The Naked Holy Men: Banaras

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I stare at you with glassy eyes – over a haze of my chillum,

to brandish my feather broom on you as you pass me by —

whether or not you care to bow in seeking my blessings

or to let me apply on your forehead — a pinch of my ash.

Don’t be repulsed by my earliest homo-sapien looks

that I’ve imbibed from living in the hills and woods:

I’ve now creatively adorned to project to you a distinctive look —

With Rudraksh beads, flowers, artefacts, trident and sword.

My nudity is no concern of mine, so then why make it yours?

My yoga-fit body with mud and ash I anoint – in heat or cold,

to remind me that in dedication to Shiva – my life is renounced:

would I then – for my long matted-hair – crave your opine?

I squat or crouch, even sleep bare on the banks of the Ganges now,

cook in earthen pots from alms I’m allowed – on charcoal kilns I mount:

In Varanasi, I’ve halted in transiting from Khumb Mela at Prayag –

as from civilization I recoil – living in seclusion of the Himalayas long.

At the early age of sixteen I denounced the regular life you live,

all connections of family, friends, even society I vehemently perished:

yet killing my youthful male libido was my most challenging sacrifice —

that my Akhara beat out of my phallus to attest my spiritual incline.

I now live on an extended new life after my pind daan and shradh

my own death rituals, that I’ve conducted to validate total renunciation:

only then was I inducted with my guru mantra after six rigorous years,

ten more to prove myself – so that at 32 – I was reborn a Naga Sadhu.

You think my life’s regressive, as it’s impossible for you to envision —

eating, sleeping, existing without purpose – in a make belief ascetic world:

but I dread duties, pain and strife you juggle – of mistrust, jealousy, hate

and trivial rivalry over all else, to die and turn just like me to mud or ash!

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