Sringeri

This is an account of a journey made to the temple town of Sringeri in the state of Karnataka which I made in February 2017.

It was an early morning start for the trip to Sringeri as we rolled out of Bylakuppe at 7.15, heading west on the road past the Coorg town of Kushal Nagar and up into the hills. For this little trip it was me and Anita, Sonam Tashi and his daughter, Passang Dawa. It would be Sonam Tashi doing all the driving in his black Mahindra Scorpio, his bulky four wheel drive we had to take us there and back. The reason for us going to Sringeri was to see the holy Hindu temple at Sringeri, which lay by the river Tunga in the hilly Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka, north east of Mangalore on State Highway 169. It was an ancient temple, or math, and had been founded by the great Advaita Vedanta teacher, philosopher and saint Adi Shankara in the 8th century. Sringeri has been a place of pilgrimage, and spiritual learning more or less ever since and is the seat today of the Jagadguru Shankaracharyas who can trace their lineage back to Adi Shankara himself.

Sringeri had first come to my notice when reading a biography of Sri Ramana Maharshi, specifically the early part of his life when he was still a young man, yet already fully established in the Enlightenment of the Self. He was living in caves on the holy hill of Arunachala with a small group of disciples, where he had a growing reputation as an exceptional human being in regards to the attainment of the highest level of spiritual realisation. It is stated in the biography of Ramana Maharshi that the head of the Sringeri temple math, which was quite a long distance away from Tiruvannamalai, the town at the foot of Arunachala, held Ramana Maharshi in the highest regard. All this occurred during the first decades of the 20th century, over 100 years ago, quite a long time ago now, and at the time it would have taken a couple of days at least to travel from Sringeri to Tiruvannamalai. The information about the connection to Sringeri in the light of the life of Ramana Maharshi had stuck in my mind, this was because Sringeri was in shooting distance of Bylakuppe. I was therefore curious to see what the scene was like there, which meant if the opportunity arose to pay the place a visit, I would go.

On top of the information contained in the biography of Sri Ramana, I had also heard about Sringeri from Teja, a Coorgi acquaintance of mine who lived in Kushal Nagar and who amongst other things, sold pet fish and aquariums with his wife in a shop on the main road into the town if you are approaching from Mysore. A few years ago Teja had given me a lift to Bangalore to catch a flight back to London when he was jobbing as a taxi driver, and on the way we had stopped at a little known Indian restaurant he knew of and which served up fantastic mutton chops with fresh green chillies. I had last met up with him in 2016, when amongst other things he had shown me his collection of guns, as like a lot of Coorgis he was a keen hunter. At the time Teja had mentioned what a peaceful place Sringeri was, how he and his family had made the journey up there to stay for a couple of days. He told me that this was especially the case if the Jadadguru, the head of the temple math, happened to be there. Teja in fact believed that the current Jadadguru was a true spiritual master and that it would be well worth my time trying to seek him out. So all in all it seemed like it was a trip well worth making, and since Anita and I would be later heading across to Tamil Nadu and down to Tiruvannamalai in order to stay at Ramanasramam, it might also serve as useful taster as to what lay in store for us further down the road.

Breakfast for the four of us was at the Atithi Comforts on the other side of Kushal Nagar and on the road to Madikeri. Food for me was a perfectly acceptable plate of iddlys and vada served on a very clean tray with a small cup of hot fresh coffee to wash it down with and which I hoped would give me a kick start to fully wake me up to another day on the road in India. After breakfast at the Atithi, it was a drive into the hills of Coorg, on the fast road to Madikeri through Sunticoppa, which lay about halfway between Madikeri and Kushal Nagar.

In the lower parts of the hills, beside the road to the west of Kushal Nagar and just past Atithi Comforts, there were a proliferation of roadside tourist shops selling local spices and supposedly homemade chocolates. The truth was however that the chocolates were quietly brought down from the town of Ooty in the hills of Tamil Nadu and passed off as local Coorgi produce. Ooty, or Udhagamandalam as it is now officially known, is famous for chocolates, unlike Coorg. Whatever the situation, there was more than enough of these shops, or shacks, to ensure that the market was now saturated. In truth the whole scene smacked more than a little of desperation, a few years ago there were hardly any of them there but now they were all over the place. It was over the top in other words, as only things in India sometimes could be, and I guess there were plenty of people desperate to make a fast buck now that the domestic tourist market had begun to boom. Plenty of people from the cities of Bangalore and Mysore also now had cars and would think nothing of heading off on six hour journeys up into the hills of Coorg in that elusive search for satisfaction and happiness from what the conditions of life had to offer them. No point in me saying much about that however, it was just the way it was, and anyway, wasn’t I more or less doing exactly the same thing? Well yes, of course I was!

Once we reached Madikeri it was then a question of negotiating the bends on the hill roads as we made our descent down to the town of Suliaya which was a good couple of hours away and in the direction of Mangalore. I have got to say that the rocking around in the Scoprio which we all experienced riding on the winding , certainly made me feel more than a little sick, but when it came to driving fast on dangerous terrain Sonam Tashi took no prisoners. It was a journey that I had made with him a couple of times previously, the last occasion being three years ago when we went to Goa in the monsoon season, so I knew more or less what to expect, but that didn’t really make it any easier. I was beginning to regret having tucked in so heartily to my breakfast at the Atithi, fact of the matter was that I should have known better, shown a bit more self control when faced with that plate of hot delicious food they had served me, when I knew what lay ahead.

Since we were going to Sringeri, which was quite some distance from Bylakuppe and up towards Chikkamagaluru, Anita set the GPS on her phone to give us some help with the directions. Otherwise we just had a Karnataka Road Map to go by, one I had bought from Sapna Book House in Mysore, and those road maps, as I knew from past experience, could be more than a little unreliable when it got down to the finer details. I was surprised to see that Anita’s GPS indicated something like a 1.20 pm arrival in Sringeri, which meant the journey was going to take quite a lot longer than what I had originally thought, a hell of a lot longer as a matter of fact. I had been hoping for a mid-morning arrival but it now looked like I was going to be way off in my estimate. That was how things sometimes went when on the road in India, it was just so damn easy to underestimate the distances to places, especially when one or two dodgy roads were thrown into the deal as well. I guess in this instance my underestimate in regard to how long it would take to get to Sringeri was a case of wishful thinking, as I was hoping it would not take too long, so as to not inconvenience too much the others in the car, who at the end of the day were only going on the journey because it was me who wanted to take us there.

We were currently on Highway 275 which would take us to Suliaya, after that we would by-pass the town of Puttur in order to join Highway 75, the main Mangalore to Hassan road, which we would stay on for a few miles until we got to a place called Uppinangadi. This was exactly what we did and it was after we got through the busy town of Uppinangadi that we stopped at last for a roadside tea and snacks in what was now the very bright, hot mid morning sun. It had been a good 3 hours or so since our breakfast at the Atithi Comforts and we had been driving ever since, trying our best to eat up the distance to our destination. When we pulled over to the side of the road I was pretty desperate for a piss, so I had to nip behind the tea shack in order to relieve myself, where I took what was one of the longest pisses I had ever taken in my life. Don’t know why, guess it must have been those three hours twisting through the hills in the rocking Scorpio after the Atithi breakfast, where I had drunk a couple of coffees along with some big swigs of water, so I must have been holding it in for a lot longer than I thought. All the same it was one of those pisses which seemed to just go on forever and by the end of it I was pretty astounded over how much had come out, almost proud and very, very relieved.

After our roadside break, which consisted of hot chai and spicy samosas, we were all feeling suitably refreshed and soon back on the road again. Now it was Highway 118 to the town of Gerukatte which, to all intents and purposes, felt like it was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, then from Gerukatte it was the Highway 37 until it linked up with Highway 169. This last road ran up into the hills from out of Mangalore, all the way to the district town of Chikkamagaluru, and this was the road which would take us to Sringeri. All in all there were quite a few roads then, and sure enough the time got eaten up bit by bit, so that it seemed that Anita’s GPS was going to be pretty much spot on, that it would indeed be something close to 1.20 in the afternoon before we reached our destination, a good six hours or so after we had set off from Bylakuppe. It was not as if the roads were bad, far from it in fact, as they were relatively empty and all the surfaces pretty good, almost new in many places, it was just that it was a long, long way to Sringeri up in the hills.

Probably a little too much to do in a single day if truth be told , especially when I was really not that sure what was going to lie at the end of it, apart from having the hope that it would all be pretty interesting. Never mind, there was no turning back by this stage and at least the scenery was interesting, in fact it was really rather stunning as we made our way up the Highway 37, along the edges of the Kudremukh range of hills which lay to the right of us. By the time we got to Highway 169 it was well past midday, but there was still some way to go before we were to reach Sringeri. The road had emptied out almost completely, it was a new road as well, and we began to climb through those hills of the Kudremukh, gradually going higher and higher. There was a deep, rich red soil beside the road and green paddy fields in the high hill valleys, cut through with rivers where the water was low. It was turning into a different scene bit by bit, different to what was usually encountered on the plains, the air felt cleaner and fresher; life in those hills seemed to move along at a slower pace, which was no bad thing.

We finally arrived in Srinegri at 1.15 pm and there was that usual sense of disorientation that was so common for me when rolling into Indian towns for the first time. I got my bearings soon enough however, as Sringeri was hardly the biggest town in the world, in fact we were parked up pretty much right outside the Adi Shankara temple, or the Sringeri Sharada Peetham as it was called. It was the very place I wanted to go, as it was home to the Jagadguru Shankaracharyas, who had been there since the 8th century, which when you think about it was really quite a long time. The first thing we did on getting out of the car was head for the pure veg Guru Prasad restaurant, which lay just opposite the temple, in order to have lunch. Sonam Tashi had been behind the wheel for a good 6 hours and despite having had a couple of snacks on the way, he was sorely in need of a good meal. He needed to sort his stomach out by way of filling it before he did anything else, and there was no way that I could argue with that. We therefore had a full Indian vegetarian meal at the Guru Prasad and most highly delicious it was too, different vegetables in that part of the state to what we got down Mysore way, that was for sure; very, very tasty and all the better for it. As usual in those situations I washed my food down with a bottle of cold fresh lime soda which, with the bright heat of the day waiting for us outside, went down well, very well indeed, all being so very glug, glug, gluggy.

Sitting in the restaurant, although I was enjoying the vegetarian meal, I was somewhat anxious we didn’t miss the opportunity to see what we came for, to see what we had just travelled the last six hours for through little known roads in Western Karnataka, namely the Adi Shankara temple, the Sringeri Sharada Peetham. Now, it would have been practically impossible for us not to have seen it as it was right there in front of us, but there was a childish part of me which often manifested itself on arrival in new places, by way of an impatience to see things right away. This no doubt stemmed from a fear of missing out on something, the dread of losing the chance to have a memorable experience. It was ridiculous really, an immaturity on my part, which meant at times I struggled to go with the flow and just wanted to impose my own wishes on people and situations, so as to ensure I got what I wanted. In this case we were only talking about an ancient Hindu temple, pretty much out in the sticks and off the beaten track. Nevertheless that need to see it through was still there, a part of me doubted if I would ever be able to shake it off, that childish desire, so ingrained in my character it seemed to have became.

Sure enough then, after the lunch at the Guru Prasad we made our way outside, into the extensive grounds of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham, which was in fact far more than just a single temple. It was a temple village comprising numerous places of worship and other buildings for the purposes of administration, accommodation and the provision of food for visitor pilgrims. There were also wide open spaces between the buildings which at some point led to a series of steep steps that went down to the river Tunga, where offerings could be made to what looked like the holy river fish. But the fact of the matter was it was coming up to 2 in the afternoon, the sun was very bright and damn hot. Things were made more uncomfortable by the fact that we had to walk barefoot in the grounds and the stone slabs beneath our feet were burning. It meant it was more like a hop, skip and a jump rather than a leisurely dignified stroll, but since this was India and coming up to the hot season it was hardly something new for me, I had been there before, so to speak.

A mixture of over anticipation and midday confusion had already left me in a mild state of bewilderment, as I tried to figure out just exactly why it was I had dragged everyone out of Bylakuppe on a six hour journey up a number of unknown roads to Sringeri, and now I had the heat to contend with. Back to square one again, still so many lessons that had to be learnt, of course India was a constant teacher for me in that regard. The main lesson in this instance seemed to be for me to try to understand just why I had bothered to come. Was there ever really a plan or was I just flying blind, dancing on the hot temple slabs, hoping find something fantastic at the end of it?

We managed to go inside the busy Sharadamba Temple within the grounds of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham, but we only had ten or so minutes in there before it closed at 2pm for a couple of hours, this went for the rest of the temple complex as well, as basically between the hours between 2pm and 4pm the temple people laid low, took a rest, sat in the shade, maybe had an afternoon sleep. Of course that meant we had timed things rather badly as, after having had our lunch at the Guru Prasad, we really just wanted to get on with it, see as much as there was to see. We also knew we had a six hour return journey to make, a few hours of which would most certainly be undertaken in the dark, which in turn would mean a late arrival back in Bylakuppe. Problem was we did not have that much else to do in Sringeri if truth be told, when the main temples, including the ancient Adi Shankara temple, the Vidyashankara Temple, which as yet I had not had a chance to go in, were closed for the next couple of hours. It was a case of not really knowing what the form was of the place that we had arrived in, being left a little bit high and dry in the bright heat of the afternoon Indian sun. I sat for a while with Anita and Passang Dolma in the shade of a big, open mantapam within the temple grounds, whilst Sonam Tashi went back to the Scorpio to have a snooze. It was just a question of sitting in the shade, counting out time for a while, then trying to figure out what it was we were going to do next. On the walls of the mantapam were portraits of previous Jagadguru Shankaracharyas as well as the current one who just so happened to be out of town. One of the Jagadgurus on the walls of the mantapam would have been the one who’d spoken so highly of Ramana Maharshi over 100 years ago, and just like all the other Jagadgurus depicted there, he appeared a formidable yogi who had obviously pushed himself to the limits in his own quest for spiritual knowledge.

After a while we ventured out of the temple grounds as it was so sleepy there, so still, so hot and with so many crashed out Indian pilgrims lying on the floor. It felt better to keep moving along in order to avoid that sense of the whole trip fizzling out by just sitting around and slowly nodding off, dozing and waiting, waiting for 4pm to come along when things opened up again, whilst time stretched out before us. So we took a walk along the main street of Sringeri which contained the usual small town Indian fare, plenty of colourful shops and places in which to drink and eat. We stopped in a tea shop with a decent selection of cold drinks, including some nicely chilled herbal water which was packed full of natural mineral ingredients and which we tried, Anita, Passang Dawa and myself, whilst Sonam Tashi was still in the land of nod back in the Scorpio, recovering from the drive. Suitably refreshed from the mineral drinks, the three of us took a walk to the edge of town in the afternoon sun, to the river Tunga where a foot bridge led us across the water to the bank on the other side.

Walking on the foot bridge enabled us to take a backwards look at Sringeri town and the ancient temple which had been built on a curve on the river, which for the first time revealed itself to me in something approaching its full glory. Fact of the matter was that with the back drop of the hills behind it, the river winding its way through the valley below, it was easy to see how in centuries past, the Adi Shankara math at Sringeri must have been an incredible place to arrive at and to stay. Seekers would have made to journey to Sringeri from all over India, and it seemed to me that if on arrival they had this view, they would not have been disappointed. It still could be an incredible place to come to as far as I knew, but definitely in years gone by it must have been a centre of great spiritual knowledge and learning, you almost could sense that merely by the location. In the mid afternoon haze and from a slight distance, there was still a power to it that was simply undeniable.

Now, of course, it was different to what it had been before. Not too far away from the outlines of those ancient temple buildings by the side of the river, were some typically ugly concrete buildings, modern Indian style, right in the middle of Sringeri. Most likely they were accommodation blocks for pilgrims who no doubt descended upon the town in great numbers when there were big events happening at the temple. Whilst they were no doubt functional and perfectly adequate in that regard, not much concession had been made to aesthetics and they looked pretty bleak. There was also a large open space just the other side of the footbridge and right by the river, where fume belching tourist buses swung into and pulled up for their weary passenger pilgrims to disembark. Things like these would not have been there before, although of course nothing is perfect, and there would surely have been other dangers and perils in times gone by which simply do not exist now. Sometimes it is too easy to focus on the negative of what we have now, of what there currently is and to idealize the past out of all proportion, completely forgetting all the bad stuff, like diseases for which there was no cure back then and other things like that. Suffice to say, the outline of the ancient Adi Shankara math in the middle of the scene before us, with the Tunga river flowing through the middle of it all, and the South Indian afternoon sun shining high in the sky above, was certainly memorable, and one which will stick in my mind for some time to come.

After we finished our walk across the river, enjoying the view it gave us, we wandered back to the temple complex and once more visited the Sharadamba Temple within the temple grounds, as now it was 4 pm and the whole place was opening up again. There was the sound of the Om mantra being chanted at the Sharadamba, which Anita and I sat down to listen to before walking up to the priest by the shrine, in order to receive his blessing. There was a calm, knowing look on his face which made him a very pleasant figure to observe, simply to look upon. We sat in the cool temple shadows, observing him bless the constant stream of people approaching the shrine, with Om chants resonating in the background. There was undeniably something special about that. The ancient Adi Shankara math temple, the Vidyashankara Temple, was to remain closed until 5 pm and since we had a long return drive back to Bylakuppe ahead of us, we decided to give it a miss, not to wait until it re-opened in other words, and to make our way out of town. Guess it might conceivably be a reason for me to return to Sringeri again at some future point in time if the opportunity is ever afforded me. There is no doubt I would have liked to look inside that ancient temple, but I was worried that for the others the Sringeri scene might be turning into a bit of a drag. So it was that Anita, Passang Dawa and myself left the temple grounds after the Om chants in the Sharadamba. We caught up with Sonam Tashi outside, who was now suitably refreshed from his afternoon sleep in the Scorpio, and who was more than ready to hit the road again.

Leaving town, a part of me felt I hadn’t quite hit the mark as far as the whole purpose of the trip to Sringeri was concerned, but then again another part of me simply asked myself, just what did I expect to find anyway? Apart from the fact I could safely say to myself it was another one I could tick off on my list of places seen, which of course didn’t mean much at all. My sense of having missed out on something, but not knowing quite what, was compounded when I learnt the Jadadguru, or head of the temple, would be giving an audience to devotees in Sringeri the very next day. Of course the next day was too late as far as I was concerned, by then I would be once more out of the hills and back in Bylakuppe. Yes, it might have been nice to see the Jadadguru, to sit in his presence and feel the vibrations of peace which my Kushal Nagar friend Teja had told me so effortlessly flowed from him.

But it was not to be, simply not to be this time around. If things had been more on my side, then I might have found myself face to face with the Jadadguru, basking in the vibes of his great inner peace. All within sight of the ancient temple as well, but as it happened none of those things came to pass. No Jadadguru audience for me this time then, not even close to one if truth be told, no mystical depths for me to dive into with my head full of wonder. So yes, we had made the 6 hour ride to Sringeri to find that the ancient temple was closed during a lot of the time we were in town, also that we were one day early for the arrival in Sringeri of the Jadadguru himself. Just the way it goes, could have been different, our time of making the journey might so easily have been just one day later, when of course the scene would have been a whole lot busier with the Jadadguru in town, but no, on this occasion it was not to be.

Nevertheless despite these little disappointments I have to say I was still glad I had made the trip, even dragging Anita, Sonam Tashi and Passang Dawa up with me as well. This was because there was no doubt the slightly out of the way town of Sringeri did enjoy a special location, being right in the middle of a little known range of high hills on the western ghats, somewhere between Mangalore and Chikkamagaluru. There was also the fact the Tunga river meandered its way through the high valley, right next to the banks on which the ancient temple was sat, which made the whole scene really rather beautiful in an ancient India kind of way. It had been easy there for me to project back in time, to imagine what it must have been like in centuries past; before the concrete, before the buses, before the crowds, before the fumes. It had been a pleasant experience for me to imagine how it might have been for a pilgrim, reaching Sringeri after many weeks, travelling across the hills and plains of India, to walk into its temple grounds and bathe in the purity of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy which had originated at that spot, which must have been taught there for generation after generation without a break.

We had a bit of trouble making our way out of town, Anita’s GPS was playing up a bit this time around, leading us down roads which were clearly not the ones we came in on, and on one occasion it more or less took us down a dead end street. But we managed to work our way through it all, to get back on Highway 169 for the return ride down out of the hills, on what was still a relatively deserted road. A road which was in excellent condition with the deep red earth of that part of the world beside it, accentuating the black strip of new tarmac. By now it was late afternoon and we were speeding along, Sonam Tashi fully settling back into his driver’s seat and pushing the Scorpio as fast as it would go, which just so happened to be pretty damn fast. We had a speedy descent out of the hills, those deep green hills of the Kudremukh, with the red soil and the strip of black tarmac road with not much in the way of traffic on it. Faster on we went, back down to the plains and Highway 37 until we once again reached Gerukatte, where we stopped for tea and sweet buns in the middle of town. Busy Gerukatte in the late afternoon of South India, a nowhere town in a nowhere part of Karnataka, or at least to me that was how it seemed, all the same there were plenty of people and there was traffic in whatever direction you turned you head in. Lots of people and lots of traffic. Not long after Gerukatte we were back on Highway 118 to Uppinangadi, with dusk now fast approaching.

It seemed a completely different scene, coming back down from out of the hills, to when we first went up just a few hours before in that late morning brightness. Everything was more alive now, and suddenly it made me want our journey to go on forever, bombing our way through those small Indian towns and villages that I would never know the names of, and would most probably never ever see again. There I was, sitting in the front seat of the Scorpio next to Sonam Tashi, who was seriously putting his foot on the gas, pushing the big car to its limits, to go faster and faster with all the windows open, letting in the Indian twilight to bathe us in its mystery. After Uppinangadi it was back to Highway 275, the towns of Puttur and Suliaya, both very busy now, and which we sped through as the light left the day to become evening time Indian style, which of course meant it was dark by 7 pm. As usual with early evening Indian towns there were scenes of intensity, with it feeling like everyone was out on the streets, it was by far the busiest part of day, with life lived in all its noise and colour.

As I sat there in the Mahindra I reflected on the fact I had done many trips like this in India through the years and had been damn lucky to have had the chance to do so. This time around all I did was sit in the front of that Scorpio, looking out at what was before me, wanting to see more scenes as we passed on through them, never seeming like I would be able to get enough of the whole experience. There was something about those places we were going through that I would never fully understand, and I guess it didn’t just apply to India, it was more universal than that. It was that early evening time, the feeling of being on the road, of having some vague sense of destination, some kind of deep satisfaction over being out there and embracing life. It was almost as if, at those times I felt invincible, felt like it really didn’t matter if I got killed right there and then. My mind, my soul, my spirit was somehow in the place it needed to be, it had a greater acceptance of whatever circumstances came along, good bad or indifferent. It all did not matter, as long as we were moving, moving along,  and on through the early evening shadows, further now into the Indian night.

We realised going back up through the hills to Madikeri on Highway 275, that it was in fact a pretty safe road to be on after dark, with plenty of very clear markings and cats eyes brightly shining in the middle of the highway making sure you knew where you were. Things were coming on these days in India, no doubt about that, no more dusty winding tracks in this part of the world that was for sure, tracks which took hours and hours to get to the end of. Fast motoring was now the order of the day, with all the support in place to make sure as little time as possible was spent in getting from A to B, that is if you had the right set of wheels. There were plenty more lorries on the road at this time of day, lorries transporting goods from the country and into the Indian towns and cities of the plains. Places which, due to issues of space and pollution, those lorries were banned from entering during the day. Some of them were pretty slow moving, there was no doubt about that, as they crawled their way up into those hills of Coorg, on their way to Mysore and Bangalore, both of which lay some hours down the road. They would no doubt roll into them at some time during the course of the Indian night, where for many people it was the middle of their working day and not a time for sleep.

By the time we got back up to Madikeri I was pretty hungry again as it had been quite some time since our lunch at the Guru Prasad. If the others had been up for it, there would have been nothing I would have liked better than to have tried the new Dominos pizza parlour that had recently opened. A Dominos which was advertised by way of huge bill boards by the side of the winding road as we approached the hill station town. Unfortunately for me no one else was up for one, which was a damn shame, instead we ended up in some greasy joint on the edge of town before our descent back down to Sunticoppa and on from there to Kushal Nagar. We sat there in the restaurant, had a couple of chappatis each and some dhal, which OK at best but nothing like as delicious as what a Dominos Vegetarian Feast might have been. Oh man, I could have killed for a Dominos that evening if truth be told, but again it was not to be. I should have had enough presence of mind to have left the others at that greasy Indian roadside stop and gone back to get a takeaway Dominos, which I would have then quite happily eaten in the Scorpio as we bombed back to the plains. Guess the fact I didn’t do it was par for the course as to how the whole day trip had panned out. Not exactly missed opportunities but maybe some missed connections, not quite getting things right as far as hitting the mark was concerned. That was OK though, just the way it sometimes went, not much that could be done about it, other than reflect on the fact that if things are meant to be then the stars will be lined up on the right side of the equation rather than the other. Still, no matter, I gave thanks to the gods when we got back to Bylakuppe at around 10 in the evening, after yet another journey into the Indian vastness ending with a safe arrival back home, which as far as India was concerned was most certainly not something which could ever be taken for granted, should never be taken for granted anywhere in fact, no doubt about that.

sharadamba

why do I go ahh?
why do I go hum?

got to give it my best shot
drop a microphone
between the sound of a drum
that beats alive upon the dance spun
in the light of a life incredible

did I chose it or did it chose me?
well, what in this space is the I
and who with this face is me?

strip it down to the core spatial
rest upon a heart finger
hung in the place of the upside down
not within, not without
just awake to eternity
with an open eye, sweet as a honey bee

The header image for this article is a photograph of Sringeri taken by the writer.

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