Stairway to Paradise
Benares, the holy place in the hearts of Hindus, is an ancient city located in the middle reaches of the Ganges, rich in spirituality and life. In fact, it has a more familiar name, that is, Varanasi, which was renamed in 1957. Listen to the Indians, the lucky ones among them can end their entire journey in life on the cremation steps of the holy city of Benares. And my impression of India also started from this mysterious place.
In India, most people believe in Hinduism. It is said that they want to pursue four major pleasures in their lives – living in Varanasi, making friends with saints, drinking water from the Ganges River, and worshiping Shiva. Varanasi is done. As early as the 7th century AD, Xuanzang, an eminent monk of the Tang Dynasty in China, went through hardships and dangers. The Western Paradise he was looking for was actually Varanasi. The description, when facing the Ganges, once sighed “the water is blue and the waves are vast”. The great American writer Mark? Twain described it in his exaggerated and humorous tone, “older than history, older than tradition, even older than legend, and it seems to be twice as old as all of them.”
It is said that this place was originally India . The god of reproduction in the river civilization era, the territory of Shiva, who has dual personalities of reproduction and destruction, creation and destruction. According to the epic “Ramayana”, Shiva fought fiercely with demons for more than ten years, and finally defeated Demons, and the drops of water dripping from Shiva’s hair converge into this holy river. The local people told us that Hindus believe that any drop of water in the Ganges can wash away the sins of a lifetime, and if you end your life here, complete the last journey, and throw your body or ashes into the Ganges, your soul can ascend to bliss The world is liberated and no longer has to suffer from the cycle of reincarnation.
Every morning, devout believers from all over India go to the Ganges to take a bath, praying for the holy water to wash away all their sins, and leave those touching memories in their hearts. In order not to miss this moment, we followed the flow of people to the stone step pier by the Ganges at six o’clock in the morning. The Ganges Bathing Beach in the early morning has a unique style. What we face is the Ganges water awakened by the sun, and the river surface has just been dyed red. The sun slowly rises, casting sparkling light on the river. The weather in early February was not very warm yet, and we tightened our clothes from time to time, but this did not affect the mood of the people who came to bathe in the slightest. The water waves become more gentle as the sun rises, and many curved boats in the river sway along with the water surface, and the boaters show beautiful silhouettes in the sun. At this moment, everything around has lost the hustle and bustle of the past and has become very quiet. Everyone on both sides of the river is enjoying the touch of the rising sun to the fullest, loving the sky full of morning glow without reservation.
The bathers stood from the steps to the water. The women were dressed in saris, their eyes full of colors, very gorgeous, as if they had come to a huge dyeing workshop. They lift up the sari, test the water with their feet first, then slowly soak half of their bodies in the water, hold flowers in their hands, put their palms between their eyebrows, and face the rising sun, hoping to exchange for a happy life. The men would plunge into the water at once, then slap their bodies violently with water, and finally close their eyes slightly, or fold their hands together, or stretch out one arm to the sun, without moving. These saints and civilians have been as punctual as the rising sun for decades. Every morning at sunrise, they will put aside the hustle and bustle of the world, enjoy the joy of the unity of man and nature in the tranquility of ancient rituals and find the blissful world. The joy of the road.
As the number of people bathing on the shore continued to increase, we found that most of them came here for pilgrimage and prayer, but interestingly, some people brought towels, soap and toothbrushes, and what’s more, they took a small Branches to brush teeth and Ganges water to rinse mouth. During the four days in Varanasi, I also saw a little girl holding a copper pot that was about to overflow on the way out of the Ganges. At that time, I was thinking that the water in it might work miracles and save a human life, or am I overthinking it, she simply needs to use the water in the kitchen. I still remember a friend from Varanasi who said: “If you put a bottle of Ganges water, it will not change with time, and the water in the bottle will always be so clean and pure.” Not sure, some experts say that the amount of bacteria contained in the water of the Ganges is three to four hundred times higher than normal, but perhaps because of its sanctity, people in India rarely hear of people getting sick from drinking the water of the Ganges by mistake. Some say that since the cremated ashes were sprinkled into the Ganges, which is rich in phosphorus, it has a purifying effect in some respects. However, thinking about it carefully, this kind of too rational idea is not suitable for this place full of sensibility and spirituality, and the reason why they are obsessed with it must be the huge religious power in their hearts. Here, science cannot explain the phenomena of nature, any more than I can understand its beliefs. Along the way, I couldn’t understand the feeling of the ascetic monk begging all the way, without touching a drop of water or eating rice for a week, just to come here for meditation. I couldn’t understand why many people converted to Hinduism when they came to Varanasi. Give people the joy of enlightenment, the relief after release, and the firmness when they are helpless. Every time I face the pious and diverse expressions of worshipers, it always makes me more at a loss and further deepens my confusion about religion.
Accompanied by the cool river wind, we found a ghat by the river, looked into the distance, and found that there are about sixty or seventy steps along the bank, and each has its own different style. Some are for the bathing of pilgrims, some are for fishermen to fish, some are laundry steps, but the place that really attracts foreign tourists is the cremation altar on the west bank of the Ganges-Manikarnika Ghat (Manikarnika Ghat).
We rented a small boat and went along the Ganges to the cremation altar downstream. According to the boatman, nearly 600 corpses were burned here day and night, and then the ashes were scattered in the Ganges in order to obtain salvation and liberation. The boat slowly approached the altar. In fact, far away, we could already see tall piles of firewood, raging fires, and thick smoke. The buildings on both sides had also been blackened by the smoke. As the boat approached slowly, the smell of burning became stronger, and the dust kept hitting his face. The boatman signaled that we are not allowed to take pictures here, and we must respect the dead, one is not to talk, and the other is not to be frightened by everything in front of us, because the sound and grief will prevent the dead from entering the Paradise of Paradise. In fact, at the moment when we got close to the altar, we already had a kind of spiritual touch. When facing this moment, everyone suddenly became much quieter, and no one wanted to say anything loudly. Because, less than ten meters away, on the stone steps, two corpses wrapped in yellow brocade were quietly lying on the pile of wood, their bodies were being burned, and the flames were blazing. The relatives of the deceased stood quietly and looked at the deceased without crying, fear or sorrow. But as a bystander, I began to cry silently, lamenting this way of saying goodbye to my loved ones at such a close distance, and also began to think about how fragile our own life is. Life is very short. seconds away. I took a deep breath and said to myself, this may be the magical, mysterious and unbelievable place in India, because it has a pious power, which makes us start to think and feel relieved Peaceful and peaceful, as if everything can go with the river, and as if you can see the reincarnation of your past and present, and try to find the answers and meanings of some questions.
A few minutes later, the boatman signaled us to leave. I sat at the stern and watched the bow of the boat slide on the water again. Facing the river wind and watching the waves shine, I knew that the dead were gone, and only the holy water of the Ganges flowed slowly. Has passed and will flow silently for eternity.
In the evening, we returned to the Ganges River again, in order to experience the sacrifice ceremony of the river god by the young and handsome Brahmin priests every day. However, it was later discovered that these ceremonies of inviting, worshiping, and sending off gods seemed too artificial. The hymn of mother-in-law and the melody of resentment and complaint are still echoing, but I found that what I prefer is not the deafening sound of dharma conch, the earth-shattering shouts of priests, and the three sticks of incense and seven sticks of candlesticks that soar into the sky. What left a deep impression on me was the banks of the Ganges River after the lights were turned off and people dispersed, and everything returned to calm, because this kind of Ganges River is more real and natural to me.
After the sacrificial ceremony, we bid farewell to the noisy crowd, we walked along the Hebei River, and then chose a step with fewer saints, sat down with our knees hugged, facing the east, quietly watching the sunset sinking little by little, looking at ourselves His back was slowly elongated. A fellow teacher recited a short poem on the spot, and I remember two lines that read “a setting sun lays in the water, half of the river is rustling and half of the river is red”, which really fit the artistic conception of the time. Looking at the sunset, looking at the ancient buildings on both sides of the Ganges River, which are as numerous as the Ganges sand, are covered with reddish sunlight little by little, and begin to show their gentle, peaceful and beautiful side.
The sparkling and fluctuating water of the Ganges carries the past and present of countless Indians, and contains the life, death, sorrow and joy of Indians. During the festival, dances are performed all night by the Ganges River, the cremation altar is permanently blazing with flames, shrines and statues can be seen everywhere in the streets, and the saints light up in the morning to bathe and worship the heavens…