At Ellora, I found myself in the company of the serene gods, whose time-resistant deep calm could still vitally affect a present-day visitor to this holy site. It is a small upland country consecrated and claimed by the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain gods who had decided to dwell and rest, during their voluntary earthly sojourn, among this beautiful complex of sturdy caves. The experience can be terrific for the body and mind. It is like entering a floating ethereal region distinctly different from our tangible world. Or, to alter the analogy, a vast continent of spirit frozen in time and space but open as an entry point for a persistent seeker of truth. A happy age caught at a blessed moment, inscribed delicately and preserved permanently as a record, in the cluster of these humble ample-bodied temple caves. Welcoming all those who are explorers of the spirit world.
But, a bit of the background.
We are visiting the famous Ellora, my friend, JS, and me. The sun kissed UNESCO world heritage site offers soul-curry. The weatherbeaten tall temples beckon the believer dormant in my I-pod-listening, internet-addicted, pizza-chomping, beer-guzzling, cigar-smoking, flabby unexercised physical body (my generous tummy is around 46 inches, still growing fast, protruding obscenely over my tight belt like an overstuffed sack). I am, let me confess, the true inheritor of the 21-century pure hedonism unleashed by a mass society on its citizens who can get everything on a made-to-order basis. I confess openly: I have got only the physical side; I am horribly one-dimensional. I love all the pleasures of the flesh and can go to any extent to satisfy the deep cravings for new physical sensations. Ellora promised to be new excitement from the dreary routinised life, a kind of escape from the killing mundane around me.
Last July, it was Bangkok and its painted women. Jaded. That is how I had felt every morning, badly hung-over and miserable, in my lonely hotel room, smelling cheap perfume lingering on in the unclean sheets, dinner remains all stacked up in trays with flower patterns on them; trapped and cheerless in the mornings and trying to find novelties again in the evenings, along with my middle-aged Indian business partners, hopelessly trying to search for new sensations in the robotic bosom and automaton thin legs of these abused women. Meanwhile, the child in me looked on all these indulgences with contempt. His censure was severe, to be drowned again in the evenings with more vicious partying. The descent has begun for my forty-five-old battered body. I wanted to make an escape from this crushing hedonism and save myself from further assault. This time, I wanted to do something for my soul.
I wanted to test the spiritual world, that soaring higher region experienced by the evolved and the mystics. I know I am not the ‘Chosen One’ but who knows I may become one: to-day’s sinners to-morrow’s saint kind of development. Ellora is to Indians what the Aztec and the Mayan temples are to the Mexicans and to Central Americans.
Ellora sounded the right destination, a choice made by the understanding gods for my bohemian self through my friend JS. So, on this golden lazy afternoon, I found myself in the abode of the eternal gods, sitting relaxed, beyond the pain and pleasure principles of the earthly life. I am not religious, at least, in the strict daily- temple-going and-prostrating Indian sense, but, let me tell you, I do all the rites and ceremonies religiously. I believe in higher power. You can call it a hierarchical thinking. A foundational thinking. A logical thinking: there is dad; then there is the boss; then, the Prime Minister and God as the super boss.
I know early gods are all anthropomorphic beings but there is a strong need to believe in some tenet, some force that shapes our world, nay, the cosmos. Coelho thing, you know, for me. I can be both the dissenter and the believer, in the same moment. A typical cosmopolitan, hovering between faith and complete agnosticism, bowing reverentially before the Ganesha, before opening my shop in the mornings and playing the video games on my computer in the evenings. I believe, when required by stressful personal conditions; I resort to agnosticism, when in the company of the rationalists or doubting self-assured intellectuals who seem to know all the correct answers to the profound questions regarding the universe and its unsolved mysteries. A man of contradictions and not apologetic about my dualism.
But here I was confronting the gods from an age that can no longer be retrieved, in a post-modern, hostile divided world of nuclear missiles and ethnic cleansing and hard-core evangelism on TV of all varieties. In fact, every mood, every emotion, every human feeling — hatred, love, belief, sacrifice, religion, pacifism — gets slickly packaged and becomes a lucrative business. Earlier there were the gods, now, the hip god men travelling in big cars. It is a blooming business of love, hatred and faith everywhere. So, as I was telling you, I felt a bit odd in this place. I was not sure what to do with it or how to make sense of the splendid Ellora for my epicurean mind that believed that gods had deserted the darkening planet long ago. Nietzsche had confirmed this act of divine desertion and certified a possible demise of the Olympians. The latter judgment I do not agree with. The gods are still hovering somewhere near us, watching us, as they show aliens watching our moves in an exciting Lucas or Spielberg film. But let us talk of Ellora.
