Varanasi Again – 2: On the ghat

Ghats of Varanasi

It is dark, and deathly silent on the ghats where I stand. I can hear the gentle lapping of the waters of the ageless river that flows on the eastern bank of the immortal city. Her waters shimmer with the cold light of the celestial disc that lights up the sky, hiding the dark innards of the river. Her waters are warm, the night is cold, a luminous haze hovers over the waters, sometimes moving, sometimes still…tentative.

Why am I here, out on the ghats, all alone? I wonder.

The city is quiet, asleep. The distant crackle of the pyres reaches my ears where the people have left their dead to burn through the night on the banks of the divine river, on the ghats of the ancient city; left them to burn assured that those who die here will earn their place in Shiva’s abode.

Where am I? Which ghat is this? I ask myself, and get no answer in return. Even my inner voice is silent.

I am conscious of the dome of the temple looming behind me…it is the Vishveshwara, the Jyotirlinga, the site of Gyanvapi, the well of wisdom, where Rudra the ancient one, had manifested himself as the pillar of fire – fire of creation and destruction. This is where he had promised to reside – forever – as the Vishwanath Lingam. The site is Gyanvapi, the shrine is Vishwanath – Kashi Vishwanath. It looms behind me, dark, silent. Why is it silent? Where is everyone?

There is no one to answer my questions. But wait – there is someone on the ghats, emerging from the waters, the dark depths of the Ganga. I recognise the place now. If the Gyanvapi is behind me, and the Ganga flows in front of me, I must be at the Lalita ghat. Lalita, meaning beautiful, is another name for Gauri, for Parvati, for Shakti, Shiva’s consort. This is the place closest to his heart, isn’t it? The ghat named after her, the shrine named after him…… I am in the heart of Kashi – the city of light!!

………………………….

Till next time………………

Shivoham – I am Shiva!

By Divya Narain

Additional Professor in Plastic Surgery, doting father, loving husband, newbie author. Love travel and literature. Love reading religion, politics and history!

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