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Manikarnika tuhastus Ghat, Ganges

Manikarnika tuhastus Ghat, Ganges


Need on väga erilised muldkehatüübid, mis on tegelikult pikad laiade kiviastmete lennud, mis viivad alla jõe äärde, kus inimesed saavad pühalt supelda. Kuid nendes Ghatides on midagi enamat kui lihtsalt suplemine ja tuhastamine. Igal Varanasi kaheksakümmend neljal Ghatil on eriline tähtsus.

Ghatide vaatamine Gangese paadist, eriti päikesetõusu ajal, on unustamatu kogemus! Need pakuvad panoraamvaadet erinevatele varahommikustele tegevustele - alates pesemisest kuni treeninguni - paljudest inimestest, kelle jaoks jõgi on kogu elu ja lõpp. Samuti on rõõm kõndida mööda Ghati kogu Ghati piki. Siin konsulteerivad inimesed astroloogidega oma palmilehtede päikesevarjude all, ostavad rituaalide jaoks pakkumisi, müüvad siidist rõivaid ja messingnõusid või vaatavad lihtsalt kauget silmapiiri, kus võimas jõgi kohtub taevaga.


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Kuni 300 inimest päevas tuhastatakse sellel "põleval ghatil", mis on nime saanud astmete järgi, mis viivad püha veekogu juurde.

Sajandeid on vanad ja haiged kogunenud kohale, et siin Gangese kaldal surra, ja saidi erihooned on reserveeritud neile, kes ootavad oma viimast tundi.

Kuid õhkkond hiiglaslikul matusekohal ei ole kurb, sest leinajad naeravad, lobisevad ja mängivad kaarte matuse ettevalmistamise ajal.

Hindu suhtumine surmasse ei tähenda kaotust, vaid järgib hoopis kulunud keha „mahaviskamise” ideed, kuna võib minema visata riided, mis on kandmiseks liiga kulunud.

Varanasi sait on aktiivne taru, pered põimivad põlevate kehade jaoks kogutud puukuhjade vahel karja matmispidude ümber ja pealtvaatajad ning turistid tseremooniate ümber jahvatavad.

Matuseprotsess on nirvaana saavutamiseks ülioluline ja rituaali paljud etapid tuleb täiuslikult läbi viia, vastasel juhul ei leia hing oma teed teispoolsuses.

Praktilisus: Inimkehade põletamiseks kasutatakse hunnikuid mangopuidust palke, mis on odavamad kui sandlipuu. Indias sureb aastas umbes üheksa miljonit inimest, nii et praktilistel põhjustel võetakse kasutusele muud tuhastamismeetodid, kasutades elektrit või gaasi

Kiirus: surnukeha viiakse Gangese äärde alla, mis on mähitud oranži ümbrisesse. See tuleks põletada 24 tunni jooksul pärast surma

Puhastatud: surnukeha võetakse maha, et pereliikmed bambuspuuril jõkke uputada. Valges mees on surnu lähim sugulane, kelle ülesandeks on matusetalituste läbiviimine. Ainsad naised, kes kipuvad kohal olema, on välisturistid

Kaasaskandmine: Keha kastetakse korraks vette enne tuhastamise algust trepist üles tõstmist

Ootamine: surnukehad jäetakse trepile umbes kaheks tunniks, et nad saaksid enne tuhastamist läheduses kuivada

Alustuseks kantakse jäänused läbi vanalinna alleede kuni Gangese pühasse bambusest kanderaamile, mis on kaetud värvilise riidega.

Lähim meessoost sugulane peab matusetalitused läbi viima, samas kui naisi ei lubata traditsiooniliselt kohal olla, kuna kardetakse, et nad nutavad ja rikuvad lugupidava õhkkonna.

Seejärel sukeldatakse surnukeha Gangesse, enne kui see pannakse treppidele kaheks tunniks kuivama. On tavaline, et keha jäetakse kuivamise ajal üksi ja kontrollimata kariloomad närivad dekoratiivlilli ja isegi urineerivad keha.

Kui see on kuivanud, viiakse surnukeha põletusauku ja puukuhjad, mis on hoolikalt valitud ja kaalutud sõltuvalt summast, mida pere saab tseremoonial kulutada.

Kuid arvatakse, et surm on nakkav ja surnukehaga võib kokku puutuda vaid teatud alamrühm "Puutumatud", rõhutud inimrühm, keda ühiskond eemale hoiab. Selle alamkasti liikmeid nimetatakse "Domsiks".

Kuid kuna nad on ainsad tseremooniat läbi viinud, on mõned domeenid loonud monopoli ja saanud rikkaks matuseturust, mis õitseb Varanasis.

Viimased hetked: kui keha, mis võis jääda üksi, on piisavalt kuiv, viivad pereliikmed põlevasse auku

Sajad: Varanasis Gangese kaldal toimub iga päev kuni 300 tuhastamist, kui nende hing vabastatakse uuesti sündima

Kannatlikkus: surnukehad jäetakse tundideks treppidele või ghatidesse. Noored poisid, tõenäoliselt surnu sugulased, istuvad ja ootavad

Rahumeelne: mehed seisavad vaikuses tuhastamist põletamas, kus naised ei osale, kuna väidetavalt toovad nad menetlusse liiga palju kurbust

Äri: Domid võtavad tuhastamise eest tasu, kuid võtavad ka lõigu ghatide lähedal müüdavast kallist puidust

Sotsiaalsed struktuurid: šahtid asuvad neljal erineval tasemel, üks igale kastile. Pildil olevad on pärit Kshatriya (sõdalase) kastist

Viimased ettevalmistused: keha vabastatakse köiest ja see on valmis tuleriidale asetama ning kaetud pere ostetud puiduga

Tuhastamine on eelistatud surnukehade kõrvaldamise viis hindude seas, kes usuvad, et tuli puhastab hinge ja vabastab selle kehast, võimaldades inimesel uuesti sündida.

Hindu maailmas ei ole kirstu olemas ja ainus valitud rühm inimesi on maetud, mitte põletatud.

Nende hulka kuuluvad pühad mehed ja lapsed, kes surevad enne kaheaastaseks saamist, kuna arvatakse, et nende vaim on puhas ja neid ei pea tulega puhastama. Samuti on maetud kurjategijad ja enesetapu teinud inimesed, sest nende patud on liiga suured, et neid matusetulest puhastada.

Keha jalad on suunatud lõuna poole surmajumala Yama valdkonna suunas ja pea põhja poole jõukusejumala Kubera valdkonna poole.

Traditsiooniliselt on peamine leinaja, kes kannab sageli valget värvi, see, kes sütitab pirnile valgust, võttes vastu Domsilt leegitsevad kushaoksad, ja kehast saab tulejumala Agni ohver.


Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika Ghat on seotud kahe legendiga. Arvatakse, et isand Višnu kaevas oma tšakra abil kaevu ja samal ajal vaatas Issand Šiva Lord Višnut, kõrvarõngas (“manikarnika ”) oli langenud Issanda Višnu loodud auku. Teise legendi järgi varjas jumalanna Parvati (isand Šiva kaaslane, jumalanna Annapurna) oma kõrvarõngad ja palus need Šiva leida.

Vastavalt teise iidse mütoloogia on omanik Manikarnika Ghat osteti kuningas Harishchandra orjaks ja ütles, et ta töötaks Manikarnika juures Harishchandra Ghatis. Hindude religiooni inimeste surnukehad tuhastatakse tavaliselt siinsamas.

See on Varanasi üks kuulsamaid, pühamaid ja vanimaid jõgesid, Manikarnika on peamine põletav ghat ja üks soodsamaid kohti, kus hindu saab tuhastada. Surnukehad tuuakse ghatisse bambusest kanderaamil, mis on kaetud punase riidega, mida käitlevad toomid.

Manikarnika Ghati tähtsus

Manikarnika Ghat on tuntud ka nimega Mahasmasana, mis on üks kahest põletusmatist, mis asub Varanasis. Teine kuulus tuhastamise ghat on Harishchandra Ghat. Manikarnika Ghat on ajalooliselt seotud Hindu Jumalaga, kelle nimi on Lord Vishnu ja Lord Shiva. Arvatakse, et see, kes on tuhastatud sellel ghatil, saavutab Moksha, päästmise ja on otseselt segatud Issanda Šivaga.

