Monika Maširević | I Will Survive: the Adventures from a Pilgrimage in India

Monika Maširević

About the author

Monika Maširević was born in 1971. She graduated from The Faculty of Education in Sombor and holds a BA degree in Primary Teacher Education. She has been working as a librarian for more than twenty years. She is employed at the City Library of Novi Sad. Her work as an editor of the cultural programs and the organization of promotions at the Novi Sad library has been widely recognized.

She is very enthusiastic about Indian culture, and everything originating from the Indian soil. She has been passionately researching all related to India; first and foremost the religion, architecture, philosophy and music since childhood. She has visited India eight times so far. Since recently, she has aimed her adventuristic spirit towards the travels exclusively to India so she could explore the new areas she hasn’t visited yet. She is a solo traveler, and she shares her experiences and impressions with the Serbian audience through the public appearances (TV and radio shows) and lectures considering this call a part of her life mission: bringing the Indian culture and spirituality closer to the Serbian audience.

She has held numerous lectures and Indian cultural evenings in many Serbian towns where she has presented this remote and exotic country, which in many segments carries the prefix multi, to the Serbian audience followed by slides and photographs from the personal collection. The topics of her travel lectures are the following: “In the Brahma’s City — a Guide through Pushkar”, “The Religions of the World — Hinduism”, “Life in Indian Ashrams”, “A Journey to Rajasthan”, “The Descend of the River Ganges”, “A Guide through India”, “The Ancient Indian Temples and their Building”, “A Guide through Pilgrimage”…

She has organized numerous lectures at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, and she is one of the initiators of the Diwali celebration in Novi Sad. She has spoken about Indian poetry through centuries several times. Besides, she has organized The Evening of India dedicated to Hindi language at The City Library of Novi Sad. Thanks to Monika’s lectures, the population of Serbia got a chance to find out more about many places of cultural and religious significance in India, and to hear about the way people in India live, as well as about the local customs and tradition. She selflessly shares her unconditional love for India, and the experiences she has been accumulating for more than a decade with the residents of Serbia.

She is also a photography enthusiast. She has had several solo exhibitions in Novi Sad, Belgrade, Sombor, Subotica and Srbobran. In March 2017, she has dragged attention with the exhibition and performance named The Doors of India held in the cafe–gallery Frida in Novi Sad, inspired by the doors and gates she has photographed in India, as well as with the philosophy of reincarnation.

Extracts from her travel diaries made during travels around India have been published in the youth magazine “Pokret”, published in Sombor, as well as the library magazine “Mozaik”. Her articles have been published in the daily newspapers (Danas, Dnevnik, Novosadski reporter…).

The notes from her sixth voyage to India have got their form in the travelogue named I Will Survive: the Adventures from a Pilgrimage in India where she has introduced the unusual world of the Indian belifs to the readers. This book is her first work of literature, through which she has become known to the Serbian audience, and acquired numerous readers interested in the culture of India. During 2019, she has held more than twenty promotions of her book on India as well as the Evenings of Indian culture.

Apart from writing and photography, Monika has another hobby — glass and ceramic painting. For the World Day of Poetry, Monika has prepared an exhibition of decorative bottles at the Novi Sad City Library, decorated with verses of Indian poets in Hindi. Within the family estate she also has her atelier where she has been actively creating for more than a decade.

Monika is in the midst of writing of her second travelogue “A Journey to Rajasthan” based on her travels through the Rajasthani towns of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Mandawa, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Ajmer, Pushkar… As an expression of her unconditional love for India, she is dedicating this book to India and its people.

She lives and works in Novi Sad. She is married with a son, Nikola.

Monika Maširević

About the book

The book contains fifty five stories which are chronologically arranged following a pilgrimage the author has undertaken in November, 2016. The notes from a personal diary the author has kept about both the places she visited, as well as the internal turbulences during the pilgrimage have been transformed into the book named I Will Survive, after the return to Serbia.

While traveling around the cities in India (Rishikesh, Haridwar, Delhi, Varanasi, Pushkar, Mathura, Jaipur, Hampi… Monika Maširević is experiencing a series of situations which are at times frightening, unpleasant and tiring. In a very picturesque manner, the author describes all the hardships she has exposed herself to: sleeping on the marble floor of the Delhi metro, taking a bath at the public toilet in Bombay, a train journey without food which lasted for several days, climbing up the temples located at far flung locations.

All the hardships have contributed to the author to achieve the inner peace, to combat her ego, to reexamine her limits and endurance, and finally find certain spiritual truths. The book presents a seductive note on personal transformation and invites you to a magical journey to self–knowledge.

