This film has received over 12 thousand views and so I re-rendered a High Definition Special Edition.
Many Indian cities are a jumble, a mix of the ancient and modern, but nowhere I have ever been compares in this regard to Varanasi. I come from a country, and from a city, which has a long history and many ancient sites of worship, but even the 1000 year old site of Saint Pauls in London pails next to the 3000 years of worship maintained here by the Vedic priesthood. Its mythical history goes even further back than this. The legend is that Varanasi was founded by none other than the Hindu deity Lord Shiva himself.
It is that this point that the average Westerner or British’er should try to forget everything that they have ever been taught in school regarding Hinduism.
When I was at school, Hinduism was brought up in Religious Education classes. Unfortunately, these classes forced all religions into the structure of Christianity in order to compare them. So, where in Christianity you have God, you had Shiva and under that you had, in place of Jesus, Krishna, and so on and so forth through the angels (the Deva), the priests (the Brahmans), the Bible (the Vedas) and the Kingdom of Heaven (Rebirth). The one thing is that it is clear from such a muddle is that the people who wrote the RE syllabus had little-to-no idea of Hinduism either. Placed into this twisted context it all looks a little crazy and no wonder as the Hindu faith isn’t like Christianity in almost every way possible. It is a totally different beast. In the first instance it is vital to realise that “Hinduism” is an umbrella term for a whole host of beliefs all interlocked only by their founding geography — that is they all come from India. Then you must realise that when we discuss the Hindu Cosmology we are not talking about a Celestial Hierarchy in the same way that we do in Christianity at all. I.E. with God at the top and you near the bottom just above the animals.
No, in Hinduism you are God…
Note re the music:
The music is from “Akira”. They are singing about the Universal Om, which is basically what the guys in my film are singing about. When I was there I immediately thought of this music and it was in my head the entire trip until I got back. Sure it is not “Indian”, but I think that the nature Varanasi defies such limitations.
This film is the partner to the following article:
The Special Edition of my Varanasi film with the following improvements:
1080p, Colour upgrade, Music resync, Anti-shake applied.
For 3000 years people have worshiped on the shores of the Ganges at Varanasi.
So what kind of place is it and how does it make one feel to be in one of the most “holy” cities in the world? This short film considers just that by showing the city as it wakes and as it goes to sleep.
Varanasi is not a city for the beginner traveller. There are many dangers to being in such a place, both physically and spiritually. While we were there we unwittingly saw the results of a murder, were followed and threatened by a local targeting tourists, eyed up by countless armed police and got into some heated arguments with the local Tuk Tuk drivers who attempted to rip us off. For us, having travelled for so long, this was taken all in our stride. The other dangers in Varanasi appear to be spiritual. The entire place is full of European Yogic converts who live in Ashrams up and down the banks. That you could lose yourself here was for me the real danger I sought to avoid.
There is a definite sense of this being a holy city. It is filthy and downtrodden like many Indian cities, but its immense ancientness is captivating. I have tried to show some of that in this film. The ceremony shown at the end of the film is known as the Varanasi Dashashwamedh Ghat Agni Pooja Ceremony and practiced daily in honour of the gods:
“Dashashwamedh Ghat is located close to “Vishwanath Temple”, and is
probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu mythologies are
associated with it: According to one, Lord Brahma created it to
welcome Lord Shiva. According to another, Lord Brahma sacrificed ten
horses in a yajna here. A group of priests daily perform in the
evening at this ghat “Agni Pooja” (Worship to Fire) wherein a
dedication is made to Lord Shiva, River Ganga, Surya (Sun), Agni
(Fire), and the whole universe.”