Manikarnika Ghat on kuulus ka Issanda Šiva ja Mata Durga templi poolest, mis ehitati umbes 1850. aastal Awadhi Maharaja poolt. Sellest templist on saanud selle Ghati pühamu. Sellel pühal tiigil, nimega Cakra-Pushkarini Kund (Manikarnika Kund), asub ka see ghat, mille usutakse olevat Issanda Višnu kaevatud. Ajaloo kohaselt eksisteeris see kund varem kui Gangese päritolu.

Samuti leitakse, et Issanda Vishnu Charanapaduka (jalajäljed) on siin ümmarguse marmorplaadiga, nagu isand Vishnu on sellel ghatil palju aastaid vahendanud.

Manikarnika Ghat asukoha kaart

Olen ettevõtja, vastutustundlik kahe lapse ema, hea koduperenaine ja töökas naine. Ma usun täielikult raskesse töösse, kus ma just seetõttu olen. Minu suur kirg on olla kogu aeg hõivatud. Ma austan distsiplineeritud inimest ja austan teisi.


Varanasi tähtsate jõgede loend

Nagu varem mainitud, on linnas ligi 87 Ghatit, millest mõned on väga kuulsad. Esialgu oli seal vähem Ghatid ja nende arv on aja jooksul suurenenud, kuna Ghatid jagati väiksemateks osadeks. Siin kirjeldame Varanasi olulisi Ghatisid, nende Ghatide ja nendel Ghatidel asuvate templite seotud ajalugu.

Adi Keshava Ghat

Adi Keshava Ghat asub Varuna jõe ja Gangese jõe liitumiskoha lähedal. Ghat oli tuntud ka kui Vedesvara Ghat ja see on pühendatud Lord Vishnule (Keshav on teine ​​Lord Vishnu nimi). Gahadavala pealdisel on kirjas “Suur hulk rituaalseid sündmusi Varanasis hõlmas Adi Kesava kummardamist või suplust Gangas Varuna liitumiskohas”. Hindu mütoloogia kohaselt kujutab viiest kohast pärit vesi Lord Vishnu kehaosi.Assi on pea, Dasasvamedha on rind, Manikarnika on merevägi, Pancaganga on reied ja Adi Kesava on tasut ”. See kujutab ka, et Lord Vishnu asetas oma pühad jalad esmakordselt Varanasis Adi Keshavale. Tema jäljed (Charana Paduka) Adi Kesava templis sümboliseerivad seda sündmust. Teine jalajälg on Manikarnika Ghatil. Aastal tähistatakse festivalina Vamana (Lord Vishnu 5. kehastus) sünnipäeva Adi Keshava tempel asub Ghatil.

Pancaganga jõgi

Pancaganga Ghat on üle 1000 aasta vana ja seda mainitakse paljudes üheteistkümnenda sajandi hinduismi tekstides. Ghati renoveeris 1580. aastal kivitreppidega Mughal King Akbari rahandussekretär Raghunatha Tandan. Arvatakse, et viie püha Ganga oja, st Yamuna, Saraswati, Dhupapa ja Kirana, ühinemine toimub Pancaganga Ghatis. Kuigi ainus Ganges on nähtav ja puhkust peetakse manifestatsiooniks. Ghat on tähistatud ka Alamgiri mošee püstitanud Keiser Aurangzeb, Vishnu templi varemetel. Pancaganga Ghatis asub ka jumalanna Gangale pühendatud pühamu.

Scindia Ghat

Scindia Ghat oli varem tuntud kui Viresvara Ghat, kuna seal asub samanimeline tempel. Nagu nimigi ütleb, ehitas Ghati Gwaliori Scindhia ja 1780. aastal tegi Ahilabai Holker Ghat pucca. Ghatit ümbritsevad Sankatha ja Bhonsale Ghat põhjas ning Dattatreya ja Manikarnika Ghat lõunas. Mütoloogia Lord Lordi järgi sündis Hindu tulejumal Scindia Ghatil. Ghatis asuvad ka salvei Vsistha ja Vamandeva pühapaigad.

Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika Ghat on üks Varanasi kuulsamaid gete ja seda nimetatakse rahvasuus “suur tuhastamiskoht“. Kell Manikarnika Ghat Lord Shiva palvetatakse Taraskeshvara nime all (tempel asub Ghatis), kes andis Taraka mantra surnute kõrvu. Ghati nimi on tuletatud kahest sõnast Mani (Lord Shiva vaip) ja Karnika (jumalanna Parvati kõrvarõngad), mis langesid siia suplemise ajal. Manikarnika Ghat on üks Varanasi vanimaid gaate ja seda on mainitud Gupta ’s pealdistel 4. sajandil CE. Manikarnika Ghatis asuvad Manikarnikesvara, Mahesvara (vabaõhu lingam Ghatis), Cakra-Puskarini Kunda (“Discus Lotus- Pool ”) ja Visnu jalgade mulje või Charan Paduka pühapaigad. Kohalikud ütlevad, et Lord Vishnu esitas Tapasyat selles kohas 7000 aastat ja seda kirjeldatakse kui "Püha linna pühaimat paika". Ghatis asub ka Siva-Durga tempel, mille on ehitanud Raja of Amethi (Oudh), mis erineb viiest sügavpunasest tornist ja kullatud tippudest.

Video Manikarnika Ghatist Varanasist.

Lalita Ghat asub põhjas Manikarnika Ghat ja lõunas Meer Ghat. Lalita Ghat on üks vähestest Varanasi Ghatidest, mis on saanud nime jumalanna järgi. Lalita Ghat on nime saanud jumalanna Lalita järgi, kes on tuntud ka kui Tripura Sundari ja ta on üks kümnest hinduistliku jumalanna jumalannast. Ghatis on ka tuntud Shiva Lingam nimega Ganga Kesava ja seal asuvad Gangatitya, Kasi Devi ja Lalita Devi pühapaigad. Võib näha templit, mis on ehitatud Ghati ülaossa, üldtuntud kui Nepali tempel, mille ehitas Nepali kuningas aastal 1841. Kohalikud inimesed ütlevad, et Shiva Lingam Lalita Ghatis on täpne koopia kuulsas Pashupatinathis asuvast Shiva Lingast Katmandu tempel.

Dashashwamedh Ghat

Dashashwamedh Ghat on Varanasi üks vanimaid, olulisemaid ja hõivatuimaid gaate. Ghat asub Kashi Vishwanathi templi lähedal ja iga päev pärast päikeseloojangut esitab Ganga Aarti siin 11 preestrit. Ghati nimi on tuletatud vormist (Das-Asvamedha) ja hindu mütoloogia kohaselt ohverdas Brahma sellel Ghatil kümme hobust. Dashashwamedha Ghatil on Sulatankesvara, Brahmesvara, Varahesvara, Abhaya Vinayaka ja jumalanna Ganga templid.

Dr Rajendra Prasad Ghat

Dr Rajendra Prasad Ghat oli Dashashwamedh Ghati põhjapoolne laiendus ja aastal 1979 nimetati Ghat India esimese presidendi auks Rajendra Prasad Ghatiks. Kuni üheksateistkümnenda sajandi lõpuni on Ghatis kivist hobuse kuju, mis tunnistab isand Brahma etendust “ kümnehobuse ohvriks ”. Kui see ümber nimetati, tegi selle Varanasi linnavalitsus puccaks ja hobuse kuju nihutati Sankat Mochani tempel.

Ahilyabai Ghat

Ahilyabai Ghat ehitati aastal 1778, austades Indore kuningannat Ahilyabai Holkarit. Esialgu oli Ghat tuntud kui Kevelyagiri Ghat. Ahilyabai Holkar aitas hinduismile kaasa, ehitades ümber moslemite sissetungijate hävitatud templid ja struktuurid, nagu Kashi Vishwanathi tempel. Ta tellis ka Varanasi erinevate Ghatide rekonstrueerimise ja seetõttu ehitati Ahilyabai Ghat tema auks.

Munshi Ghat ja Rana Mahala Ghat

Munshi Ghat sai nime Sridhara Narayana Munsi järgi, kes töötas rahandusministrina Darbhanga osariigis. Ghat ehitati aastal 1912 ja see oli varem tuntud kui Darbhanga Ghat. Pärast Sridhara Narayana Munsi surma 1924 nimetati see tema auks Munshi Ghatiks.

Rana Mahala Ghat on oma eelmise Ghati laiendatud osa ja selle tellis Udaipuri kuningas aastal 1670. Rana Mahala Ghati tipus asub Vakratunda Vinayaka pühamu.

