Saturday, May 2, 2009

The River Within- 2

In my travels, I had been to countries both east and west. I have seen rivers flowing from time immemorial through their vast lands and I have witnessed rivers being considered as flowing masses of water - useful for transportation, irrigation and to feed humanity with the blood of life, water. Yet, nowhere did I find, a river being reverred as a mother with innumerous wombs, giving birth to humanity on her banks, cradling civilisations and nurturing a spiritual and psychic umbilical cord of the human beings to the earth and nature, from where we sprang and from where the rivers themselves had sprung.

Perhaps, it is so since the west sees the rivers materialistically and if not for a river, their limited number of populace would have settled, irrigated, drank and transported through other means.

But life, procreation and death in my country are intertwined with the rivers and this relationship, the one with the river and her people, I must say, is difficult to classify as that of a leader-followers or mother-children, God-devotees or merely as that of a provider-receivers.


In one of my visits to Kerala during a glorious Vishu season, I went to Kaaladi, the birthplace of Jagathguru Adhi Shankarar. I reached a small sleepy town called Angaamali in the dusk and stayed there for the rest of the night. Travel weary still, I reached the Adhi Shankarar's temple, a big complex with a Shiva temple, early in the morning.

It was dawn. Breeze was soft, cold and wispering. I reached the banks of Periyaar, which literally translates in English to 'Big River'. As I had the first sight of the river, the vedic mantras being heard in a distance, blending with the shivering cold breeze, I just froze by the beauty and enormity of the river.

The river lay in front of me, a vast expanse of shallow waters flowing, as a mother would wait for her long lost son to come to her bosom. At that unmistakeable point of time I shed, involuntarily should I say, all my materialistic relations to the world, my education, my qualifications, my bonds to this world as a husband, a son, a father, a brother, my wealth, my inadequacies, my strengths and my weaknesses...

The masks I wore for the world fell apart and I became one with the engulfing river and her ambience.

What are we!

There stood I, in absolute Nirvana, in front of the sky now getting tinged with various hues of colours, the sprawling river below the sky and the wind...

I was alone in the bank, or so I imagined, and till today I thank her, the river and her creator for those moments which enveloped me and made me speechless.

I did not know for how long I stood there with folded hands in utter reverence and submission, watching the river slowly turn herself into gold. I saw the surface of the river being intricately laced with minute wavelets, all etched in gold. Wavelets after wavelates lapped at my feet sending fine shivers down my body.

I slowly entered the water and found to my surprise that the water was pleasantly warm in contrast to the coldness just over the surface. She, being the mother with surprises hidden and revealed only to enthuse her son, embraced me with her watery hands, thousands of them, pulled me to her ever warm, soft and kind bosom.


Fine sand below my feet stood still at the bed. The water was now waist deep and was not swift but flowing mellifluously, just enough for me to sit cross-legged inside the water. Water covered my chest and was flowing below my chin. I wanted to chant mantras or pray to my God and realised that they were all meaningless.

My mind became empty; nothingness. Absolute nothingness. No thoughts.

I sat there for an eternity allowing the river to go through me, rinse me and soothe me with her love, flowing for millions of years, symbolizing the life and the exuberance of its youthfulness. I felt one with her. I dared not open my eyes, in the fear of losing the oneness. As if I was afraid of her getting upset about me not caring for her love and not reciprocating her attention towards me by being one with her...

The time and river flowed around me; over me...


I woke up from the trance webbed around me by her and left for the shores, still feeling the warmth of her embrace. Sun has now come to lit the entire ambience and I could now witness her beauty and enormity.

I was thanking her, she the mother and provider, for considering me, a speck in the humanity with no permanance and a mortal who will leave behind nothing. I thanked her for accepting me as I was, comforting me and letting me go when I wanted to.

I left her shores without turning back, hearing the vedic mantras more clearer now...

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