Let us become nobler

Sanskrit word 'Arya' or 'Aryam' stands for nobility. Let us implore everyone to become noble, the Arya or Aryam. Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Jews, communists or capitalists, rich or poor, clever or dumb, weak, meek or bully. Uncomfortable perhaps are they with other, threatening peace. Ray of hope for the world is ‘include-all’ ideas of ancient Indian wisdom popularly known as Hinduism. Only they knew how to celebrate individuality of each person. Aryas respect ideas of others, respect way of worship of others, help others and become a noble citizen of this wide and varied world. Idea behind this blog is to bring out those ideas and help each of us become better than what we are. 'N' in the 'Aryan', by the way, was a mistake made by colonial 'experts' who wanted to underplay and undermine the culture and religion of those who they clandestinely enslaved.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

20- Kailash, Kathmandu and Kashi – A story of Shiva and me.

(A decade ago after a trip to Tibet, Nepal and India, I wrote down my impressions. It was not meant to be a book, however after it was read by some, it was suggested that if it gets published, interested persons can use it. However I thought (and still think) that the narration was more of a personal quest into Bhagavan Shiva and that it may not interest a wider audience. Therefore instead of commercially publishing it, I thought of placing it on a website of Publishing house Harper Collins’s website known as Authonomy.com. It remained on their website for people to review my narration for many years. However, last year, when Harper Collins shutdown Authonomy.com and I realized that some people still wanted to read my account, I decided to place all 26 chapters of that travelogue on this blog. Reader views and comments are welcome)

Chapter 20.  Return Journey, The quest continues.

Our return journey traced the same path as what was taken to reach Manasarovar but we hardly noticed it. Was it our Darshan-intoxication? I wonder. From Lake Manasarovar we were taken to Paryang. A night halt there and we were in Saga for the next night. Here once again we visited the bath-shop and laundry. The last night of Tibet was in Nyalam and the next morning we crossed Tibet-Nepal border. In order to be early at the border, it was decided that we would leave Nyalam before dawn. It had rained heavily during last few days in that area and had made roads too dangerous. At places the road was swept away by gushing rain fed streams. Landcruisers had to take diversions through forested slopes charting new routes in unknown territories under the overcast sky and heavy rains in the pitch darkness of pre-dawn hours. At last we reached Zangmu, the Tibetan border well before gate-opening hours, making us the first in the queue for crossing the border. With nothing to do, we stood there looking across the valley to Nepalese side, the trees, mountains, waterfalls and clouds. Some enthusiastic young group decided to explore shopping opportunity at road-side shops that were slowly opening up for business and a rather large building a few meters away from the immigration building. This building is a dedicated market, sort of “Duty-Free” market for transiting passengers. They returned with unbelievably cheap mobile phones of well known brands which everyone envied. In the meanwhile some activities began on the road that drew our attention and kept us busy till gate-opening. Chinese guards, most males but also some females began their morning drill. Presumably due to rain, formation took place under a roof meant for parking of passing trucks at the customs check point. Another group of guards marched past parked Landcruisers, some members appeared having just risen from bed from reluctant movements of their limbs, barely tagging with the rest of the soldiers. A little later they took out for exercising a bunch of trained sniffer dogs with their trainers and minders. Among dog handlers, some were women too. This circus lasted till about 9 am. We were hopeful that the immigration staff would open the gates and let us in so that we can save ourselves from the rain and get over with formalities and cross the border. We were patiently waiting and watching through glass doors glass-façade immigration office for any stirring. However even after official opening hours, there was no sign of life. When we had arrived at the gate, we were the only travelers, but by now a huge crowd had gathered and everyone was anxious for the door to open. In a typical government office work-pattern, these employees too did not see any reason to hurry up or to be seen as punctual. The doors were ultimately opened, lazily by a uniformed guard, twenty minutes late. We charged inside and being among the first few, we could clear ourselves relatively faster but not without meticulous baggage search and Passport scrutiny. The ordeal at Tibetan border was less than what we had faced while coming in, and hardly any at the Nepali outpost of Kodari. We were however stuck up soon after emerging into Nepal. A tall waterfall had cut off the road. Part of the road had already been swept off into the valley through which river Bhote-Kosi was flowing. A bulldozer was working away placing big stones to repair the road-breach. Public was watching the work in progress. Bulldozer had markings which indicated it to be a gift from India to the Nepalese government. We waited long for the bulldozer to complete the task but realized that the work was not to complete soon. It was better to wade through water and go across. I removed my shoes and socks, held them in my hands, rolled up sleeves of pants and walked across. A fat woman followed me, probably inspired by me! But she was a mini disaster.  I was not aware if any one was following me. All of a sudden, I felt, someone clutched at me and pulled me down in the water. She had apparently slipped on an unstable rock hidden under gushing water. I guess, during her fall, instinctively she tried to clutch at anything in the vicinity and I was the only visible thing above water to which she could. In a fraction of a second, I fell down hitting water and stones underneath. My clothes became wet; I got some minor bruises at elbow and a hint of sprained back. The woman had cushioned her fall by clutching at me so she appeared relatively unscathed. Woman, probably too embarrassed with the fall, walked away and if she said sorry or thank you I did not hear it in the noise of gushing water and bulldozer’s diesel engine. Nursing my wounds I ended up in a nearby roadside restaurant having wholesome hot breakfast. During this time, our bags were transported across by Sherpas and were arranged in waiting buses. We took off from Kodari town towards Kathmandu. Now it was a world with which we are more familiar. On the route we took a lunch break when we encountered a wonderful resort with modern amenities. Rest of the bus journey was uneventful if we were to ignore especially slow progress in the heavy traffic until very gate of our Kathmandu Hotel.


When we reached our assigned rooms in that 5-star property, our joy knew no bounds looking at wash-basin, tub, commode, shower, shampoo, hair dryer, and towels. But were shocked at mirrors, I mean our reflection in the mirror. The overgrown beards, unkempt hair, blackened skin and unwashed clothes. Those were the things we never had to bother about while in the wilderness of Tibet. What did we do very first upon reaching the room? Any guesses? Well after doing all that was to be done we donned fresh cloths from our suitcases which were left behind as left-luggage in the cloak-room of the hotel and got together for our ‘last supper’. This was our last chance to be together as a group. Everyone was to go their separate ways from here. After dinner we bid everyone good-bye and retired to the bed in preparation for early morning overland journey to India via Bhairahawa land border, learning more about Nepal and then into heartland of Shiva-worshipping territory to fathom yet unexplained imageries surrounding Bhagavan Shiva. Especially we must go to Kashi-Varanasi to find out why at one time, Bhagavan Shiva craved to reside there. So Kashi became our natural next destination. When other pilgrims came to know about our intention, all of them advised us to reach home instead of over-stretching this trip. They knew it better how anxious the near and dear ones are for us when we go on as difficult a trip as that of Mount Kailash.


For me, Kashi-Varanasi stored one additional attraction. We understand from old members of our family that at one time before a few centuries, our family originated in Varanasi and had come to Gujarat on an invitation of King Siddharaj Jaisinmha. Our ancestors were goaded by him to stay on in Gujarat and enrich spiritual life of his kingdom. In this sense, Varanasi was our ancestral home. Defying all well-wishers, we made it to Kashi-Varanasi, a city established by King Divodas during ‘pre-historical’ times.


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