Salvation via Prayag

India is a place for all religions and faiths. It’s a place for faithful as well as unfaithful. Stories to loyalty and betrayal are not told anywhere else like in India. From Ramayan to Mahabharat everywhere there are stories, stories that have motivated and influenced people for centuries.


It is not clear when the stories and philosophies got converted to rituals and deities but today India stands on a strong foundation of religion and spirituality, that is why we can have a Mosque and Mutt right in front of each other separated by a road named after an atheist. 


Over years people have been mobilized in the name of religion more than anything else. But one such noble feast that comes once in 12 years is special. So special that, more than double the population of Australia gathers at one spot. The only purpose is to take bath. There will be many people who take bath only during this auspicious feast, for a terrorist affected country, hollowed by corruption and administrative inefficiency it’s a challenge to manage entire function and for last so many years we have done it just too well. By now you must have guessed that its Kumbh Mela.


Once in 4 years what comes is called a Ardha-Kumbh. It is grand my any scale of reference but when compared to the Kumbh Mela it is certainly not so grand. Main feature of these melas is the Sadhus participating in it.


There are various cults among these sandhu called ‘AKHADA’, they have different ways of worship and living. Some akhadas even have rivalry that can be traced even back to Mahabharat times. Among all these Sadhus naga sadhus are the most famous. Actually to become a naga a person has to go through immense sufferings and hardship. One can not become naga until and unless he is blessed by some great guru and has conquered all his physical desires, from taste to sex.


Naga sadhus have got so much popularity because they are nudists. Recently we are confronting with various voices in west in support of nudity. There are nudists clubs etc set up specially so that they can fulfll their sexual desires more easily. But Naga sadhus go naked for exactly the opposite reason. They want to conquer all their sexual desires.


There are sadhus who are addicted to opium and other drugs. Sadhus who pierce rods, pins and what not in all their body parts, there are sadhus who burry themselves neck deep. Sadhus raoming with their female Shiyas and sadhus with mobile phones.


Fortunately I got an opportunity to converse with a sadhu who was on the verge of becoming a Naga. He met me at Canacona’s famous feast during Ramanavami. He had come all the was from West Bengal to Goa just walking. He had visited all the major temple and rivers on the way. He carried only fe clothes and a copy of Ramayana. And all this was only for faith. He wanted salvation. After some deep discussion I discovered that he was one of the 5 kids his father had and he was good for nothing. For me it seemed that his Sanyas had to do with his ‘good for nothing’ image rather than salvation. I am not attempting to undermine his efforts for salvation.


If Amitabh walks 15 km for Darshan of the Goa news channels report that news for 150 hrs. And a man walks 1500km for no particular reason and without any aid except for his faith in God. Faith in God and religious nature is what had prevented our youth from becoming anti national and anti social despite of unemployment and corruption. Secularism has made them a serious damage.


If you think that only ‘good for nothing’ people become sadhus you are completely wrong. In order to prove ourselves more civilized and intelligent we often use this argument. Many of the sadhus are ex-proffessionals. You will find graduates, doctors and businessmen as well. Denouncing all the comforts they had in society now they have chosen to live a life of unnoticed and unknown identities. In their pursuit of salvation, they are long forgotten by their family and friends.


Besides Sadhus there are ordinary people who pursue heaven and salvation in their free time. People who travel from entire world to reach Prayag during Kumbh and Ardha Kumbh. Among the Sadhus riding horses and elephants these people look like slaves in Attalia the Hun’s army.


But one figure I admire among all these is the the River Ganga. Rightly called Ganga Mata she is as pure as ever after washing up all the sins of her childs. She has place for everyone and denies water to none. A dip in apparently dirty water cleans one of all his past sins or at least people believe so. For last thousand of years the river has been the lifeline of agriculture, spirituality, politics and art for us Indians. Her place in our heart in unquestionable.

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