Saturday, May 10

Panihati

It is a small hamlet by the silt clad banks of Ganga. The Ganges, if you like it. I have never been to Varanasi, but everytime Discovery beams out those wonderful documentaries laced with Kishori Amonkar’s haunting ragas, I feel a small vacuum inside me. I miss tapping into ‘the flux’. You know how everyone has a bling term.
‘The flux’ is mine. It’s the memento I carry from my dates with spirituality.

There’s more to the aesthetic appeal of dingy streets rising out of smoke and gallies guarded by cows. There’s something beyond the beauty of temple-tops clicked in sunset hues or photogenic sadhus beaming out of saffron portraits. The flux is like this flow of energy that binds the world together, like the electricity that runs the cinemascope of life. Most times we’re so caught up with the imagery that we take the reel for real. But then again there are places, people, situation and times when the flux transcends the matter and energy bares itself if you have the eyes for it. Sometimes you just see it flow past, overwhelmed by it’s magnificence. Sometimes you get to touch it. That’s where the magic begins. Alternate Perception. Seeing more than there is. More than you know exists. I’m not sure if you’re catching the drift of this post, spirituality has seldom been conducive to articulation. It dwells on experience. But let’s just say, knowledge is driven by perception. You know because you perceive. You learn because you’re taught to perceive. But how will we ever know of ‘the flux’ that only few have ever perceived and fewer still have understood? Today it stands twisted as dogmas and rituals in the whore-house of religion that this world is.

Haven’t you ever felt connected to strangers at first sight? Had drunk conversations where words were entirely superfluous? Went to places where stones where livelier than wildflowers that grew around them? Walked down lonely trails but never felt alone? How many has it been that you resonated with every word in a piece of music or literature as if it was your very own? Think about it or think it drunk.. how many times have you transcended your body, the gross nature of matter therein and felt yourself as pure energy, pure flux, suddenly in tandem with a reality that you don’t quite understand but now you know it exists. Beyond you, including you.

I don’t quite know what to make of it. I’ve tried, slogged, learnt, unlearnt. Experienced and understood. Then missed the experience. The flux connects everything – The Bhagavad Gita to The String Theory, Osho to Jim Morrison, Yang and yin to Binary Digits, Kahlil Gibran to the dope hazed Hendrix or LSD to transcendental meditation.
We are all sitting on top of this huge Pandora’s Box but we have no keys. Perhaps it’s all a bit too jumbled up. All too complicated and entangled like knotted shoelaces. Maybe when we learn to unknot them, we’ll get somewhere. But sometimes, the flux is kind.
It flows in rivers and people and places.

I don’t know why, but today I feel like writing about Panihati. 20 kms north of Calcutta, light years from Bombay. I have been there only twice and the last time was almost two and a half years back. Bombay gives you the sea, but there’s something about The River. About this huge body of water drifting past you as you sit on the footsteps of a time-locked temple. Actually twelve. Twelve identical temples is a row, quiet and red in an elevation that is typically eastern. It stands still and desolate without the clamour of Benares. It gives you the silence that only a ruined temple can command. There’s no place for religion here, no haranguing priests. Locals claim that Tagore penned his first works by the ghats of Panihati. Sometimes, God is so simple I Wonder why religion hides It.