Monday, 30 April 2012

Namaste Chakratirtha!

I first encountered the word Chakratirtha in 1986 on a sudden, unplanned first visit to Puri, India with a group of friends. I was fascinated by the word but put it away in an obscure corner of my mind. Little did I know that years into the future, the name, the location, the concept would all become a vital part of my life. It had a pleasant association with a beautiful hotel located on a road of the same name. I visited the hotel and the road twice more in succession and the word would occasionally circle back to me out of nowhere. It had a comforting ring to it, a sense of mission accomplished. The word evoked images of a wheel spinning in holy water. I never probed its deeper meaning.

While chakra means wheel among other things, and tirtha is "ford, a shallow part of a body of water that may be easily crossed," the sacred connotations of crossing are something I didn't think about nor did I consider how they connected with each other.

View of Daya River from Dhauli Hill, Bhubaneswar, Orissa
Click on the links to know more about this legendary site as a crucial crossing in history and spirituality 

I hadn’t stopped to wonder about the purpose of these sacred pools in metaphysical or metaphorical terms, which to me now seems more important than the act of physically dipping oneself in them. Such is the mundane, stressful and often pointless existence of IT professionals(yes I was one) that when they do get a break from it all, they would rather stop thinking and let feeling take over. So feel I must have subconsciously done, nurturing somewhere in memory my experiences of these trips, allowing the sound of the words to echo in my thoughts and the meanings to reveal themselves.

How much I had cherished them revealed itself to me in 2010. My life took an unexpected turn towards Chakratirtha Road. There were dreams, recollections, an insistent inner urge, surfing and delving for more information, comparing and exchanging thoughts. All leading to what this venture – Chakratirtha Travels - is all about. I found myself guiding these two spiritually thirsty yaatris who felt the same inner call. They already had an irresistible feel for the terrain through our shared cyber journeys. They were now physically traversing it. The trip led to a creation that awaited its moment of birth.

Two years later Chakratirtha Travels is officially on the map. I am amazed at discovering diverse locations named Chakratirtha. I have also found my way to the sacred ford that gives its name to the road I stayed on. And the deity at that tirtha is indeed represented as a wheel containing water.

For me the chakra has evolved into a spiral, which is a powerful symbol of creation and growth in many cultures and spiritual systems.
“The spiral was the earliest known decoration used in art. The directional flow of the spiral symbolizes our movement through the experiences of life, death, and rebirth. The ancient Celts believed in this idea and as a result, their myths and legends refer to this journey.” (Courtesy Celtic Symbol Dictionary)

Our chakra logo is inspired by the Celtic triple spiral symbol.

Again, tirtha is reminiscent of the “thin places” of the Celts. I quote “In simple terms a ‘thin place’ is a place where the veil between this world and the Other world is thin, the Other world is more near. This meaning assumes the perceiver senses the existence of a world beyond what we know through our five senses” (Courtesy "Thin Places, Travels Through Celtic Holy Ground")

Turning back to India,
“The chakras are believed to be a number of wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, exist in the surface of the subtle body of living beings. The chakras are said to be "force centers" or whorls of energy permeating, from a point on the physical body, the layers of the subtle bodies in an ever-increasing fan-shaped formation. Rotating vortices of subtle matter, they are considered focal points for the reception and transmission of energies” (From Wikipedia)

Namaste Chakratirtha!     You and I are touching hearts again! We hope to be a focal point too.

On this page  you see a triple spiral … ancient steps leading to a mysterious location - you could take them to climb up or descend into depths ... a foot on a wave; a beautifully embellished foot, clearly divine. All coming together to invite you. What could it all convey?

Crossing thresholds, bridging realms

Thin places are the tirthas connecting the human with the Otherworld, dissolving the boundaries between them. Internet is a ford connecting people across time and space in this world of ours.

Namaste to our visitors. We welcome you to cross with us!

Chakratirtha, according to one definition is “swirling pool of sacred water.” The water itself is the wheel, the medium the message! We invite you to travel with us online. When the time is ripe you’ll find the foot on the wave drawing you to India in person. You will tread these steps and listen to the echoes of ancient footfalls. You will “take in the aromas of the earth and the energy of the spirits that exist and have existed in our beautiful land."

Bon Voyage from our team of three which is me, Kim and Karan.


  1. Fantastic!!! Beautiful writing, so much thought, historical connections--does feel like the beginning of a exciting new journey! So what are your tours? Where do you go? How can I quench my thirst?

  2. Bhavana thank you for your appreciation. It means a lot to our team. Tour details will come up soon on this blog. Our "chakra" currently swirls in the Puri region of Orissa where it all started. And we have special plans for autumn in Kolkata. We'll be offering cyber-tours(including customized ones) covering more regions. Please share your wish list with us!

    1. Bhavana, on my post "Mine the Darkness" see the
      comment and the replies following it for some additinal information on the tours.

  3. This is so exciting. The Autumn plans for Kolkata :D

  4. Please give us your suggestions. Just anything! We are brainstorming!

  5. So much of thinking and depth behind the name itself is quite appreciable. Cyber-tours sound exciting. Looking forward to when the details are up! :)

    1. Shiv the name just found itself. The thinking is all in hindsight and the process has revealed a lot I might have missed.

  6. Diana Eck writes that "going to a tirtha is not only a matter of the feet, but also a matter of the heart" (India: A Sacred Geography). I love the idea that the crossings we make with our feet are already imprinted on our hearts!

  7. How wonderful yet simplistically presented. I love the interpretation of the "Chakratirtha". I hope it benefits a lot of people. I would surely love to travel with Chakratirtha.

    As you say, you are just beginning, and life, but a journey, I would wish you with this simple translation of a Shloka talking about Ganesha- "We meditate on Lord Ganesha - who is clad in white (representing purity), who is all pervading (present everywhere), whose complexion is gray like that of ash (glowing with spiritual splendor), who has four arms, who has bright countenance (depicting inner calm and happiness) and who can destroy all obstacles."

  8. A very warm welcome to the blog Parth Sarthi! Great having you with us. I look forward to your travels with us in cyberspace and for real. Thank you so much for the awesome prayer! Your comment has made my day and my week and may it augur well for our journeys!

  9. Welcome Parth, and thanks from me also for the auspicious prayer! I have written it into the little book that I carry with me every day!

  10. The prayer in Sanskrit
    "Shuklaambara Dharam Vishnum
    Shashi Varnam Chatur Bhujam
    Prasanna Vadanam Dhyaayet
    Sarva Vighna Upashaanthaye"

  11. How beautifully interwoven ...thoughts with history . And how exciting that moment might have been and yes as Bhavana says , how can I slake my inner thirst ?

    1. Stay on board Sridevi. Before you know what's happening your moment will find you and surprise you!