Chausatthi Ghat

Chausatthi Ghat sümboliseerib emajumalanna Chausathi (kuuskümmend neli) saatjat (Yogini). Yogini on naissoost saatja, kes mõistmise ja vabanemise kaudu tapab tulise kirega illusioone. Udaipuri kuningas renoveeris selle Ghati 1670. aastal ja tegi trepid puccaks. Ghatis asub ka Chausatthi Devi tempel. Suur sanskriti õpetlane Madhusudana Sarasvati (1540-1623) veedab paar päeva oma elust Chausatthi Ghatis.

Digpatia Ghat

Digpatia Ghati ehitas Digpatia (Lääne -Bengali) kuningas. Digpatia Ghatil on kaunis hoone, mida tuntakse nime all “Kashi Ashram ”.

Babua Pandey Ghat

Babua Pandey Ghat ehitati kuulsa maadleja Babua Pandey auks aastal 1805. Babua Pandey ehitas Akhara (maadlusväljak) Varanasi kohalikele noortele. Babua Pandey Ghati läheduses asub Prabhasa Tirtha ja Somesvara pühamu.

Raja Ghat

Raja Ghat asub Babua Pandey Ghati kõrval ja selle tellis esimene Maratha pealik Gajirao Balaji aastal 1720. Raja Ghat oli varem tuntud kui Amrita Rao Ghat, kuna Ghat ehitati kiviplaatidega Amrita Rao Pesac aastatel 1780 - 1807. Raja Ghat koosneb neljast templist Amritesvara, Vinayakesvara, Nayanesvara ja Gangesvara. Ghatis asub ka neli abipühakoda.

Naradi jõgi

Narad Ghat ehitas kloostriülem Dattatreya Svami aastal 1788 ja enne seda oli Ghat tuntud kui Kuvai Ghat. Gradi ülemisel küljel asuvad Naradesvara, Atrisvara, Vasukisvara ja Dattatreyesvara pildid.

Manasarovari jõgi

Manasarovar Ghat ehitas Raja Man Singh Jaipurist aastal 1585 ja Ghat renoveeriti aastal 1805. Ghatis asuvad Lord Rama, tema venna Lakshmani ja Dattatreya pühapaigad. Manasarovar Ghati tipus on püha tiik, mis kujutab endast Tiibetis asuvat Manasarovari järve. Manasarovari järv on mõnede India suurte jõgede, nagu Induse jõgi, allikas.

Kedar Ghat

Kedar Ghat on veel üks oluline Varanasi Ghat ja seda iseloomustab Kedaresvara tempel, mis on selle Ghati peamine jumalus. Teiste Kedar Ghati pühapaikade hulka kuuluvad Tarakesvara, Gauri Kunda ja Vitanka Narasimha.

Harish Chandra Ghat

Harish Chandra Ghat on nime saanud mütoloogilise kuninga Harish Chandra järgi, kes on kogu oma elu alati tõtt rääkinud. Markandeya Purana sõnul andis kuningas Harishchandra ära oma kuningriigi, müüs oma pere ja nõustus olema ori, et ta saaks täita lubaduse, mille ta oli andnud salvei Vishwamitrale. Just sel eluetapil töötas ta põletusmatistina Varanasi Ghatides ja sellest ka Harishchandra Ghat. Harishchandra Ghat ja Manikarnika Ghat on kaks Ghatit, kus viiakse läbi hindude tuhastamisrituaale. Harishchandra Ghatit nimetatakse mõnikord ka kui Adi Manikarnika (” Algne tuhastusplats ”). Ghatis on ka elektriline krematoorium, kuid kohalikud eelistavad rohkem surnukehade põletamist tule ja puidu abil.

Tulsi jõgi

Tulsi Ghat on nime saanud siin elanud kuulsa hindi luuletaja Tulsidase järgi, kes kirjutas hindu eepilise luuletuse Ramcharitmanas. Enne Tulsidase visiiti tuntud Ghat oli tuntud kui Lolark Ghat ja inimesed käisid siin vannis, et saada poegi ja nende pikk eluiga ning vabaneda pidalitõvest. Palverändurid suplevad Lolark kunda nimelise tiigi ääres. Ghati tegi pukaks Baldeo Das Birla 1941. aastal.

Assi Ghat

Assi Ghat on Varanasi lõunapoolseim Ghat ja seda Ghatit on mainitud erinevates hinduismi pühades raamatutes nagu Matsya Purana, Agni Purana, Kurma Purana ja Kashi Khanda. Ühe mütoloogia kohaselt viskas jumalanna Durga pärast deemonite Shumbha ja Nishumbha tapmist oma mõõga (Khadga), mille tulemuseks oli Asi jõgi, mille kallastel see Ghat asub. Assi Ghat asub Gangese ja Asi jõe ühinemiskoha lähedal. Esialgu oli Assi Ghati pikkus üle 500 m, kuid teatud aja jooksul jagati see paljudeks väiksemateks Ghatideks nagu Assi, Gangamahal Ghat, Rewan Ghat, Tulsi Ghat ja Bhadaini Ghat.

Sant Ravidas Ghat

Sant Ravidas Ghat on Varanasi viimane Ghat ja see on Varanasi suurim Ghat. Sant Ravidas Ghat on äsja ehitatud ja see ehitati aastal 2008. Varem oli Assi Ghat Varanasi viimane Ghat, kuid nüüd on see Sant Ravidas Ghat. Ghat on nime saanud kuulsa Bhakti liikumisluuletaja Saint Ravidase järgi ja seal asub 25 aakri suurune park, mida tuntakse Sant Ravidas Smaraki pargina.


Manikarnika Ghatiga seotud legendid ja müüdid

See on üks Banarase kõige olulisemaid kogemusi, millest ei tohiks ilma jääda. Kuna tegemist on ühe vanima ghatiga, on selle külge kinnitatud palju loresid. Nagu nimigi ütleb, tähendab Manikarnika kõrva juveeli või kõrvarõngast “Jeel ” tähistab “Mani ” ja Karnika tähistab “ kõrva helin ” vastavalt. Nii et ühe kuulsama pärimuse kohaselt ohverdas Mata Sati oma elu Lord Shiva eest pärast seda, kui isa alandas tema abikaasat ja#8211 The Shiva in Yagna. Siis võttis Lord naise surnukeha sülle ja tahtis selle Himaalajasse viia. Selle aja jooksul, vaadates Issanda Shiva lõputut kurbust, saatis isand Vishnu oma jumaliku tšakra, et lõigata Mata Sati keha 51 tükiks, mis langesid maa eri osadesse. Siin, nagu selles kohas kukkus Mata Sati kõrvarõngas, hakati seda kohta nimetama Manikarnikaks.

Mütoloogiliselt on ka öeldud, et kohtadesse, kus need Mata Sati kehaosad langesid, on kõikidesse nendesse kohtadesse ehitatud erinevaid Shakti Peethasid. Shakti Peethas on jumalanna Shakti või Sati pühitsetud jumalateenistuspaigad. Nii et siin Gangese jõe kaldal on Mata Sati kaks Shakti Peethas “Vishalakshmi ” ja “Manikarni ”.

Ajaloo väljavõtete kohaselt on sellega seotud veel üks müüt, et isand Vishnu kaevas sellesse kohta, mida tuntakse Manikarnika Kundina, Lord Shiva ja jumalanna Parvati jaoks, et end supelda. Kui nad suplesid, siis üks Lord Shiva kõrvarõngaid kukkus kaevu ja nii sai nimi tuntuks kui Manikarnika Ghat. Inimesed uskusid kindlalt oma loo versiooni, kuid Ghati uskumuste süsteem on üksmeelne.

Teise, kuid samas väga kuulsa legendi kohaselt on selle Ghati kohta väga huvitav ja levinud lugu. Lugu ütleb, et maailma loojana teab Lord Vishnu, et Lord Shiva hävitab maailma varsti. Kuna ta on religioosne koht, ei taha ta, et Kashi hävitataks. Nii palvetas ta tuhandeid aastaid Issand Šiva poole. Vishnu ja#8217 palvetest rõõmuga tuli Shiva koos Mata Parvati või Satiga Kashisse ja andis Kashi linnale igavese rahu. Selle soovi tagajärjel saab iga lahkunud hing, kes saab siin Varanasis oma viimased riitused, täielikult vabastatud sünni ja surma tsüklist ning saavutab täieliku staadiumi. Mokša – (vabanemine). See on tingitud sellest peamisest põhjusest, et hindudes peetakse seda maad tuhastamise jaoks kõige vagamaks ja pühamaks.


