Here’s everything about Buddhism you can look forward to exploring at Delhi’s Tibetan colony, Aruna Nagar.
The Aruna Nagar colony in New Delhi is home to Tibetan Refugees, and might be the closest you can get to experiencing the vibe of Buddhism in our country’s capital.
Here, it is not uncommon to find monks peacefully walking about the gullies, and locals chanting on their beads as they sit outside their houses. In general, the people here seem more humble, and much more slowed down than the contrasting roads running parallel to the colony.
My friend and I paid a visit on a hot summer day, and the first thing I can tell you is – the temperature levels of the colony drops down significantly as soon as you enter!
There’s no point going by your own vehicle because you’ll have to walk a long way from wherever you get parking space.
A tried and tested way is take the Yellow Line Metro till Vidhan Sabha Station. And then, take an e-rikshaw, which will drop you at the entry point of the main market gully. You will need to walk inwards to reach the main market, so it’s better that you ask for directions from here, because the GPS doesn’t really help in the tight gullies.
Things to do
The major highlights of a visit here would comprise of exploring the Korean and Tibetan teas and cuisines at various Cafes (which are by the way, REALLY good); shopping at the cultural stalls and stores; visiting the Monastery; and checking out the bookstore which specializes in books on Buddhism.
‘Shubh Arambh’ with Food
The Buddhist Monastery is built in a small, undisturbed corner without much tourist movement. It didn’t feel proper to be clicking pictures, so taking a quick look from the outside, we proceeded into the main market.
And by the time we reached, it was well into lunch-time, so we headed straight for food!
A quaint little café, with a Korean menu and a large selection of herbal teas. Compared to the other cafés, it looked like this place was more frequented by the locals, perhaps because of the different cuisine type. Being vegetarians, my friend and I were surprised that the options were still decent – they had a veg alternative to almost everything on the menu! Here’s what we tried :
Bibimbap Hot Stone Pot – Full points for presentation! The Bibimbap sauce is the key flavor in this concoction of rice and steamed vegetables. I’ll admit – it does take a bit to get used to the taste. You’ll either love it, or will have to brave through it. I personally enjoyed it.
Veg Shin Ramen Noodles – Very light on flavors and a hearty bowl of ramen and veggies. You can ask for something more dense on spices, if you’d prefer.
Solomon’s Seal Tea – Very, very subtle flavor. If you didn’t drink it with some focused attention on the taste, you’d probably mistake it as drinking warm water.
This place is famous for its desserts. And by the looks of the tables around us, pizza too! We tried out (from most to least favorite) :
Affogato Why this is delicious – one, they serve a generous serving of ice cream. And two, they serve the coffee base on the side. Pour at your convenience! It’s not a pre-prepared concoction.
Mud Pie Surprisingly lighter than the usual mud pies! A safe-side kind of option.
AMA Café’s Special Tibetan Cake (savory)
Warning : This is not for the faint-hearted. With a very strong flavor, it was difficult to swallow even one bite of it. The waiters warned us but we dared try anyway.
My Shopping Haul (sort of)
There are stalls lined up, as well as permanent shops. From the stalls, you can expect to get clothes, beads, souvenirs and a tad bit of stuff here and there. I’d recommend stepping into the shops instead, which aren’t that expensive either.
Here are the key things I explored and learned about:
Singing Bowls – These are great for meditation, and the shop owners are polite enough to teach you how to use them. It can be quite fascinating, as a very small bowl is capable of producing an amazing resonance! I had no luck working the bowls on my own, so I resolved to come back next time and try again.
Incense Sticks – Quite different (and better) from the commercial ones in various areas. The entire stick is flammable, and quite thick. I’ve tried a few from the pack, and they have a mild, natural scent in contrast to the artificial, overbearing commercial ones. Also – the smoke isn’t as overpowering either. I got the whole gift box for only Rs. 80!
Prayer Flags – inscribed with the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”, their vibrant colors add great personality to bed headboards and car backseats.
Tibetan Bells – You could go for the hanging type, used like a wind-chime, or the dorje kind, that you can use during prayer.
Prayer Wheel – it’s believed that spinning the wheel, which too is inscribed with the “Om Mani Padme Hum” mantra is as good as chanting the mantra out-loud.
The Tibetan colony is rather unfrequented, and while I rejoice in sharing this place with you, I hope that any of us that visit respect the culture and maintain a kind attitude to help preserve this place’s uniqueness. 🙂
My friend and I also visited another Buddhist place, Mcleodganj. We had a curious experience there, read this post to have a chuckle at us!
11:11 on the clock. That’s where my spiritual awakening came into full swing! Here’s the story of what happened next.
11:11 on the clock. That’s how my spiritual awakening came into full swing!
I’d always heard my American friends call it a lucky number, saying “make a wish!” It was that very day, 27th April 2017, where I’d seen the number and wondered if the Universe’s Wishing Foundation was really a thing, or we were just talking Santa for adults.
Lasting no longer than a moment’s thought, I shrugged it off.
11:11 Once Again
A while later, I had time to spare. So, aimlessly browsing through a website about human psychology and relations, for no specific reason, I found a blog that talked about God’s plan.
And again for no exact reason, I scrolled down, and came across a comment from someone talking about ‘Twin Flames’. The anonymous person described it in a way that made me curious, but I got back to work, and forget about this too, just as quickly.
By night, the phrase Twin Flames was spinning in my head, I couldn’t get it out. So I looked it up, and the first article I saw, was from a website, which had 1111 in its URL. I had goosebumps! This would be my first encounter with ‘Divine Synchronicities’.
What I was reading was so unusual and weird at the time, I was hesitant. As my conflicted thoughts began to grow, I decided to end my browsing for the night. And there, on the clock, once again, was 11:11, staring back at wide-eyed me. It was a full circle.
Later that night, lying down with my eyes closed and heart palpating wildly with the possibility of this not being a coincidence, I remember feeling my forehead tickle and tingle, and then seeing a beautiful pinkish-purple flower with countless petals just spinning majestically in my mind’s eye, before I blacked-out into a deep sleep.
This is the story of the day I was pulled into the unbelievable world of Signs, Synchronicities, Angel Numbers, Healing, Meditation, and more. You’re either a believer here or a skeptic. Within the span of a year, I’ve moved from the latter (extremist) to the former (extremist, once again).
Let’s start with the word Spiritual Awakening. What does it mean?
To me, this was waking up to a couple of things:
One, out of nowhere, a higher intelligence had gathered keen interest in my life, and was guiding me. I couldn’t see or hear anyone, but the power was inspiring my thoughts in some way, for sure! Whenever I listened to the guidance, I would see an undeniable ‘affirmation’, or what we casually call a sign/omen.
Two, 11:11 is a real thing afterall. If you’re seeing it too – welcome home! Your life’s going to transform magnificently very soon.
Three, it’s not easy to talk about it. We are Spiritual Beings living a Human Experience, but the kind of amnesia we’ve been put under has made us extreme skeptics. Nevertheless, through sharing my own experiences, I hope to put forward a strong case overtime, of why this stuff is more real than you’d like to believe.
And four, you can’t undo this. It becomes a part of you. You will be happier, the sooner you learn to integrate your two contradictory worlds into one. By writing this blog, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do for myself too.
Why did I have a Spiritual Awakening? Can it happen to you, too?
I asked for it, and yes, you can experience this too.
How it comes to you, will be unique in its own way. But you holding the desire for a Spiritual journey is in itself, an invitation to begin this journey. Wait and watch – it shall unfold beautifully in due time!
I asked for it, because at that point, I had lost direction in my life. I was miserable within, and craved for answers.
Unsatisfied at work, unsatisfied with relations, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I engaged myself in fitness, learning new things or meeting new people, I felt like something was eating up my mind. I just wasn’t at peace. I tried gratitude writing and I tried walking in nature – all temporary fixes.
Something was very off, and I didn’t know what. What psychology might classify as depression, is spiritually called the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’. It was time for a change.
So I asked for it – I asked the Universe what the point of my life was. And surely, it humbled me with answers, directed to me overtime with utmost subtlety and conviction.
What were my initial discoveries during this period?
