Varanasi Walks 3: Walks Along the Bank of the Ganges

This will be the third book in the series that already has books on walks circuiting the ghats and those circuiting the lanes. Taken separately,  they make only one half of the complete Varanasi Experience. When the halves come together, one gets the complete experience. So, after looking at two halves separately, now is the time to bring them together. This book will take the following ghats as the successive centres of concatenating circuits that will start from Assi Ghat at the southern periphery and move  through the other centres viz. Kedar, Dashashwamedh, Manikarnika, Panchganga, Trilochan and Raj Ghats, on to Adi Keshav Ghat at the northern periphery of the city.

Varanasi is not a tourist package. It’s an experience. It demands only time and gives all that one may want in return. No, I am not being theoretical here. It has done that to many. So, I’ll repeat my advise that I directly give (sometimes unsolicited) to anyone I know is going to my city:

Don’t Rush It.

Don’t Hurry.  

Don’t Time Your Day by Minutes and Hours. 

Stay, Sit and Soak in the City.

My book will take the advise, and will try to take a leisurely, un-timed, multi-directioned stroll through the piece of time and space you will call Varanasi for yourself.

Varanasi Walks 2: Lanes of Varanasi

According to the plan, another book was published in the Varanasi Walk series: Lanes of Varanasi. Although I had done some work upon the rhythm of life in the lanes on my blog, I had not done even one post exclusively on lanes. Yes, it’s difficult to believe now, but the search result makes it very (shamefully and late) clear. No kasiphile (one who  loves Kashi) will ever pardon me for what I have done. I offer this book, solely and specifically on lanes of Varanasi, as the first installment of atonement!

Kindle

The book description on amazon reads:

Lanes of Varanasi is about theoretically countable yet practically uncountable lanes of Varanasi that people in the subcontinent know by the name of galis. One of the very first images that appear in a person’s mind when the name of the city is taken is of the lanes of the city. Of course there are ghats and the Holy Ganga, and we have paid homage to them already in Ghats of Varanasi. The labyrinthine (the choice of the word is not mine, it’s a popular dead metaphor) lanes of the city make the subject of this book. In many ways, the spirit of the place is reflected best in the lanes. Varanasi is called by many “the oldest inhabited city in the world” and its oldest inhabited zones are called the muhallas that are interwoven with and interconnected by these lanes.

Paperback

lanes

Varanasi Walks 1: Ghats of Varanasi

I planned the Varanasi Walks series over a year ago. As the name suggests, it consists of several titles, linked by the theme of walks in Varanasi. Instead of searching for a publisher, I decided to self-publish the series. It was possible, thanks to amazon.com. I published the first title of the series as a kindle book first. That first book was about the ghats of Varanasi. The choice of the subject was not at all accidental. I had done over two dozen blog posts related to various ghats of Kashi (https://rajnishmishravns.wordpress.com/page/4/?s=Ghat&submit=Search). I had also done a blog post on all the ghats of Varnasi/ Kashi a long time ago (on February 19, 2014 ):

https://rajnishmishravns.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/varanasi-ghatscape/

That blog was actually a comprehensive list of all the ghats that I had visited and photographed myself. The structure and treatment of the post was skeletal only and I felt the need to give it a body, some flesh and a better and fuller treatment. So, I wrote Ghats of Varanasi.

The product description reads:

Varanasi is one of the holiest cities of Hindus and one of the most picturesque places on the face of earth. For over a millennium it has attracted pilgrims, travellers and tourists from all over the world due to various reasons. One of the highlights of any journey to the city has been its magnificent ghats, with their majestic buildings and the serene view of the crescent left bank and the holy Ganges. This book is about the ghats of Varanasi. It is the first volume of the series titled Varanasi Walks.

Its table of contents gives a fair idea of the structure of the book:

Preface

Introduction

The Southern Periphery

Around Kedar Ghat

Around Dashashwamedh Ghat

Around the Manikarnika

Around Panchganga Ghat

Around Trilochan Ghat

The Northern Periphery

List of Ghats

Glossary

References

So, the book of walks begins from the Southern end of the city’s defined periphery and proceeds towards its ancient northern end i.e. the circuits keep moving from the confluence of Holy Ganga with the dry river Assi to that with the river Varuna. Thus the book takes you from one puranic confluence to another, between which lies Varanasi. In fact, there’s an apocryphal etymological link between the name of the rivers mentioned above and the naming of the city. They say that you get Varanasi by combining Varuna with Assi (Varanasi = Varuna + Assi). Ghats of Varanasi structures various city walks in a chain of circuits centred at key ghats: Assi, Kedar, Dashashwamedh, Manikarnika, Panchganga, Trilochan and Adi Keshav.

There were many readers who were neither familiar nor comfortable with kindle format. They needed the touch and the idea of materially holding the ‘book’ in their hands. So, I published the book in paperback format without any change in the textual content.

gp

 

Kameshwar or Durvaseshwar Mahadev, Kashi Khand

The Kashi Khand of Skand Mahapuran has narratives that give full coverage to the story of origin of the idols of various gods and goddesses, especially of the various lingams that prominently dot the cityscape. In its eighty-fifth chapter there is the story of how Durvaseshwar/Kameshwar Mahadev came into being. As the name suggests, Lord Shiva bears the name of his devotee here. He is the ‘Lord of Durvasa‘. For those who do not know much about the sage famous for his irascibility, fiery temper and powers, rishi Durvasa directly originated from Lord Shiva. He is a great devotee of Lord Shiva and is full of praise for the city of Kashi as he reaches there. He likes the city and starts his austerities to please his Lord in order to get a boon he wants. Time passes but the sage has no success.

