Sai Ram Friends,
All other old cities in the world like,Rome,Cairo, Baghdad,Venice etc are alive and buzzing with activities,but Varanasi is as ancient as the human civilization. and still a functional city spiritually and otherwise
Once Mr B. Bhattacharya said,”Who does not know Varanasi?Or who does?
It is a mysterious city,which unfolds itself very slowly and with great love once you approach her with love and awe.It’s wrinkled face has the eternal beauty of youth,a smile which defies the time,her arms wide open to embrace all,sinners as well as pious.You have to feel her,you cannot just have a casual interaction with Varanasi.Varanasi is the story of our lives with all the bright as well as grey shades.
I don’t think there is any other city in India which generates so much curiosity and awe,devotion and interest as Varanasi,the oldest,fascinating,gorgeous and mystifying city.It is said that Varanasi rejuvenates itself over a period of time and that is why it never loses its youthful charm.This city has its own social norms and character.But the original Kashi was dislocated several times and there had been many Kashis or Varanasis.
It is always difficult rather impossible to say that I know Varanasi.I doubt if anyone knows Varanasi in totality.It’s echo travels from the far distance,from some other times.But it is still vibrant,full of life and always gay and intoxicated,may be in Baba Viswanath,Ganges,Bhairon or Sankat Moachan.It is the only city in the world which in real sense worships the mystery of life.
Varanasi defies the myth of divide between Dravidian and Aryan civilization.Although the former were considered to be the original inhabitants of Varanasi,in fact the valley of Hindukush or what we call today as I ndia belonged to a race which were neither Dravidian or Aryans.They were pushed to mountains and deep forests by both of these races.In fact India and in particular Varanasi belonged to them.The original Gods of this civilization were Ganesh and Bhairon in different forms,like Neel Madhav who was being worshiped originally in Orissa at the temple which became famous for Lord Jagannath.Varanasi was destroyed again and again.Every time it rose,refused to die,defied all the attacks,abuses,and this stubborn,unparalleled city refused to be reduced to dust,to be silent.It rejuvenated itself again and again after every molestation,humiliation,misery just by accepting new norms,changing on surface,while keeping its soul intact.Was it due to Siva always peaceful on the face of storms or Bhairon(time the fearsome)as the guardian angel of the city.It was an unique case of survival.It has unique character which mixes past with present,stubbornness with flexibility,conservatism with liberty of ideas.Due to this it has acquired status of an immortal city with echoes of past and challenges of the future.Varanasi has never lost its soul as it is the soul of all humanity.
For me Varanasi is a dreamland which I visit regularly.It pulsates in my nerves,it is my faith,it is my soul.Sometimes it is relaxed,sometimes it is firm,very lonely amidst the crowd.B.Bhattacharya said-“Varanasi is Times caravanserai.(I am really grateful to this great man whose writings made it possible for me to discover real Varanasi.)
In Varanasi,everything is mixed up,old and new,good and evil,filth and purity,but the uppermost thing is that it promises hope,assurance and peace.It has been a retreat for a recluse like me,but it is equally receptive of scholorly,,religious cynics and hermits.
It is a city which rejects all the traditions while accepting them,it rejects all the form while establishing a unique form of herself,a city which is perpetually old,as never touched by youth,untouched by time which has refused to make it stale.
At every corner there are cows,priests,paupers,a bereaved weeping,mad man slowly obscenities,a marriage procession along with a procession for cremation,both equally joyous,widows waiting to die in this holy city for their salvation,sadhus almost mad in divine love,singing devotional songs,the holy Ganges along with filthy streets and lot of dirt in that cool-deep,perennial and ancient Ganges.There are lepers,monkeys,beggars,donkeys,along with those ancient temples which promises salvation,This is Varanasi as someone has said,”VARANASI IS DESPERATE,VARANASI IS GAY WHILE IT IS MORBID.”
Varanasi has something to offer to everyone from any field of life.
In Varanasi,you will find that it acts as a soothing balm on your tortured and battered soul.It is home,it is a secluded corner for a religious,battered,tortured soul.It welcomes all,Thugs,Prostitutes,Yogis,Tantriks,Philosophers,common man,house holders,religious man,students,All are welcome in Varanasi,which keeps her arms open to welcome all of us,like a mother,like a Goddess and it is the Mother whose lap gives you the final peace.
So I welcome you to this journey of discovering Varanasi.Or discovering your lost Soul.
With warm regards
(To be continued)