It was a short trip of two days, two years ago, to attend a colleague’s marriage at Aligarh. We had gone to Aligarh via Jatipura, Goverdhan, and Mathura. We came back to Jaipur via Agra, Aligarh, Bharatpur, and Dausa. It was a 10-seater luxury bus. My colleagues were well prepared for the trip, stocked with whatever is required to make a trip a happy one. It is memory; it is nostalgia that makes a trip memorable.
The moment we entered UP, I went back in time. I felt, as if, soon I will be at Kanpur. We reached Jatipura Guest House (where we stayed for the night) around dinner time. It was an excellent Guest House, managed under the supervision of Mrs Nirmala Birla. We were little tired but very hungry. We were also little apprehensive about the dinner at the guest house. All our apprehensions evaporated the moment we were served hot, clean, simple, most sumptuous dinner consisting of Roti (two types), Rice, Kadhi, Dal, Aloo ki Sabzi, Salad, and Achar. We ate as if we have not eaten for months. After the dinner, late in the night, we did Goverdhan parikrama in a hired vehicle, which made more sound than acceleration.
We enjoyed every bit of this 22 km Goverdhan parikrama; stopping in-between at various places where Sri Krishna supposedly left his footprints. We got a feeling Dwapar yug in Kali yug. In between we chewed ‘paan’. The ‘paan’ tasted if we are in a heaven. It reminded me of Nanku and Raghu’s paan at Kanpur. Then I used to start my day with Raghu’s paan – ‘saunfia’ with elaichi, supari and Khushbu and ended with Nanku’s.
Seeing the framed photograph of G P Babu at the Jatipura guest house, I became somewhat emotional. I remembered the day I met him for the first time. He thought I am too young to manage what I am supposed to manage. Gradually I became one of his closest. G P Babu was a noble soul. While leaving the guest house, standing in front of his portrait, I felt, it was a good decision that I took 20 years ago to join Birla Institute of Scientific Research at Jaipur. Who could have given me so much love and affection as this family has.
While taking parikrama of Goverdhan Parvat, I was thinking about the trip to Mathura I took some thirty years ago with my parents and my wife. That day it was pouring heavily. We were in a hired car that literally was from the Dwapar Yug, if not from an earlier one. Here is a brief account of my first trip to Mathura.
We were visiting Mathura for the first time. After we entered the city, I asked a passer-by, if he knew where Mr Krishna Yadav lived. He said the name seemed familiar but was not sure where Krishna Yadav lived. I asked another passer-by. This man seemed a serious and helpful type. He asked me, “What does he do?” I said, he did many things; he was a part-time teacher, and had many well-known disciples. This information was not enough for the man to guide me further in the matter. The next man I met was a smart one. When I repeated my question to him, he thought for a few moments and then said, “Oh, yes, I know where Krishna Yadav lived.” At last, I felt, there was someone who knew where Mr Yadav lived. I felt relieved.
Pointing towards an old building at a little distance, he said, “He lived in that building, but I am not sure if you would find him there. You can try.” The man seemed funny. After a while he said, “There are better places to find him. Would you like to go there?” I said, of course, why not? He again paused for some moments and then pointing at himself said, “Krishna Yadav lives here.” I couldn’t make a head or a tail of what he said. He said, “To reach him, you will have to go through me.” He must be a tout of some sort, I thought. Seeing me somewhat bewildered he said, “It seems you are not so sure of the idea of reaching Mr Yadav through me. Yes, it is little cumbersome. Why don’t you take the direct and shorter route?” Now, I was more convinced that he was a typical tout. The man seemed pretty smart.
I was curious, what the man meant by ‘direct and shorter route’ to reach Mr Yadav. I was willing to get cheated and fall into his trap. I wanted desperately to unravel the mystery. The man then pointed his attention towards me, and said, “Krishna Yadav lives in you too. You don’t need to ask anybody to meet him. You don’t need a passport or a visa.” I asked him, if it was that simple. He said it was.
I looked within me. I found many things, but there was no Krishna Yadav. I, nevertheless, thanked this man for his efforts. After some more search here and there, I found Krishna Yadav’s symbolic ‘residence’, and returned home, a satisfied tourist.
This happened some 30 years ago. I forgot about the whole incident. Who would remember what an obscure man said some 30 years ago? But one fine morning, all of a sudden, I woke up thinking about the man, and what he said. I asked myself, why I could not find Sri Krishna inside me that day. It was most definitely an odd thought. But an odd thought does not always mean it should not be pursued. Somehow, I liked the idea behind that man’s thought.
Thirty years ago, I was searching for Krishna Yadav in the streets of Mathura. After 30 years, I am hoping to find him within me. It feels good that now I don’t have to ask an outsider where he lives. I know where he lives. If I ever meet Sri Krishna, and if he introduces himself as Krishna Yadav, I would not ask him to prove his identity. If he says he is absolute; he has 108 names; he can’t be captured in words; he can’t be confined to a fixed place, I wouldn’t argue. I would simply embrace him.
Let me now back to the present. Next morning, after a heavy brunch, we started our next sojourn for Aligarh. It was Akshay Tritiya day, and our route to Aligarh was through Vrindavan. In Braj bhumi on a Akshay Tritiya day, any intelligent person should be prepared to wait for unending hours in a traffic jam. We waited at Vrindavan, then at Raya, and finally we reached our destination around 3 in the afternoon. It was lunch time. While eating, we completely forgot that we had heavy brunch. It is rightly said, our neurons are hungrier than our stomach.
This was my second visit to Aligarh. The first time I visited Aligarh (that time I was in Delhi struggling to obtain another degree) it was my close friends marriage. From Aligarh we went to Firozabad accompanying the Barat. I was flooded with so many memories of yesteryears. I can’t remember how many films I have seen with this and another friend of mine in six anna seats at Kanpur. How much time we spent at Parks (instead of school) in search of ‘meaning of life’. Almost infinite time we had for everything, except studies.
After attending the marriage ceremony we started for Jaipur late in the night. We reached home around 5:30 in the morning.
It was one of our most wonderful trips, filled nostalgia. Often, I wonder what would be life if there is no nostalgia. Can only the ‘present’ keep us ‘alive’?