A divine journey

A divine journey

Dwarka

A divine journey

A long drive across flat, featureless, arid landscape of west Gujarat brought me to Dwarka. My interest peaked as I passed salt pans, and my guide announced that I was in ‘dev-bhoomi’. As I crossed a rivulet, the road rose, and the town suddenly appeared in front of me, and I popped my head out of the window to take a shot of the temple.

This remote seaside town is one of India’s holiest places, where Krishna lived for over 100 years, and where Mirabai met her eternal love, when she vanished in front of thousands who had accompanied her to offer prayers to Krishna. Dwarka’s soul lies in these stories. The colours are few here — limited to beige sand, blue sky and silver sea. The frenetic pace of Indian towns is missing here. In a few minutes, I find myself in the warm embrace of the sun, sea and spirituality.

I took to the spirit of Dwarka instantly. I took to the seaside, mostly colourless, lined with concrete wall, dotted with temples and bespattered with cow dung. Though not picturesque, it is attractive in its own way. I started my journey with the Mirabai Temple. “Mirabai’s love was different, she never expected to be loved. She wished a bond, a holy bond between aatma (soul) and parmatma (god). There were no boundaries in that love, she forgot her own existence to remember the divine,” my guide Harish explained.

Beauty in serenity

I walked through Dwarka to reach the point that defines this city Dwarka (dwar or gate and ka or moksha). Even on the stairs, far from the main building, I felt the sacred air. One look at the spire covered with ornate carvings, and a flag fluttering in the breeze, made me feel a bit special about the place. I entered the heart of the temple to see the black idol of Krishna, in colourful garments, decked on a recess with frames of gold and silver around it. The whole experience was overwhelming. There are smaller temples that surround the main temple, all in grey sandstone, with the same medieval charm.

I sat in a quite corner to observe the activities around. Lulled by the evening sea breeze, I pictured Mirabai singing for her Krishna. Harish had another story for me, again of the eternal love of Mira. When she disappeared in Dwarka, a piece of her saree was left behind on the Krishna idol. She had merged with the god she loved and prayed.

Around three km away from the main temple is the Rukmani Temple, perched on a breezy stretch of backwater. According to mythology, goddess Rukmini opted to live here and bless the devotees. The temple is an architectural masterpiece. It gives a glimpse into the different forms of love that existed in Krishna’s life — there was Radha’s ecstatic love, then Rukmini’s love, Draupadi’s love, which was respect, and then Mira’s love, which was devotion.

I went further in search of ‘Atlantis of India’, Bet Dwarka. Various marine excavations around Bet Dwarka have revealed a good and planned city. Vedic scriptures say that Krishna settled here with his Yadava clan to save them from Jarasandha, the evil king of Mathura. Since Bheema was ordained to kill Jarasandha, Krishna had to leave Mathura with his clan and establish a new fortified city. With the help of Viswakarma, the divine architect, a dazzling golden city was erected and christened as Kushasthali or Dwaravati. It later came to be known as Dwarka. After Krishna’s death, the city got submerged, only to be excavated centuries later.

I looked at the temple again, the steeple towers, the huge flag and the throng of devotees on the stairs. Images of bhajan-singing saffron-clad boys, women who have travelled long distances to catch a glimpse of the deity, children who had been told stories of Krishna, and men for whom god is the only one they can trust, flash before me. Isn’t there one thing that binds all these stories and images? Devotion or say faith or call it love. And standing in the midst of this divinity, observing how all the life processes condense into devotion or love, I realise that love is the central force where all forces mingle. Love is devotion. Love is awareness. Krishna is awareness, Mira is love.

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