I had always wondered what it would be like to wade through the unpredictable currents of life and accept every outcome with the innocence of a child. I had secretly wished to recognise the signs of the universe and understand its sublime language. Maybe, that was why I bid my mechanical life goodbye. One day, I quit my job and found myself admiring the early morning sun brightening the Himalayan skies. Sipping chai, feeling alive, I was ready to go on a journey. The River Ganges and the course of her flow became my sole guide. I knew nothing of her magnificent legends or her religious rites, yet the enriching experience along her course left me wiser.
The first stop was Gangotri–the birthplace of the Ganges. The virgin-white glaciers, surrounded by the majestic snowy mountains made a seamless sight. The air was painfully chilly and the sun comfortingly bright. Through the synergy between the cold and the warmth, rose her miraculous soft waters. This vision of purity seemed to cleanse my soul.
My next stop was Rishikesh–a serene, laid-back town with its quintessential yoga ashrams and healing centres. Just being there calmed my nerves. Juxtaposed to this mystical aura were cafes, water sports arena and camping spots for travellers from across the world. Contrary to Rishikesh was my next destination Haridwar. The town was as chaotic and crowded as it was vibrant. Colourful and festive with its many temples and ghats, this pilgrim’s paradise sent me into euphoria. As I spent my days there, it was as if I were witness to a river’s journey through two adjacent towns strikingly different from each other, uniquely expressing their spirituality.
My journey further took me to Varanasi with its characteristic alleys and cacophony. It was nothing less than a culture shock for me. Witnessing the dead being cremated in plain sight along the riverbed was enough to get my insides churning. The grimy maze of its alleyways was equally disorienting. Bright colours, loud noises, crowded places and stench bombarded my senses.
Eventually, the shock subsided and thoughts mellowed down. I realised that worldly experiences, mostly perceived by the senses, need not be the source of happiness or sadness in life. One should look inward to find perpetual joy. For this self-discovery, my stop at Varanasi became an unforgettable experience.
As the Ganges eventually united with her counterparts–the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, I found myself at Prayag. I was mesmerised to see the rivers merge into one. Yamuna was deep and calm, Ganges shallow and forceful, while Saraswati remained unseen. For me, this union signified the harmony of the body, mind and spirit. Possibly, finding a balance among the three is what life is all about.
Finally, the mighty river took me to Ganga Sagar in the Bay of Bengal. This tiny island had its magnificent share of beauty. After a long journey, I felt pure joy as my feet touched the sands of the beach. As dusk paved way for the night, my journey ended. I was content. As I bid her farewell, I thanked the Ganges for revelations of a lifetime.