Saturday, June 10, 2006

T h e T e m p l e

"Behind the holy premises of the temple, runs a gushing torrent. Since the dawn of time, piligrims have held these pure waters with the power of cleansing the ills of mind."

Claire lifts her head out of the booklet.

"Anvesh, You have to believe me. I had the strangest feeling yesterday after drinking these waters."

Anvesh turns his head nonchalently.

Jacques comes up towards them. "There is a possibility. These waters can contain some drifting neurotoxins.", he says.

They look at him with surprise. "How ? "

"Maybe some produce of a plant. Seeds perhaps. From the mountains."

They look up, the sun shines brilliantly over the snow-capped peaks. They are standing at the foot of an enormous mountain.

"Okay. Quit trying to impress me.", Claire smiles.

They laugh together at the silliness of the idea.

Standing witness is an ancient temple, at the banks of the river. Without a priest or a consistent flow of piligrims, it waits in anonymity. Inside the temple is a sculpture of Nataraja Shiva, carved in stone.

"This is very strange. A temple for the Nataraja to be found at the foot of a mountain."

Nataraja is a form of the Shiva, the destructor. Divinity is understood in the Brahmanic religion as the trinity of Brahma - the creator, Vishnu - the preserver and Shiva - the destroyer. Different facets of the one single God.

Nataraja symbolifies Shiva in his cosmic dance with Maaya - or the myth of reality. He is carved at the center of a perfect circle with four arms, each depicting the several phases of creation and destruction of the universe. In this form, he is worshipped by aspiring dancers and musicians, to lend them the gift of creativity - the divine inspiration of replicating, of trying to mimic the cosmic creation.

"You are right. Which dancer would get an audience at the foot of these mountains ? Is this really a temple ? Does it have any other function ?", Jacques questions.

Anvesh is equally lost. He is entertaining his friends from France. A talented artist, he has been finishing his studies at the academy in Paris. Jacques and Claire decide to spend the summer trekking in the Himalayas, and Anvesh has been the host, helping them swim through the barriers of language and bureaucracy.

"This could have been a school, or even a university. Lost in time, it may have become a temple.", he makes a guess.

They peer inside the dark chamber. The statue of the Nataraja stands serene at the center of the wide hall.

"It is beautiful.", Claire remarks.

Jacques looks at the overwhelming symmetry in the statue.

"You are true. But on another note, isn't it futile to capture the Divine on a stone ? ", Jacques wonders.

"Well, man never quits trying.", Anvesh answers.

"What do you mean ? Have you been painting something ?", they ask aloud.

Anvesh looks at the graceful pose of the Nataraja. "I am very scared to admit it. But I making an oil on the canvas. I have some musings, and some dreams."

"Wait, this is going somewhere. You never told us about this", Claire exclaims in alert.

"I wouldn't have told you. I am too afraid to admit - even to myself."

"But maybe you should learn to deal with it", Jacques remarks.

"Deal with what ?"

"Your fear", Jacques responds.

Then they hear something from the dark corner of the chamber.
"Only the fearless have seen the Asrapushpa."

The abruptness of this intrusion is so alarming that the three jump onto their heels. It was a bearded fellow covered in rags, who was resting quietly in the far end of the room.

"Who are you ? ", Anvesh demands.

"That is of no consequence. You should have demanded about what the Asrapushpa is."

"What is it ?"

"A flower of celestial beauty. It grows only on the peaks sorrounding this temple - the flower that only few have seen."

"How does it look ?"

"I cannot say. But it is said to be of the brightest red colour. The colour of blood. That is why it is called Asrapushpa."

"But why would anyone go find it ?"

"You fool", the bearded man glows in anger. "Then why are you here ? The place only the most fearless of sages have come to ?"

The bearded man comes out to light. Looking at him, Claire goes extremely pale. The man is carrying a white object in his hand - the skull of a dead man.

The man is a member of the Aghoris - violent sages who practice an ascetic life in extremely harsh conditions. A sect of the Samana religion, they worship the destructor Shiva in his real abode - the burial place.

"We are extremely sorry. We are not aware. We will return immediately.", Anvesh mutters quickly.

The three are still in a state of shock by when they reached their lodgings. Jacques says "We should return to Shimla. I believe Claire has seen enough that her nerves can take."

"Please wait for me at Shimla. You can get in touch with Mr. Verma of the tourist department. He remembers you."

"Why ? What are you going to do ? "

"Climb some of the peaks around the temple. ", Anvesh replies.

"You are out of your mind ! You are going to look for the blood flower ?" Jacques exclaims in disdain.

"Jacques, I have to confess something to you. I have tasted the waters from the stream."

Jacques looks in silence.

"I want to find out."

Jacques continues to stare in silence.

"I will return in two weeks. Please wait for me."

1 comment:

Pavan said...

dude...good one :)

well, i am imagining several dreadful things to happen to anvesh's life :), most important one begin .. he himself might become an aghori !!

i have read about these aghoris.... hmm!!