He was now briskly heading towards the doors of the sacred shrine of Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi, where he was stopped by an untouchable savage who dared to break his momentum. He purposefully ushered the man to move aside but the man stood in his place and asked him a few profound question...
"Do the Sun and the moon show bias when they shine on this earth. Do they shine any lesser in the home of an untouchable as much as they shine around a man of high intellect?
Shankara stopped, for these were not illiterate words that came out of the untouchable who stood smiling at him, they were the sacred sayings of the Lord himself. Shankara recognized the untouchable savage and broke into a dialog with him that were later penned down into 5 divine verses of wisdom called the Manishapanchakam. Those were precious moments of spiritual history that graced this world in that time and silently blessed the people who mindlessly walked on the same street, not realizing the miracle of the moment until it was long gone.
Hrishikesh, sacred land locked in the lap of the Himalayan foothills and washed by the pure waters of the Ganges has its own story to say. One can find faith here in the old traditional ritualistic style - controlled and disciplined - or the more sort after Bhairava approach - wild and high spirited.
The Ganges here is pure, as it cuts through the rocky hills that pave the way for this beautiful river to glide through. We were pilgrims without purpose as we walked through the bustling streets looking up shops and new age mendicants as we stroll by. The winters were setting in, and a hot cup of chai anytime was most welcome. While we admired the shimmering night light across the Ganges, we noticed a white man turned sadhu who had left his home and family back in Germany to become a Sanyasi here. He spoke perfect Hindi, with the tune of the local dialect as he explained his journey through his life and how Hrishikesh was now his home. While on one end we found it courageous and amusing, we also suspected that he probably didn't get onto the right side of the spiritual road...
And then it happened... a strange man briskly walked by and disappear into the darkness even before I could prepare to take a picture of him. He was awesome to look at, half covered in rudraksha beads and the rest covered in saffron. He had a divine "smartness" about himself with a stern purposeful gaze, as he walked by silently but aggressive at the same time. Power oozed out of him as he stared at us with a magnetic gaze before he disappeared. He held a beautiful trishul in his hand, covered in beaded malas. The trishul itself was breath taking, looking divine as it faintly glowed in the night light. It was exquisitely carved with floral patterns along its sides rolling over its graceful bends, yet it looked deadly in its aura and sacred to the Shiva loving devotee.
Within minutes he was gone, he came in like a flash, graced this earth and looked entirely different from the other lesser mendicants on the street. He was strong, silent and defiant towards anyone who intended to get into small talk with him. He walked through the crowd like a flash of lightening as the darkness covered the space between him and me and I never saw him again.
His presence captured my mind, his power shook the air and his gait was graceful yet sure footed. I felt a weird excitement within me, something that sensed "What if he was Lord Shiva himself?"
Would I have run behind and chased him till as far as he went, would I just take a picture of him and admired his persona in silence or would I bow to him and ask him to accept me as his disciple. There definitely was no room for a profound dialogue, though I was certain if he obliged we would definitely get into a spiritual monologue, or maybe I would have just been happy to sit far away from him and watch him perform in all his splendor. Shivahood gleamed in his being, even if he aped the great God, he did such a sure job of it, it was completely overpowering.
And then I wonder...how times had changed... how different do people view the world at large now. How strange it would be considered to walk up behind the man and accept fate leaving every thing behind, because that moment defined the profound miracle of potent spiritualism. To leave the safer beaten track and accepting the lesser known way of life as my own. To treat the familiar world as passerby in this dense cloud of maya and consider the Potent Lord as my own. To completely detach from this world and its various demands and feel the freedom of non attachment as my own...
To finally see the Lord himself... wherever... and hold my little personal dialog of love, intrigue and mysticism as I swim in the adrenalin of divine science... Ah! What a completely different life it would be!