Ganga descending from the heavens
The cool breeze is blowing across Har-ki-Pauri. The ghat (the river side area) is lit with a thousand twinkling flames that are flowing across the Ganga. Prayers for plentitude, for health, for peace sail in those little boats of fire. Looking out to the busy riverbanks in Haridwar, one will notice the bustling devotees eager to wash off their bad karma in the Ganga. They stand in a singularly identifiable posture-hands folded at the chest, eyes closed and the lips making arbitrary movements. It makes one wonder, whether, organically, the river is more polluted by all the sins that it washes off from the soul, or, by the filth that it washes out from the bodies of the modern metropolis. There is however little time to ponder on this philosophic proposition since the water of Ganga has started receding. We watch in amazement as the flowing vital river gradually reduces to a trickle, till its bed is visible. It is not the wrath of the Gods that has taken away the mythical bestowal of the Ganges from the earthlings. It is but a temporary situation caused by the technical functioning of a dam, a human endeavour with machines. That however does not take away the charm of philosophising about it!
The penitent figures gradually get replaced by several kids and teens, running along the river bed, waiting cautiously for the water to recede completely. They are the paisa collectors. The five rupee coin that you had thrown in the Ganga this morning, wishing for a raise in your salary, is now his. They fight fiercely over the territory each will cover. From the bed of the river, that once flowed down the jata (patted hair) of Lord Shiva, now provides them with 'survival' money. As the evening light recedes and the land of the lords fall asleep, these busy hands continue to search the pebbles and their glistening corners for a coin or two.
The evening, that saw the drying of the river to the white-and-light-brown-stained pebbles and rocks, melted into the morning light. The morning brought with it the scorching sun and the curious onlookers. What now lies before me is the route that the melted waters of the Gomukh glaciers had chosen a couple of thousand years ago, maybe.
As I set foot on the pebbles and the rocks that usually lie uneventfully at the belly of this ancient river, I feel tremors of myths and histories rumbling under my feet. Several artefacts are strewn across the river bed. Who knows to which age this statue of Nandi (the companion of Lord Shiva) dates back to? Who knows what god or goddess was this four-legged deity in some lost temple of the yesteryears? Which was the era in which Ganga changed her course, making those houses of the gods vulnerable to temporality? All these redundant questions clatter in the mind as I walk across the noori Ganga (pebbled Ganga). Murmuring winds blew across the expanse. They echo voices from the past...telling tales of grandeur withered by time ... from the present ... the curious tourists randomly picking artefacts strewn across the bed ... from the future ... the rambling waters that will flow again in this course and will wither more eras and their cravings to transcend time.
People call Haridwar the seat of Hindu pilgrimage. To me, on this very day, when Ganga dried, I realised in this bustling city of religion, a law of life in its resplendent purity. What we may be in the times to come are but hypothetical ideas. What is, in this moment; what I am , in this moment is true to my being. There is no before or an after. It is all in the NOW.