Vindhya- June 7

Let me begin this journal entry with, THESE MOUNTAINS ARE AMAZING! I was supposed to leave two days ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to get on the bus back to the train station. Also, since the bus only comes to the ski resort once every three days, I bought myself some extra time to roam. Plus, I came here to not be on a schedule so I am throwing my cares away and just enjoying my time in the clean mountain air.

The hiking excursions have been amazing. I have gone on two so far and plan to go on my third later this afternoon. The first trip was a “low altitude” trip, which meant we didn’t go to the peak, just halfway—still very high and very tiring. Once we made it to our destination we stopped and enjoyed the view then the guides loaded us onto the gondolas for the ride back down. Getting to see the valley from the air like that was absolutely breathtaking, I can only imagine what it looks like covered in snow.

 The second excursion was a valley hike. Instead of going up the mountain we went down it, which may have been more difficult. My lack of spatial awareness and sense of balance made this trip quite interesting. I may or may not have knocked one of the tour guides down while trying to not fall on my face. Oops. Nonetheless it was a lot of fun and at the bottom there was this beautiful spring-fed stream. It was extremely cold, but crystal clear. The blue of the stream against the bright green of the grass was breathtaking. So once we hung out in the valley for a while and after I filled up my camera’s memory card it was time to continue our journey. Have you heard that saying, “What goes up must come down?” Well, switch that around and it still applies. Unlike the day before we were on our own to get back to where we started. Climbing back up the tour guides stayed faaaarrrrr away from me.

Every evening before going to bed I curl up with my book of Indian tales. In the spirit of staying in Auli, I have another story to tell about a very stubborn mountain. It amuses me how problematic these landforms are being. Who knew mountains were such divas?

Let me start with a little back-story. There once was a mountain named Meru. Meru was the tallest and most spectacular mountain in India. It is also the mountain that the sun revolved around and its tall peak caused night and day. So Meru was pretty much the coolest mountain around and all the other mountains wanted to be him. Cue our main character—Vindhya.

Vindhya was a mere hill, no match for a mighty mountain like Meru. They weren’t even in the same social group much less the same mountain range. While Meru was busy being shined on all day, Vindhya was busy being trampled by travelers, cattle and holy men looking for the next place to make a hermitage.

“I want to be like Meru. I want the world to admire me. I want the sun to warm me with his rays. How can I be just like Meru?” Vindhya thought to himself.

Now it wasn’t uncommon for other mountains to be jealous of Meru—who wouldn’t be jealous of a mountain with its own oscillating heater? What was uncommon, however, was any landform trying to actually be Meru. Well, Vindhya went there.

One chilly morning the sun began to peek out from behind Meru, when all of a sudden Vindhya shouted, “Sun! Sun! SUUUUNNNN! Come circle me for a while, warm my vegetation and shine your wonderful light on me.”

The sun considered the offer. No one had every shouted his name before and, while annoying, the pushy tactic caught the sun’s attention. “Why would I warm such a small hill? Where would I hide at night, there is no way I could rest behind you with such low elevation levels,” the sun answered.

Vindhya was hurt. He was sad and angry and confused. So many emotions rushed over him that he felt incapable of dealing with them all. In the end Vindhya settled on anger. “How could the sun refuse my offer? Who does he think he is? Meru isn’t so great. I’ll show them ‘low elevation!’”

So Vindhya began to grow. He stretched higher and higher until his peak was triple, quadruple, ten times as high as it originally was. Finally, he stretched so high that days went by that the sun was unable to pass by him. Without the sun circling Meru, the world was plunged into eternal night. Vindhya rivaled the height of Meru, yet the sun would still not circle his peak. Anger once again consumed Vindhya.

The people of India went days without sunlight. They began gathering around Vindhya’s base and praying for him to bow down. They prayed he would return to his original height and when that didn’t work they prayed that he would return to half his original height. No number of prayers and sacrifices would convince Vinhya of lowering his stature.

The gods heard the people’s prayers and knew something had to be done. They went to the holy man, Agastya, who quickly devised a plan. Like many other travelers, Agastya had passed over Vindhya many times, but since his growth no one could cross to the south. Agastya appeared at the base of the mountain along with the many weary travelers trying to cross Vindhya’s massive peak.

“Bow down to me, Vindhya,” Agastya yelled at the sky.

Vindhya turned to see who would dare demand such a thing from the tallest mountain in the world. Immediately, Vindhya recognized Agastya and didn’t hesitate to show his respects to the very powerful holy man. Slowly Vindhya folded over in salute.

“Now Vindhya, I will need you to allow my passage to the south and you mustn’t rise again until I cross back to the north. Do I have your word?”

“Yes Agastya, you can count on me. You have free passage, please enjoy your journey south.”

Agastya indeed went south, but only about a hundred yards south. He then built a small hermitage and has lived there ever since. As promised, Vindhya is still bent over waiting for Agastya to return to the north. 

I have got to run it is time for my final hiking trip. I have to catch the bus tomorrow, which is sad, but I can’t wait to see what else my trip has in store for me!

 

Image Information: Taking a photo. Visual Photos 
Moutain Stream. Unearthing Asia 
Gondola in Auli. India Travel Blog

Author’s Note: I chose to keep the character in the mountains for another entry because I wanted to tell the story of Vindhya and because the pictures I saw of Auli were truly breathtaking. If I were traveling there, there is no way that I would want to leave. Also, the hiking would be extremely challenging, but the views would be amazing. I based the gondola ride on a trip I took to the top of Mount Titless in Switzerland and looking down at the green valley and then getting so high that it turned into a snow-capped mountain was amazing. The views from that gondola were truly breathtaking and I don’t think you can get them any other way.

I chose to retell this story because after reading it in the Ramayana it really stuck with me. While the story was very short and didn’t give much detail, I was really interested in how Agastya outsmarted Vindhya. As the story was so short, I added some detail and emotion to the characters. I wanted to show how jealous Vindhya was of Meru and explain that those intense emotions were the reason for his actions. I also wanted to show the human element and explain what his growth did to the people of India. Overall, I enjoyed writing the story and adding in all the little details and the dialogue. 

Bibliography: 

Buck, William. Ramayana. Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2012. Print.