June 2014

Today in the evening enjoyed Sai paranjape’s ” Bhago Bhoot”, a film for children. I remembered Sai for Chasmebaddoor, Katha etc but this too was very refreshing ,lovely and meaningful. The film was screened in the hall of Anurag Library . There were grand parents and parents ,who brought the kids, children who came in groups, grown up children and adults like us too. It some how made me remember those days when there used to be one black and white T.V. in the neighborhood and all of us  gathered there on Sunday evening to watch the film on Doordarshan channel. More than the movie the gathering used to be the fun.

Now about the movie—-

The protagonist of the movie is Nanu, a boy of about 8 years of age. Nanu is a very good hearted but a naughty child like all other children of his age group. Even when the mischief was done by other kids or the fight was initiated by them,they put the blame on Nanu and being a simpler one he could not put forth his side smartly and was ultimately  got punished . Gradually all the adults of the village, his father and the school teacher all started to believe that Nanu is a good for nothing boy always indulging in some or other mischief and tricks. So like we grown ups. We usually do not pause to rationalize and analyze these matters of kids. It’s always easier to walk on the trodden path and go with the popular belief. But our this unconcern influences a child’s personality. It effected Nanu too.

Gradually he stopped even to try to defend him and bore the punishment of other children’s mischief even when he had enough proof to prove him innocent. The lizard incident proves it .

Opinion of other people and this injustice towards him also effected his academic performance. he gradually started loosing interest in studies.

But then he met his  Bhago Bhaiya , who took recluse in the dry well in the midst of forest near the village.  Horrific personal tragedies  were inflicted upon Bhago by a group of persons ,whose wrong deeds he tried to expose . At that grievous and dolorous times even his very intimate persons failed to provide him solace . In turn Bhago lost his faith in humanity and shunned humane company. He took comfort in the company of ever giver nature and the inhabitants of dense forest , the birds and animals. When villagers sensed a foreign presence in the forest ,a rumor started circulating that a ghost had occupied the dry well and villagers started avoiding the forest. This suited Bhago. But Nanu , the boy with a heart full of faith in all the good things was not carried away by this rumor and went to find out the reality behind it. This meeting blossomed into a wonderful bond between two good hearts. Both of them started flourishing in each others company.

Every child is a different entity and needs to be treated in different way. If encouraged in a way suited to their psychic and personality they can show amazing progress. Bhago’s encouragement and a little push restored Nanu’s faith in himself and he once again became interested in studies. Besides Bhago taught Nanu many things about the utility of herbs in forest, birds and animals of forest. All this knowledge imparted by Bhago in a practical way in nature class room fascinated Nanu and he imbibed all the the facts. True, Education does not mean rotting the prescribed syllabus.Scope of learning is beyond the indoors classroom. Nature is a great teacher. Innovative and illustrative ways of teaching can go a long way.

Kids have immense imaginative power. If given proper encouragement they can achieve a lot. This fact was conveyed in a very joyous manner when inspired by the city band playing at Sarpanch’s house, the team of young kids made their own musical band consisting of instruments created by waste material etc.

I loved the over all feel of the film. The simple life, the small pleasures, humorous anecdotes and the messages conveyed in a subtle way. No preaching like techniques to make it heavy and bore but everything going in a flow with the plot.

The best part was Nanu being successful in restoring principal Bhago Joshis faith in humanity. The innocence of kids, their caring and giving attitude has a magical power to transform the world into a better place.


I searched for the video of the film in net but could not find one. Would have loved to share it with you.





This time in Varanasi we stayed very near to Harishchandra Ghat and invariably spent evenings sitting on the steps of the ghat. Taking a seat on the steps of Ghat and watching the life and death happening around you is an incredible experience. Usually in all other cities the crematoriums are kept away from the bustling life around by erecting high walls etc. Death is not allowed to be mingled with life but in Varanasi it’s entirely different. Here life and death co-exist.

Boys played cricket on the steps and their boisterous shouting echoed in the atmosphere intermittently, hawkers sold their items, groups of people sat sipping tea, playing cards, tourists and pilgrims walked across continuously and in close proximity a pyre was lit, the flames leapt into the air, sparks sprang around and a body was being disintegrated into ashes. Family members stood around waiting while other mourners sat silently on the steps. Another corpse lay on the earth near water, wrapped in white cloth.  Relatives stood near it while woods were being piled to get the pyre ready. A crowd of people with a corpse wrapped in red saree were descending the steps.  A boat laden with logs of woods was drifting in waters towards Manikarnika Ghat perhaps. The ashen grey sky on the other bank of the river appeared to be closing in. Watching all this some how I did not feel disturbed, rather a feel of calm acceptance slowly spread within. Watching a corpse burn away on the ghats as if is like burning away the fear. It’s like burning away the trash, the apprehension piled inside. My own reaction left me intrigued rather than disturbed.

Why was it so?  Why I felt differently about death there on the ghats of Varanasi. Perhaps because here death is not shunned. It’s not kept apart. The smells of death here mingle inseparably with the smells of life. Death is here for everybody to see and life along ghats move on, gazing at the subtle smoke rising from the funeral pyre I was getting attuned to death. Ever presence of death midst the bustling life initiate us to confront/face our morality. It did not scare me. It did not frighten me rather this ever exposure to death somehow felt like preparing me to accept our transient morality. It initiates us to face the reality. Encourage us to live life to it’s fullest. To embrace life in a way where it is not consumed by the fear of death.

Varanasi is a place where people come to breathe their last. It is a staunch Hindu belief that dying here in Varanasi ensures freedom from the cycles of rebirth. Hindus from far and near arrive here and await their end. Some go on with their daily routine of taking bath in the holy river, praying and worshiping while waiting for the end. Others, who are too weak and incapacitated just keep lying and praying to Lord to free them from the bondage of life.

Here we learn to live side by side with death while everywhere else we run away from death. Here death for us is not merely an abstract concept but  a visually real presence. Death is deeply ingrained in everyday life.

The diesel fumes belched out of engines of wooden boats carrying laughing and enjoying tourists mix with the smoke rising from the funeral pyre, the rituals of getting blessings of mother Ganges by newly wed couples are performed side by side the cremation rituals..it somehow imparts the essential meaning of life…the harmony in juxtaposition.

Karl jung said when man’s conscious thinking is in harmony with the deep truths of unconscious revealed in mythology, fear of death is no longer overwhelming. Being comfortable with one’s own morality one can release the anxiety of death.


and I felt perhaps liberation means being free from the anxiety of death. Varanasi  truly does liberate.

for nam12



for nam10


for nam6


for nam5

Manikarnika Ghat also known as mahashamshan. literally means huge crematorium



for nam8

on Harishchandra ghat in front of a temple of goddess this fire burn continuously perhaps a pyre symbolically


for nam7



for nam9


stairs leading to the idol of goddess above. Dogs are always present here. Looking at them I remembered the story of king Harishchandra.The ghat is dedicated to this king. When Satyavadi raja Harishchandra gave away his whole kingdom and had to work as an assistant to a dome[a person looking after the affairs at the cremation ground}, a faithful dog always gave him company. Are these dogs still keeping on the tradition of their ancestor……



for nam11

Boat carrying logs for pyre……death making a way for living

for nam2


for nam1

show must always go on

for nam3



Shiva’s Kashi


All the pictures courtsey Sunder Iyer.