The great Ellora constitutes of a series of thirty-four multi-storied caves where, by a happy coincidence of luck and state patronage, the philosophies of the Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism meet and interact in a strange and peaceful confluence of differing faiths and opposite world-views; this kind of co-existence is now very rare in to-day’s regimented, sectarian and divided India. The hand-made fine carvings, paintings and statues, all huddled together in a small geographical kingdom of two kilometers, are still invested with belief by the visitors of different religions and nationalities. The temples are the artistic evidence, executed in exquisite stone work, of the yearning souls searching for higher reality beyond the pale of the sheer physical plane of human existence. The entire cluster of temples have been gradually chiseled and scooped out of the mass of steep stubborn rocks of basalt. They were excavated lovingly between the 5th and 10th centuries by generations of sculptors and carvers, possessed by a higher guiding spirit, compelling them to labour hard in most harsh conditions.
The reverential collective of the industrious temple artists wished to remain anonymous, in striking contrast to the crop of the current Indian artists desperate for celebrity status, dollars, foreign fellowships and global awards. And, a final migration to another country, any outside India, an advanced cultural location from which to ridicule India as dark story for their white masters and from where, they can talk easily of diaspora and displacement, a reversible situation for them, anyway.
These humble artists, on the other hand, were doing a daily service to the band of living and breathing gods who spoke directly to them and directed them to accomplish their gigantic collective task of love, devotion and labour. The obscure but dedicated carvers had transformed their surrounding wooded hills into luminous spiritual enclaves for an impoverished feudal age. The poor unpaid masons and master builders voluntarily embraced a harsh life, equipped only with strong belief and guided in dark moments by an inner light.
Their tools were primitive, working conditions poor but their global vision was superbly three dimensional, almost matchless in its breadth, width and depth. They started their monumental work of centuries from the top of the hills to the base, hammering and chipping away painfully the dusty crusty layers of stone; calloused human hands creating, in the slow process, an interlinked master narrative of stunning visuals, a super body of magnificent figures, animals and motifs, wonderfully alive, out of the sheer vertical walls of solid rock, over the unhurried centuries, now buried forever, in the womb of time.
They carved daily in a fit of feverish zeal, inch by inch, making the unyielding rock yield to their single holy vision and produced excellent and elevating sculptures and buildings, depicting three great religions symbolically on the facades and walls of the cave in close proximity and complete religious harmony –a remarkable synthesis possible only in the holy city of Jerusalem of the yore. It is an inspiring example of an early tolerant India at its best. Their act of cooperative labour created transcendental ideals of divine beauty, bliss and perfection, out of the mass of the dry unfeeling hard stones. The temples celebrate the cessation of human desire and the awakening of the divine. It is a mammoth exercise in self-realisation, betterment and wellness of the mind and body.
The huge linear site is a human marvel! It is a grand gritty combination of patience, belief and utter devotion that could create great monuments of art and rock cut architecture, erected in the midst of deep wilderness, in a time when gods were said to intervene directly in human affairs, like a community of caring elders, and the twinkling stars illuminated the paths of lonely mendicants towards salvation. There were no lingering doubts or anxieties, assailing the human mind. Terrified humans petitioned to these lofty airy beings living on the deserted icy frozen mountain caves where no mortal could ever venture or under the frightening infinity of a churning, hissing ocean barred from the prying earthly eyes. The earnest heartfelt anguished cries and loving pleas of the tiny earthlings were invariably heard by the sympathetic and all powerful mighty residents of an ethereal space that could never be measured by a latter calculating greedy commercial mind.
