Maratika is one of the hidden gems of Nepal. Even though it is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhists and an important site in Hinduism, it still remains relatively off-the-beaten-track for visitors. However, in the last couple of years, with a new road and a relatively improved infrastructure that connects Kathmandu to Maratika, the landscape of the place changes rapidly and brings many new visitors.
Maratika is the land of immortality. One of six supreme pilgrimage sites for Buddhists, it constitutes a complex of caves in eastern Nepal, most located in the village of Halesi and nearby area. In the main of these caves, Guru Padmasambhava and one of his female consorts, Queen Mandarava obtained the realization of immortal life after a longevity meditation retreat. Maratika has three protectors – Manjushri (representing wisdom), Avalokiteshvara (compassion) and Vajrapani (power), which appear around the caves, on top of beautiful green hills from which countless Buddhist flags interconnect and flutter to the wind. The central hill, where Avalokiteshvara resides, is the holy space holding the two main caves of Maratika and next to which the Maratika Monastery shines it’s beautiful red hue over the village.
I was in Maratika for the first time in 2016 and have since visited two more times. My second visit lasted 3 months during which I was the first English teacher for the Maratika monks. That was an experience transcending words and descriptions, and rather resembling a continuous retreat within myself.
Being in that wondrous environment does something very magical for each of us in our own unique way. It seems to awaken our little dark creatures, our doubts and insecurities, which we otherwise so conveniently manage to store in the compartments of our bodies. And that happens because Maratika is giving us the safety to heal. We feel that we finally have the strength and nourishment to sit within and resolve what we previously have not been able to.
While teaching, going on long walks, visiting the caves, almost without noticing, we thankfully shed what is not needed any longer and create space for new light to enter. In the silence of Maratika, we hear our own voice. In the chaos of the daily life of the village, we create anew our inner order.
So perhaps one day we meet for a cup of chai in the tiny streets of Maratika?
In the meantime, it is wonderful that more and more people are touched by this place and feel the invitation to support or visit it. The English programme has been going steadily for over an year now and you can read about how a day of an English teacher there looks like here https://www.maratikafoundation.com/post/a-day-in-the-life. The Maratika Foundation is involved in many other projects supporting the community there, which you can read all about on our website here https://www.maratikafoundation.com. And of course, ILoveYoga has been gracefully supporting Maratika by selling our merchandise, all of which you can see here https://www.iloveyoga.nl/nl/brands/maratika-foundation/