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BANARAS CALLING - III

GHATS OF BANARAS: LYRICS OF THE MYSTIC – II
THE SPIRITUAL DILEMMA


Jumping into the Ganges water near the edge in the ashes to get some mints – a common scene at both cremation ghats of Banaras, Manikarnika and Harishchandra. A sheer contradistinction to the wave of spiritual awakening that engulfs one while sitting on those steps watching the total physical annihilation of a life that roamed across somewhere here and there. The ‘wave of irrelevance’ that makes everything seem illusionary that I mentioned in my last write up on ghats of Banaras has yet another ‘then and there’ paradox apart from many other material and worldly obligations. After all the flesh reincarnation is supposed to transcend, if at all, experiencing hues of trivialities and necessities of the existence here.

The boys care for nothing for they belong to the section of our society that is entitled to carry out cremation activities. They are known as ‘Dom’. They have their own lifestyle and culture typical to the work they carry out. Their cultural patron ‘Dom Raja’ is considered as important as the ‘Kashi Naresh’ for certain traditions and customs of the city. I will come to that later on.

So the jumping boys care for nothing, be it the scene of cremating bodies, cries of relatives, be it sun in the sky or the pouring rains on the ground, or be it ashes mixed filthy water. They get it from their upbringing as it survives on demise. These ghat dwellers do react like others on demise but for the routine day and the days of their lives, their stiffness in handling their work baffles and so creates the dilemma of presence and demise. Demise is the primary road to their livelihoods and the regular contact to the scene probably makes them much more insular to thoughts of empathy. And, it is a must for them to go. Those boys just jump regularly into the Ganges water at these ghats. The number and frequency increase when some more ash is added to the upstream water for the soul to get the ultimate peace.

While the boys jump everytime to get the possible ultimate deal. Normally, the ornaments that are their on a body, are left as such. So they try to catch a bounty when any of them gets a hold on any moulded precious metal from the ashes gone deep down the descending steps. For them the material worth of body is important even after the demise. For relatives, this material worth belonging to that person has no relevance for the time being. During those moments, some feel dejected, disillusioned, disinherited and detached while some like these ghat dwellers find supporting moments for their lives.

Probably this ‘paradox of proximity’ is inherent to the human evolution of super-sense and sub-sense perceptions, something beyond our somatosensory modalities and we seldom go to that required threshold of standard introspection while we are sitting at any of these two ghats and once we are off it. This paradox of behaviour, of ghat dwellers and visitors, acts as a factor in bringing the visitors out of that momentary detachment, when they feel lost sitting on those steps. But do they realize it? No. And they need not. It has been framed like this only. The fulcrums represented by dwellers of these ghats and their subjects represent a spiritual dilemma. The mysticism of this dilemma has a connotation that most of us feel to understand.

Simultaneous existence of the fulcrum of life and the fulcrum of demise at these ghats tells us to introspect. An introspection towards a spiritual mysticism. It tells us to find the mystic in us to align our sensory priorities to construct and deconstruct the moments that we already have lived on. We do it for a bit while sitting on those steps but then we are brought back. Once we are off of the ghat presence, we totally forget that awakening. Here we fail to go on the introspection that may lead us to relive a rejuvenated life. The understanding and learning of character of detachment of a person while sitting at any of these ghats and the ghat dwellers who are born and brought up there is probably the greatest spiritual dilemma and represents the ‘mystic of the existence and annihilation’.
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