The imposing three-storied structures house some rare sacred glimpses into the mystic and the unknown for those who can penetrate that higher level of reality, that higher consciousness few realise in a lifetime of Earthly struggles, ego-clashes and vanities. These sacred profound truths are now no longer understood by more evolved homo sapiens, living longer and with a different set of the daily priorities, largely having lost the capacity to hear the divine songs in the chirping of birds, in the falling rain on a freshly-ploughed field, or in the whisperings of the breeze cooling the face of a hot Earth in the summer, or in the moving trees near the meandering pure crystalline river, or, in the sun fired orange by the dawn, rising from the horizon, like a full-bodied Venus. That is why the intelligent gods of the deep rainforests, pure romantic lands and mist-covered monasteries perched on inaccessible hills, finding themselves redundant like old parents, grandparents and ailing friends, safely retreated to their superior abodes in lofty realms of the stratosphere. They are no longer emotionally valid for a fun-seeking generation that finds its spiritual index in sensex, violent video games and gleaming cars.
The towering monasteries can be still breathtaking for a secular viewer. Today, they are art. For our simple seeking ancestors of the past, they were earthly gateways opening onto shimmering revolving metaphysical regions that could be accessed and finally grasped by meditating with purity in their hearts. Modern eyes can see only the stone statues in what were once the revelation of the holy. For humans in those days, the statues and icons were externalisations of a deep sacred ennobling pattern revealed to a minority of the pious seekers of hidden meanings of earthly life.
It was late Monday afternoon. The foreign tourist traffic was otherwise light. It largely consisted of a circulating mélange of muscular tall florid-faced, old Americans in blue jeans and wide-brim hats. In sharp contrast to the Yankees were some porcelain-faced delicate little young Japanese couples looking dainty and vulnerable on the sun-kissed courtyard of the sprawling complex of old hardy caves looming over us; the wealthy east-west touristy mix on an expensive discovery trail to a well-known oriental spot of curiosity: the typical occidental tourists in constant search for that elusive nirvana from the burning madness of a competitive capitalism, in some nook or dreary corner of the east.
The foreigners were all armed with Nikons and Camcorders, recording the modern encounter with the splendours of the past on the celluloid. The pure tranquility of the spread-out monasteries suddenly hit a powerful blow to my solar plexus — after a fast and furious escape from the seething Mumbai of humid hot June, it was a welcome relief to sit down on a crude stone ledge in uninterrupted silence, not to be disturbed by any harsh city sounds for hours; your mind drained off all the toxic residues of a hyperactive life of buying and consuming. The deep silence of the hallowed place came as a soothing balm to my fevered mind torn apart reluctantly from a bustling urban context.
JS or Jaydeep Sarangi was the author of this fantastic getaway for me, an offbeat place offering a chance of new kind of experience. He is a young bilingual poet, critic and literary editor from West Bengal. Medinipur, to be precise, and is visiting me in Mumbai for the first time. It was his idea to visit the world-famous heritage caves, going back, he said, like an operator of religious tourism to a mesmerized me, to thousands years of deep solitude and isolated meditation done by the ascetics in these roughly-hewn humble cells. A must-see, he said simply, leaving nothing to argue.
As a good host, I initially tagged along, an unwilling partner, in this quest of a different type. But the scene around me appeared pleasing. The air was thick with the dust from the ceased ages. One step and you were hurtled headlong into a different milieu. I stood on the borderland of the immediate transient moment and a remote episode cast in stone. The sensation was a bit electrifying, I must say. The ruins looked tempting, affording a peep into the cultural past read in the tedious history textbooks so far. But I was a little hesitant also in venturing into these dark structures. The reason is Freudian — the unconscious.
Caves have never appealed to me. The subterranean forbidding structures, dark and damp, deep yawning orifices give me the creeps. I feel enclosed and trapped…in my mind, at least. In one of the early school picnics to a primitive vandalised site, I got trapped in one of the damp hollow caves that echoed every sound and magnified them hundred folds.
They were a chain of dark and damp caves, intersecting each other and delving as concentric circles deep in the womb of the tall wooded hill. Water dripped in some of the darker caves at the back, where an unescorted seven-year-old me had wandered, attracted by the raw mystery of those open wide and airy rooms with wide-stone ledges and inner staircases built into the walls. By accident, I lost my way, and wept in that scary gloomy empty vastness visited only by the howling winds. The silence was unnerving, till I was finally rescued by somebody desperate and panicked. I cannot recall now who it was. The vivid experience stayed on, instilling a fear of dark places. Even today, I cannot stand a lift with the solid steel doors; I prefer a lift with a collapsible channel. Claustrophobia makes me stay on the little projecting balcony of my eleventh-floor apartment in Colaba, Mumbai, for majority of the evenings, if I am early.
Somehow, the magic of this place starts playing on my citified mind. It has got rustic charm and refreshing unpolluted air. I look around and see the rock-cut caves in the background, suspended in time forever, where post-modern visitors try to scrape some spiritual truths from these old centers of meditation and art. Man does not live by bread alone. Somebody remarked once. I fully agree. There is a whole rich world existing beyond the standard sensual one. Some find it easily; some find it late in life. The only thing is that we have to make some efforts to find out this beckoning Lhasa on our own. If we do not, we miss out on a rare human opportunity of redemption and inner balance.
The sound intrudes on my rudimentary rumblings.
“There is a fifteen-foot –high Nataraja here. A marvelous statue! We must see that also.Nataraja is very special for me. He is the dancing god of the Hindus, an epitome of finer values, refined sensibilities. We must now go to the cave number sixteen. It is the largest monolithic structure in the world. It is called Kailasa temple. The pillars, the figures, the alcoves, the intricately-carved interiors are all magnificent art from a different age. Even the skeptics feel reverential inside the cave, the pull of the chanted mantras is so strong on our minds,” says JS.
I merely nod. Climbing the rough stone steps is extremely difficult for an obese and sedate businessman like me. I pant and heave and perspire; younger JS bolts up, reminding me of a playful deer cub on the loose in a verdant valley, leaping over the tree trunks and the singing springs, a mesmerizing combination of slow motion and grace, gamboling in an old forest illuminated by the rays of a hot summer sun.
I feel I am getting old and depleting fast. My swollen belly heaves up and down over my broad belt, tightly encasing my generous middle in large XXX blue jeans from California. While climbing those rude broad steps, I could still feel the expensive five-star brunch of chicken tikka and wine, now a liquid mélange, swirling and dashing repeatedly against my projecting ugly belly; the dead chopped chicken parts making me strangely queasy, in this upward climb for a feel of this otherworldly hermitage once walked by monks and ascetics — a sacred cove still largely insulated from the humdrum of a mad world of numbers and bank accounts, ledgers and rising corporate profits and falling losses or, vice versa, discussed over caviar in pricey hotels, in business dinners.
“You lost?” JS asks in his slightly musical tone. A typical tone that sounds sweet due to Bengali’s innate cadence. They roll the words in mouth and then expel the rolled-and-rounded words in a rapid fire sequence of quick sounds, achieving the dulcet auditory effect on human ear exposed to harsh traffic horns and harsher pop music at home. Kind of sensory poetry. The Sarangis are originally from Orissa. They left it four centuries ago for sonar Bengal and settled down in that land of songs and dance, music and rivers…now, they feel naturalised and a born-again true-blooded cerebral Bengali rather than an Oriya. (Excuse me, if I am playing on some cultural stereotypes. My experience with the bhadralok, the typical Bengali gentleman, is limited. I am writing what I think is the general feature of their community in this rush of images being recorded and recalled by my brain at this hour, this moment).
“You should have been a painter rather than a dealer of paints,” my friend JS says. Joking? I get no clue from his oval wheatish face. His is a kind face. The eyes are brown…and restless and searching. The face is topped with a mop of slightly wavy dark hair. He is tall, dusky and well-maintained. Hardly thirty-six and has authored sixteen books on art, criticism, poetry, literature…empty words for me.
We met on the Internet, became close and decided to meet in person. He came on a short visit to Mumbai, “to watch the rolling lazy Arabian Sea, the sand and sun, Tamasha theatre, and to eat hot local cuisines in the pouring rains at the Juhu sea shore.” Then, we decided to visit the caves and talk to the great Lord Shiva there in Ellora, some thirty kilometres or so away from Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
“The high statue shows the various dancing poses of a great dancing God whose gentle demeanor and stoic philosophy connects with millions across India and abroad,” said JS, in the first flush of dinner, in an expensive restaurant in Mumbai. “He is our collective aesthetic principle. He is an artist who creates works of art that are truthful and beautiful. He celebrates life in death and agonises over destruction, the great Nataraja. His creation is benign and the general welfare is the goal of his art. Rooted in cosmic reality, attached to worldly passions, yet detached from carnal sensuality, the Shiva is pure energy of a higher level; an enduring living symbol of the very best of an old nation,” elaborated JS to me, in the authoritative voice of an Indian philosophy professor at Oxford.
