Spiritual: Of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul.
Life is all business. Spend your energy to get joy, happiness, evolution, and to gain more ability to enjoy. In this field we spend our energy. We never use our time, energy, speech, or ability to do something that doesn't help us grow and improve our life. It's not worth it. –Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
For many outsiders, one of the most astounding things about the Kumbh Mela is the patient and peaceful attitude of the attendees in spite of what might be considered adverse or challenging circumstances.
For those who don’t know what the Kumbh Mela is: it is the largest spiritual gathering in the world. Tens to hundreds of millions of people from all over India and all over the world travel to a part of the Ganges – at astrologically specified dates (approximately over a 3 month period) – in order to bathe in the Ganges and to seek audience with some of the many spiritual leaders who are present. The experience is deeply spiritual for those who attend, and the largest of the Melas takes place in Prayag every 12 years. This current Kumbh is ending in a few days.
There are some who travel there by airplane and train, or car, and stay in make-shift temporary shelters. But most don’t have that luxury. They arrive by boat or by bus or bicycle, or they simply walk, for days, weeks, and months. They arrive with the clothing on their back and their food on their head. Young children walk and are occasionally carried. They sleep in tents and use water from the spigots, and if it rains, they get wet. They travel however they can for however long it takes to be able to participate.
In the West, one of the main news stories that came out of the Kumbh was the 30+ people who died at the train station when one of the barriers fell. Of course, this was a terrible tragedy for those who died and their loved ones. But there is a much bigger story related to the Kumbh – which is that over 100 million people attended and there were no reports of violence. No alcohol or meat was consumed, no lethal weapons were discovered, and no one was reported having inflicted violence purposefully upon anyone else. Of course, it is possible that interpersonal violence happened and was not reported, but I can tell you from weeks of first-hand experience that the overwhelming majority of interactions between participants were patient and kind, respectful and open.
We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commence to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God. – AA, The Big Book
This should not truly come as a surprise. When people undertake an activity for truly spiritual reasons, there isn’t effort involved in acting this way – it is natural. But for outsiders who have never embarked on a spiritual journey – either externally or internally – the concept boggles the mind.
Of course, the Kumbh Mela at Prayag was not without some organizational help. Police and government were on-hand to provide tents, water, and places for toileting. There were rules in place that kept things organized and flowing. But there were no records of arrests being made for people trying to break those rules. People didn’t try to push and shove, to get ahead or do things at the expense of others. There were lines to a temple that were 7-10 hours long and people waited. They sang together, and others came to give them snacks and water.
The peacefulness, kindness and intent was clear - not just in the goal of making it to Prayag and bathing in the Ganges, but also in the way people treated each other. The participants at the Kumbh Mela had all travelled a great distance to attain higher states of consciousness and a closer relationship to God and spirituality, and to that end, the evidence is clear that they did.
Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. – Albert Einstein