'Incredible India!'- proclaimed the banners.It was the Indian Tourism Promotion Exhibition in Paris,the culture capital of the world.
Jeanne had come to the exhibition after hearing rave reviews about it from a friend.
She was a writer by profession.Being a writer had enabled her to look at people around her objectively.While creating her characters,she always tried to assign a meaningful role to them in her story.As she speculated on her stories and characters,she couldn't but wonder about creation of the world and the Universe.Who is God,the creator of this Universe? Where to find Him? What am I or the others around me in front of God?
She already had enough fame,money,a wonderful set of friends and caring family.But something in her writing instincts wanted a more scintillating experience in life and she figured out that a visit to a mystical land like India,would satisfy that urge.
There were lot of exhibits-about wildlife sanctuaries and tiger safaris,about snow-clad Himalayan peaks and mountaineering expeditions,about towering temples and exotic Bharatnatyam dancers,about hill tribes and their strange customs.It was a variety visual treat.But Jeanne was not an ordinary fun-seeking tourist.She was looking for a spiritually satisfying journey.
Suddenly,something caught her eye.It was a photo of a congregation of hordes of men in saffron robes,with Rudrakhsa beads around their necks.She was intrigued at once.
The tourist office gave her the information about them.These men were called 'Sadhus',the ones who had relinquished all worldly pleasures and were in pursuit of eternal bliss.The event depicted in the picture was Kumbh Mela,the religious event happening once in twelve years at the confluence of India's most holy and mighty rivers in Allahabad.
Jeanne did not need any more prodding.She packed her bags and set out on her journey.
A week and grueling travel later,Jeanne was in Allahabad,the seat of the Kumbh.The place where the Ganga,Yamuna and the mythical Saraswathi form a mighty confluence.Scores and scores of people were thronging the venue.People who had come there to find solace, to pray and to wash away their sins in the holy waters.
She roamed around the place,absorbing the sights and sounds within her.It was mind-boggling to see the multitude of people around her.There were elderly men and women,for whom this might be the last Kumbh in their lives.They had come there to seek salvation in their twilight years.There were many who had come with their families.hoping that a dip in the holy waters will enlighten their souls.
There were a lot of Sadhus too.Men in saffron robes with matted hair,the men who had forsaken all the pleasures of the world to pursue a life of spirituality.Will she get her answers from these men?. Jeanne was determined to find out.
There were so many men roaming around in saffron robes.She was confused as to whom to approach.She went on watching them,trying to choose someone who seemed credible enough to give her the answers she wanted.
As she was analyzing the sadhus,she saw a particularly lean man sitting in a tent and smoking marijuana.'What kind of religious man is he', she thought to herself.As she was about to turn away in disgust,she heard a loud laughter.She whirled around to see the Sadhu laughing at her.Irritated,she asked the Sadhu,'Why are you laughing old man?'. The Sadhu gave her a penetrating look and said,'Welcome,Jeanne.You will get your answers today'. Jeanne jumped with a start.How did this guy know her name.Worse,he even seemed to read her mind.How can this be possible?
The Sadhu laughed even harder on seeing her confusion.'Dont worry my child',he told her.It is in your destiny to come here and acquire the mystical knowledge.You will get it here'. Jeanne was taken aback.She asked the Sadhu,'Oh Holy Man!. Please tell me what I should do to fulfill the mission of my journey'.
The Sadhu replied,'Once you realise your inner self,you will understand who you are and what is this life and universe is all about.Your life's mission will be attained then.'
'How do I do that?',asked Jeanne.
'You ask yourself who you are', answered the Sadhu.
'Je suis( I am) Author',said Jeanne.
The Sadhu remained quiet and gave her a soul-penetrating glance.It sent a shiver down Jeanne's spine.She felt the need to explain herself further.
'I write stories.I imagine and create situations,characters and make my characters react to situations in order to bring a logical conclusion to the complications they face.In that process of creating situations and characters,I engross myself so much that I completely forget myself.I become one with my characters.My characters are a reflection of my inner self',said Jeanne.
'You just answered for yourself my child',said the Sadhu.He continued,'Being a writer,you create everything but you are not a part of it.But still you are one with it.This is what even the ancient scriptures state-"Aham Brahmasmi''. It means that I am the creator.It means I am God and God is within me.God created this whole universe,He is a part of everything in this universe and He is within every object He created,including you and me.God being within me,I also become the Supreme Being. And so do you.This is the eternal truth and this is what your answer is'.
Jeanne was overwhelmed by the Sadhu's explanation. She had at last found her answer.
She realized now that the self is one with the Supreme Being and this realization is the goal of her spiritual journey. For many tourists,India was a land of elephants and snake charmers.But for Jeanne,India was the land of Spirituality,a land that made her realise her soul and herself.
This is a short fiction written for Blogchatter
's prompt 'Je suis(I am) Author.