There is no happiness for him who does not travel.
― The Aitareya Brahmana
Somewhere, we imagine, sits a robed wise man with a long, flowing white beard, alone on a mountain giving advice to those who make the trek to ask for it. Okay, that guy probably doesn’t exist but, if he did, we think this is the advice the wise old Guru would give anyone seeking happiness.
Although this is one of our favorite travel quotes, it is actually advice for living. The line comes from the Aitareya Brahmana, itself part of an ancient Indian collection of sacred Veda Sanskrit hymns called the Rigveda. It is one of the four canons of Hinduism known as the Vedas (which translates, roughly, to “knowledge”). According to tradition, the author of the Aitareya Brahmana was Mahidasa Aitareya in the 1st millennium BCE, likely around 700-600 BC.
In the Brahmana, we meet a young man named Rohita, and Indra, one of the more celebrated gods of the Rigveda and, as it happens, the protector of travelers. The quote is part of a longer passage in which Indra extols the virtues of a life spent traveling. Indra is impressing upon Rohita the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. (If that doesn’t sound familiar, it will in a moment.)
There is no happiness for him who does not travel, Rohita! Thus we have heard: Living in the society of men, the best man becomes a sinner; therefore, wander! The fortune of him who is sitting, sits; it rises when he rises; it sleeps when he sleeps; it moves when he moves. Therefore, wander!
Meanwhile, we’ve heard yet again that Americans are just about the worst in the world at taking vacations. (Though they certainly don’t have the workaholic market cornered!) Plus, we’ve heard time and again that sitting (at your desk or on your sofa) is the new smoking. It. Will. Kill. You. Therefore, wander!
Isn’t it odd how timely ancient advice can be?
About the Picture
One of our favorite places to wonder is the Palace of Versailles. We could meander across the broad lawns and long lanes of the palace grounds for days, taking in the beautiful gardens, amazing architecture, and stunning grandeur of a bygone royal era. This photo features Ann wandering the Allee de la Reine from les Deux Trianons towards the palace.
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