hall, the sleeping tents and the sanitary areas with showers and toilets were only accessible for participants of the program.

My friend continued our tour and guided me to the toilets. There were lockable iron cabins with a toilet bowl (no flush or toilet seat), a bucket and a water tap. Very easy to use and to sanitize yourself and the toilet bowl after use with the bucket of water. The shower was another iron cabin, lockable with a latch. The shower cabin had a small hole in the corner for the water to drain, one bucket and a water tap as well. One week later, the camp was also equipped with “western” toilets and showers. Those shower cabins were closed and equipped with a towel rail, a shower head and a water tap knee-high. The western toilets had flush and toilet seats, but unfortunately both, toilets and showers ran out of water most of the time and they were needed maintenance very soon. The “Indian-styled” toilets and showers could be easier to keep clean and functioned until the end of the camp. Once a day washed myself with a bucket of water, which was my daily ray of hope considering 40 degree plus, sun, sweat and dust. When we ran out of water, I used to carry my bucket to the other sanitary facilities about 5 minutes away to get water. And as the flush of the western toilets rarely provided water, I used the Indian toilets most of the time. After a few days I was used to them. My friend showed me the area to wash clothes before we moved on to the sleeping tent.

I entered a huge tent hall with a large number of bunk beds. The beds were made of iron and were each equipped with a foam mattress, covered with linen, a pillow, quilt and a cushion cover. The sleeping tent was open underneath the roof, so fresh air was able to enter in addition to the fans hanging from the roof. There were 12 bunk beds in one row, making a total of 24 beds (top and lower beds) in each row. One row was immediately next to the other, then half a meter passage and the next row afterwards. There were about 20 rows in the tent, accommodating around 450 people in one tent, as not all the beds were filled. It took me a little while to find the right bed. A lot of them were already chosen and some just didn’t feel right. Finally, I found a good one (don’t get me wrong, they ALL looked the same and had the exact same equipment, but they were still different 😀 ). Anyways, I chose one. I sat down. I put my traveler backpack on “my” bed. And my eyes filled with tears. What was I doing here? How was I supposed to survive here for 21 days? I cried. For 10 minutes. Then I put my imaginary crown back straight on my curly hair and knew, that I was able to make it.

I persevered for 21 days. I slept only three to four hours each day but surprisingly had enough energy and strength. The daily meditations opened up states of consciousness I had never dreamed of before. I had incredible experiences, not explainable by the logic mind. I made great friends, laughed, danced and learned a lot, mostly about myself. All situations, all experiences brought so many different faces of myself to daylight, which was only possible in that environment and under those circumstances and in the presence of my guru. I was and still am surprised about my inner strength. About the will, the power of being able to survive only with a few things, with water, clothes, a bed (and ear plugs), rice, fruits, bread and a daily bucket of water (ok, there was also toothpaste and toothbrush J ). No television. No comfortable chairs. No air conditioning. No internet. I was surprised about my mental strength to see the best in every situation and to make the conscious decision to carry a smile on my face, no matter what the upcoming day (or night) will bring.

During the last week of the program there was one moment where I couldn’t handle it anymore, or at least thought so. On this day I really thought that I had reached “my” limit. I cried. I bawled like a little child sitting on my bed before going to sleep. Suddenly a soft voice asked “Can I help you my dear?” It was a woman’s voice from two beds further down my row. She was Indian and her daughter was sleeping in the bed next to me. I asked her with tears running down all over my face how she was able to keep up with everything here? How is she able to have faith in guru, in Swamiji if he puts us through so many challenges here? She told me that she hasn’t had much more luxury than this throughout her whole life. She lives in a small bedroom, not much bigger than two bunk beds with a shower and a toilet close to her bedroom. Then she said one very significant sentence while holding my hand. She said “You guys are so blessed. You don’t even know how much”.

I was sitting in my bathtub for the first time after I arrived back home in Vienna, Austria. And I cried. I felt the warm water on my skin, my muscles relaxed and it felt so good to let go. I was so grateful. And that minute I remembered the moment when she looked me in the eyes and pressed my hand, saying “You guys are so blessed…”. It struck me how right she was.

On the second day after I arrived back home from the Kumbh Mela a persistent inflammation in my intestine showed up. I was very dehydrated due to heavy diarrhea, which led to enormous headache. I needed infusions for two days because no medicine was helping. After one week of confusion, a lot of sleep, dizziness and rest I slowly got back to strength. It was like a reset button. People asked me “So was it worth it?”, “Was it necessary to go through all of this”?

YES. It was. I’m getting back to strength and will fully recover soon. And what I can say right now in reply are the changes I’m seeing and experiencing:

  • I look into the mirror and what I see is incredible, unshakable inner strength. A kind of strength and inner depth that I’ve never felt before. I know, that no matter what comes, nothing will be able to easily shake me.
  • I feel neither anger nor rage. It is as if those feelings are completely removed from my system. So relieving!
  • I cannot cry, at least not out of pain or sadness. If I feel sadness, it evaporates immediately. The only times when I cry is out of gratefulness, out of bliss or if I feel that I am letting go of something from my past, something I don’t need anymore.
  • I see things through my third eye (pineal gland) which was awakened by my guru Swamiji. Things that I would never be able to see with my two physical eyes…

I am grateful for those 21 days, even if they appear to someone as borderline. And even though the changes that I describe are already so profound, I also feel that I’m yet not fully aware of the deep transformation that has happened in me…