Ghatide kuningas: elu ja surm Gangese kaldal

VARANASI: Kell on juba üle südaöö, kui Bahadur Choudhary, Varanasi iidsete tuhastamiskohtade neljanda põlvkonna hooldaja, piserdab tseremooniavõid Gangese kallastel põlevatele tohututele matusetallidele.

Choudhary on kirjaoskamatu, vaene ja madala kastiga, kuid tema roll Varanasis, ühes India pühaimas linnas, on hindu mütoloogias püha.

Leegivalvurina sündinud traditsioon näeb ette, et Choudhary jälgib Varanasi pühasid tulekahjusid ja tuhastamiskohti, et hindud usuvad, et nad vabastavad nad elu ja surma tsüklist.

Need matuste hooldajad on Doms, väike kogukond, kes elab Varanasi põlevate „ghattide” ääres, kus tuhastamistulekahjud põlevad päeval ja öösel ning surnute lõhn hõljub õhus.

"Surnud on meie ainus äri," ütles Choudhary AFP Manikarnika kaldal, kus püstikupesadest tõusid paksu musta suitsu, kui kogunenud perekonnad nuttisid ning kerjused ja peaaegu alasti pühad mehed rändasid ringi annetusi otsides.

India mehed, kes ootavad surnukeha tuhastamist Manikarnika kaldal. FOTO: AFP.

Domid on sajandeid varustanud tseremoniaalse leegiga, mida kasutatakse Varanasisse „moksha” ehk hindu elutsüklitest vabastatud surnute põletamiseks.

Ghatide juures annavad domid leegitavaid tõrvikuid surnute perekondadele, kes süüdavad jõeäärsed puidust pürid.

Kui valgesse surilina sisse mässitud surnukehad ja saialilleõied tuhaks muudetakse, kogutakse jäänused kokku ja piserdatakse Gangesse ning domeenid koguvad oma tasu.

Choudhary, kes andis kahele tuletõrjujale korralduse lisada pirnile rohkem võid ja puitu, ütles, et nende kogukond jääb ellu, olenemata sellest, mida leinajad neile maksavad.

"Mõned saavad vaevu tuhastamist endale lubada," ütles ta. "Teised annetavad heldelt ja pakuvad isegi kõiki töölisi toita."

India kogukond Dom, kes hoolitseb matusetuld Varanasi vanades kvartalites Manikarnika kaldal. FOTO: AFP.

Choudhary ütles, et võib teenida kuni 150 ruupiat (2 dollarit) tagasilöögitegevuse eest, mis võib kesta 18 tundi. Hea päev võib tuua kuni 75 dollarit, ütles ta.

Choudhary sõnul on nende perekondade ülalpidamine väike sissetulek, kuid muid töövõimalusi on vähe.

Vaatamata oma tseremoniaalse kohustuse tähtsusele hindu matuserituaalidel, on Doms pärit India madalaima kastiga Daliti kogukonna alumistelt astmetelt.

Kõik tegelevad mingil tasemel põletusmatustega-hooldavad tulekahjusid ghatitemplites, korraldavad puitpüüride jaoks või müüvad tseremoonial lilli ja muid kaunistusi.

India mehed, kes kannavad surnukeha tuhastamiseks Varanasi vanalinnas Manikarnika ghatil. FOTO: AFP.

Kõige ihaldatum roll on ghatide "kuningas"-ajutine nimetus, mis käib domiperekondade vahel. Tiitliomanikule antakse tuhastamise igapäevases tegevuses mõjuvõimu, au ja täiendavat almust.

Kuid enamik tõrjutud kogukonnatööst piirdub surnutega seotud alaealiste töödega.

Ghatidel veedavad domid pikki tunde, mida ümbritsevad pirnide kuumus ja Varanasi sünonüümiks olev keerlev kaos.

Mõned sõeluvad ka väärisesemeid, sealhulgas kuldseid ehteid või isegi kuldseid hambaid, mille pereliikmed kehale maha jätsid.

Choudhary soovis, et tema kaks poega leiaksid elus erineva tee, kuid mõlemad jätsid kooli pooleli, et isa jälgedes käia. Neist saab tema perekonnast viies põlvkond, kes püreesid hooldab.

"Ajad võivad muutuda, kuid siin ei muutu midagi. Inimesed surevad ja tulevad Varanasisse ning ootavad Domsit, et teha jumalate püha tööd."


Tuhastustseremoonia Varanasis

Teie lihtsa juurdepääsuga (EZA) konto võimaldab teie organisatsiooni kasutajatel alla laadida sisu järgmistel eesmärkidel:

  • Testid
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  • fookusgruppide esitlused
  • välised esitlused
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Manikarnika tuhastus Ghat, Ganges - ajalugu

Nüüd hoopis teise maailma jaoks. BenaRas - & lsquoras & rsquo, kõigi asjade maitse või olemus kokku segatud - 'Bena '. Benaras, Kashi (Valguse linn), Avimukta (kunagi hüljatud) või see, mida praegu nimetatakse Varanasiks - (Varuna ja Asi jõe vahel) on ehk maailma vanim, siiani toimiv linn. See oli õitsev linn, kui see, mida me Läänes tsivilisatsioonina teame, alles sündis.

& quot Kas sellel maa peal pole palju pühasid paiku?
Kuid kes neist võrduks tasakaalus ühe täpi Kashi ja rsquose tolmuga?
Kas mere äärde ei jõua palju jõgesid?
Kuid milline neist on nagu Taevajõgi Kashis?
Kas maa peal pole palju vabastamisvälju?
Kuid ükski pole võrdne väikseima linnaosaga, mida Šiva pole kunagi hüljanud.
Ganga, Šiva ja Kashi: kus see kolmainsus valvab,

pole ime, et siin leitakse armu, mis viib täiusliku õndsuseni. "

Seda nimetatakse iidseks linnaks, igaveseks linnaks, & lsquoVanem kui ajalugu, vanem kui traditsioon, vanem isegi kui legend ja näeb välja kaks korda vanem kui kõik kokku, ja rsquo, nagu Mark Twain ütles. Ma lisan, et Benaras on kõige tihedam müüt, legend ja lugu kõigist linnadest, kus ma olen kunagi olnud. Üks kõnnib ajaloos, mis elab, õitseb ja kasvab. Keegi ütles kunagi, et linn ei ole põhimõtteliselt geograafia ega ajalugu, ei tänavate rägastik ega ratsionaalne asustusplaan- linn on müüt ja avaldunud lugu ning ma pole seda kunagi rohkem tundnud kui Benaras .

Saabusime varahommikul ja leidsime suurepärase ööbimiskoha, kust avaneb vaade Gangesele, mööda peamist alleed Assi Ghatini. Tänavatel palusid kerjused, kes hüüdsid mind, käed püsti ja väljas Namaste's, kui ma kõndisin ghatide juurde.

Alleed ääristasid väikesed poed.

Seal olid inimesed, kes müüsid teie hammastele Neemi pulgakesi (5 ruupiat/iga).

Seal olid pidevalt püsivad toutsid, mis täitsid Benarase jõgesid ja tänavaid, müües kõike, mida ette kujutate, ja pakkudes teile, ' pole probleemi ', isegi seda, mida te ei oska arvata. Seal olid vaimsed raamatupoed ja eksootilised bhajaani muusika esitajad, kes laulsid Šiva või Rami nimesid.

Seal olid sadhud oma oranžide rüüde ja kuhjatud jata juustega,

Seal olid vanad Ma & rsquos ja lapsed, kes elasid laua taga vabas õhus.

Pärast seda, kui ma hotelli sisse registreerisin, duši all käisin ja 5 minutit puhkasin, tuli Antoine ja võttis mu kätte ning läksime välja. Ta oli näljane ja leidsime peagi restorani ning saime imelise India eine. Siis läksime alla Ghatidele, kilomeetrite pikkustele kivist suplusastmetele, mis ääristavad Benarase Gangese.

Assi ghat on kõigist ghatidest lõunapoolseim ja on ehitatud

kus Asi jõgi suubub Gangesse.

Pärast seda on Gangese kaldad mudaga vooderdatud ja hoonestamata

Selles linnas, siinsetes tunnetes on midagi muud. Antoine ütles, et ma võiksin siia jääda kauaks. . . see on tõsi. Ma tunnen, et võiksin siia kirjutada -

see on arhetüüpselt joovastav.

Ameerikas ei näe te seda kvaliteeti kunagi, kõige lähemal on mõned New Yorgi linnaosad, kuid see on erinev. Ütlesin Antoine'ile: "Võrreldes sellega oli metsik lääs pühapäevane kirikupiknik ja ma mõtlesin seda tõesti.

Isegi Indias ei näe linnas seda konkreetset rasa ega maitset.

Tundub koht teisiti ja ainulaadselt õnnistatud.

Pärast õhtusööki hakkasime kõndima mööda Gangest põhja pool, mööda jõgesid ülesvoolu.

Ganga Ma (ema Ganges) on siin suur ja aeglane.

Kogu Indias on Ganges kohalolek, keskendumine ja elu allikas,

täpselt nagu ema ja tema ema peetakse jumalikuks:

& ldquoGangese vett peetakse eliksiiriks. Iga päev manustatuna annab see surematuse. Vann selles puhastab ühe patust. Rakendatakse meeleparandust tehes erinevatele kehaosadele, seistes jões ühel jalal ühest uuest kuust teise, see võib ravida nende osade ja elundite haigusi. Vabatahtlik surm pühasse oja uppudes tagab ühe koha paradiisis. Isegi surnud inimese luude ja tuha saatmine jõkke tagab tema õndsuse. Puranad räägivad sellest, kuidas surnud koera luu, mida vares kandis Gangese kohal, juhuslikult pühasse vette kukkus, mille tagajärjel tõlgiti koer koheselt taevasse. & rdquo

& ndash Benjamin Walker, Hindu lood

Benaras jooksevad kõik asjad Gangeseni. Ghatide kivitrepid, mis kestavad mitu miili ja ehitati pika aja jooksul enne varakeskaega, ulatuvad alla Gangese.

Kui vaatate mööda ghatte, jooksevad nad kõik üksteisega ilma pausita nii kaugele kui silm ulatub. Sammud liiguvad ühest konkreetsest teisest üles või alla. Igal Ghatil on oma eriline kvaliteet, paljud neist on suurepärased ja ilusad, kuid teised on tagasihoidlikumad.

Olles möödunud ühest või kahest ghatist, üks neist koos mõne noore indiaanlasega, kes mängisid lääne rokkmuusikat, kuulsime paadimeest, kes kutsus meid teda tööle võtma ja tegimegi. Ta tõi oma paadi üles trepist alla mudasele kaldale, täis prügi ja me astusime pardale.

It was wonderful, as we began to go out onto the Ganges.

I began to feel that I had now, begun to enter Benaras.

It was peaceful and quiet with the bright lights that (now) line the ghats

shining out towards the river,

like streetlights in the distance.

The high walls of the various ghats seemed like large castles,

as they rose up from the Ganges.

Here and there I hear dthe music of bhajans and chanting

coming from the innumerable small porches, balconies and rooms that fronted the river.

Here and there I could hear a dog barking or see an occasional firework go off in the sky.

It was Divali (a sort of Indian New Year) tomorrow and everywhere people were practicing.

In the boat, Antoine asked me if this was what I expected of Benaras and I said &lsquoNo&rsquo, meaning less of the lights and the occasional hotel that now fronted the river as well as various stores that had come right down onto the ghats. After a discussion of where it would be best to go, we decided to head for the main burning ghat or Smashan of Benaras - Manikarnika Ghat.

One of the most intersting things about Marnikarnika Ghat, and the other burning Ghat of Benaras- Harischandra Ghat, is that unlike the cremation grounds in the rest of India, which are considered impure, polluted and are typically located outside of the city, here, the cremation grounds are set in the very heart of the city. This tells us much about the special nature of Benaras and the particular significance given to cremation here.

In Benaras, cremation is considered to be Liberation it was the boon given to Vishnu, from Shiva, that all beings who die here would be Liberated. This forms the foundation and fundamental myth of Benaras. It shows in the central location of the burning ghats to the city as they are usually considered to be impure and polluting. But here, they are considered to be places of Liberation and are located

in the very heart of the city.

It is so obvious and clear in India, especially here in Benaras, how story fills in, fills up, completes, points out, makes, creates, reveals and also hides the world of our experience. As the famous Sanskrit grammarian Bhartrahari once said, &ldquoUnless we have a word for something, that something does not exist for us&rdquo It is the same with story which is a collection of words. Unless you have a story for something, that something does not show itself to you. Unless you know the myth, one place is like any other place, and Benaras, as I have proposed before, has more myth and story per square inch than any other place in the world.

I could see the many fires of Manikarnika Ghat, burning off in the distance, reflecting onto the still water of the Ganges

as we slipped slowly and quietly toward it.

As we approached, I could feel the weight of something real and heavy, immovable and ancient, I could feel something eternal. There were six or seven fires burning, and the ghats were covered with people.

The most busy of these people were carrying logs on their heads, from the boats which crowded up against the foot of the ghats where the fires burned, covered and piled high with logs. Men dressed in dirty T-shirts and lungis carried 2 or 3 logs at a time, up past the bodies laid out on the steps on green bamboo palanquins. This went on continuously.

The bodies intended for cremation had been carried down a narrow twisting maze through the close-set alleys of shops, houses and stores, by their families or relations. They were then set down on the steps by the Ganges, wrapped in orange shawls to wait for the next available burning pyre. Drawn by the ancient promise of Shiva, people came from all over India to be cremated here in Benaras and to have their ashes scattered on the Ganges.

First, the bodies are given a bath in the Ganges, then, they are placed by the river, feet down, in front of strangers and groups of people

who have come to witness the burning.

The people assembled here have come for a variety of reasons perhaps, they had obligations to those who were to be cremated. They had loved and lived with those who were now dead. Perhaps they had simply been around or known them, or, perhaps they came to be confronted with their own inevitable death and burning, and found solace and comfort in that fact and in reality itself an opportunity denied to us in the west where the face of death is kept hidden, even in the news. I think many of them came for all these reasons.

The large, high and many storied buildings that risse up above the ghats seemed ancient, covered with a brownish black haze of hundreds of years of soot and ash from a 24-hour a day, seven-day a week, every day of the year, constant burning of the dead. They were heavy with all the death they had witnessed everything was darkened and burdened with weight and solemnity.

Just beside the main ghat, there was a huge ornately framed, all stone, archway, that was choked with crumbled rock and assorted trash through which a small stream of water spilled down and onto the stone rocks of the lowermost ghats where the fires burned. I could hear the water running over the wall and falling onto the stone below as we approached the cremation site I could hear the fires burning and crackling I could hear logs shifting on the fire and the chanting of priests. Everywhere I stepped it was completely dirty and usually wet.

There was not a single clean area to be found.

One thing I noticed in Benaras, is that cleanliness, as we use the term in the West, is not always associated with holiness or even with a life worth living or a value worth striving for. Everywhere it is dirty. The holy men are dirty. Out in front of the nicest hotels there are beggars and they are dirty. They are not driven off or kept away like in America, where we try to maintain our own version of &lsquocleanliness&rsquo. Our hospitals are kept white, washed and sterile, as if it is germs alone that cause disease. I was in a hospital in India for several days and according to the germ theory of disease we have in the West, the Indian people should be the sickest of any population on earth, but, they are not. Even the small hospital I was in would be considered dirty by Western standards. But, Hindus do have an extremely exacting idea and practice of purity, sacredness and ritual in regards to religion but, this does not necessarily include what we in the west would call &lsquocleanliness&rsquo.

There is cow dung and buffalo dung and dog shit and human shit and the streets are dirty and you see men urinating and people shitting everywhere and there is the recognizable smell of shit and urine and there is exhaust from diesel trucks and smoke from fires and the streets are littered with trash and more shit and when you get a haircut you sit on a flat stone on the ground and the barber sits on a flat stone in front of you beside a dirty, busy street with a pile of cow dung a few feet away and the whole place is buzzing with flies

And the street you are sitting on is one which goes down to the ghat which is on a river which is the holiest in India and is itself polluted with fecal matter from the thirty streams of untreated sewage that constantly flow into it in Benaras alone and in which people come to bathe and to brush their teeth and the milkmen wash their buckets,

while the occasional dead body or only partially burned corpse is floating and just a little ways upstream is the place where the ashes of burned bodies and some of them only partially burned because the people who brought the body there could not afford enough wood, are daily poured into the river.

I had to watch where I put my foot, as all over the place were piles of cow dung, fine debris and not so fine debris and sometimes it was deep. Everything was dirty, blackened and browned, everywhere was dirty and there was a strange sort of perfection and even orderliness or sanctification to it all as well. Like a forest where the leaves, dead branches, flowers, sticks, rocks and death of so much living matter reveals itself as beauty, so was it here.

