I have been told often that everything in Rishikesh has been there ‘from the time when gods and rishis walked the earth’. Including the ‘magical’ Vasishta Guha on the Rishikesh-Badrinath Road. “It’s even older than the Ganges,” said a son of the soil. In Rishikesh, mythology and reality coexist seamlessly.
Believers believe that Vasishta Muni, one of the seven immortal sages meditated in this cave for hundreds of years soaking the cave with “powerful and magical energy that can be felt even today.” Sage Vasishta, son of Brahma and guru of Lord Rama, was a peaceful and powerful teacher. He was married to Arundhati and they had a hundred sons. Vasishta also had in his possession a divine cow named Nandini, which could feed all those who crossed the threshold of his ashram. The gau became the reason for enmity between Vasishta and Vishwamitra (king-turned-rishi) who wanted Nandini for his own but couldn’t have her. The bad blood between the two munis deepened when Vasishta defeated Vishwamitra in a duel. The feud continued for many years before Vishwamitra, cunningly, killed all of Vasishta’s sons. Deeply saddened by the loss of his children the rishi tried to commit suicide by jumping into the Ganges. But Ganga wouldn’t allow it.
Mourning the loss of the children, the couple travelled far and wide before they settled on the banks of the Ganges where there was a cave in the middle of a Gular forest. There, Vasishta spent his life meditating. Over the years, many men of god have meditated in this cave wanting to draw upon Vasishta’s energy and in turn adding their own vibes to the energy pool. People from across the world come here to meditate and be touched by that “magical energy”. Ironically, only 12 people can meditate inside the cave at a time. Vasishta Guha was unknown to the world until 1930 when Swami Purushottamananda discovered the cave.
A steep path leads down to the cave which is 60 feet deep with a wide opening that tapers into a narrow space that doesn’t allow two people to stand side-by-side. I felt my way through the cave. The deeper I went, the darker it got. At the end, there’s a flickering oil lamp in front of a Shiva Linga. This is not a place for those who are claustrophobic. Did I feel the manifestation of the ‘magical energy’? No. However, I did feel a sense of calm, and it carried with it a feeling of infinity. Nothing dies. Everything lives.
(The author is a travel writer, photographer and artist. She blogs at www.asunnysquare.com)