Rishikesh and it's Yogic History

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Located at the bank of the holy river Ganga, Rishikesh is one of the ancient holiest places in India. It is situated in the Uttarakhand state just at the foothills of the Himalayas. Thus, it is also called the "Gateway to the Gharwal Himalayas", which is known as the "Kedarkhand" region. The natural beauty of Rishikesh is beyond comparison. It is one of the most spiritual and peaceful places in the world. The word "Rishikesh" means the "land of saints". Rishikesh is the Yoga Capital of the world. Therefore, Rishikesh is also known as "Tapo Bhumi" or "the land of Yoga and meditation". People from all over the world come to Rishikesh to learn Yoga and gain expertise in it. The annual International Yoga Festival, which is organized in the first week of March, is held in Rishikesh since 1989.

Legend of Rishikesh

The name "Rishikesh" has a legend of its own. It is said that Rishi Raibhya served extreme penance by living in austerity and performing Yoga at the bank of Ganga. Lord Vishnu was very satisfied with him and appeared in front of him in the form of Rishikesh. Hence, the name has stayed since then. According to another legend, Lord Rama also served penance at Rishikesh after killing Ravana.

Later in the 9th century, the great Adi Shankaracharya also visited this holy land. He was the one who turned this land of Rishis into an official pilgrimage. He established the Lakshman Mandir, Bharat Mandir, and Shatrughna Mandir in Rishikesh.

History of Yoga

The concept of Yoga was born in India. It is said that it was first originated in Rishikesh itself. The word "Yoga" has been originated from the Sanskrit word "Yuj" which means "to unite". The union of our soul or "Jivatma" and the Almighty or "Paramatma" is called Yoga. In other words, the physical, mental and spiritual practices that connect our soul with the universe are called Yoga.

The existence of Yoga in India is since time immemorial. It is possible that Yoga existed since the pre-Vedic times during the Indus Valley Civilization, which is around 3000 BCE. The mention of Yoga is found even in the ancient Indian texts of Vedas, Puranas, and Upanishads. Yoga is also recorded in many Buddhist and Jainist scriptures. By the end of the Vedic age, Yoga was also known as "Satapath" or the "right way". According to Indian mythologies, the first Yogic Guru or Adi Guru is Lord Shiva. According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva is the most ultimate Yogi ever.

Yoga was a very secretive thing in ancient times. It was only known to a few enlightened people. The reason behind it is that the yogis were afraid that the power of Yoga might fall into wrong hands. Yoga was then practiced in extremely inaccessible areas of Rishikesh where common people could not go. It was believed that Yoga had a mystical power that would improve their health beyond their natural limit.

Eventually, Yoga became world-famous, and Rishikesh became the ultimate abode. Therefore, people from all around the world visit Rishikesh to attain enlightenment in their lives.

Rishikesh and Yoga

The reasons as to why Rishikesh is called the Yoga Capital of the world are innumerable. Apart from the fact that Rishikesh is literally the hub for Yogis and Gurus, there are other factors that make Rishikesh the best Yoga center of the world.

The most important factor is the natural environment of Rishikesh. Surrounded by the Himalayas and situated at the bank of the river Ganga, Rishikesh is one of the cleanliest and pollution-free places in the world. People believe that Goddess Ganga provides a special spiritual energy in that area. Bathing in the waters of the Ganga can make people pure and free of worldly sins. Since Yoga is considered as a form of exercise, nothing can be as effective as the healthy environment of Rishikesh for performing Yoga.

As Yoga is performed in Rishikesh since forever, a number of ashrams and Yoga schools have been built here. A person can attend these classes and stay in the ashrams for as long as they want. One of the famous ashrams in Rishikesh is the Swarg Ashram. It was built in the memory of Swami Vishudhanand who was also called "Kali Kamli Wala" meaning "the one with the black blanket". "Swarg" means "Heaven", and as the name suggests, it is really a heavenly place to stay as well as meditate. The first modern Yogi to visit Rishikesh was Swami Rama , Swami Ved Bharati , Swami Atma Prakash. He established the famous Swarg Ashram Trust, also known as the "Kali Kamliwala Kshetra", to take care of the facilities for the spirituality seekers that come to Rishikesh. A lot of other lodgings and local businesses take part in the activities organized by the Swarg Ashram Trust.

Rishikesh is loved by foreign spiritual seekers a lot. Especially, for the Europeans and Americans, it is easy to travel to India because of the Indian currency exchange rate, which is very affordable for them. In 1968, the world-famous music band, the Beatles, also visited Rishikesh to attain enlightenment and spirituality. They visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram and were mesmerized by his transcendental meditation. They stayed at Rishikesh for three months. They composed many songs while staying here, and later released those songs in their popular "White Album". The Beatles’ visit to Rishikesh gained its ultimate popularity and increased people's interest in Yoga.

Yoga is something that is beneficial for everyone. It has no religion, no community, no caste, just pure spirituality and enlightenment. Yoga methods are also boundless. Whether it's for children or adults or old people, everyone can perform Yoga. Even disabled people can perform Yoga. Rishikesh is the best place for someone who is new to the Yoga culture and wants to learn and lead a peaceful life. Rishikesh is literally heaven on earth and being able to perform Yoga once in a lifetime at Rishikesh is the ultimate enlightenment and spirituality one can ever attain.

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