YatharthYogAshram Farm

Rahdebaba seen here. "Radhe Radhe," some locals would say to us..."Jai Sri Radhe," we were to say in return. Rahdebaba runs the YatharthYogAshram in Northwest Uttar Pradesh, a true taste of Indian village life. The website states that the place is based on Spontaneous Interaction and healthy Self-Interest. That seems fairly accurate. The community itself is a small area enclosed within a brick wall composed of several huts, a house, several cows, fruit trees and some small vegetable beds. There were also a couple large fields of field crops: mint, rose, wheat and a grain or grass for the cows that I can't remember now.

Radhebaba's Mother. Rahde's three nieces also worked at the ashram, cooking and taking care of the cows.


the meeting room

field of roses

Neighboring field of wheat ready to harvest...my first day at the farm I helped a bit with helping to harvest wheat by hand. Wheat was being harvested all around us. We had a huge pile that monkeys would try to eat every day. We kept the monkeys away by yelling and throwing stones, a daily activity.

This was the first WWOOF farm in India where I met other WWOOFers. Here Marine from France and a Belgian woman construct a drying rack from an old bed.

cow patties left to dry for fuel

Marine shaping cow dung

A Canadian (having trouble remembering names) moving cattle

cooking in the meeting room

fields seen from atop the house


Maya's Wedding

Arun invited me in early April to his sister Maya's wedding in Delhi. Here the couple is seen leaving the ceremony and showered in rose petals. Maya's husband's family is Sikh and so the ceremony was a traditional Sikh wedding. The weekend's food and festivities were delicious.

Inside a Sikh temple or gurdwara, we all had to cover our heads. During the ceremony, the couple circled around the man and the holy book in the middle several times.

These bearded men sang or chanted and played tabla.

Arun and friend

Outside the wedding a transvestite/eunuch knocked on the car window for money.


Rishikesh is known as the world capital of yoga and is filled with temples, ashrams and yoga courses along the green Ganges River. Almost every westerner I met doing yoga in Kerala had plans to come to Rishikesh for yoga at some point. Rishikesh is about 25 kms upstream from Haridwar. The sacred waters of the Ganges are quite rejuvenating here. While here, I attended yoga classes and studied some tabla. I stayed in Lakshman Jula, the part of Rishikesh furthest upstream and the area most filled with white tourists.

Yoga and meditation teachers




Haridwar is like Varanasi Light. It too is a major Hindu pilgrimage destination along the Ganges River with lots of pilgrims praying and holy men smoking hash along the sacred river, yet Haridwar is much smaller and there are no corpses being burned next to the water. Plus it's upstream where the river enters the plains from the mountains so the sacred Ganges' water is freezing, fully rejuvenating and relatively clean. Haridwar also hosts humanity's largest festival, Kumbh Mela, which brought together more than 70 million visitors in 2003 and takes place every 12 years.

Receiving blessing

Donation boxes and altars

There were plenty of officials in Haridwar soliciting donations from pilgrims and tourists. They were especially active before the daily evening aarti as seen here...They way they spoke and then went around the crown reminded me of the guys collecting money in the mega-churches of the Bible Belt. Yet here in Haridwar some of these money collectors were quite aggressive. After encouraging one to come over for a blessing and prasad, the priests also demanded money. One guy grabbed ahold of my arm and demanded money in a crowded temple and so I gave him a rupee coin (like two cents) before I managed to squirm away.

These guys would provide a receipt so that you had proof of your donation's legitimacy and to have evidence of your devotion I guess?

Aarti at dusk in Haridwar, a vivid religious celebration lining the banks of the River Ganges.

The riverside was busy with activity. Hindus come from all over the country to get in the water and purify themselves.

Following the evening aarti, Indians gathered around to touch the sacred fire and to spread its energy into themselves.

So many humans begging...old ladies, holy men, boys and girls missing limbs...supposedly it is common for beggar children to be maimed at a young age so that they will earn more begging. And there are a wide variety of amputees with their hands stretched out in Haridwar...

Staircases to the ghats were lined with beggars.

I love the ORANGE that is everywhere in India...on these temples, the clothes of holy men, etc.

Fresh orange and pineapple juice

red tikka powder

Shaving on the street

Though it often seems that trash pick-up does not exist in India, here it is in action...

On the train