I’d Rather Be….that ‘Wanderer’!

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I ordered my third Chai (tea) in just about an hour while I was sitting on the stairs beside Pappu chiwala (chai seller) on Assi Ghat. The Ganga arati was just over and the crowd had started dispersing. The constant buzzing of people’s chit chat, the sound of water waves, the rhythmic Sanskrit Shloka chants of the Vedic students from the adjacent Tulsi ghat  and the occasional temple bell’s sound had consumed me into a peculiar state of mind. I was watching a group of kids blissfully enjoying flying kites, on the ghat. I wanted to freeze in that moment and shut my mind for a while from all my worldly engagements, from my own identity and from all the worldly expectations. I did not want to be alert and proactive about my responsibilities for sometime. I just wanted to loosen myself to flow steadily and have my moment of pondering over “what I want to be”.

Little away from the stairs where I was sitting, a little calf was testing the stamina of the Haridas Sadhu. The langot he had left on the stairs of the ghat to dry was now in possession of the calf. Haridas chased the calf with the best of his ability but gave up soon enough. The calf was back to the mother cow and was giving a victorious look to the old Sadhu while still chewing the remains of the langot. Haridas gave a smiling look to the little calf in response, as if saying “well played buddy”. The unspoken language on which this beautiful relationship was hinged, could be smelt in the air on that ghat, it was just magical. I immediately stood and walked up to Haridas, who had by then returned to his gang of Sadhus to consume his share of chillum puff . I am not sure what I was thinking and what urged me to go to them, but the fact is I was there sitting with those Sadhus on Assi ghat for hours on that December cold evening.

Even though I had never met any sadhu till then, I always had imaginations of meeting one and unrolling my curious mind before him. Then I was there in company of these Sadhus with all the opportunities to clear my doubts and still I did not feel any urge to ask anything, I was just listening to them. I was consumed with the truthfulness of their persona. They were so unaffected by things around. They were talking, singing, laughing, all together without a pattern and every expression was loud and clear, nothing to hide and be measured before expressing. “Ramawadh, it’s time to go to  Manikarnika ghat and enjoy the great show”, said one of the Sadhus. “Come on son, we will show you the real world”, said Haridas while patting on my right shoulder. We were at the greatest shamshan on earth, Manikarnika ghat. There were at least twenty to thirty dead bodies, ready for cremation at that moment. There were family members and relatives of each of the departed ones. “Look there, they all are in either confused or distraught state of mind. Distraught is understandable but why confused, isn’t it what you are thinking”, smiled Ramawadh. He took a puff from his chillum and continues further with his commentary with an enigmatic and detached smile, “There are those who are absorbed in the memories of the departed soul, they are seeing the burning fire but are not quite there to feel the pain, instead are with the free soul. Then there are few who are in extreme pain because they are exactly there seeing the body burning in the fire and they are feeling helpless for failing to save them from the fire. There are many who are trying to believe that they are sad because it is their moral duty to be sad. There are many who know they are not very sad but they are pretending to be sad because after sometime it will be discussed who was sad and who was not. The only one there who is ecstatic, is the blissful free soul”.

After spending sometime there, while standing on the junction of two extreme manifestation of reality – life and death, my vision was clearer as never before. The ego got a decisive dent and showed me the mirror. “It is time for the dinner, we could arrange only for few potatoes today”, said one of the Sadhus. When one decides to be a Sadhu, it not only retires one from all relationships but also from all the material possessions and the urge to earn. This is a rule of any Sadhu gang, to depend on the world for sustenance  of the physical body. World may call this lack of self-respect but Sadhus use this as tool to control their ego.    I took the responsibility to arrange for the bonfire and some more potatoes as well. I literally went up to few shopkeepers, in the nearby market and asked for some wood, a matchstick and some potatoes for dinner. I was damned by few but at last someone expressed mercy. In all those years, I could never felt as light and relieved while begging for those things. It was not the first time that I asked for a help from strangers but earlier I acted as equal, this time I was truly humble and literally begging. It was as if I could offload all my worldly identities and washed myself clean. I felt pure and very light. The need of getting recognized, respected for my identity had suddenly vanished. We sang some Ram bhajans while we ate our dinner. I borrowed a blanket from Ramawadh for sleeping. We slept just there on the stairs of the Kedar ghat around the bonfire we had lit. I was having the best sleep of my life, for I did not have to think about tomorrow, for I was free from feeding to the fake ego of mine of all those years. I had the best sleep of my life in that cold night.

