Lire en Français

Varanasi is here below, as a bridge between the suffering life of devotees and the ultimate paradise up there, nirvana of the rainbow color gods. Benares the immortal, sees every day a tide of pilgrims coming to buy a place in paradise, the promise of this holy city, a promise of liberation from samsara (cycle of reincarnation).

I walked through its winding alleys, making my way between hesitant saris, crossing the path of pundits, punaris (temple priest), and pandas (pilgrim priest) in dark corners. All were celebrating in an eternal  ritual, Krishna who is remaining in a Tribhanga stance.  I let myself be guided lower down by a Vyasa (storyteller of the Hindu tradition) who sings esoteric tales to me along the Ganges and I descend the steps of the Ghats towards the river as if travelling through the symbol of the repetitive cycle of life and death. I then let myself be seduced by the moksha (liberation of the soul), promise of transcendence and freedom and I contemplate the Ganges. Dark as the Styx, it guides these decomposed dusts, ashes of jivan muktas (illuminated yogi) and repentant souls, towards not a Greek hell but a Hindu paradise.

Further on, I hear that the greatness of Shiva is being sung. A gang of young people with flowery decorated necks, coming from an ashram without garden, are throwing themselves in the holy waters of the Ganges in order to purify themselves and love their mother Ganga.

A Sadhu sat beside me, his quest for spirituality in a momentary pause, took a few minutes to guide me, and told me not to visit the city with my eyes.

Blind, I hear him, and understand that Varanasi can be visited with your heart, your soul, your third eye. I listen then. And I see a melody of peace, the heartbeat of Uttar Pradesh as a hymn of bansuri, the laughter of children, the cows frolicking in the water of the river, the echo of the copper bells that punctuate the evening pujas, the rickshaw chimes that play their music and animate the spiritual life of my Hindu friends.

Varanasi is transformed into a melody, the one that soothes, transcends, and guides your soul outside your carnal body, to celebrate its waters, its strength and its light.

I play by the rules, always with my eyes closed, and without crushing the fertilizing gifts of our cow friends, I adopt this barefoot life. Like a sadhu, detached from the world, covered in ash and smoking hash, I glide over the smoke of the bodies crackling on the funeral pyres of the Manikarnika Ghat.

I let myself be lost in Varanasi, I took its path for a moment, the one that guides us elsewhere, towards an experience of deep piety, and I dreamt of myself, myself alone, lost in my samsara singing "Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya".