“Hey, You with No Eyes”
alakh! alakh! alakh!
With long wool ropes wrapped around their waists and clanging their ankle bells as they shuffled their feet, they held out their bowls made from human skulls as they begged for flour.
This name of Shiva is He with No Eyes. Shiva is blind, his eyes unfocused and turned up in meditation on the Supreme Void. Look up, I heard inside my head. Abandon what lies below. The world is an illusion. Drop your attachment to the senses that perceive it. Climb to the peak of blind Shiva’s mountain!
Hari Puri’s eyes also went up inside his head, as he raised a chillam to the sky and taunted Shiva as he yelled:
kol de palak!
dekho duniya ka jhalak!
Hey You with no eyes! Open your eyes!
And see the glitter of the world!
It was customary to fast for the big initiation. This did not mean a total abstinence from food but avoiding cultivated food such as grains and vegetables. Hari Puri fed me a breakfast of yogurt and bananas before putting a piece of paper, a parcha, in my hand and sending me to the temple of Dattatreya to await further instructions.
At the Marhi, an itinerant red-eyed drummer whacked his dholak into a frenzy, as countless chillams circulated among the neophytes. There were old babas with white beards and wrinkled faces and pre-teens with not so much as peach fuzz. There was a cross-section of north Indian rural society and perhaps a few from the cities, but everyone was about to be equalized. Clad only in white loincloths we sat on the cold clay on that January morning, getting pumped up, waiting. Red caped kotwalis, sergeants-of-arms, marched back and forth, their long silver staffs over their shoulders while other Nagas would come by to inspect the new crop of sannyasis.