Archive for the 4 – BENARAS – VARANASI Category

Out Of The Depths

Posted in The Oldest Living City in the World with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2013 by designldg

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“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.
These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.
Beautiful people do not just happen.”
(Elisabeth Kübler-Ross – Swiss American psychiatrist, 1926–2004)

This man was enjoying the first monsoon rain nearby Raj ghat along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras).
I thought that there was a real elegance coming from his attitude, the kind of elegance which belongs to those who know the depth of life…

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The Holiest Situation Upon Earth

Posted in The Oldest Living City in the World with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2013 by designldg

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“Benares. This holy city of the Hindus was at the height of its prosperity at least a thousand years before the birth of Christ, and was already old when Plato taught in Athens and when the earliest Roman fortress rose upon the Palatine.
The first view that I gained of Benares from across the Ganges quickened my pulse and made me catch my breath, not merely from its great antiquity, but from the fact that to a vast proportion of the human race this is the holiest situation upon earth, raised spiritually as far above the ordinary abodes of man as the unrivaled summits of the Himalayas soar above the plains of Hindustan.”
(From “India – John L. Stoddard’s Lectures” by John L. Stoddard, published by Norwood Press in 1901)

This is a view of the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras) from Scindia ghat to Munshi ghat.
It was shot at the end of the day when the light comes from the west and gives the feeling that sunsets don’t last very long in the Eternal city…

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A Revealed Paradise

Posted in The Oldest Living City in the World with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2013 by designldg

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“It is this admirable, this immortal, instinctive sense of beauty that leads us to look upon the spectacle of this world as a glimpse, a correspondence with heaven.
Our unquenchable thirst for all that lies beyond, and that life reveals, is the liveliest proof of our immortality.
It is both by poetry and through poetry, by music and through music, that the soul dimly descries the splendours beyond the tomb; and when an exquisite poem brings tears to our eyes, those tears are not a proof of overabundant joy: they bear witness rather to an impatient melancholy, a clamant demand by our nerves, our nature, exiled in imperfection, which would fain enter into immediate possession, while still on this earth, of a revealed paradise.”
(Charles Baudelaire – French poet, 1821-1867)

This amazing mansion gathering classical Indian and European styles stands at Rani ghat along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras).
This ghat is far from the center, in a very quiet place away from the noise and the turmoil of the city.
On this side of the river many other buildings recall the splendour of the past which once made the renown of the City of Lights…

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The Free Soul

Posted in Banarsi (Portraits) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by designldg

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“The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”
(From “Tales of Ordinary Madness” by Charles Bukowski)

This man was among a group of homeless people staying nearby Jama Masjid in Old Delhi.
Their faces could easily show that life was not easy for them but they were carrying a kind of grace and deep happiness…
It was nice to spend a moment with them, I was feeling “good…very good”, certainly because like this man they were free souls…

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The Traceless

Posted in Banarsi (Portraits) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by designldg

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“My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless ;
‘Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.
I have put duality away, I have seen that the two worlds are one;
One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call. ”
(Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī known as Rumi – Persian poet and Sufi mystic, 1207-1273)

I met this man nearby Jama Masjid in Old Delhi.
He was homeless and his life seemed to be tough however there was an amazing happiness in his eyes as if he had reached what he was seeking for since a long time…

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Posted in Banarsi (Portraits) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2013 by designldg

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“Her drama was a drama not of heaviness but of lightness.
What fell to her lot was not the burden but the unbearable lightness of being.”
(From “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera)

This is one of my favourite sentences by Milan Kundera which I kept in mind since his book was published.
Challenging Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence (the idea that the universe and its events have already occurred and will recur ad infinitum), the story’s thematic meditations posit the alternative; that each person has only one life to live, and that which occurs in life occurs only once and never again — thus the “lightness” of being.
In contrast, the concept of eternal recurrence imposes a “heaviness” on our lives and on the decisions we make (to borrow from Nietzsche’s metaphor, it gives them “weight”.)
Nietzsche believed this heaviness could be either a tremendous burden or great benefit depending on the individual’s perspective…

I met this lady at a gas pump on the road between Delhi and Varanasi.
Her expression, her saree and the way she wrapped it reminded of some Renaissance Italian paintings showing the Madonna.
Maybe the concept of eternal recurrence happens…maybe in another life this lady inspired a Master of the XVI°…”khabi khabie”…

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Ageless, Outside of Time

Posted in The Oldest Living City in the World with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2013 by designldg

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“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”
(From “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera)

Sometimes I walk in the maze of the galis, the narrow lanes making the old Varanasi (Benaras), while I am simply following the scent of a deep incense.
I meet pilgrims, beggars, sadhus, lost foreigners and cows along my way who make the essence of the oldest living city in the world…
There is no use to daydream anymore among those ubiquitous little beams of magic soaked in nostalgia…

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