|Courtsey: Naveen S|
The lava bed with rocks interspersed felt like the smooth and silky chocolate with crunchy nuts embedded, like the warmth of sun had molten it, only to realize its hardness upon touch. The shallow stream, a thin film of water through which one could see the pebbles beneath, flowing with the majesty of a broad river, clam, unhurried.
On one bank, the water was washing the frozen magma. On the other, it was flirting with the row of tall grass, the blades dancing under the influence of wind, as the souls in their youth, intoxicated, as the adivasi lovers drenched in mahua and love, bowing down to kiss the supple body of the stream, pulling back leaving the stream's thirst unquenched, wanting more so for the intimacy. The rays of sun were penetrating through the water in likeness of holy ghost, invisible yet enlightening the deep inside. The water resembled the teenage lass of imagination, sparkle in the eyes, untouched by a man, virgin, smooth supple skin, silky hairs.
Its not difficult to imagine that what gives the impression of heaven might have been nothing less than hell at some point in the past. What we call beauty today had surely been the birth place of monstrous volcanoes, with temperature immeasurable, heat that would require redefining the word itself, mountains of dust and earth being thrown high up in the sky, the sky devoid of any life air, the earth devoid of any life. The earth torn apart by the quakes like the breast of Hiranyakashipu. The shattered disfigured body revealing the inside of itself. Layers upon layers of earth formed in a period of time unimaginable had been disrupted in moments. It might have been millions of years now.
The wilderness of Venkateswara has always bewildered a lot of us. Not just because it is a paradise, but because it makes you think about yourself and your significance on this planet. Ones existence seems so insignificant in front of it. Its humongous body, its vastness, the tall walls, the endless valleys, versus our body that goes in a five by two grave. Its tremendous strength and tolerance versus our fragility. Its near immortal existence of million years versus our struggle to exist for a mere half century. It makes you feel how insignificant you, your body, and your soul are to this universe in comparison. And yet, such importance we put on our lives. We, the tiny spec of lifedust, treat our bodies as immortal and the bodies of our kin as vital? Probably, that is the right attitude, a part of evolutionary design. How will a species propagate and immortalize its genes if the zest to live longer, reproduce, and protect our genes is lost? In a sense, we, the genes that constitute our bodies and minds, are as old as the Venkateshwara and may be, even older.
Are we just a collection of bones, flesh, and blood? Or are we just the genes with sole aim of propagation, going further and further into the space-time continuum? Or more than that? What about the relations we share, the connections with other organisms, the invisible strings of attachment. What about our existence as names in the records of banks, work places, citizen database, refugee registers. What about our digital presence in the cyberspace, the emails sent to us and send by us, the social networks, the connections in that and the thoughts we exchanged there. What about the tombstone bearing our names, the photographs in someone's albums. What about our memory in someone's mind. All this and much more exists as part of our extended self. Are these just representation of us? No, all of these are what constitutes a human being. Imagine, an invisible string emanating from you, connecting to one such representation of you. Imagine, millions of such strings, million connections of consciousness. Imagine, millions of such connections to and from seven billion souls on earth, crisscrossing, a complex web of connections.
What a world we live in! It doesn't feel the same once you have been with V. It makes you think in ways unimaginable. It changes you irreversibly.