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Namaste and Jully from India and Swagatam to you all

First off, I want congratulate everyone and welcome you all to the fall semester 2018!

Thank you for making the decision to join such a wonderful program, one that in the first part will be running in holy Himalayan mountains and which have their own great history. Ladakh is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Then we will go to another part of India, arriving in one of the oldest cities on earth. There many different religions are practiced, and it is known as a place of learning and also known as the second home of Lord Shiva: Benaras, or Varanasi, “The City of Light.” It is also one of the most beautiful places on the earth and a place of great importance for many religions. And many people from across of the world come here for spiritual practice.

My name is Saurabh Pandey. I grew up in a middle class Hindu family. My grandfather was a farmer and I used to help him on the farms when I was child. There was no school in my village so I used to walk 5 kilometers everyday for study, but it was fun. The first time I got to meet Dragons students was when they came for a Homestay in my village. They were in my village because my uncle, Devendra Kumar Pandey (Bantu), works with Dragons and he is my guru (teacher) and he has taught me so many things. Seeing my uncle’s dedication to his work with Dragons as an instructor and the way he worked with students inspired me a lot because he was teaching about our culture and our country. I felt blessed from Lord Shiva and Mother Ganga when my uncle invited me to Varanasi to attend high school and college because neither exist in my village.

When I moved to Varanasi I was introduced to Ganga ji (the Ganges), one of the oldest and secret and holiest River for Hindi pilgrimage. I used to go to bathe in the river, and unfortunately now its very dirty, but the river still carries the same mythical story and holiness for the Hindu pilgrimage. When I moved to Varanasi, I got chance to host Dragons students in my home. I started teaching Hindi and little bits about my culture. It gave me an opportunity to improve my English language skills from the students too. After finishing my schooling, I was invited to help on Dragons programs, meet students who were my age, and learn about the methodology and philosophy. During this time I graduated with degrees in sociology and philosophy, and completed a Master’s in Indian philosophy and religion from Benaras Hindu University. After all this time, it’s a joy to look back and realize that I have been working with Dragons programs since 2005.

Notes of Interest

1.) Ladakh means “land of high passes”

2.) Varanasi’s name comes from two old and sacred rivers, the Varuna and the Assi. When you combine the two, Varuna + Assi, you get the name Varanasi.

3.) Khashi, another name for Varanasi, means cosmos.

4.) Benaras’s name comes from bana meaning ready, and ras meaning nectar. So the meaning of Benaras is “ready to serve the nectar of life.”

I am excited to work with all and and with my colleagues. Nick ji is very wonderful teacher and I have learned a lot from him when ever I met him. I am also looking forward to working with MJ-ji she is great person who knows a lot about India. I am also getting ready to meet you all and learn from everyone! I am looking forward to meeting you all and teaching you about my country’s religion and history.

I hope you are all ready to begin our journey up into the beautiful Himalayas, where we will get to challenge ourselves along the ups and downs of the mountain contours, similar to life. This is the first lesson to learn! And then we are going to be in one of the most gorgeous places, Varanasi, a place of profound learning.There is much more to come from incredible India. My country contains so many colors and histories, religions, different foods, and welcoming hearts. Get ready for the many flavors of India!

I am really excited to meet you all and share my experience and knowledge. I hope to make this 2018 Fall Himalayas To The Ganges program the time of your life. If you have any question related to India or Indian culture or program you can post them here or email me too!

Welcome you all,

Namastey and Julley

Saurabh Pandey

[email protected]