At the very start – there were two things that happened to me.
To begin with, I learned about ‘Angel Numbers’.
If you were to hear voices in your head, you’d think you’re crazy. Angel Numbers are believed to be messages from Angels, who wish to communicate with you by catching your skeptical mind’s attention through repeating numbers in your day-to-day life.
The most common sightings are usually license plates of cars, and the clock! That day, this was the first form of communication I had unknowingly received.
This became a large part of my life, and I was bouncing between the frustration of what they meant and the fear that I wasn’t understanding the signs on time. Over several years, working closely with the Angel Numbers helped me interpret and make the most of them.
Second, I came across an interesting technique of meditation using ‘Solfeggio Frequencies’.
I’ll admit – when you’re beginning the practice, sitting alone in your own quietude and meditating is very difficult (and can get old fast). On the contrary, concentrating on a dedicated piece of music can magnify your attention span quite rapidly.
Solfeggio music is designed at specific frequencies, thought to heal various parts of your body and energy.
I’d close my eyes and see beautiful nebulae and auroras in my mind’s eyes. I felt like a part of me was exploring outer space. Who knew knew so many colors could exist?!
This was just one of the many meditation techniques and experiences I have had ever since my first brush with spiritual awakening.
I experimented so much with it all though, that when I finally poured everything out, it became a giant writeup with tons of stories, tips and meditation hacks. I published it in the form of a post called Meditation: Everything I Want to Tell You on my 26th Birthday week as an ode to my rebirth! 🙂
Did this ‘Spiritual Awakening’ make things any better?
While there were some drastic, odd, and strange changes that caught me off-guard and overwhelmed me at times, there was also a lot that became better in my life.
A major difference I saw, was not just an improvement in mental health and a rising hope for a direction in life, but my physical health and overall reality began to change, too. Here’s how :
I shed a LOT of weight. I went down 2 whole points on the BMI scale.
My diet preferences changed. For the first few months, my body repelled oily or heavy foods. Most of my diet became fruits and salads-based. Overtime this normalized of course, but that shift gave a huge boost to my health.
Over the years, I’ve experienced many dietary changes, from repelling eggs, to rejecting caffeine. As they say, your body slowly begins to prepare you for deeper levels of healing.
I became conscious.
Most of my life, I had been living on autopilot from one day to the other.
Now, after the spiritual awakening, I was aware of what I was doing and feeling, at almost every waking moment. I wasn’t just annoyed or just happy, I was also growing aware and acknowledging mentally, that something is making me happy, and something wasn’t.
This meant, everything around me became more real than ever. And I realised how many poor choices I had grown accustomed to making, on autopilot.
My energy levels started fluctuating tremendously when I was around people.
For a couple of years to follow, there were days when I would feel like I’m living worth 5 days at a time! And on others, I would be so tired, I would simply stay in and sleep.
Energy is a crazy thing, and just like most of the spiritual workers out there, I’m still figuring out how to deal with it. It did finally make sense why I am an emotional sponge, and how to stop soaking up other people’s energy.
My psychic senses began to clear up.
(Wait, what? Well this escalated quickly!)
By psychic senses, let me help you understand at a very high-level about the ones I have developed personally:
#1 – Clairsentience
A heightened awareness of other people’s sentiments, even if they don’t admit it themselves. This is basically what we call being (really) good at empathy.
#2 – Clairvoyance
In other words, having visions about an event in the future that later manifests. This happens to me during meditations and some of my dreams, and no – I can’t tell you what your future is.
Clairvoyance for me means seeing bits and pieces of important events that are coming up for me in my journey and thus, guided to prepare better for them.
#3 – Intuitiveness
When you begin trusting this Higher State’s guidance, you notice that you are more in-tune with it.
You can trust your ‘gut-feeling’ a lot more now, and you don’t need to worry about why you feel something so strongly. You just obey. If you’re trying to develop that and fight off the ego, I’d recommend reading this post.
#4 – Telepathy
Ofcourse not at every moment, and not very extensively, because that would drive me (or anyone) crazy. But it is rapidly becoming easier to catch hold of a person’s thought just a second before they say it out-loud.
