We left Portugal and flew next to Madrid in Spain arriving in what has to be the most creative airport we have ever seen, vast waves of natural wood to the horizon, like a gargantuan sculpture. In our small B&B apartment we met with Alvaro Enterria and Oscar Montero, two Spanish men who have adopted Hinduism and have deep knowledge of Hinduism. Alvaro brought his wife Arati (they live most of the year in Varanasi). A long discussion ensued about the state of Hinduism in Spain of which more in our Hinduism Today article.
Next, off to Barcelona where we were met by Elena Saura, a devotee of Mata Amritanandamayi, and Agustin Navarro, members of an unusual and delightful group called Advaityavidya, which has several hundred people from different parts of Spain who come sporadically to the teachings and seminars on Hindu Dharma, with a core group of about thirty to forty people, very dedicated to their seva and sadhana. They follow the teachings of Swami Muktananda Paramahamsa and Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
We shared the day with them, exploring things yogic and dharmic here in Europe. Then, after washing our robes and feeding us the most marvelous Spanish ayurvedic cuisine, they insisted we become tourists among the rather amazing architecture of this city. Our major revelation of the day came when we were taken to the ancient Cathedral of Barcelona, an architectural wonder that took 150 years to build. Cavernous, elaborate, baroque, stunning would be words to describe it.
The amazing part is that this once powerful church, which must have once had thousands in the pews for daily mass, today had not a single worshipper, not one (unless you count us, there to worship one of the forms of Siva). Instead, hundreds of tourists paid to enter, to photograph, to marvel, all wandering these once holy halls as though they were walking through history, which they were! It was a shocking moment to realize how thorough has been the retreat of the faith here. Were this sacred building in India, it would have 100,000 inside worshipping, making offerings, meditating.
That evening we went to the apartment of Jayatma, one of the Barcelona group, to meet for an hour with about eight of the leading lights of Hinduism in Barcelona, plying them with our questions and recording their insights for the article. They were from Sai Baba's group, Divine Life Society and such and helped us to glimpse into the evolution of Hinduism here in Spain, where decades ago Gurudeva thought the youth had the most light he had seen anywhere, the most potential for spiritual growth.
The following morning we were joined for breakfast (what an ayurvedic feast) by Martine Thom, the filmaker who captured the daily life of the aadheenam back in 2000. Martine, who came five hours from her Mediterranean seaside home in France, had many stories to share with the others, giving them insights into life at the monastery. Of course, we took out our iPad and showed her the many things that have happened since her days on Kauai (though that was hard, since she visits TAKA daily).
On our way to the airport, we were taken to the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, commonly known as the Sagrada Família (Temple of the Sacred Family), a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by genius Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. How to describe the artistry of this temple to holiness? Search for it online to see one of the world's architectural wonders, half sculpture, half fantasy, completely awesome. Outside we met a swami who had recently been to Kauai. Small world.
After a final moment together at the Starbucks across the street, off we went to the airport for our flight to Venice, Italy.