What is Kasi? How was it born, and when? Books, as Kabirdasji would sarcastically remark, may shed a lot of darkness on this matter. Incidentally, he was an accidental (read by birth) Banarsi himself. Did he ever praise Kasi? I don’t remember having discovered anything of the sort in my fast paced reading of his works. The reader will correct me if I am wrong. Ghalib Sahab did, although he was no Banarsi by birth. Which Banaras did one see that the other did/could not?
Is there an objective entity like Banaras/Kasi/Varanasi? The lunatic , the lover and the poet, says Shakespeare, have remarkable powers of imagination. The writer, as a member of the same species, is still different from the others by his bent of mind if Wordsworth can be trusted. I don’t fully agree with them. I see the poet/writer as more as a state of mind and action than as a person. It’s more like a mask that fits some better than others, but it’s not made keeping them in mind only. Anybody can wear it, but the majority prefers not to. So, there must be innumerable ways of looking at the same material world, ergo innumerable worlds that exist at the same place and time. It must be true about Kasi at least.
I meet an inveterate Kasi hater every day. That the city that I yearn for, can be hated too, is no revelation to me. There are, as we’ve ascertained, many Kasis now, many that I know of. There is only on Kasi I know definitely about. That’s my Kasi. What is it? How, where and when was it born? My Kasi is material, yet it’s an idea too. It was born in my mind, through a long process of repeated exposures and additions-deletions to the receptacle in mind that I named Kasi. Which images come to my mind when I meet the word?
Is Kasi only a combination of all that comes to my mind about it? As far as I will know, it is. To each his own.
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