Here, I could imagine, as Ramakrishna saw - Shiva, the great God of Death and Life, walking the ghats and receiving the souls of the departed. I found it absolutely beautiful and serene. Something real, something natural was happening here and always had. This was Benaras a city renowned for death and eternal life and this was the very heart of that city.

We are so starved in the West for something real. What does that really mean? Perhaps, what is &lsquoreal&rsquo refers to what man cannot control, what man cannot prevent or pervert. It certainly includes a clear encounter with the most ancient mystery that man encounters . . . death.

Here in the burning Ghat was the India that I had dreamed of and knew I had dreamed it only when I saw it. Although Manikarnika Ghat was small and only a small sliver of what once was a whole culture, city, country and time, it was still here and still alive. When you walk through a doorway, it can be small and yet open out to another room that is wide and vast as a world. So it was for me with Manikarnika Ghat in Benaras.

In the felt heat of the burning fires, we paid our boatman and walked to the burning ghat. The whole place was charged with intensity and serenity at the same time. There were groups of people at various places all over the ghat at higher and lower levels. I later discovered that they were mainly the relatives of the departed. It was all men, there were no women present, except amongst the few Western white people or &lsquoFairangis' as Antoine called them, as we sat on the upper stairs and looked on.

The buildings above the ghats rose up like great trees in their height above the lower steps where the Ganges was filled with garlands of flowers, thousands of plastic bags and trash at the base of the burning area. There were large, old wooden boats there, piled high and wide with wood, four-foot long logs for the burning. Higher up the stairs of the ghats were even more logs stacked 20-30 feet high,

often in unstable looking piles.

Cows, goats, buffalo and dogs roamed the area. There were men wearing only dhotis and dirty t-shirts attending to the fires, carrying the wood off the boats and building the pyres. It was busy, awesome, peaceful, serene and passionate and all at the same time. It was Benaras - the taste of all things mixed together.

I walked up to the higher steps, above the crowded press of people, sat down and watched, feeling as much as I was watching and there was so much to feel, most of it passing me by.

I know that now, by the grace of Ram, the God and the man named after him who walked up to me on the steps, sat down beside me and began immediately to tell me what was happening below. In India, there are many people who will approach a Westerner for a variety of reasons, many of them, at least in the cities, are simply trying to scam you and I suspected this small man, short, wiry but with a kind face and very good English, to be one of them.

He immediately, without any introduction, started to tell me what was going on below on the Ghat. Pointing to a group of men bearing a palanquin down the final steps to the river he said:

&ldquoThey are from Calcutta, they have brought the body only today for burning&rdquo He spoke of a group bearing a palanquin down onto the burning grounds. &ldquoWhen they bring the bodies down the steps from above they are chanting 'Rama Nama Satya Hai!' and the group answers back with the same call, Rama Nama Satya Hai!"

"This means 'Rama is the name of the Truth of existence. This is the fate of all'.&rdquo

And indeed they did chant this call and response, again and again and again as they threaded their way down the narrow alleys and past the small storefronts and stalls that open up directly upon the cobblestoned way of the ancient paths of Benaras.

&ldquoFor thousands of years they have come this way.

All day and night, every day and night.&rdquo

And sure enough, as if on cue, there came another group of mourners, entering through a final arch out onto the top steps of the ghat, bearing the corpse of their departed with them on bamboo poles, wrapped in brightly colored cloth and adorned with flowers. The face of the deceased was covered with a white shroud, but you could see the outlines of his body clearly. The man leading the procession and the chanting was topless, dressed in white dhoti and with a shaven head. &ldquoHe is the eldest son&rdquo Ram pointed out, &ldquoIt is he who shaves his head and who leads the chant and performs the karmas that need to be done. There are no women here this is a place of karma, not of emotion. Women cry and their crying may hold the soul to the world or cause sickness to them and be bad for the soul, so that it cannot leave. Men cry, but they do so internally, they do not show it. This is a place of karma, there are actions that need to be done and men are the ones that do it.&rdquo

Ram continued, &ldquoSee how they take the stretchers down to the Ganges

and dip the corpse in the water of the river.

Then they bring it out and lay it with feet pointing downwards on the lowest steps,

Then the eldest son, barefoot, wades into the river and brings in his cupped hands, the Ganga water which he then pours into the mouth of the deceased.&rdquo I had not noticed this small detail and began to be thankful for what this man was bringing to my attention. It was indeed, all going on as he pointed out. I began to think that Ram was a guide of some sort who worked the ghats and told tourists the story of what was occurring. I had no idea how true this was or in what way it was true.

I did not know the story, but, we will come to this.

&ldquoThen they pour the Ganges water directly into the mouth of the deceased, taking off the outer shroud. They repeat this three times. Then the corpse is carried to where a pyre has been prepared of banyan wood, unless you happen to be very rich where the wood used is sandalwood."

Notice how so many bodies are burning&rdquo, said Ram. &ldquoHave you ever burned your hair if you cut off some of it? Have you ever noticed how bad that smells? Have you noticed that there is no bad smell?"

"It was true," I said, and began to wonder at the man who had so much to say, and such an interesting story to tell. I had not noticed any bad smell of flesh being burnt.

&ldquoThis is because of the Banyan tree logs", Ram said.

"They work in such a way as to make null the smell.&rdquo

He went on, &ldquoSandalwood logs cost very much. It only costs rs300 ($9) for enough Banyan wood to burn a body. Sandalwood is only affordable by the very rich. I help out at the ghat where widows, because of the blessings of Kasi(Benaras) and the promise of liberation, come to die. They live there until they die. I take care of them."

He pointed up to where a large brown black building rose above the burning ghat. Antoine, too, had told me before of such a thing. I was also familiar from reading about the tradition of widows who come to Benaras to die. Indeed, many people, once they arrived in the sacred city, never left it for any reason, as they might lose the especially blessed opportunity to die here and thus be liberated. They are called: 'Kasivadins.'

Ram had slipped this last mention about the widows into our considerations without pausing. At this point I put my fingers to my lips and tried to make him stop his discourse for a while. There was so much going on that was so strange and wonderful and I wanted to observe it in silence for a while. Ram smiled and acceded to my request.

I told him, &ldquoThis is my first time here and I want to take it all in without having to pay attention to your story for a bit.&rdquo After about five minutes, I stepped down to a lower step, so that my head would be closer to his, and Ram, like it was only but a moments pause, began to talk again:

&ldquoThere are two burning ghats in Benaras. One, the Harishchandra Ghat is the less used,&rdquo Ram said. &ldquoThis is because it belongs to the Raja or King of Benaras, whereas Manikarnika belongs to Shiva&rdquo.

I later discovered two stories of how Manikarnika Ghat received its name and special blessing. The popular version of the story is that Shiva and Parvati were sitting by a tank or well there, when the jewelled earring of Parvati fell into the well. (A Jewel is known as a &lsquoMani&rsquo and &lsquoKarnika&rsquo is well). There is another version of the story from the &lsquoKasi Khanda&rsquo, a mythic story of the city of Benaras (Kasi).

In this story, the well was dug by the God-Vishnu, when he began to practice tapas or asceticism at the spot. Vishnu dug the well with his own discus and filled it with his own perspiration . While Vishnu was involved in His tapas, the God Shiva arrived. Looking into the well, Shiva beheld the brilliance of a hundred million suns and became filled with adoration and praise for Vishnu and offered to Him any gift he would desire. Vishnu, greatly pleased, requested that Shiva always dwell with him at this place. Shiva was so thrilled at this request that he shook violently with pleasure and an earring of his, the Manikarnika, fell into the well.

Vishnu also received a boon from Shiva that this place, Kasi/Manikarnika, would be a site that would bestow Mukti or Liberation on all things and beings that die here. Furthermore, Shiva proclaimed this well the foremost and most effective of all the sites of pilgrimage on earth. It is by this well that Manikarnika Ghat is built and it is for this reason it is the most holy and sought after site of cremation in all of India.

(Below is a picture of the Manikarnika Well or Kund. It is situated behind and slightly down river of the Manikarnika Burning ghat. As I found in many extremely venerated spots in Benaras, this sacred spot was very dirty and in a state of great disrepair. I was told there are temples that are under the mud here). The well or kund fills up every year with water when the Ganges floods.

"Look at the man down in the water in front of the ghat", said Ram. "He is looking for gold from the teeth of those who were cremated. He is feeling with his feet. He is an educated man. You should talk to him."

