The Dreamheron Diaries - স্বপ্নসারসের দিনলিপি

Saturday, September 30, 2006


My uncle Bijan was a deeply spiritual person who traveled to many holy places. He once spoke of an itinerant young American woman approaching him in a holy city (let us say Varanasi), and asking him questions about spiritual quest. This is perfectly understandable. Uncle Bijan would stand out in the crowd as a man of learning, and it would be natural for a foreigner seeking a knowledgeable English-speaking Indian to approach him. Unfortunately, I did not think to pursue the issue further with Uncle Bijan to find out what was actually discussed. So I try to imagine today what may have been said between him (B) and the American woman (A).

A: What is special about this place?

B: Look around you. You see a poor man with a satisfied glow of devotion on his face. A rich man bowing down low alongside the poor man in great humility. An ill man with a truly happy smile. Multiply these hundreds of thousands of times. What we have is a real and tangible beneficial effect on real and tangible human beings. There is no denying this. It is not anybody’s opinion – it is here for anyone to witness. Now, what is the cause of this tremendous effect?

A: The place is the cause?

B: Yes, but there is more. Since the effect is there, the cause is there. If you believe that this place is genuinely holy, genuinely consecrated, then you readily understand the cause. But if you are a non-believer, you still see that the cause is there. You may then ascribe it to a human need to find a holy place, to find a place and simply call it holy. So is there a difference between the place being actually holy, and the place being believed to be holy?

A: The difference is that if it is all in the mind of man, then for me, an alien to this scene and an alien to the Hindu life experience, the beneficial effect may not come. So I am wanting to know what the absolute nature of this place is.

B: There is on one hand reasoned defiance, and there is on the other hand unquestioning surrender. Both are important. The point now is, Which one do you apply first? If you apply reason first, you do not get anywhere. The quest ends for you here. If you surrender yourself first to the overwhelming tide you see around you and let it cradle you and carry you some distance, then at least you are moving. A while later, stop and invoke reason again and you may well see things differently. The important thing is not to stagnate.

A: And what do you believe?

B: I think I can accept that this place is truly consecrated. Thousands of years of believing that the place is holy has actually made it holy. This soil, this water, this air – they have history. And it is that history that is good.

A: I think I am beginning to see. Thank you for showing me the way.