The flow of the river seemed a lot more surreal that day, as I sat on the banks of the Ganges, just completely mesmerized. I was indeed caught off-guard by the sheer power of consistency, that continuity wields, that courses through life in the most subtlest ways. We all seek it don’t we? And just look at the river, that’s all it has, only the faith of flowing water. It is quite lovely and strange, both at the same time. Though the river is always there, the water flowing through it is never the same, never still.
“Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere. “Emma Smith
Are people also just like rivers? I wondered. Am I like that? Just like the river, I am always me, always flowing but always different. Will I grow with time or become a stagnant riverbed? Will I allow the people around me to dam me, so that I can only flow where they want me to or will they turn me to a canal for their own use. Detach, distance and take a look from afar. You’re such a small part of the cosmos, and yet there’s so much which is weighing you down. Maybe it’s time to let go, and observe what stays.
Have you ever observed a river closely? The river flows quite strongly and at that time you cannot see the riverbed clearly. In such a situation if there was some way you could stop the flow in both the directions, ie from where the water is coming and to where the water is flowing, then may be you could keep the water still. This would help you see the base of the river quite clearly.
Similar is the case with our minds. All you need to do is stop your mind from chasing sensory objects as well as thinking of the past and future and that is specifically the time when you can completely free your mind from being totally ‘blanked out’. It is this time that you will have a clear view underneath this turbulence of the thought processes. There is an underlying stillness as well as an underlying clarity of the mind. It is essential that you observe or experience something like this.
When there is so much bedlam all around you, all you need is some peace of mind and this is the very reason I headed to Haridwar last weekend. A sacred place filled with devotion, Haridwar is consider a sacred city because of the River Ganges. A holy dip in the river Ganges is all you need to wash out your sins and be blessed. Gita and Ganga in fact constitute between themselves, the essence of Hinduism – one is theory and the other is practice.
When an ocean of humans turn up to pay respect to a river, this has to be the Ganga arti at Haridwar. Believe me, a mesmerising view, purity in the air, sound of ringing bells all at the Holy place Haridwar. This is how you see the Ganga arti at Haridwar. Reach early, a little before sunset so that you find yourself an apt place to be seated on the steps of the Ghat closest to the river. While you are seated people will approach you for diyas and flowers which you can give as an offering to the river. While there is still a streak of Sun in the sky, the priests will begin chanting prayers. Then before realising that the Sun has set, they pull out their large multi-storeyed oil lamps. You simply sit in awe, drop your jaws and admire the beauty of it all.
The synchronous rotation of the oil filled lamps by the priests, the chanting of mantras, the background arti song, the diyas floating in the river, the reflection of the setting Sun and the diyas in the swift lowing water leave you amazed. It feels like everything just freezes. The soul comes to life and just dazzles you.
Ganga is said to wash out all the sins of life and death. Ganga Arti is a ceremony to thank and praise the river. Truly an unmatched, purely divine and one of its kind of experience when you witness the divisonal flames at Har ki Paudi, Haridwar.
PC – Me, I regret that I could only capture the light, and I failed to capture the aroma and essence of that place.