Varanasi Again – 5: The blue throat

Ghats of Varanasi

Clang, came the sound as the trident hit the stone steps of the ghat.

Clang! Issued the report, shattering the deathly silence of the night, reverberating across the ghat, and echoing over the dark waters of the Ganga.

Clang, clang, clang, clang…..on and on, the sound of heavy metal against the aged stones of the ghat.

Clang, clang, clang, clang……as the tall ascetic slowly ascended the steps towards the frozen figure waiting for him at the top of the steps – me!

Slowly, as he kept ascending the steps, I could discern his features better. He was tall, must’ve been seven feet or more, fair like the camphor which the priests burn in the temples, invoking the ancient dieties, and built like a bull. His arms, and naked torso rippled with muscles. His shoulders were built like a battle ram. His long hair, some of which he had tied in a loose bun on the top of his head, were matted. He wore several layers of rudraksha beads on his arms, and his wrists. And he wore a garland of……….oh My God……I could not believe my eyes……..he wore a garland of skulls around his neck.

Were they human skulls, I wondered? A mundamala? Really? A garland of skulls? Even the aghoris did not wear them now.

Clang, clang, clang….the aghori kept walking up the steps, towards me. He was just a few steps away from me now, and then I noticed……..My heart palpitating, my mouth dry, my eyes staring unblinkingly, my mind refusing to believe what my eyes saw…..no, no, no, no…..it was not possible!!!!

While his body shimmered an iridescent white, (his fair skin and the shavabhasma, the ash from the burning pyres, could cause that effect) his forehead glowed red, right in the middle of the forehead, between the eyes, where the agyachakra the pontine source of consciousness resides……..it glowed red, like the embers which still burned in the pyres at a distance on the Harishchandra ghat. But no, it was not his forehead which held my eye……….it was his neck…….his neck………it glowed blue…..

Shitikantha, my mind said, ‘neck like the peacock’. No, no, no! It was not possible.

Blue neck, and red forehead. Neelalohita, my mind said. No, no, no……..these were the names of……

As he stood before me, his eyes red, his skin white, his neck blue and his forehead glowing with the primordial fire of destruction, the celestial disc of light, the moon, framed in his matted locks, I knew who he was…………

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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