Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Banaras -An Enigma.

India is vast country, not by the land mass, but by the ocean of humanity, which explodes into countless cultures, traditions, customs and colours. It is not mere a statistic of a billion , but it's an energy latent, which flows in all the directions, with all its surreal razzmatazz . The composite culture of India is an unique example of how humans believing in different things coexist and celibrate the existence, with thousands festivals . All the thoughts which flew on the crest of ocean waves and air , have assimilated into each other , blessing us with the blend of the finest human existence possible on the planet called earth.
One thing which will always attract people , pilgrims and travelers to Banaras , is its unique quality of isolation. One can find oneself in complete isolation, in the midst of crowd, as if the crowd in itself , is insulating the individual from the crowd. Yes, the city will make you stand at a plateau and make you watch the humdrum of the city from far off Rajghat, which is one of the oldest Ghats. It is from here that you can find Mother Ganges turning into Sage Ganga, with the serenity in its bosom and peace in its stride towards its next frontier. Ah! It has many colors. Folklore says that the famous Shehnai Player, Late Ustad Bismillah Khan Sahab denied the offer to migrate to various countries, for the sole reason that he would not be near to his river Ganga Mayia(Mother).
Banaras is in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which had been bypassed by the modern development sweeping the nation. Infrastructure is failing and so is its law and order. The very river which makes it a holy city, for its northwards flow in Varanasi, has come to a state where it carries sewage and not the self purifying water from the Himalayas. Any other amenity which might make the life and journey comfortable of a resident or tourist is missing. It is a pity that there has been no change and several half hearted efforts, unworthy of any mention. And the list goes on. Despite of all the shortcomings it attracts people in hoards. It is thronged by the visitors from the Southern India , Northern, Eastern and the Western. It is a must see or rather must feel destination for many of the foreign tourists.
So, when you are soaking up in the mele of the ocean of humanity, merging into the galaxy of spirituality with the cries of prayers and the sighs of awe and wonder, you are , that very moment, connected with the ancient , present and the future, eternity in short. Eternity escorts and the man jumps out of the boat of time and space and is lost in the lap of beyond. Is there any such place? Those who feel the undercurrent stick it out instead of getting repelled by the muck and dirt around. Though that is not a justification of the situation.
Therefore it is an enigma, a mystery and a puzzle, yet to be solved and understood. Till the time it intrigues and perplexes the minds , it might attract.
Let us find out.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Life Lives or Leaves.

Sadness has a weight of its own. It has the pull of a black hole, sucking the whole being into it. It holds you, shrugs you, sways you, churns you and then when you are silent, it presses you down. The sadness about nothing is the saddest of all. Sadness about a tangible thing is plain absence of aspirational longings. What do you do with the sadness, which has no shape, measure, dimension, spectrum or cause? It has only got the effect, with the sullen, gloomy trap. However, it is the sadness which feels the being or vice a versa. It is in sadness, when one weighs oneself. It is sadness which teaches you to count the beauty of your own breath. Oh sadness! I am happy that I am sad but I have no other option, other than to run away from you. I have longings, which would never be fulfilled. I have thoughts and plans which will die without taking any shape. I have desires which will remain buried in the corners of my heart. I have visions which will have no eyes to see their own existence. When I have nothing and have lost the hopes, I will be left with the reservoir of sadness, never getting a release.
What happens next? I do not know. Those who know the answer will not tell, and those who tell , will never be right. I am sinking under the weight of sadness. And then there are remembrances of my stay in Banaras, when I have watched Ganga/Ganges flow with the serenity of a sage or seer, standing at Rajghat or the stillness of Pepul tree at its banks, assuring the goodness of life or kachauris/fried Indian pancakes, being polished off by the engrossed inhabitants of Banaras or a weaver weaving the famous Banarasi sarees lost in his own rhythm. I fail to compare and comprehend. Yes, life and the way I see it and feel it is a paradox and mystery for me.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Banaras- The Bana(Prepared) Ras(Juice)

Ustad Bismillah passed away two months ago. Though this is an ill timed obituary, I do not feel ashamed to remember him when I feel the same for his beloved and chosen place of residence. he was born in Dumraon, Bihar, near Buxar(famous for the Battle of Buxar). He had moved to Banaras as a young boy, who imbibed the teachings of music from his maternal uncle , at the doorsteps of Kashi Vishvanath Temple. He did not only learn music but the essence of it, which transcends religions, boundaries and communes. When he played, he played for the million Hindu gods and goddesses and for Allah and for Jesus and the gods to be discovered in the lap of time futuristic. He played his Shehnai and made it an instrument of solidarity with the humanity. Ustad saab showed to the world that to live a peaceful life one dos not need an intellect or an elite education , but a simple heart which feels the joys and pains of fellow human beings. His greatness was in his generous simplicity. I had the privilege to listen to him twice , where he accentuated the meaning of Banaras, that is prepared juice of life, for which one dos not need to hunt , when living in Banaras. How true he was?
Let the elixir of life called Banaras intoxicate me.....