I initially went to India in 2008 to deepen my understanding of yoga. After more than a dozen trips, I see the practice of yoga, the country of India and our place in the world through an entirely different lens. I was introduced to a variety of interpretations of what it means to practice yoga, spent time with the first female sadhus to participate in an ancient gathering of 100 million people called the Kumbh Mela, fled a devastating monsoon that took the lives of 12,000 people, spent time with people whose bodies were ravaged by polio, and struggled to understand the sufferings and joys of those I met along the way.
Throughout these trips, I watched how people interacted with the River Ganga, recognized as a Goddess whose waters relieve the sins of humanity. I realized that the thread that tied this part of India together, both physically and spiritually, was this river. I became fascinated with the juxtaposition between a clear spiritual devotion to the river and the modern reality that it is one of the most toxic rivers in the world.
What began as a search to deepen my yoga practice became a love affair with the Ganga - and all bodies of water - that deserve the reciprocal care and attention of those who turn to them for solace, sustenance and redemption. It also became an inquiry into how to live in meaningful ways to the very best of our abilities.
River of Offerings is a hard cover photography and story book (approximately 225 pages) covering twelve stories from a variety of locations along the Ganga, India’s sacred river, from Gangotri in northern India to the delta where it opens into the Bay of Bengal.
There are multiple ways to enjoy this book: read cover to cover, read one story at a time, or simply view the photographs.
Included in the book are stories about trolling through the largest mangrove forest in the world, two major religious festivals of millions of pilgrims, spending time with a group of men with polio, three days in Manikarnika Ghat, the cremation ground in Varanasi, following toxic waste down the Yamuna, the Chota Char Dham (a pilgrimage to the top of the Ganga), and trips into Nepal and Tibet to other tributaries that feed into the Ganga.
Excerpt from the book:
In the morning, we’re standing on what’s left of the road, brushing our teeth, looking at what the divine goddess has taken away. A tiny roadside restaurant’s sign reads Love All Serve All and I take the sign as a sign. Everyone I meet seems to as well, because we’re sharing in one of those “survival ordeals” where a window inside all of us opens for a short time, revealing what we know and apparently just as soon forget during normal waking hours: we are all from the same family. The storm has washed away everything unessential, including culture and caste, and left people who are happy to be together. We look up at a sliver of blue in the sky. The morning’s small talk among car passengers is a collective prayer in a variety of languages that the rain has come to an end. Our new friends push the car to get it started and we begin another day’s travel.
I chose to self-publish to craft the best reading and visual experience possible of over 200 pages of stories and photographs on high quality paper. The research, writing and design is complete. I hope to raise $35,000 to cover the printing of the first edition.
This is an all-or-nothing campaign, so we must reach our goal in order to make this book a reality. Sharing this link with your contacts and on social media to help spread the word about this project would also be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance for your support!
Upon successful funding, I plan to submit the final files for the book to the printer this fall. The book will be delivered in spring 2020.
"This book is a rare and extraordinary offering. It brings the flow of the sacred Ganges river directly into our hearts. In India the Ganga is more than a river of water. It is a river of consciousness and love...and for those with souls ripe to feel, it is a path of purification for our hearts. Immerse your Self in this sublime and beautiful offering.” ~ Krishna Das
"In mythic time, the Goddess Ganga, daughter of Brahmā, India’s Jehovah, was overwhelmed by compassion for beings suffering from thirst, and so graciously flung herself down from heaven to become the sacred river Ganges. Today the holy river is also one of the most toxic. This book takes us down the river to reveal its world of overwhelming beauty and unspeakable horror, opening our minds and hearts. Jennifer’s skilful vision and intense devotion kindles our meditation on the different qualities of the river, letting her become our teacher. She teaches us that we each have our own special flow to share, we each are a River of Offerings. Her photography immerses us in a lucid dream, kindling our joyful awareness, inspiring us to dare to love the world, as it is, yet moved to powerful action to make it better." ~ Robert A. F. Thurman, Buddhologist Emeritus
"This is more than just a book about the Ganga. Crafted over many years of tireless work, and undertaken out of palpable love for a people and a place, it is a work of great artistry. The stunning photos, and the text that accompanies them, give astonishing insights into the many faces of the great river, and into the mysteries and contradictions of life—and death—for those who live along it. It is also the record of a personal pilgrimage, and a testament to how deeply landscapes and people can transform us in ways we can’t foresee." ~ Dr. Mark Singleton, author of "Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice"
“River of Offerings takes you on an adventurous journey that flows like the most prominent river in the world. Jennifer has a special way with story and image and a deep emotional connection to the places she pilgrimmed to tell this special story. I was lucky enough to join her on a small part of the journey, and the way she experienced the place and then recreated it here is just pure magic! The images offer a special way to revisit the adventure again and again, and I know I will.” ~ Melissa Arnot Reid, first American woman to ascend/descend Everest without oxygen, mountain guide, mother
The Author and Photographer
I’m the founder of Breathe Together Yoga in Los Gatos, California, and the JOY of Yoga School of Integrative Learning. I have been practicing yoga for thirty years, teaching yoga for twenty, and training yoga teachers and running retreats throughout the world for over a decade. Before that, I was an Associate Professor of storytelling, storyboarding and creativity, as well as a professional artist. In the last ten years, my primary creative outlet outside of yoga has been photography. My mother worked for Eastman Kodak Company when I was a child, and free film developing inspired a love for photography. Photography is an incredible medium to meet the moment as it is and to meet people where they are.
Risks and challenges
All there is left to do at the end of this campaign is printing and shipping. Beyond funding the book, the primary challenge for any book project is the printer's schedule. The possibility of delay is always a risk, so I've made the delivery date spring of next year, although it may arrive sooner.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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