Kaashi ka Surya

Have you experienced that sweet smell of winter in the air? Brings back a lot of memories, doesn’t it? Memories of a first crush, of savouring piping hot Kachori-sabzi, of searching for Orion in the sky, of sucking in through invisible cigarettes and blowing out a very much visible vapour. These were all pleasant memories that my first winter evening in Kashi offered me. But there was a pang of intangible pain that snuck in. I didn’t realize it then though.

I had a very noisy dream that night — too many people, talking too loud. Everything is so chaotic. In my dream, someone from the mob screamed LOVELESSNESS!!! I had to be somewhere, but I was not able to get out of where I was. I left the bed when the morning sky was still dark.

Dawn in Banaras, that too in a village, is straight out of a movie scene. There is dampness of dew in the air, the sky is turning from black to grey in the east. Only a few early birds are up. A distant kindling of bonfire is letting out a faint smoke awakening something within us. I sat down on my yoga mat on the open terrace while I watched the day unravel before me. In a moment I saw the peachy arc materialize at the horizon.

Five minutes in, there was a soft neon orange ball suspended just above the horizon. I was free to look at it directly, intensely, tracing its uniform contour, at least for a few more minutes. A perfect sphere. How can something born out of an explosion, ungoverned, insentient, be so mathematically perfect? I know, my brain knows, that it is gravity. But I don’t know what entity in me feels so awestruck by this everyday phenomenon.

I began my Yogabhyaas with a sweater on. Ten minutes later I was warmed up. I removed my sweater and was getting ready to embark on a hardcore workout. But then with the sweater off, I felt the gentle warmth of the Sun on my arms and neck. I felt something. Love? Receiving this strange, unsolicited love made me realize that I was yearning somewhere deep inside. It’s painful because you cannot put your finger on what you are yearning for. Tears began to trickle down the corner of my eyes.

In spite of the Teacher’s constant admonishing against imagination in the spiritual path, I began to imagine. I saw it as if the Sun was pouring all its love on me. The only way I can relate the experience is as if a child is wailing, begging her parent to pick her up, the parent is standing right there smiling lovingly, reassuringly, soothing the child with a gentle caress but not picking her up yet. I pictured myself running with open arms into the Sun and just vanishing, losing all traces of my existence. I was reminded of the dream I had the previous night — I had to be somewhere, but I was not able to get out of where I was. At that moment Acharya Prashant’s words resounded in my being -

“संसार से होकर ही संसार के पार जाना है”

One has to manoeuvre through the world to go beyond it.

What’s missing is love. Love of the beyond. In a recent Advait camp in Rishikesh, Acharya Prashant while responding to a seeker’s question says with a visible pain on his face -

“प्रेम के अभाव के आगे तो मैं रोज़ हारता हूँ…. Lovelessness !! “

( I lose this battle every day with lovelessness in the world… Lovelessness!!)

I am beginning to understand what love is in its unadulterated form. The momentary breaking down episode in Varanasi gave me a glimpse of the love that the teacher fights for every day. The love that makes us resent the golden handcuffs that we have adorned for too long, is the love of liberation.

Isn’t there something else in your life that makes you go against yourself, your tendencies, your comfort, your limited identity, your narrow circle of needs and purpose? The Teacher says — that’s Love.

P.S- My reflections are based on my honest observation of “I” operating in this world with the goal as liberation, under the guidance of Acharya Prashant (Prashant Advait Foundation — https://acharyaprashant.org/prashantadvait-foundation)

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