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It’s festival season in India now, all the gods have woken up from their somnolent sleep of summer, the first flush of the monsoon rains have cleared the air and the way now for massive celebrations. In a land of 330 million gods, there is never a day that passes without some kind of festival, from a simple home puja to an extravaganza of gigantic proportions.
Now we are into Super Size Festival season. Today is the birthday of Krishna, an avatar of the creator God Vishnu whose story begins before he was born and continues to this day with the wisdom he imparted on karma still recited today in that divinely holy book of life instruction, the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna was born into your usual dysfunctional family, his jealous and paranoid uncle was a terrorist with a soft heart for his sister. When a disembodied voice predicted that the eighth child of his sisters union would bring and end to the reign of terror of the uncle, he promptly threw his sister in jail and killed every child up until number five when the parents started to get wise. Krishna survived to fulfill his karma, spent his childhood being the cutest kid on the block but with powers that were beyond imagination.
As a youth he dallied with the gopa and fell in love with Radha, a love story that is still told and enacted today.
In the Bhagavad Gita he counsels Arjun to go into the battle field and slaughter his family because this in fact was his karma. His teaching to Arjun to abandon all attachment to the results of action and attain supreme peace.
If we care to take a lesson from the life of Krishna on earth, for me the true essence of Krishna is Bliss and Non Attachment.
clouds mingled with mist,
and slowly poured into the valley
buffeted softly against my window.
Mist drank down tall trees, smothered villages.
A primordial ocean of shapes dissolving
There was nothing but this mortal frame separating me from that divine union.
In the night a downpour so heavy it awoke the hidden fear of landslides stirring the locals from their beds.
Come morning, the day has forgiven the night, the forest floor has awoken, rare blooms spring from the soil like dancers from a cake, sashaying across the forest floor.
a dog goes missing
a leopard and her cubs stalk the hills,
don’t go walking in the forest says Raju, they are close by
I think of that elegant cat, a creature of mist and smoke and shadows
while I mourn the loss of Jimmy, a dog amongst dogs
He and the cat are both creatures of this divine play where shapes and boundaries dissolve
two noble creatures now one
Photo credit: Mist in the pines from www.indianjourneys.wordpress.com
So I decided one moment to change locations, to jump from the frying pan into the fire ad to give India a chance to romance me. Fed up with the flies and the fires, the heat and the absolute frustration of my every day existence of disconnections and electricity problems, I wanted to be able to spend a few days without feeling pissed off and frustrated.
India is like that, I find. If you get bored or pissed off you can just change locations and have another experience altogether and Rajasthan can always be relied upon for both charm and romance not to mention great chai and even better chapatti! While it may be a furnace in parts of the state now, its the perfect time to visit because people have time to hang out and pass the time. Days stretch out in the shadowed refuges from the heat of the sun and there is always a call for one more chai, to leave a place takes at least three attempts as the locals reason that there is no need to hurry, or that they have just ordered more chai or that something is about to happen. Days slip effortlessly into nights and before you know it another day has passed without having to wrestle with the internet, the electricity or the flies. And then there is that mysterious desert breeze that whispers softly over your skin just when you think you may spontaneously combust with the heat!
Here in Bundi is the charm and romance of an India that stretches back in history over seven hundred years, a palace that is whispered to have been constructed by the faeries, painted houses and painted palaces. Its a village of artistic pursuits and time pass. There is the morning gathering at the local chai shop and smiles an ocean wide from small children and yes! Even the women will smile and acknowledge you!