Enlightenment under a Banyan

Tigress Arrowhead Ranthambhore © Santosh Saligram

My neck fell left to align with the giant head that lay, a few feet away, recumbent with much elegance.  It was attached to a large, elaborately designed body congenitally tattooed with stripes. A tail that looked like the plait of a woman endowed with unevenly thick hair brought up the end and with it reminisces of Neytiri. A rotund belly occupied the middle, rising and falling alternately in slow motion, so that the stripes seemed to shrink and expand in length.  The undercarriage rested on the wall of an old step-well, a banyan tree overarching all the said set pieces to complete a scene of yestervintage perpetuation.

The tigress was so still and settled, and affected by such peace, that it seemed as though she had sat there for hundreds of years, longer than the oldest elf and the first man, meditating, breathing, being, and the banyan had grown around her, nourished by her light, its leaves greened by her grace.

It was a scene of harmony – of rock, tree and animal, not counting a solitary peacock yonder betwixt the tortuous tresses of the tree.  It was a scene of the Shire-like idylls and dreams. Incompletion was absent.

I was now struck, as it was impossible not to be, by how moments of truth appeared to sing revealing peans of life, and yet left me transfixed by their mystery, a bit like an alien language – its sounds mellifluous but meaning obscure.  Until I realised that being doesn’t necessarily have meaning at all unless I attached one to it.

And as I sat there like a globule, part of a magical moment and yet able to observe it as though I were apart, free from the pursuit of purpose, my neck falling off to the left and my eyes meeting hers beneath the wised curls of the banyan, just like that in the language of a spacious silence, I saw the avatar of eternity and I had caught a ripple of its gentle current.

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