The sun has yet to tilt up perhaps a mile more to peep out of the ancient cleavages of the mount Girnār, much older than the Himālayas! No snow, only dark black rough rock that had once inhabited cultures and civilizations ranging from Shivaite to Buddhist to Jain to the primitive. Here on one of its peaks, as the legend goes, one Pāvāhari Baba was first initiated into the mysteries of practical yoga. Dattatraya had his abode here. In ancient times, the Girnār was called Raivata or Ujjayanta, and has been the temple-abode of the Jain Tirthankaras – Bāhubali, Neminātha, Pārsvanātha. In its womb, the mount Girnār nourishes mines of mysteries and caves of curiosities that never go to sleep at night with their eyes open, punctuated by the full moon or no moon and the strange sounds of cicadas. The sun is steady here in his movement, serene and soothing, intoxicated by his own fire, without soma.
Lions stalk here, the ash smeared naked fakirs walk here fearlessly. Fear roams here fearfully in the narrow untouched virgin niches of the Girnār! A little away, hordes of bats hang on walls of the Adi Kadi Vaav, the fiftheenth century deep, dark ,unusual step-well, and the Navghan Kuvo, the well shy of a few years of being a thousand years old. A Gujarati proverb still lives and circulates around unsurreptitiously, “Adi Kadi Vaav ne Navghan Kuvo, Je Nā Juve te Jivto Muvo,” meaning, “Whoever has not seen the Adi Kadi step well (vaav) and Navghan well (kuvo), meets with death before dying.” But on the hills, death turns into life with Bhairav on the black rocks of Girirāj. Bhairav manifests here, and there. Shiva’s blue neck has gone bluer and no river flows from his thick black matted hair.
Here on the Girnār plains flows a river named “Sonrekh”! “Oh! Se āmarā Subarnarekhā!” who said this? Where are you Sita? Abhiram? Where is your deserted airstrip? Your childhood playground? Ask all your gods, Girnār, to sing in chorus, “Aaj ki ananda… jhulat jhulane Shyamchanda…” From a Buddhist cave emerges a Shiva, in a Bahurupee! Buddha is tired of smiling here. Mahāvira, the Digambara, has dissolved into the wide open ambar, the sky that caresses the Girnar so giddily! Madness stalks here in the marrow of Time…
And here on the Girnār, Hanumāna wears on different manifestations as the dark Bhairavs keep leaving behind their tantric footprints, you thought were yours! And one of the eleven faces of Hanumāna stares at you winking the monkey wink; still the sun has to tilt up many meters more to embrace the misty dawn of the hills overlooking the town of Junāgadh. Three poems for one wink…
VĀNARA 1: LAMBE HANUMĀNA
“O! Lords – Sun! Wind! Indra! Brahma!
O! Bhutas! Let me turn taller than the mountain
longer than the ocean,” prayed Hanumāna for Rāma
his tail lengthening enlengthening on
the steps of the Mount Girnār
somewhere someone is chanting
Sundarkānda, the red shot eyes
you thought were owl’s were
the ash smeared naked fakir’s
the nāgābāwā, the Girnar’s child!
“O! Sāgara! O! Vāyu!” prayed the vānara
plunging into the Rāmāyana
ocean paving the path, the vānara
after vānara after vānara –
brilliance of the dawn awaiting as
Lambe Hanumāna caresses my face with
a long soft tail you thought was his
it was lion’s! Gir’s real governor!
VĀNARA 2: ROKADIYĀ HANUMĀNA
Pliable gods and pavitra
every fifty steps a new Hanumāna
new avatāra new energy new darkness
of the Bhairava!
Rokadiyā Hanumāna is unlike the Lambe
yet like all his creed with sindoor
and oil that eats devotees’ coins
stuck on the body, the rokdā you said
mythifying the money you never earned!
Rishi Girirāj inhabits many a divine vānara
with heads small, eyes big wide opened or not
belly flat or ballooned, Hanumāna
fascinates the mountain with a memory
Sahajānand and his discovery of
Rokadiyā Dev Hanumāna an
embodiment of truth satisfying all
desires truthful –
Paint any stone vermillion and a
Hanumāna is born in search of a truth
waiting for the Ushā, her light!
VĀNARA 3: HANUMĀNA WITH ELEVEN FACES
Ekādash-mukhi Hanumāna, words tell you
before you count the heads
hands and eyes doubling!
from a corner as the bell chimes and
lamp flickers devouring the dawn
appears Lopāmudra, saying –
“O! sage born out of the pot, O! ocean of mercy
Hanumāna’s yantras and mantras are not new to me
you have revealed them to me!
Tell me about the armor of the eleven-faced Hanumāna!”
Girnar baffles you with vermillion stones all
Hanumāna covered with mythologies unmummified
Don’t search for meanings here ever
smear your body with ash of memories
mysteries you search for are malapropisms!
Junāgadh, 8 February 2016
Amrit Gangar is a Mumbai-based writer, curator, film theorist and historian. He writes both in English and Gujarati languages.