" A Six year old girl was missing in the crowd.Wearing green dress and with blue ribbons.Her name was Soumya and native of Kurnool.Please take the kid to the enquiry counter nearby northern gate of the temple.Her parents were in deep grief and waiting eagerly for the girl" announcement blared up in the mike.I am used to this kind of missing news, especially on the occasion of Sri Rama navami celebrations at our temple town Bhadrachalam.Visitors throng here from far and wide to witness the wedding ceremony of the celestial couple Lord Rama and his consort Seeta Ma.Dharmasalas, Lodges and all other outlets of the sort remain filled with devotees.The town is decked up like a new bride itself.
With the advent of Globalization cars, jeeps and other vehicles made available to the public in large way.That impact is evident here when we see the beeline of automobiles in front of every hotel and lodge, not only on the occasion of Sri Rama navami festival, but also on weekends and holidays.From here one would go to Perantapalli resorts via boat cruise.In our childhood, things were very much different.Buses were only the means and travel buses with loads of devotees.As they entered the town, the pilgrims would raise their voice in praising of Lord Rama.Now I hardly listen any of them.But ominous sounds caused by visitors and vehicles galore all over.
It was evening turning into twilight.Ever year, on the day of Sri Rama navami celebrations,soon after Kalyanam completed, it is common for me to have a stroll along the temple street to see the bustling rush of visitors and all other activities like exhibitions,cultural programs, etc.,Luckily sometimes meeting a known person on the way is exciting.Above all, cool breeze sweeping over Godavari river.And the sand dunes losing heat to facilitate the visitors to sit cozily.They both never cease to take me into their lap.As usual, river banks were filled with the visitors, some men and women were taking holy dips.They did not seem to have bothered about their transparent wet clothes by coming out of water to change their clothes.Makeshift outlets were there, but very few cared to use them.
I took a rather long walk on the crunchy sand of the river bank.There, hardly any people were seen, a Sadhu like person was sitting about facing westward.The long white beard gives him a strange look.And there was a Trishul or trident beside him fixed in the sand.He was gazing something over the flow of Godavari river.I intrigued to have a talk with him to know what there is in store for me, like how they manage their travels, food and any supernatural powers achieved so on.
I just sat nearby silently. He was not moved an inch, staring straight the way in such a languid demeanor.I kept waiting like a school kid if he would turn towards me.No, it seems not likely to happen.At last, I have decided to thaw the iceberg.What to start and how to call him.Much embarrassed at the moment. I have donned many hats, but it's entirely different.
"Hello sir...Namaste" I greeted him formally. He slowly turned his face towards me.His eyes were twinkling in the starry light.He smiled and inquired with a nod, still no talking.
"May I know where you are coming from? I mean you look like a Saintly person," I asked him.Felt like committed a faux pas..!
"I came here from Haridwar, before that many other places were also visited," he said stoically.
"Where do you belong Swamiji" I gathered strength.
"Sadhus do not have native places.Entire creation belonged to theirs," He answered.
"How did you come and where have you got needed money for your expenses?
"Usually ocher robed persons like me were not asked for tickets in trains.They knew that we're sanyasis or renounced ones"
"About your food,"
"Some kind people offered money or food. Of course, sometimes I remain empty bellied without any food"
"Are you not afraid of being alone? Travelling around places like this."
"What is there to afraid? Everywhere you find Panchabhutas or five elements and nothing else,mostly what happens is death which is certain to everybody."
"Is it not scaring you dying in this manner?At some unknown place like an orphan"
"It's most common phenomenon right from the ages in our country.A Sanyasi has to live a life like that."
"Out there, so many Sanyasis were leading most comfortable lives and some are ruling too"
"Politics need certain faces and maybe it could be one of them.But real spirituality starts when one renounces wholeheartedly.The world is a play.It should be played until one gets opened inside," He said.
I don't want to argue with him.In fact, my intention was to know about his way of life like how he got his expenses to cope up with journeys, food and so on.He had his own convictions to lead his life.I smiled at him with reverence.
"Please, take it.You have given me your valuable time," I offered a ten-rupees note to him.He looked hesitantly and accepted it later with a smile.I got up and started to move from the banks of the river.Soon I reached by the side of enquiry counter at the temple,there was an announcement going on about the missing girl as she had been found out.I thought of that ocher robed person.The riverside man whom I met a few minutes back.In other sense, he was also missing one for his family, if there was anything like it. (the End)