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The single-minded craving to reach the shrine possessed the pilgrim – would she make it? And where was the shrine – out there or within?
When sanity left its home leaving no address behind, in panic I cried, “Where shall we go now to cure our madness?”
I heard a voice presently, an echo of the most Absolute kind.
‘Find Truth. Find Me. There alone you will find sanity.’
I looked around considering, and pawed at the emptiness surrounding me.
‘Find you? Where do you live?’
‘In the heart of a jungle, lustrous and green. Nature is my ultimate abode.’
Confounded and clueless, I said,
‘In a jungle? How do I reach there? Lead me to where you stay. I must not delay. I am losing my bearings fast.’
I waited as moments of silence passed, as if the voice was preparing a route map to its dwelling. And then it spoke again, its timbre resonating between the walls within which I was caught.
“You will be guided. But be forewarned. The journey is long and arduous, and you cannot hurry.” The caution in the voice made me tremble. It was ominous.
‘Know the perils. You must tread through dense forests where fierce aspects prowl, trek past dark trails where venomous snakes lurk, beat the wild creatures that ambush from behind blind corners and face hurdles that can break your resolve.’
I swallowed hard. ‘Will I make it?’
‘Most certainly. If you have the will and virtue. And a single-minded craving to meet me in my shrine.’
I thought of the rough terrains I will have to cross and felt jitters in my veins. I closed my eyes and reflected on the deep, dark jungle, the wild animals on the way, the jagged paths and the stumbling blocks that would lead to where this voice resides. That’s where sanity prevails. That’s where peace resides.
I meditated on what the voice had just said. My breath rose and fell amid a silken silence. And then in a passing instant, almost as if struck by a sudden awareness, I exclaimed, ‘Are you that, by any chance? Ayyappa.’
‘Yes. I am That. So Hum.
And That you are too. Tat Twam Asi.’
I felt a shiver in my body. A lone tear waited to break the bund and I heard bells toll in my heart.
Deep in my soul, beyond the sentient space, past the wilderness of thought, I briefly caught a lamp’s distant glimmer. As it flickered and vanished, I whispered, choking on my words,
‘Show me the way. I promise I will see you in your abode one day.’
‘I shall be waiting,’ the voice said, before petering out and merging with my heartbeat. There, in the wild woods, it rested.
A pilgrimage had just begun. One that isn’t limited by approvals and prohibitions.
One where the destination is the source itself.
Image via Pexels
Asha Iyer Kumar is a freelance writer, author, poet and active blogger, based in Dubai.
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