Earth Treasure Vase for the Source of the Ganges, India

Sadhu with Earth Treasure Vase


In late winter/early spring of 2004, a small group, including Cynthia Jurs, made a pilgrimage along the upper reaches of the Ganges, with the intention of burying an Earth Treasure Vase as close to the spiritual source of the Ganges (at or near Gangotri) as they could get that time of year. Cynthia offers us a report from her experience and some background information about the (mythical) significance of the Ganges.

Gateway to the Gods –
Burial of the Earth Treasure Vase

by Cynthia Jurs

We had already been in India for three weeks traveling “in the footsteps of the Buddha.” In each of the places sacred to the Buddha’s life we had done a ceremony to bless and fill the treasure vase and now we were stewarding all the prayers and offerings contained within it to the source of the Ganges to be buried in the Earth — that all the blessings and prayers for peace, healing and protection may flow out along the Ganges to benefit the Earth and all beings.

Hardiwar is known as the “Gateway to the Gods” because from there, one enters the high Himalayas where Shiva lives, and the life-blood of India, where the river Ganges (or “Ganga”) originates. This area is a holy land for yogis and sadhus, many of whom walk hundreds of miles in order to sit and meditate on the glacier where the Ganga begins. They believe that the river is a holy living being, a goddess, and worship Her for Her power to purify all negative karma throughout many lifetimes. Bathing in Her waters is said to bring purification of body, speech and mind and ensure a blessed re-birth.

The Ganges flows from these high mountains all the way to the Bay of Bengal, feeding India with nourishment. Above Hardiwar, the river is clear and sparkling, the hue, another worldly blue-green from glacial run-off. At Devprayag, two rivers meet– the Bagirati and the Alaknanda– and where they join they technically then become the Ganges. We traveled another two days up beyond that point along the Bagirati towards its source, considered to be the place where Ganga poured to Earth from the heavens. She flowed into the hair of Shiva who sat atop the highest peak and as Ganga flowed through Shiva’s dreadlocks she was tamed enough to flow onto earth. We made our way into the steep mountains winding our way up and up until we came to a road block– the winter snows still prevented easy access to the source, about ten miles from Gangotri.

Before we reached the end of the road however, we stopped about 2/3rds of the way up in order to meet a British woman known as “Nani-ma” (“grandmother”). She has lived in India for over thirty years and is perhaps considered a kind of saint. Nani-ma has a deeply spiritual and humble presence, having completely dedicated her life to her guru and his teachings. She runs a small ashram along the shore of the river and her practice includes bathing in the Ganges every day. We wanted to ask for her blessing and guidance.

Nani-ma spoke to us of the damage to the Earth and the holy river, Ganga, and blessed us and the Earth Treasure Vase, giving us guidance and direction for the practice we had been doing all along the pilgrimage– making offerings into a simple clay vessel at the places of the Buddha’s life with the intention of burying it in the Earth to bring healing and protection. We planned to bury the vase near the source of the Ganges another day or two above her ashram. She echoed what Charok Rinpoche, the lama who had given me this practice so many years ago, had said– that even just one person who has realized the pure nature of truth will benefit the entire planet, and even when things are tremendously dire as they are now, the presence of these beings will act like the vases to bring protection and healing.

The Rinpoche we met in Sarnath (where the Buddha taught for the first time) also spoke to this when he said that apart from practices like the treasure vases, what is important is offering our pure intention to be of benefit to the world, to purify our hearts and clear our minds so that we can contribute our very best to the Earth and each other, every day.


Monday Mindfulness Meditation