Looking down at the area where Ram had gestured, just beyond the last steps of the ghats, where many bodies were laid out and the final ashes of those who had been burned were poured out, was indeed a man, well built and healthy with a pan in his hand, feeling the sandy bottom of the river with his feet.

&ldquoLook at the when the eldest son takes an earthenware pot and goes down to the river where he fills it up and then walks back to the corpse. Facing the river, standing at the feet of the corpse he then throws the pot, filled with water, over his shoulder. It shatters and breaks on the last remnants of the burning pyre and then he walks quickly away, without looking back. They are done with their relationship to the body. When the fire cools, the soul is at peace&rdquo, Ram said. &ldquoThen the whole family then follows him up the ancient steps and they walk away without looking back&rdquo.

At this point, the power went out all over town. This happens almost daily in India, but, it could not have been a more opportune moment. The scene became even more ancient and lit only by fire, like all of the ancient world at night,

and the wonderful evening continued.

We had gone down to the lowermost steps of the ghat, right beside one of the burning bodies. The wood was piled almost four feet high and when lit, it made a strong and hot fire. At one point, Ram gestured forcefully to one of the men who were tending the fire of the burning, to bring something. A plastic bag was brought to him and Ram talking in Hindi, instructed the man to do something. The bag was then opened and poured out onto the corpse.

&ldquoIt is sandalwood, it will make the body burn brightly,&rdquo said Ram.

At this point, I realized that Ram had a peculiar role on the burning ghats.

&ldquoWho are you? I asked. What do you do here?&rdquo

"I have worked here at Manikarnika ghat all my life. I also work at the house where widows wait to die.&rdquo He pointed up and over to a balcony with a dark façade looming over the smashan."

I was overcome, all of a sudden with a desire to give something to this simple man. &lsquoWhat can I give you?&rsquo I asked him. &ldquoOh&rsquo if you just give money to these widows, I will be happy, that is enough. Come, see them for yourself&rdquo, he said,

and we began to walk up the steps from the burning area.

We ascended through a flat area, just above the fires, where there were huge piles of logs, stacked 20 feet high and the omnipresent water and filth even the dirt seemed to have been there for eternity. We walked around an ancient temple and then up a stairwell reeking of urine and very dark. Everything we walked on and through was stone, brownish black and covered with a particular soot and dirt that seemed to be unique to this area. It was partly, the ashes of the dead.

When I later looked at the Manikarnika Ghat area during the day, there really did appear to be a different and soot stained aura to the whole area.

We arrived up in a large, rather dark, completely unfurnished room, without a stick of furniture, which had a grand always-open balcony to the smashan below.

&ldquoHere are the widows I spoke of&rdquo Ram said. There, crouched and squatting, or sitting on the ground, were many older women, obviously poor and dirty, all bringing their hands up to me in &lsquoNamaste&rsquo. Ram stepped back and the scene played out like an Academy award winning, poignant touching drama upon my Western influenced sentiments. I was standing at a portico looking out on the ancient Ganges at a place where they had been burning bodies continuously for thousands of years. Since before Jesus walked the earth in Jerusalem. Since the time of Solomon, Buddha, Sankara . . . all this came thundering into my memory and suddenly I wanted to give everything I had to the widows, to help them.

I brought out my clutch of money and emptied it out giving it to Ram.

He gave some to the women and put the rest in his pocket.

&ldquoI have been here all my life&rdquo, said Ram. &ldquoI am untouchable. I work here. This is my life. My Father was here and his Father as well. I have always been here.

All of a sudden, the pieces of a strange, wonderful puzzle came together and I realized that I was talking to one of the head men of the Doms, the lowly caste of those who take care of the corpses, who accomplish the burning, who manage the pyres, night and day of the most famous and ancient smashan (cremation ground) in the world. The smashan of Manikarnika.

How grateful I felt for all that had been shown to me. How thankful I am for all the delight that has been poured upon my head.

Now, I knew how Ram knew so much. Now, I saw how intimate he was with this place. I looked at his face he was a small and slender man.

&ldquoSometimes people call out to me as if I am a boy&rdquo, said Ram, &ldquoThen I turn around and they see my beard and they say &lsquoSorry Uncle&rsquo. "You," he said, referring to me, &ldquoare a big man and always get the respect of a man.&rdquo

I asked Ram, &ldquoHow did you learn such good English?&rdquo

&ldquoI met an English woman here, a doctor and I taught her Hindi and she taught me English.&rdquo He had a good face. I liked him immensely.

The next afternoon we again went to see Ram as we had set up a time to do so and perhaps take some pictures at the burning ghat. Taking pictures at the ghat was prohibited, but when I asked Ram if I could do so, he responded that he could set it up for me.

Antoine got there first, and I was a little late, as it was the festival of Divali and the traffic in Benaras was even more jam packed than usual, with carts and cycles and people and cows and buffalo and soldiers. There were many army men in the streets with guns, presenting a formidable presence to any who sought trouble there. Here and there, everything just plain stopped. Even when I went down the narrow alleys to the Manikarnika ghat, everything just stopped.

I came upon a body, held up above the crowd on a bamboo stretcher, brightly colored in his or her wrapping, feet leading the way, being carried down to the ghat to be burned. Everything had halted, and we waited, jam packed in the small alleyway, while someone had an argument that continued to the sounds of &lsquoRama Rama Satya Hai, Ram Ram Satya Hai&rsquo. There was no room for more than two people to pass side by side in the alleyways.

When I was almost to the Ghat, a young man approached me who spoke good English and seemed well-educated. He asked me where I was from and I told him, &ldquoFrom America.&rdquo He then asked if I was going to the Ghat to see the burning. I replied that I was going to see that and also to meet a man named Ram. The boy said he knew the man and he hoped I had not given him any money. He said that he is an alcoholic and runs a scam there, saying that he works at an old folks home and takes people up to the apartments there. He pointed to where Ram took me last night. Then he said that Ram takes the money himself.

Well, well, well, such is the fortune of a Fairangi in India. What a revelation. I did not have time to ask him any further questions as we then saw Ram approach from below on the burning ghats and the young man begged me not to tell Ram he had told me any of this or that Ram would beat him. When Ram approached, the young man was effusive in his greeting and then left hurriedly, with a last glance towards me that I understood to say, &lsquoPlease do not tell Ram.&rsquo

At first, I thought to myself, &ldquoHow soon this dream has gone, how brief and wonderful. But wait, could this not be a deeper part of the dream, a further twist in the plot?&rdquo All of a sudden, a new feeling sprang to my heart, born of also being an 'actor' in the workings of this exotic play. I warmly greeted Ram with a twinkle in my eye and a newfound appreciation and shared mystery. I felt neither of us now knew what was really going on, although I had just become more unknowing. I surrendered to that ignorance. Now, I could take part in this &lsquoplay&rsquo with a new, more 'conscious' role. We began to walk towards where the bodies were burning,

Many centuries ago, the great poet and saint Kabir who lived most of his life in Benaras sung a poem about Ram. Talking about Rama, one of the Avatars, an incarnation of God of the Indian tradition, Kabir told how through His Maya or Illusion, Ram or God has deluded the world. His poem somehow related to my experience in an unique and exquisite way. Kabir said:


The Ganges: holy river from hell

By Amrit Dhillon

What is dumped in the river Ganges? Raw sewage, plastic bags and bottles, industrial effluents, human waste, chemicals from tanneries, discarded idols, cow dung, partially cremated corpses, garlands of flowers, human remains, animal carcasses, butcher’s offal, chemical dyes from sari factories and construction waste.

It only takes a few hours of being in the ancient holy city of Varanasi – the most sacred place in the world for Hindus – to realise that the question needs to be reworded as “what is not dumped in the Ganges?”

Boatman Virender Nishad and the rubbish by the river bank. Credit: Amrit Dhillon

On an overcast, but oppressively humid, August day, India’s holiest river is the colour of pewter and swollen from the monsoon rains, which have raised the water level to cover some of the famous ghats – the long stretch of steps leading down to the river.

At Assi Ghat, named after the river Assi, which flows into the Ganges near this spot, a herd of buffalo has been brought by their owner to cool off in the river. Submerged up to their backs, they stand, still as statues, in the same water that locals and pilgrims will bathe in.

A cremation on the Ganges. Credit: Amrit Dhillon

“The Assi river has been reduced to this,” says Virender Nishad, a seventh generation boatman, pointing to a three-metre wide drain, full of sludge, plastic and litter. “If nothing changes, the Ganges will become like this too in 20 or 30 years. If we go on polluting it, the river will be ruined and so will we.”