Apart from encouraging the reader to reexamine his personal life path, the book introduces the reader with people, culture and landscapes of the Indian subcontinent.

Excerpts from the book

And, yet it happened

A pilgrimage is a long journey towards a certain place, which has its profound religious reasons. A human is a being who is a traveler from birth to death; perpetually moving. There is no permanent place of residence for him in this world. There is just a road located between the two worlds, the ephemeral and the eternal, which has to be crossed. The desire for knowledge and the new experiences motivated me to embark on another journey and the exploration of India. I was fully aware that this journey is pretty long, even dangerous, tiring, and above all – uncertain. I knew that I would have to cover thousands of kilometres of the stony ground so I could reach the truth or a spiritual discovery. I wanted to know more about myself, to get deeper into the depths of my soul and examine the limits of my endurance.

Farewell, holy Pushkar lake

Taken by my own thoughts, I have decided to find my inner peace by a cow which layed on one of the ghats and observed what is happeing. I sat near her body, petted her on the head, looked her in the eyes, and silently paid my respect to her. The animal which is holy for all the Indians is holy for me, too. I scratched her behind the ear while my palm was gliding along her body. She obviously enjoyed my attention, and gradually she would cling to my body till she finally reclined on my body. I felt the warmth of her body, her breath and her sporadic looks of her wonderful, large cow eyes. I continued petting her head, and she would lick me frequently, so I felt the roughness of her tongue on my palms. I was sitting next to her for a long time, plunging deeply into myself, and my thoughts.At times, I was in Serbia. I was thinking about my son, his marks, and how he may be coping with his father. The sun has bathed and fried me at the same time, but its warmth was pleasant, and so were the rays which were hugging me. Finally, someone has hugged me, too and I felt someone’s closeness. Had only the cow been able to hug me.

India post scriptum

What I couldn’t have expressed with the worlds or transfer on the paper is the subjective, and the inexplicably strong feeling I have had whenever I have touched a centuries old stone when I stepped into an ancient Hindu temple with my right foot. What I have seen and felt, starting from the entrance door, the altar, the dieties, the sounds, the smells, the mandraps, the shikars, the garbhagrihas, the murtis and the inevitable priests – the brahmins is my world and what I love most about India. The touch of the divine presence on Earth, manifested through the shrines have always attracted me. All the holy places I have visited had a special energy, which I have tried to feel with all my being. For the subtle and the unexplicable beauty I have been charged with, I am still carried by the desire to visit India again, exclusively for the same of pilgrimage. For all the religious places and temples which India has in abundance, I am sure that I will go back.

The Descent of the River Ganges

The source of the River Ganges on Earth is located high in the Himalaya Mountains in the place called Gangotri, around 4000 metres above the sea level. In accordance with the explanations of the vedic astrology, it flows through the entire material Universe, from the highest material planets, via the middle ones, such as Bumandala the Earth belongs to, all the way to the lowest planets of the Universe. The supreme mystics and the Jogis which could be easily spotted on the Himalayas know this secret, and have the skill to travel to any planet of the Universe using the River Ganges and its subtle flow. As well as this, using the same principle, they are capable of visiting various shrines along the river Ganges in a single day, although they are located thousands of kilometres away from each other. The River Ganges originated from the spiritual waters of The Ocean of Causality which is located outside the wrapper of our Universe. According to the vedic tradition, the divine personality has enabled the flow of the River Ganges through the material Universe, so that the spiritual souls which live in the different bodies of this material world could be liberated by bathing in its spiritual waters.

Towards the Temple of Godess Gayatri

There haven’t been many pilgrims by the road. The hill I was climbing wasn’t at the high altitude, but it wasn’t too easy to conquer either. Particularly when you are plump, when you are not in top form, and when you have problems with moving, so your legs hurt, your joints swell, your veins are popping out, your slippers are sliding off your feet, your feet are sweating, and your knees disobey.

I have excluded all those phycial shortages. I have just been looking up towards the temple, and I have been silently telling to myself: You can do it, Monika. Slowly, surely and you will overcome any obstacle. I was encouraging myself feeling stronger with every new step. I didn’t hurry to the top. Every new climbing has brough that inner cleansing when one is alone with his thoughts and plunges into the roads of his soul, letting all the inner dirt float to the surface. Then, you let out all the accumulated emotions and events, you forgive to yourself and the others, and you question whether your decisions are valid. Every message you get while you are climbing, forces you to dig even deeper into the depths of your being. While walking towards the summit, you are also climbing your inner road towards the light which enlightens you, and leads you to the unimaginable possibilities for the inner cleansing. The road you have conquered, and the feeling of happiness are the proof that in such moments nothing material can compensate the feeling of fulfillment, and eudaimonia.

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