The funny thing is, I am not necessarily close to that person. As long as I’m in a clear state of mind, these telepathic moments keep coming to me.
The Spiritual world has a lot to offer, and these are 5 enthralling books that give you a first taste of a ‘soul experience’.
Here’s my list of 5 must-read spiritual books independent of any one God, open to criticism, giving readers goosebumps and hopefully answering some questions about the ‘soul’.
These were the books that I read along the first few months of my awakening and really helped put the journey into perspective. And so, I hope you will enjoy them just as much!
#1 – Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr Brian Weiss
This was where my journey began. I picked this book up at the airport on a whim, and by the time I reached home from the flight, my life had changed. This work is worth your attention because it’s written by a psychiatrist who’s just as skeptical about writing it, as the reader reading it.
What does he talk about? Past lives! So, he discovers answers to questions like – do we really reincarnate? Why do we have unexplained fears or likings towards places and people? How does hypnosis work, and is it safe to undergo such therapy? It also reveals fascinating information from the souls that are guiding us from above, who the author calls them Masters.
Many Lives, Many Masters is a compelling read, because you get a good mixture of psychological therapies, healing and some respite on the countless questions we ask about life, and why things are the way they are. Above all, the best part is that even after decades, the book is changing millions of lives, and has compelling evidence scientifically proving the existence of life beyond life.
I was so fascinated and inspired, I went for a past life regression too! Stay tuned for more on that.
#2 – Illusions by Richard Bach
The disclaimer on this book by the author was, it’s upto you, if you want to believe this is a true story or not.
In short, it’s an account of a “Master”, except he isn’t walking around like the Buddha, enlightening other people. And, he’s actually quite mischievous and low-key. He’s mystical indeed, and he has a book of spiritual secrets, which he slowly reveals to the author through the course of this book. Book-ception, ha!
Short but influential writing. There are many hidden truths in this spiritual book. If you’ve enjoyed the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, you’ll surely love this one.
#3 – Journey of Souls by Michael Newton
Another psychiatrist set out to explore what happens between lives, or after-death. It is complimentary yet distinct from Dr Brian’s book.
In Journey of Souls, you will find heavy introspection (at times, intimidating) for profound questions like – what happens after we die, what happens before we’re born, why we have challenging lives and how we actually opt for them, how soulmates find their way back to each other, what ‘heaven’ looks like, the truth about spirit guides, etc.
The fascinating thing is, the book is a collection of credible and validated case studies from dozens of patients who all in ‘Superconscious’ state began to talk about similar experiences of the afterlife. As a result, Dr Newton’s work was a pioneer and revolutionised the approach to metaphysical reality.
#4 – Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch (Part 1)
Okay, so we’ve discussed past lives and between lives. What about this life? One day, the author began automatic-writing. The conversation was literally, with God!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for its humorous and impartial perspective. One thing this book taught me is – God doesn’t get offended! So, mock him, or love him, he’s all the same. But, it will shake your core religious beliefs, and if you’re an atheist, it might even convert you to a fan of the Universe.
Conversations with God works beautifully to move you from a God-fearing and Karma-fearing to a God-loving and Karma-appreciating person. It also makes you stop resenting God, and take up responsibility for your actions in life. Empowering, funny and revolutionary!
This is a powerful series of 4 parts and you might just end up reading through all of them.
#5 – The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
While the previous books are research-based, somewhat scientific and take longer to accept, this one is grounding, through daily, practical outlook-changes. A practical approach to spirituality.
What I enjoyed the most about this book is the analogies! This guy knows how to break things down for you. He does this, by giving you a lot of easy practices to try; how to push your own buttons, how to accelerate your spiritual understanding, how to truly heal.
A great deal of explanation is provided on key concepts such as detachment, surrendering, and even the Tao way!
The Untethered Soul isn’t meant to be finished in one-go. But if you give it time to sink in, it will transform your life. Therefore, timeless and essential for every person the Spiritual path learning to deal with their ‘monkey mind’.
While there are many great spiritual books out there, these books have set the foundation of my own journey in the first year of my spiritual awakening. If you’d like to check out more of my recommendations, here are my other book reviews :