I was into my fifth peg of rum. A roasted duck stared from a gleaming plate of an expensive China Restaurant in Colaba. Shiva made no remote connection with the cultural DNA of my psyche. Comte, yes! Croce, yes. My own culture was beyond me. All mumbo-jumbo to me and my English-educated boarding school sensibility. We must move beyond all this mythology. Somehow, at the end of a sumptuous dinner, I was committed to the entire project of finding the great Shiva for myself. And bringing him home for a cozy dinner.
The afternoon sun was pouring the golden molten lava on my bare skin. The yellow T-shirt stuck to my broad hairy back. To escape the heat, I entered the sanctum sanctorum of the cave sixteen…and, found the tall slim Shiva directly staring at me, his matted hair flying in the air, half-closed heavy-lidded fish eyes that immediately penetrated all my protective gear from a different culture and age, casting a sudden deep spell on my sweating corpulent body. His eyes were hypnotic. I felt rooted to the bare ground of the cave that was trod upon by millions of feet in the preceding centuries. I could see his eyes X-raying my body and scanning my dusty layered soul, layered with accumulated grossness of my indulging years of excesses. It was like the first ray of the sun lighting up the twisted roots of a gnarled tree.
Suddenly, every other sound stopped…as if I had entered a soundless chamber. Absolute silence pervaded the hallowed space, cutting me off temporarily from the external world of phenomena. I was on a different plane. The spirit world. For the first time, I felt like floating in the air, a lightness of being hardly experienced by me during my adult life. The desires, the cravings, the baser instincts all ceased immediately. A powerful beam of white light came from some crevice and flooded my interiors in a surging wave.
I stood alone before the Lord. Then, the Nataraja, the first artist in the world, began his elevating performance witnessed by few blessed souls. The figure moved down from its perch of the centuries and began moving before my unblinking, wide-open eyes. The dance, documented by the rishis and few other evolved souls from a pristine age, started slowly. His legs were partly lifted, hands bent in a posture of sublime dance. His tall ascetic figure, alive, vexed his muscles of the feet, the anklets producing the honeyed harmonies, the Earth touched by the divine feet, trembled with the fluid cosmic energy. The dance began and I was entrapped in the frenzied movement. He whirled to the drum beat, his anklets tinkling. Then suddenly, the blue-throated, crescent-wearing, Ganges-carrying God stopped and smiled benignly at me…like an affectionate father. His eyes again fixed steadily on my flushed face. The figure became still and the statue of the Shiva grew perfectly immobile again. His face was still very luminous. The darkness within me felt illuminated by that glow. I was just speechless with wonder and elation.
My soul shed its gross outer layers and healed in that enclosed space in the shadow of the Nataraja. It was the great Shiva conceived as an artist, as dancer, originator of fine arts, the very essence of the finest principles of humankind, conceptualised some five thousand years ago by a thinking community of seers and visionaries. The great dancing god, strangely, had selected me for this holy communion: a mere mortal, a hedonist by any account; a flawed person finding life and meaning in a daily glass of red rum and a plate of meat, in a crowded bar in a fast and furious Indian metro, where everything was available, provided you had the right connections and lot of money. His eyes were still rested on me. I stood transfixed and alone on that memorable hot afternoon, facing the figure from a hoary past, feeling his beautiful mesmerizing eyes fixed upon me; the lips sending a telepathic message, in that lonely deserted cave. I was intoxicated with joy.
Once I was in Brazil and found myself electrified in the same way, while visiting the giant statue of the Christ the Redeemer, atop the Corcovado Mountain, in the violent city of Rio de Janeiro. The world-famous statue towered over the assembled awe-struck tourists. It was awesome. Nothing could beat that emotion.
I felt overwhelmingly small and puny, insignificant, a mere floating human atom in a vast universe, in the shadow of the giant statue of the white-robed Christ with outstretched hands, radiating unique peace. I saw people crying silently in the presence of the messiah.
