LETTERS FROM THE HIMALAYAS
GANGOTRI: September, 1901
The holy Ganges could not bear Rama’s separation.
She succeeded at last in drawing him to herself after a little more than a month’s absence. Notwithstanding all her Jnana (culture), she began to rain sweet tears of joy on meeting him. Who can describe the nascent beauty and playful freaks of the dear Ganges at Gangotri? Very praiseworthy is the upright character of her playmates, viz. the white mountains and innocent Deodar trees. The latter in their tall stature vie with the Persian poet’s lady love, while their balmy breath invigorates, exhilarates, and elevates.
Here how well can one see that “God sleeps in the stone, breathes in the plant, moves about in the animal, and wakes up to consciousness in man.”
Pilgrims, after leaving Jamnotri, usually reach Gangotri in not less than ten days. In three days after leaving Jamnotri did Rama arrive at Gangotri.
He came by a route as yet untrod by any inhabitant of the plains. This route is called the Chhayan Route by mountaineers. Three successive nights were passed in lonely forest caves. We came across no hamlet or hut. No biped was visible throughout the journey.
The Chhayan Route is so called because almost all the year round it is covered with shade. The shade of trees, did I say? No, not at all. What business have trees to make their appearance on such dizzy heights and in a chill climate like that? The route is for the most part enveloped by clouds. Shepherds of villages near Jamnotri and Gangotri, while tending their flocks, every year spend two or three months in forests. They happened to meet near the snow-clad peaks, called Bandar Puchh and Hanumnn Mukh, which connect the sources of the two far-famed sister rivers. Thus the route was discovered. Exuberant flowers make almost the whole of the way a veritable field of cloth of gold. Yellow, blue, and purple flowers are met with in wild plenty. Lots of lilies, violets, daisies, and tulips of different varieties; Guggal, Dhoop, Mamira, Mitha Telia, Salabmisri and other herbs with leaves of lovely tints; saffron, Itrasoo, and other plants exhaling exceedingly sweet scent; Bher Gadda and lordly Brahma Kanwal with its calyx filled with fine icicles of frost: all these make these mountains a pleasure garden worthy of the Lord of Earth and Heaven.
“O colour, colour, love’s last opulence!
Thy universal language doth enshrine
The mystery of all magnificence,
A supernatural ministry is thine,
These larger forms of speech doth God employ
To shadow forth His own unshadowed joy.”-
Gol Chand led joban phoot phoot kar bahir nikal raha hai (Beauty is breaking forth everywhere). Zephyrs play freely all around, kissing all they meet, but particularly kissing the brightest hued flowers. At places the pulses of fragrance that come and go on the airy undulations affected Rama like sweet music. Here one will find present in rich abundance wind-wafted odour which is sweet and soft; sweet as the smile when fond lovers meet, and soft as their parting tears. Such fair fields on the tops of these giant mountains are stretched like decorated carpets. Do they serve gods as dining tables or dancing grounds? Murmuring streams and rivers thundering over precipices are not missing in these fairy scenes. On certain summits, vision enjoys perfect freedom, unimpeded it travels far and wide on all sides, no hills to stand in its way, no angry clouds to mar its course. Some of the grand peaks in their zeal to pierce the sky and cleave the cloud-land have, it seems, altogether forgotten to stop and appear to melt into highest heavens.
While dealing with the awe-inspiring grandeur of the haughty mountains, let us not leave unnoticed the trembling splendour of the gem-like morning dew which enhanced not a little the attractiveness of the way. How well is man’s mind (Jiva) shown in emblem by the tiny transient dew drop upon the lotus leaf! Tiny, transient, ah! yet how pure and sparkling, reflecting the Sun of Righteousness, (Atman) the infinite source of light, in its bosom. O man, art thou the wee little drop or the Infinite Sun? Indeed, the Light of lights thou art, and not the puny drop. All the Vedas and Rama declare with an emphasis not to be mistaken that it is Thy refulgent glory that lends life and lustre to such fairy lands. Above, below, and everywhere Thy resplendent presence shines. Thou-art that power “which does not respect quantity, which makes the whole and the particle its equal channel.” It is Thou that delegatest to the morning its smile and to the rose its blush.
Traced in the midnight planets’ blaze,
Or glistening in the morning dew,
Whate’er is beautiful or fair,
Is but Thine own reflection there.
Thine is the starry moon of night,
The twilight eve—the dewy morn;
Whate’er is beautiful and bright
Thine hands have fashioned to adorn”
Thy glory walks in every sphere
And all things whisper, “God is here.”
Young Krishna (Gol Chand) had the knack of besmearing the muzzles of calves and goats with a small remnant of butter after stealthily eating to his entire satisfaction the butter of Gopikas. The poor animals were slapped and abused by the ignorant housewives; whereas the dear little innocent thief escaped scot-free. It is the soul of all souls that is carrying matters in his own way, in reality that sorcerer Rama is bringing everything to pass; but through his strange Maya he gets the false ego (ahankar) involved in responsibility. Call that butter-eating Krishna innocent, call him naughty, you are the same, reader. Whether juggler or magician, Rama is your true Self. Whatever exists, exists in you, you maintain each and all. Not imprisoned in the isolated pale island of a small body you are. Never, never is the criminal ahankar (false ego) your Atman. You are not the poor insignificant drop (Jiva), you are the mighty ocean.