Varanasi Again – 48: The curious case of the missing deity

‘Thus, you see, Nandi the bull is still facing its deity, even though the temple is no more there,’ I said. ‘But shouldn’t the statue of Nandi also have been moved, now that the location of the temple has changed?’, the children asked. I smiled, ready to spring one more surprise on my unsuspecting listeners.…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 48: The curious case of the missing deity

Varanasi Again – 47: The story of the shifting temple

‘You know’, I started, ‘long ago there were two very sacred shrines to Shiva or Shankara in Kashi, the city of light.’ Vandita, and Vatsala listened in rapt attention. ‘Actually,’ I corrected myself, ‘there were many throughout the city. But the most sacred, the most revered were the two shrines of Shiva where he was…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 47: The story of the shifting temple

Varanasi Again – 46: The lingam that moved….

‘Why is the lingam placed eccentrically to one side, Papa?,’ the elder one asked, as we filed out of the KV Dham Corridor, and started to retrace our steps to the barge which waited for us at the Lalita ghat. I smiled, delighted at where I knew the conversation was going. The walk back would…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 46: The lingam that moved….

Varanasi Again – 43: A well, a bull and a tree

Historical picture of the Nandi Bull at Kashi Vishwanath Shrine There on the northern side of the quadrangular enclosure around the temple was a tree – a Ficus tree!! Is it……?? My thoughts trailed off……my eyes scanning the area for the other two objects. Yes, there they were – the bull and the small octagonal…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 43: A well, a bull and a tree

Varanasi Again – 42: Inside the shrine

The Kashi Vishwanath corridor that we walked along was seventy five meters wide, and at least several hundred meters long. Flanked by shops, museums, tourist amenities and walkways, the corridor was also decorated by several interesting statues including those of Adi Shankaracharya, the proponent of Advaita Vedanta and the architect of modern Hinduism as we…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 42: Inside the shrine

Varanasi Again – 41: The Gyanvapi Kupa

It was Krita Yuga, also known amongst the laymen as the Satayuga, or the age of truth. This was the age when man was nearest to God, and godliness, when Gods and angels, and demi-Gods walked the earth and lived amongst the ordinary mortals like normal people. Creation was young, and people honoured traditional wisdom…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 41: The Gyanvapi Kupa

Varanasi Again – 8: The well of light

Ghats of Varanasi

I got up and I followed him, the Yogi with the matted locks, and blue throat. I followed him wordlessly, for words were not needed now, had ceased to exist, have any meaning. The Yogi had awakened my third eye, the aagya chakra which makes sight without eyes, and hearing without ears possible. My forehead…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 8: The well of light

Varanasi Again – 7: The Adi Yogi

Ghats of Varanasi

I looked at him wide-eyed, mouth open in wonder, unable to comprehend what he wanted me to do. There came a pause, a hiatus in time as I remained frozen, kneeling on the steps of the ghat, staring at the tall ascetic with the blue throat, and the Adi Yogi, the one with three eyes…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 7: The Adi Yogi

Varanasi Again – 6: Shivoham

Ghats of Varanasi

It IS Rudra….the Adi Yogi, a small voice whispered to me, but I did not believe it, not even when I saw his iridescent blue neck, and the fire of destruction glowing in his third eye. Suryashashankavahninayanam……. the voice inside my head intonated one of the many names of Shiva. Still I did not believe…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 6: Shivoham

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…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 5: The blue throat

Varanasi Again – 4: The ascetic with the trident

Ghats of Varanasi

I stood still in the gathering dark, rooted to the spot, frozen immobile with anticipation, not batting an eyelid, and hardly breathing. I stood still, alone on the banks of the Ganga, at the Lalita ghat, watching the dark figure materialise from nowhere. It emerged from the shimmering waters of the river which flowed slowly,…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 4: The ascetic with the trident

Varanasi Again – 3: The axis mundi

Ghats of Varanasi

Varanasi – the piece of land between the rivers Varuna, and Assi, is the land chosen by the Mahadeva, the primordial ascetic Shankara, to be his abode. He resides here as Avimukteshvara, on the request of Martanda, the Sun God. It is through his inspiration that generations of pious travellers, pilgrims, scholars, kings, courtiers, sages,…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 3: The axis mundi

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…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 2: On the ghat

The Reunion XXXVI: The Story Continues

It has been a long time since I told this tale, or rather, continued it. The last blog in this series was written more than ten months ago. Why? Is the story over? Far from it. Then why? Maybe it is because I have said whatever I wanted to say, the pent-up emotions have been…… Continue reading The Reunion XXXVI: The Story Continues

The Legend of Shankara – 15: The six streams

As the sun rose from behind the snowcapped peaks in the distance, shining its golden light on the little hamlet of Dev Prayag, Shankara sat on the banks of the Ganga along with his disciples, contemplating his next move and answering the queries of his followers. The number of his followers had swelled, and now included sanyasins, and scholars, and…… Continue reading The Legend of Shankara – 15: The six streams

The Legend of Shankara – 14: Shankara leaves Kashi

Shankara was unhappy leaving Kashi, the city of light. The city had practically become his home for the last several months that he had stayed, and studied, and taught, and debated there. He had gained a huge following of students and admirers. The adherents to his Advaitic philosophy had grown, people had begun to see the light; the light of…… Continue reading The Legend of Shankara – 14: Shankara leaves Kashi

The Legend of Shankara – 13: Shiva summons Shankara

Ever since his ‘chance’ encounter with the chandala in Kashi, Shankara had become increasingly restless. He knew not what ailed him, but his peace of mind had been disturbed. No more could he enjoy the tranquil placidity of the atman, or the peace of the deep meditative states whereby he used to unravel the mysteries of the Vedanta. A sense of urgency…… Continue reading The Legend of Shankara – 13: Shiva summons Shankara

The Legend of Shankara – 12: A small diversion, and a word of caution

Before we continue our story of Adi Shankara, we must necessarily make a small diversion. This blog was supposed to be about the Bhaja Govindam, and I offer my apologies to those readers who would have been expecting this. However, several issues need to be clarified, some pertinent points need elaboration, before we can rejoin the mainstream…… Continue reading The Legend of Shankara – 12: A small diversion, and a word of caution

The Legend of Shankara – 11: The Manishapanchakam

The sun rose in the sky from the eastern banks of the river Ganga, washing the city of Kashi, which nestled on its western banks, in its golden light. The city was already alive with the sounds of Vedic chants, temple bells, conch shells, cymbals, and drums. The city and its inhabitants had risen early, always, since times immemorial,…… Continue reading The Legend of Shankara – 11: The Manishapanchakam