Ho hum. What’s new? ‘Maine jaake dekh liya hai rehguzar ke aage bhi/Rehguzar hi rehguzar hai rehguzar ke aage bhi.’ ‘I took a look at what’s ahead of the path, and there’s nothing but the path ahead of the path.’ This is a dear friend’s favourite line. Well, almost. My (his) other favourite line — can you have two favourites or is that a piece of grammatical persnicketiness? — is: ‘Mat pooch ki kya haal hai mera tere peeche/Tu dekh ki kya rang hai tera mere aage.’ In other words, this is not about me, it’s about you (the other party). Are you good enough for me? Some call that attitude. Which is why I like the Amarnath yatris so much. There’s nothing but huffing and puffing through a very difficult path to get to that gufa. Why do they do it, year after perilous, toilsome year? It has to be because Shiva-as-water has ‘rang’ (colour/flavour/rasa) for them.
The journey is the destination, brought alive and made utterly worthwhile by the fascinating personality of the Lord of the sacred swathes. It’s not about narrow identities. It’s older, bigger and more splendid than the glory of a thousand suns, it’s about Shiva, the Auspicious One, who has kept heart in millions of people for millennia.
My ritual, every time I visit a certain other friend’s house in Delhi, is to ask the gifted niece of that house, Pavithra, to sing 18th century composer Muthuswami Dikshitar’s composition ‘Jambupatey’ in Raga Yamunakalyani in the three-beat Rupaka Talam. You might like to google Carnatic maestro TM Krishna singing it in the album Panchabhutam. ‘Jambupatey’ is in Sanskrit, so we’re all trekking uphill out here. It’s a bit over 13 minutes long so sit back and tune in after googling first for the lyrics and meaning. It’s straightforward really, a description of Shiva in his splendour and might, his irresistible appeal to the Princess of the Snows and his completeness as a concept, its application to our lives and the knock-you-in-a-heap beauty of it all. TMK doesn’t dress it up with musical trills and frills but builds meditative layers with the glorious words. Go for it. If not to Amarnath in body, then in a flight of the soul straight to the source, to the One who lives in those words, in temples, caves and in a great many of our hearts since time past counting. Harhar Mahadev.
Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture