Nandadevi at dusk
Destruction, loss, and pain is not unequal, be it anywhere life exists. It is a perverted and bizarre contention that loss of life and agony is insignificant and matter of trivia when it is borne by others, by people of other denominations, faith or race and is the cruelest extent to which human beings can pursue their ideas. The cataclysm in the Himalayas, the devastation of the tsunami or even the directly man made afflictions like genocides and ethnic cleansing we see and hear about are all matters of distress to people who cannot see the difference in the colour of blood and value of life.
I was trying to put myself in the picture of the devastation in the monsoon torrents brought about in the Himalayas. It hurts! It hurts not because of the loss of life, but because the devastation was asked for- we crossed the threshold Nature has been putting backward.
The Gods, I’m certain, would see the picture of Kedarnath in the aftermath of the deluge in the mountains with stoicism. And so should man, with dispassion. The gods were not wrathful nor did they vent their fury through pelting and deluge, for they may have vanished from Kedar long ago with indifference. Looking at the pictures of the ploughed under township of Kedar and the half inundated entombed temple structure, I wondered why was not the town totally submerged down under the rocks, mud and debris? To vanish from the surface like the grandeur of the Mayans or a Pompey! To perhaps be later discovered and to resurface in an age were man has respect and reverence to the fragile blue planet that is his only home like the rebirth of Machupichu.
It was commerce in the hills, in the mountains. There was no sanctity and calm in the frenzied gathering of mortals in what they call as the abode of Gods. The beeline they made to Kedar, by foot and on miserable mules was in a state of divorce from the God they ventured to seek in the mountains. Eyes wide shut and chanting gibberish invocations they were actually defiling Nature. Remember the Lord of Kedar is a yogi, a hermit and a person who resides in the pristine air of the mountains.
The obscene concrete structures that were put up on the mountains jack sawing trees and vegetation were not only an eye sore but brutal violation of Nature. I wonder if any of the four destinations Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badarinath was equipped with means to dispose tonnes of waste and garbage men threw around with impunity. For many the wailing of Nature is not even a distant whimper.
The rape of Kedar can be seen and understood only by people who go there with their “eyes wide open”. For a supplicant, a petitioner or even a sinner eager to wash away his sins so that he could start all over again and mortals who are anxious of ensuring a star plus afterlife which they expect to ensure from the excursion to Kedar and the mountain shrines, her enchanting self is not noticed. They do not notice the beauty she radiates in the majesty of the snow clad mountains shinning in the noon sun or the crimson ornamental appearance at dusk; the cold gushing water of the rivers; the timid birds that are special to the Himalayas; the silver streaks of waterfalls from distant hills; the lush green flora; besides all that , the music of silence that whiff by if one care to listen, be it day or night and the caress of the cold breeze and the howl of the icy wind at night.
This catastrophe that visited the thousands who went there believing they can buy salvation is not an exception or a misfortune that happened like an uninvited tsunami or a volcanic eruption without forewarning. Similar disasters will be visiting us in other places the Sabarimala for instance or any place where we defile nature and desecrate her.
Closing these parts of the Himalayas for religious excursions or restricting the permissible numbers a year with absolute and impeccable management of the environment must be put forward as possible solutions. Or perhaps we will never learn, understand and take not notice of the foreboding. Such is our arrogance, lust for possessions and selfishness .And in our frenzied mode for salvation we might forget to live the life here and also leave the world an inhospitable place for posterity.