Kashi wrought profound transformations, and a variety of mystics left traces of their romance with this space in the form of innumerable Samadhi’s, An intricate web of connections has emanated from Kashi, weaving a warp and woof of spiritual sensibility over the Indian subcontinent, across centuries and regions — a richly-textured weave of thought that included strands of both classical Hinduism and reformist worldviews spun from the deeply internalised cocoon of a seekers yearning. Today it still continues to nurture the seekers unrequited thirst for this unknown landscape of mysticism and spirituality. The foray of the land throbs with a feverish energy carving itself around the seductive Ganga, expressing her sinewy tenderness and ornating a romance with the one who treads this most sacred land. Varanasi’s symbolic importance in the collective consciousness, in which the spiritual and the temporal interfaced through the Ghats. These physical steps to the physical water stayed as the key metaphor for the journey of the soul towards its spiritual goal, in which ‘Hari’, ‘Shiva’, ‘Sain’ and ‘Tat’ (‘That’, the nameless and formless) often became interchangeable transcendental terms. Varanasi, is therefore, the cultural crucible for a spectacular range of ‘change within continuity’ and is both the place of and the participant in these foundational narratives. It shrugs wryly at the fact this is where innumerable people from far-flung reaches of the land come to die in the hope of ‘Kashi Labh’ — the ‘Profit of Kashi’ — in the unshakeable ancient belief that Kashi is first among equals of the seven mokshapuri or ‘salvation cities’.
Enchantment with Liberation