Irascible as he is, he decides to curse the city that does not bring the fruits of his devotion and austerity to him. The fire of his anger envelops the sky, and since then it looks blue. The ganas of Lord Shiva who reside in his beloved abode get agitated and angry and take countermeasure by creating a huge wall all around the city that does not let even fire pass. The world burns and Kashi is breathless. Lord Shiva is pleased with the powerful sage and appears before him (I will not digress and write of another lingam that came to earth at this point of time).

On seeing his lord Durvasa becomes aware of what he had done. He is full of shame and remorse to have thought of cursing Mother Kashi, but Lord Shiva is happy with him and asks him to ask for his boon. The sage asks for only one boon, that the lingam he established there fulfills the desires of the devotees, hence known as the Lord of Desires, also that the water of the pond may have similar powers. Lord Shiva was pleased with the selfless sage and called the lingam Durvaseshwar before granting the sage his boon. He also declared that the most auspicious day for the devotees to reach there would be the thirteenth day of Pradosh that coincides with Saturday.

Kameshwar Mahadev, Varanasi

This post began when Mr Saktibrata Sen posted a question on my blog “Madhyameshwar: The Lord of/at the Centre, Varanasi”. The question was:

Hello, I need help to locate the Kameshwar or Durvaseshwar Temple. I tried for 7 continuous days and failed. Can you please, please help? I have heard that this temple was once a seat of many a classical Hindustani performances by Ustad Faiyaz khan

I knew nothing of the Ustad mentioned, but I knew I could give the exact location. So, I searched. For the temple I searched the great Pandit Kubernath Sukul’s Varanasi Vaibhav and Dandiswami Shivanand Saraswati’s Kashi Gaurav, and for the maestro, Wikipedia and youtube.

Varanasi Vaibhav gives the location of the temple as:

a. The Old Temple at house number A 2/9, near Macchodari (p 222 and 384)

b. The New Temple at house number K 30/1, Ghasitola (p 384)

There is also the mention of Kamkund that is not there any more.

The most auspicious day for darshan, according to the Hindu calendar is Vaishakh Krishna 13.

Kashi Gaurav gives the location of the temple under the circuit covering 42 great Shivlingas. it’s at the eastern side of Macchodari, at A 2/9 in an eponymous lane: the Kameshwar Lane.   

This same lingam is known as Durvaseshwar. Why? There’s a long narrative in the Kashi Khand of Skand Mahapuran regarding its origin and nomenclature. That narrative will be the subject of our next post.

 

72 books in 6 months challenge, week 2

PoetryPoeticsPleasure

“Where’s the time?”, ask people, many of them, when introduced to the 72 books in 6 months challenge. And then, there are few whose eyes brighten up. For them, this is the idea they always had. Only it was fully expressed by someone else. For them, the people who have discovered the joy of reading, and also its value, this challenge is an opportunity. They have been waiting for it to come there way. Some of them had done it at some time in their past long back, e.g. one of them had done it in 2012, and I had done it in 2007-08, but not so methodically. What we are doing here is keeping a log, like the regular strength trainers or weightlifters keep. It performs the functions of the record of achievements (PR, or personal record is the term for it), an inspiration, and a benchmark to achieve and…

View original post 253 more words

Problems of Translating “Where the mind is without fear”

Where the mind is without fear …

 

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

 

Rabindranath Tagore

 

The Bangla Original and literal translation

 

 চিত্ত যেথা ভয়শূন্য, উচ্চ যেথা শির,

(Where intellect/consciousness is without fear, where head is high)

জ্ঞান যেথা মুক্ত, যেথা গৃহের প্রাচীর

(Where knowledge is free, where walls of the house)

আপন প্রাঙ্গণতলে দিবসশর্বরী

(Day and night in its own courtyard)

বসুধারে রাখে নাই খণ্ড ক্ষুদ্র করি,

(Do not separate in tiny little parts the earth)

যেথা বাক্য হৃদয়ের উত্‍‌সমুখ হতে

(Where sentence from the core of heart arises)

উচ্ছ্বসিয়া উঠে, যেথা নির্বারিত স্রোতে

(It springs from there, where unhindered current)

দেশে দেশে দিশে দিশে কর্মধারা ধায়

(Of the stream of actions runs in all directions, to all places/states/nations)

অজস্র সহস্রবিধ চরিতার্থতায়,

(Unstopped, realizing itself in thousand ways)

যেথা তুচ্ছ আচারের মরুবালুরাশি

(Where the desert sand masses of petty norms/traditions/dogmas)

বিচারের স্রোতঃপথ ফেলে নাই গ্রাসি—

(Has not dried up the spring of thought on its way)

পৌরুষেরে করে নি শতধা, নিত্য যেথা

(Where will/power/virility has not been always weakened to its hundredth part)

তুমি সর্ব কর্ম চিন্তা আনন্দের নেতা,

(You are the leader of all action, thought and joys)

নিজ হস্তে নির্দয় আঘাত করি, পিতঃ,

(Deliver a pitiless blow of your hand, o Father)

ভারতেরে সেই স্বর্গে করো জাগরিত॥

(Wake India up in that very heaven)

 

 

My Verse Translation from Bangla

 

 Self sure,proud; pure intellect sans fear,

Knowledge liberated, where walls do not tear

The courtyard, our earth, in petty, in puny,

Night and day part it in parts poor many.

 

Rise where words from heart, actions flow

In hundred unhindered streams that go

From fonts direct in currents strong,

Place to place, path to path, short or long.

 

Huge sand dunes of dogmas tiny

Suck not spring of thoughts all dry.

Manhood and will, shattered indeed

In parts hundred on ground don’t lie.

 

Thou molder of actions and thoughts and joys,

Strike stern, sure, strong strokes such thine,

O Father, my nation may rise in land divine!

 

 

Rajnish Mishra