Nishad represents that curious paradox found all over India – everyone knows what the problem is and how it should be fixed but somehow it never is. The will to act is missing, in ordinary people, in the government.

Nishad has grown up on the ghats. Now 30, he has seen the river he regards as a living deity become indescribably dirty. “When I was a boy, I used to drink the water. It used to be much cleaner and fast-flowing,” he says.

But his memories have probably been sanitised by time because it was almost 30 years ago that the Indian government launched its first huge clean-up project so the river cannot have been as clean as Nishad remembers.

Over the decades, numerous campaigns to clean the Ganges have come and gone. Billions of dollars have been thrown into the river. Good intentions have been felled by corruption and mismanagement. The pollution and its causes have been dissected ad nauseam. Yet it is filthier than ever.

The Ganges flows for 2500 kilometres from the Himalayas through four states where 400 million Indians live through to the east coast where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. As it passes through 100 towns and cities, it absorbs all their human and industrial waste.

Experts estimate that more than 3000 million litres of untreated sewage from these towns along the Ganges are pumped into the river every day. By the time it reaches Varanasi, whose untreated sewage (or most of it) is also pumped into the waters, it becomes a sewer and the sixth most polluted river in the world.

Dr Vishwambhar Nath Mishra, a university professor whose family has been temple priests here for 13 generations, says that 33 sites in the city continually discharge raw sewage into the river.

“If Modi can’t clean up the river, no one can. But I can guarantee 101 per cent that he will. He is upset at the dirt in India and he is determined to do something about it. Tourists come here because of its name but once they see the filth, they curse us and never return.,”

Alok Tiwari

According to Mishra, who also runs the Sankat Mochan Foundation which campaigns to clean the Ganges, scientists in the foundation’s laboratories have found the river has a faecal coliform count of more than 1.5 million per 100ml of water. Water regarded as safe for bathing should not contain more than 500 faecal coliform per 100ml, so bathing in the Ganges is only for the strong-hearted or those with blind faith.

The foundation’s slogan is that “Not a drop of sewage should go into the Ganges” – although this has yet to be achieved. “I know it’s dirty but I begin my morning prayers every day with a dip in the river,’’ Mishra says. ‘‘ It doesn’t affect my faith.”

That faith is predicated on the belief that the waters of the Ganges are both pure and purifying. As British travel writer Eric Newby wrote in his 1966 book Slowly Down the Ganges: “To drink the water, having bathed in it, and to carry it away in bottles is meritorious. To be cremated on its banks, having died there, and to have one’s ashes cast in its waters, is the wish of every Hindu.”

The country’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, is one such Hindu and he is now the latest big hope for those who wish to clean up the Ganges. Known by his admirers as a man of action who can turn ideas into reality, he stood for election in Varanasi in the recent general election and won a thumping majority.

In a speech to thank voters on the banks of the Ganges on May 17, amid Hindu chants, Modi pledged to clean the country’s holiest river, referring to it, as do millions of Hindus, as his “Ma Ganga” or Mother Ganges. Modi has allocated 20.4 billion rupees ($340 million) for the clean-up and says he will succeed where all previous governments have failed.

“If Modi can’t clean up the river, no one can. But I can guarantee 101 per cent that he will. He is upset at the dirt in India and he is determined to do something about it. Tourists come here because of its name but once they see the filth, they curse us and never return,” says Alok Tiwari, 35, owner of a nearby roadside restaurant.

He too bathes every day in the river. Millions of pilgrims come every year to Varanasi because to bathe in the Ganges is to wash away your sins. To die here is to escape the cycle of reincarnation and achieve instant salvation.

Every day, the ghats are full of pilgrims who have endured long, hard train journeys to make their way to fulfil their lifelong desire to take a holy dip in the Ganges.

Every centimetre of the river is sacred to them. They make offerings of flowers and rose petals. They remember their ancestors as they pray. On the journey home, they all carry a small amount of the precious water for use in rituals at home. The moment of entering the water is special like no other.

“When they step into the water, they are so overcome by euphoria that they lose their footing or go too far in,’’ Nished says. ‘‘There are no lifeguards, no life rings. It’s up to us boatmen to get them out.” He says that he has saved 100 people from drowning.

On the ghats, the boatmen, restaurant owners, flower sellers all seem to know how the river can be protected against pollution. Tour guide Rajesh Choudhury, whose office is on Tulsi Ghat, says he is ashamed when tourists want to see the sun rise on the ghats because he knows local people will be lined up on the bank, defecating.

“We need to stop those who urinate and defecate in the river. We have to put up signs telling pilgrims not to bathe with soap, oil and shampoo. We must fine cattle owners who bring their animals to bathe here. And we need policemen on each ghat to enforce these rules. Right now, there is nothing, not a single signpost saying don’t litter,” says Choudhury.

But he blames the culture more than the government’s failures. Of course, India must build sewage treatment plants and penalise factories that pump noxious effluents into the river but he feels that ordinary Indians must also learn to be clean.

The filth of the Ganges is mirrored in the filth of Varanasi. If the one million inhabitants of the city cannot keep it clean, they are unlikely to keep the river clean.

Once, Varanasi (also known as Benares), one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, boasted a glorious civilisation. Indian music, dance, poetry and religious thought flourished here. A few kilometres away is Sarnath where the Buddha gave his first sermon.

Today it is a slum. The city is pot-holed, full of rubbish where goats, dogs and cows rummage, roadside eateries serve food right next to open sewers swarming with flies, people eat snacks and throw the wrappers on to the street, men spit and urinate, and the roads are engorged with noisy, chaotic traffic.

Mark Twain famously said: “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Stanley Benjamin, a 30-year-old hotel manager who moved to Varanasi seven months ago had heard of Twain’s observation but it failed to prepare him for the assault on his senses.

“I am still suffering from culture shock,” says Benjamin, who moved from Kerala in south India where life is cleaner and more orderly. He is the general manager of Suryauday Haveli, a charming, 100-year-old mansion on Assi Ghat. He shakes his head when he talks about how people behave.

“They always blame the government instead of looking at themselves. They keep their homes clean but throw their rubbish out onto the street. As for the river, everything is thrown into it,” he says.

The ghats themselves are dirty and infested with hawkers and conmen out to fleece tourists. Even so-called holy men demand ‘‘baksheesh’’ to be photographed. Amazingly enough, though, hawkers and boatmen manage to catch fish, even in the areas by the bank, near where the boats are anchored, areas that are choked with rubbish.

Here on the ghats is the place that exemplifies the worst of the city, the Manikarnika cremation ghat where funeral pyres burn night and day.

An endless procession of biers carrying the dead, covered in red and gold shrouds, keeps threading its way through the alleyways towards the ghat. It’s estimated that 35,000 bodies are cremated here every year.

On a busy day the ghat looks like a scene from hell. Bodies that have not been properly cremated – if the family is poor and unable to buy the right quantity of wood, which is expensive – are just pushed into the river.

Also, according to Hindu tradition, five categories of dead – holy men, pregnant women, children under five, people bitten by snakes and lepers – must not be cremated. Instead, they are weighted down with stones and pushed out into the river.

“After 24 hours, they rise to the surface and many end up by the banks,’’ Nishad says. ‘‘The authorities do nothing. It’s up to us boatmen to push them away from the shore.’’

Sewage is not just Varanasi’s problem or the Ganges’ problem. It plagues the entire country. Other water bodies are similarly polluted. India's cities and towns generate 38.2 billion litres of sewage every day. Its installed capacity to treat sewage is 11.8 billion litres, about 30 per cent of what it needs.

In a way, the solution is simple. India has to build sewers, treat its sewage, punish industries that discharge their waste into the river and make people develop cleaner habits.

“Ninety per cent of the pollution of the Ganges is from untreated sewage,’’ says Mishra. ‘‘Only the other 10 per cent is from human behaviour.”

Many locals disagree. Tapan Das, a 55-year-old hotelier who has lived his entire life in Varanasi, says it is up to every resident to keep the river and the ghats clean. “Everyone talks but no one does anything. It is a desperate situation,” he says.

In July, a family friend of Das’ died and he attended the cremation at Manikarnika ghat. Tradition dictates that mourners must bathe in the Ganges after the funeral. “I did bathe in it, out of faith. But when I came home, I had a shower to wash away the Ganga water!”


Vaata videot: manikarnika ghat Varanasi! manikarnika ghat kashi (Detsember 2021).