There are experiences which render you speechless and overwhelm you at the same time. They also exuberate and drain your emotions in the very same moment. They are milestones as well as the beginning of a new journey. Last week, I enthusiastically embarked upon a journey on the Vande Bharat Express along with my parents and DSLR to witness the very best of the largest human congregation in the world, the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, unaware of what was really in store.
I must admit, it took me some time to completely absorb and comprehend the little facets of the Divya Kumbh (and I may not have thoroughly understood them yet). However, as soon as we arrived at the holy site, every effort to seize the idea of Kumbh seemed insignificant. Insignificant because how can a camera or any human intervention ever capture something immortal, timeless and so immaculate?
Finally, Gautam Chikermane’s beautiful and vivid description of Kumbh Mela in this Twitter thread inspired me to pen a few words.
Firstly, with my humbling experience I wish to throw some light on what the Kumbh is NOT about:
Not about unclothed Sadhus and Babas
Not just about Rituals and Traditions
Not about being evil, only to later wash off your sins
Not about cult and mysticism
Not just about Hindu faith and devotion
So much has been written and talked about Kumbh and yet it seems so little. Millennials go in large numbers to explore and photograph the oddly dressed Babas and Sadhus while many others go to experience the ‘hype’ behind 25 crore people visiting Kumbh. Everyone chooses to see Kumbh through a different lens. However, for those who never ‘plan’ for Kumbh, it comes, goes and stays with you for a lifetime as the pinnacled glory of human faith. For some, Kumbh is never planned. It just happens. It happens to make you understand the “greater” plan behind everything in your life and your very existence.
In his thread, Gautam very aptly points at the vastness of India which he observed at Kumbh. Not only does Kumbh shatter one’s cocooned notion and the idea of India but also reminds us of the words which many of our forefathers professed – that India is not merely a piece of land but a state of collective consciousness. A fine unfoldment of the words of many great men is felt at the Kumbh_ Sri Aurobindo who said, “India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples” and Mark Twain who called India as “the cradle of human race”. The collective human spirit manifests in the subtlest forms, in fellow pilgrims on the boat taking care of one another’s belongings and in how people from all walks of life choose to reside in humble tents without locks.
From walking miles to reach the riverside, finding a boat to Sangam, to changing clothes out in the open without any inhibitions…. millions of seekers keep aside the human boundaries created by the mind. You realize that your existence is far beyond the captivities of your mind. You may not believe in the human perception of God, but at Kumbh, you experience the common source of energy which binds us together. You may not believe in any rituals or traditions, but at Kumbh, you witness what the Sangam of Karma and Bhakti is.
You shed off every bit of the idea of “I”, get lost in the vastness of the Sangam only to rediscover yourself.
Kumbh is the inward journey of getting lost and finding oneself
Kumbh is a dip in the infinite vastness of the Universe
Kumbh is where human faith overcomes caste, class and community
Kumbh is the acceptance of human suffering
Kumbh is a lesson to expend every human emotion
Kumbh is as much Karma, as much it is Bhakti
Kumbh is a revelation that you and I are a minuscule part of a great Cosmic Drama
Kumbh is a realization that we all are One
Kumbh is the first step in the journey towards the Absolute One