Tuesday, June 30, 2015

From ‘All Roads Lead to Ganga’ by Ruskin Bond

Guptakashi and its environs has so many lingams that the saying ‘Jitne kankar utne Shankar’ – ‘as many stones, so many Shivas’ – has become a proverb to describe its holiness.

….Bhyundar Valley …..Valley of Flowers…..It would be no exaggeration to call it one off the most beautiful valleys in the world.

….Hindus enjoy their religion. Whether bathing in cold streams or hot springs, or tramping from one sacred mountain shrine to another, they are united in their wish to experience something of the magic and mystique of the gods and glories of another epoch.
Even those who have renounced the world appear to be cheerful…..

There has always been a mild sort of controversy as to whether the true Ganga (in its upper reaches) is the Alaknanda or the Bhagirathi. Of course the two rivers meet at Deoprayag and then both are Ganga….I put the question to my friend Dr. Sudhakar Misra…he answered: ‘The Alaknanda is Ganga, but the Bhagirathi is Ganga-ji.’
One sees what he means. The Bhagirathi is beautiful, almost caressingly so, and people have responded to it with love and respect, ever since Lord Shiva released the waters of the goddess from his locks and she sped plainswards in the tracks of Prince Bhagirath’s chariot…

The Ganga enters the world no puny stream, but bursts from its icy womb a river thirty or forty yards in breadth. At Gauri Kund (below the Gangotri temple) it falls over a rock of considerable height and continues tumbling over a succession of small cascades until it enters the Bhaironghati gorge.
A night spent beside the river, within the sound of the fall, is an eerie experience. After some time it begins to sound, not like one fall but a hundred, and this sound permeates both one’s dreams and waking hours..

….deodar….from the Sanskrit Deva-daru (divine tree). It is a sacred tree in the Himalayas, not worshipped, not protected in the way that a peepul is in the plains, but sacred in that its timber has always been used in temples, for doors, windows, walls and even roofs….. No one who has lived amongst deodars would deny that it is the most godlike of Himalayan trees. It stands erect, dignified…….in a strong wind it may hum and sign and moan…..

I think its only in India that you could find such a situation – a young offspring of the Raj [Ruskin Bond], somewhat at odds with his mother and Indian stepfather, choosing to live with the latter’s abandoned first wife!

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