Empty core

nāsadāsīn no sadāsīt tadānīṃ nāsīd rajo no vyomāparo yat |
kimāvarīvaḥ kuha kasya śarmannambhaḥ kimāsīd ghahanaṃ ghabhīram ||

(rigveda book 10 hymn 129)

There was neither non-existence nor existence then.
There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond.
What stirred?
In whose protection?
Was there water, bottomlessly deep?

Darkness reigns outside, as within. Tiny pinpricks of lights scattered across the sky seem to mock the emptiness within me. Tiny grains of sand fly with the wind. One joins the other to become a golden storm.

I journey. I travel. I seek meaning.

The chanting rises with the moon. Small earthen lamps join the silvery strands on the ripples. Multitudes of forms throng her banks- some saffron outside, some saffron within. They sing to her, they laugh, cry with her. And call her Mother. They join her when they are back to ashes. They are bound to her.

There are those who walk for months, year after year, down the same road, to the same deity that awaits them. Over mountains and rivers, through towns and cities, singing, dancing and chanting with a devout frenzy. They call each other 'Mauli' Mother, united by their bond of love.

The nameless faceless crowds congregate, their faces lit with devotion. Primordial urges of deceit, anger, jealousy and lust are suspended in time, lost in the clangs of the bells and the baritone of the hymns.

I am chained by those primitive inclinations. I cannot transcend them even momentarily, like the others.

I doubt them. I doubt their beliefs.

I envy them. I envy their beliefs.

Jyotiraham viraja vipapma

(Mahanarayan Upanishad)

I am a flame, untouched, pure…

My own soot smothers me. My own black obliterates me.

I cannot see the light.


The piece is basically on Spirituality.

There are some things that need to be explained though:

Rigveda: An ancient scripture in Sanskrit (one of the four vedas)

Mahanarayan Upanishad: One of the 18 Upanaishads or texts that explain the vedas

The first italicized paragraph refers to the evening aarti at the banks of the Ganges. The second refers to a tradition called 'palkhi' in which lakhs of people walk to a pilgrimage called Pandharpur every year. Each person calls the other as 'Mauli' i.e. Mother from a small child to the very old people, irrespective of their ages.

This small piece is very different from what I was going to write. The heart superseded the mind and this was the result.

It's confusing, yes. Even to me.

Written for WCC June.


"In the beginning there was nothing and God said 'Let there be light', and there was still nothing but everybody could see it." - Dave Thomas.