Banaras – a Strong Call of an Unknown Connection
I felt in my heart that I should not miss this opportunity. It was a strong call to ignore. As if Banaras was calling me. This all started after a virtual get-together of the extended Blogchatter community about earlier this year. Almost everyone was very excited with the idea of an offline retreat coming around September – October.
By April, the destination was fixed. As soon as I got to know it’s going to be Banaras, I felt a strong pull towards it. I had never been to this oldest city in the world. And yet, it felt that there is something which is calling me back. I had to go. I don’t think I had planned any of my trips this early.
What an experience it was!
Our retreat was organized in a very beautifully restored Guleria Kothi on the banks of Maa Ganga. That added to the pull I was feeling inside me. Even though I wasn’t sure what we were going to do in the retreat, I had decided that this had to happen. I scrambled all my resources and just fixed my spot. Boy, oh boy! I am so delighted with those 3 days we all spent together. I enjoyed my time exploring the city, invoking creativity through various sessions, and going on a boat ride on Ganga on a rainy morning. It was a total fun!
While roaming around the narrow lanes of Banaras, colourful and artsy doors of old houses in the city fascinated me. My mind kept playing Kabir bhajans in a loop. These might be the lanes through which Kabir himself must have roamed in the city humming his own writings. Kumar Gandharvaji‘s tunes of those nirguni bhajans got an additional layer for me after my trip to Banaras. I also got to listen to another flavour of these bhajans from Umesh Kabir during one of our sessions of retreat.
The return journey from Banaras to Pune via Mumbai was very eventful. Mahanagari express decided to be so late travelling over 1500 km, that it was terminated one stop before the scheduled station. I had to literally run to catch my connecting train to Pune.
Answering the mystic call
I summarise my experience of Banaras in this poem answering a mystic call from an unknown connection which I feel that I share with this oldest city of Banaras.
कुछ है जो आज भी मुझे वापस खींच रहा है।
वैसे तो रहा था बस ही चार दिन और,
लौटे हुए कई हफ्ते हो गए है। लेकिन..
मन अभी भी भटक रहा है उन तंग गलियों में।
शायद जहा कही कबीर, तुलसी के पैर लगे होंगे।
मां गंगा का विशाल रूप आंखों में बस सा गया है।
मजधार में तैरती इस नाव की तरह मैं भी खींचा जा रहा हूं।
बहता जा रहा हूं ..
लगता है कोई पुराना रिश्ता है इस शहर से,
पांच हजार सालों के इतिहास में ढूंढना भी तो मुश्किल है?
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