Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Varanasi The City of Death - Part 2 The Heart of Steel

Varanasi on the first day and after seeing the evening puja me, Josh and Adam decided to walk around looking for the burning Ghat and also some food for dinner. Dinner we never found, thou both of them took some fried snacks along the way to the burning Ghat while we still explore all the little alley way along the way.

Nearing the burning Ghat we picked up a self-volunteer guide. The locals ply the streets alley around the burning Ghat and would pester the tourist heading towards there with conversation, kind and polite but always with a hidden agenda. You could smell a con job a mile away with them but we were still the kind and polite tourist at that time and would chat with them. I kept mostly quiet just observing while the two Brits answered the guide innocent question such as where they were and where they were going.

Information was offered about Varanasi and its various tradition and gods and culture while we walk and looked for the burning Ghat. The guide insisted that he would show us the way and I felt he was zig zagging around every nook and corner to make us disoriented on purpose.

Burning Ghat.

This place brings out the sentiment in everyone emotionally. It was a place not for the kind hearted soul. The guide brought us to this abandon building next to the Ghat and we walked upstairs before being handed over to another guide who claimed that he was a Brahmi and a worker at the burning ghat offering us information and history. Halfway through the explanation Adam and Josh felt uncomfortable and decided to leave. They were forewarn by the hostel people that there are a lot of locals that would ask for money like a donation to the hospice around the Ghat but that was all bullshit and it would only go to their own pocket.

The serene atmosphere built up to become an uncomfortable event as they feel they were slowly being drag into guilt and would eventually be force self-consciously to donate to the horrible scam. They decided to leave while they still had some control and ignored all the local plea that they would not ask for money and that they were genuinely just guiding people because it is their Karma to do it.  

I listen to the fake Brahmi on his explanation of the Burning Ghat while my eyes was glued to the burning platform afar. He told of how no one would cry while around the burning Ghat to so that the soul of the dead would not have any lingering affection to the mortal world. It was a celebration of sorts that one who was cremated here would attain passage to Nivarna and escape the ever cycle of rebirth. Then he talked about his karma of past live that he now have to work here as a worker burning bodies of people at Varanasi.

By this time Josh and Adam was leaving and I said thank you and proceeded after them. Trying to get out of the abandon building, people were all asking for donation to buy firewood for the poor. 150 rupee per kilo and this is the old women who works at the hospice for those waiting to die in Varanasi. Josh and Adam was disturbed by the fact that they knew this was scam and they were angry about it. I kept my calm and just said no with a humble nod and walked on.

We proceeded down further into the burning Ghat on our own with locals behind shouting do not go there, family area. Josh and Adam with a fire lit in them ignored all this and walked on. I followed slowly behind observing the people around. The families or the genuine people working the Ghat went on their business and only spare a glance for us. The worms who pry on the kind hearted soul of tourist were throwing insults about disrespect and privet area only that we were bad people to not observe it. I found it that a silent prayer and observing without words were more respectful than those who would disturb the tourist loudly. Their attempt to cheat and con tourist at a scared place of cremation was even more disrespectful in my opinion but for some reason I manage to kept my calm aura with me and the hate brush pass me without affecting me. Josh and Adam was clearly affected and one could see from facial expression the turmoil between sympathy and empathy of the burning ceremony and disgust and scorn to the con men who try to make money out of others suffering. 

An amour of steel around ones heart is what is needed to really visit the Burning Ghat without being affected. Josh kept telling them to leave them alone and that he will not give them money. The anger spark feed more anger and the locals knows that was their way in. One talked about Karma of how bad it was to visit the burning Ghat and see it upclose without helping the needy. Josh told him to fuck off. I wonder if that was a good thing starting a fight in a place like this …. But it was clear it was the intention of the locals, the one whose family was not burning. If a fight broke out, the foreigner would be to blame for his anger and disrespect.

Luckily Josh listen to my advice and he and Adam followed me out of the Burning Ghat while this time it was the locals that shouted bad things. For some reason they listen to my advice to ignore them and walk on and while I looked into the eyes of every locals that was spilling blasphemy, one by one they quieted down and left us alone as we got further and further away from the Burning Ghat.

It was an emotional experience

Adam was affected emotionally and was close off for a while being very quiet. Josh was in fury of the locals and took a while to calm down. We found the Blue Lassi shop nearby and sat down for a while drinking a few cup each of Lassi. I keep telling Josh and Adam the mantra …. Do not let them affect you.  Josh calmed down and Adam slowly opened up that his mother had passed away recently, a year ago and looking at the Burning Ghat touched him emotionally.

That was the end of the first night in Varanasi. I visited the burning Ghat a total of 3 times in the 6 days I was there …. A truly fearsome place ply with serenity and hostility at the same time.
Burning Ghat - Varanasi

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