The sci-fi ringtone of my iphone was loud enough to awake me, the screen said it is ‘Papa’. “The dinner is ready and you have to complete your packing as well, come back  immediately” worried voice of Papa was clearly telling, I was late. I had to fly to Delhi for my flight to Pittsburgh USA. My holidays were over and I was to fly back and report to my work in two days. Suddenly I realized, I had just finished my fourth chai while still sitting on the stairs beside Pappu Chaiwala. I turned back and saw Haridas Sadhu was still enjoying his chillum puff and I could only mumble to myself:

I’d Rather Be….that ‘Wanderer’!

I’d Rather Be…
Suddenly

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30 Comments Add yours

  1. Sweet. So visual, experiential. The words place me there, right beside you, as you experience the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. satyanveshee says:

      Oh you read that. Thank you. When I finished writing this piece last night I remembered you 😊

      Like

    2. satyanveshee says:

      BTW, just wanted to check with do you do you go there frequently for your projects.

      Few years back I had met one Canadian photographer on Assi ghat who was there for his theme of ‘Cow’. Yesterday I saw on your profile you are Canadian and this memory just flashed.

      Like

  2. Jugal says:

    Amazing Shailendra….wonderful writer you are. Some of the lines which i can corelate are :::Having number of tea at Assi ghat, willingness to forget everything, especially my own entity, and staying with Sadhu for a day atleast.. Keep writing Buddy, well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Perpetua says:

    A perfect way just To Be

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MythRider says:

    You like to wonder. I like to explore. We have something in common.
    I really like your photograph. So simple yet speaks volumes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. satyanveshee says:

      Thanks! Yes I read few of your write ips and I could immediately relate to them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. MythRider says:

        It nice to have friends who understand. ;0)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. satyanveshee says:

        Yes, that provides you some sense of validated 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  5. calmkate says:

    well written, you’d rather be true to yourself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. satyanveshee says:

      That is the essence of life, being true to self.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. calmkate says:

        nothing better 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. millidiary says:

    Very well written!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rupali says:

    Thanks for the tour to various ghats and events in Banaras. I am sure you are a wanderer in your own way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. satyanveshee says:

      I am glad you felt visiting ghats.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Rupali says:

        I wish to go and stay in Varanasi for a few days. Let’s see when I get invite from kashi vishvanath. In our family it is a belief that one gets darshan only when one is invited.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. lifelessons says:

    An incredible photo. Is it yours?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. satyanveshee says:

      I clicked it. In the picture is a Sadhu (Hindu Ascetic or Yogi) on bank of Ganges.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Awesome story with an apt picture, too good. The flow was superb. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. MNL says:

    very cool. I visited a place I’d never been before and met folks I have never met. It was very cool how you went beyond talking to them to get to know them, but joined their lifestyle to understand and also learn their truth for your self. I enjoyed it very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. satyanveshee says:

      We all are chained up in our identities that we almost loose our instinct of exploring other aspects of our being.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. millidiary says:

    Hii.. hey I have nominated you for the versatile blogger award. Congrats!!!!!! https://millidiary.wordpress.com/2018/03/27/versatile-blogger-award/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. satyanveshee says:

      Thank you so much, I cant express in words how I am feeling. I never thought I am this good to be recognized on a social platform., nor did I ever imagined that someday I would earn admirers who would nominate me for any award. I am just speechless and feel extremely humbled to this gesture.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. citybanjaran says:

    Life is meant to wander and wonder! If not, then what is its purpose?

    Liked by 1 person

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