On the 26th we spent a majority of the day exploring the city of Haridwar. Haridwar is a pilgrimage city off the Ganges River, a place where people from all over India go seeking spiritual fulfillment and healing, to make sacrifices, to worship and perform various rituals. It’s almost like the Mecca for Hindus but those who gather here are not solely Hindu. Our friend who lives and works here and who took us around the city that day told us that Haridwar is considered by some to be the true yoga capital of the world. As one who enjoys practicing yoga, my understanding and awareness of traditional yogic ideals and practices was enriched as I spent hours walking around the city, discovering the many ways that people practice yoga and live out their spiritual lives.

The walk we took that day was a prayer walk, a time for us to observe as well as seek God’s heart for the people of the city and for the city itself. Though the amount of trash, intense odor and abundance of flies that festered in the city threatened to be a distraction, I found myself incredibly curious and very invested in what I was witnessing along the river and in the streets. I feel that of all the cities we visited in India, Haridwar was the most intensely spiritual and heavy with longing. One of the roots of the word yoga means “path.” In my opinion, Haridwar is replete with a multitude of paths that one can choose to follow in order to seek that spiritual fulfillment and wholeness we long for as humans. Everyone I’ve ever known who has turned to yoga in their lives has done so because they are in search of peace and this sense of wholeness. As I walked around Haridwar, I felt that everyone’s desire was for the same thing: peace and life. The group of men smoking marijuana on the streets as a means of release from their present circumstances, the men and women dunking themselves in the “holy” river to be cleansed, the men gathered around the fire, chanting and worshipping…all are after the same peace, the same healing, the same wholeness.

While traveling around India we’ve had the privilege of meeting many men and women who have turned from their other religious traditions to follow Jesus and though they all had unique stories, one common thread in them all was the fact that they had been searching for peace and never found it until they met Jesus. It hit me as I walked around the city that day that these people who are giving their lives in devotion may never truly find what they’re after unless they find the One who is the ultimate source of the peace and abundance of life they crave, Jesus Christ. My prayer for them is that they will be unsatisfied until they meet with Jesus and finally discover the truth that true life, true healing, true peace is found only in Him. I will never take the peace I have known through Christ for granted again. He is our life source and nothing compares.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you…”

John 14:27

-Alex Rios

Study Abroad

Darren Duerksen

India 2012