I had experienced identical emotions while visiting the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, a few years ago in Italy. The chattering groups of tourists fell silent in the hallowed precincts of the church. Inner peace flooded my clogged arteries. A strange kind of peace never experienced earlier, even if I had won a million-dollar deal or an international Rotary award. All my demons got driven out in an instant.
Even today, the beautiful and tender Madonna talks to me in a quiet corner of a Goan church on a rain-lashed morning, the tall palms swaying in the gray background, although I am a confirmed Hindu. The tranquility radiating from these icons affects me directly. Why? I have no plausible answers. Then there are the great art works of Raphael or da Vinci. The music of Beethoven. A strange serenity would overcome me. Here also, I felt the same. Suddenly composed and at peace. I was in the presence of a higher truth!
Have you ever visited the Jerusalem?
The cobbled streets, the Golgotha, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, the al-Aqsa mosque, form a strange rugged territory where, otherwise distrusting, conflicting Muslims, Christians and Jews, unite to find soul-foods in plenty, in scattered locations, in less hostile settings. The chemistry of Jerusalem is different from other cities. It can bring warring parties of a divided city into the folds of a common heritage of noblest teachings in the world and make them aware of the futility of aggressive hatred. The old city can bring tears to your eyes as every nook in it seeps with historical memories of different kinds.
History, myth, legend and faith come together in a heady mix for the travellers. The place, despite political rhetoric and violence, is founded on faith and consecrated with a common desire for peace and tranquility. The average people — the Arabs, the Christians and the Jews — feel overwhelmed by the strange magic of the city that has nourished three important religions of the world. And, most important, they find inner peace, poise and balance. They get centred internally by that pious experience. They feel transformative power of the teachings of the great men who had walked these dark alleys thousand years ago. Their quest for betterment ends and starts from there.
Ellora precisely did this to me. I had passed out in the cave, in the shadow of the Nataraja and woken up reborn…
“What happened?” asked JS.
We were sitting in the small hotel, outside the premises. I narrated my incredible experience.
“The Shiva came alive before my eyes. It was marvelous!”
He paused. “I came and saw you reclining on the floor, in sleep, drenched in sweat. I thought you suffered a massive cardiac attack.”
“I sprinkled water on you. After ten long minutes, you woke up.”
I said nothing. I could still hear the drums and the anklets in my ears.
“This happens. Intensification of buried devotion. Sacred places can bring out this emotion. Euphoria. Reverence. When you see the first folio of Shakespeare or visit Stratford-upon-Avon, or, Yasyana Polyana, you get the same identical feeling in your brain.”
The drums receded in my ringing ears. “Yes. The Real Madrid. The Manchester United. The City Lakers. The ten number shirt in soccer. Things can be multiplied. Neuro-chemicals in the brain, etc…”
We sipped tea.
“Anatole France described this mood in his famous Juggler story.”
“Yes. And, Wilde, in his Selfish Giant. Dickens, in Christmas Carols.”
We said nothing. I was still in trance. Finally, we got up. On the way back, I saw a small Shiva statue being sold by the vendor, an old lady, near the main highway. I stopped and bought it, paying double the amount. It was a little Nataraja.
“You converted?” JS asked teasingly.
“Yes. You converted me. You told me about the Nataraja. He is beyond us.”
We started walking towards the hired taxi. “The gods are representations of the ethical. They teach us about the sacred, the beautiful, the elevating in life.”
JS nodded a yes. We stopped momentarily.
“The kinship is formed.”
“You, me and the Nataraja.”
“You told me about the Nataraja. The Nataraja taught me about the morality of living, the aesthetic side, the controlling of excess desires, the possibility of finding heaven on earth.”
And, we started moving again. The Shiva in my cotton shoulder bag. Yes, I was taking my kin, the great Shiva, the original artiste, to home for a cozy dinner and a cozy after dinner talk in my study or the little balcony. I was sure he would not leave me afterwards. After all, he was my kin. I know I can talk to him in private and pour out all my hurts, pain and anxieties. I know he will listen to me with understanding, without ridiculing or humiliating. He will listen like a good friend and tell me what to do…
Ellora has done the unbelievable to a battered body and a fevered mind thriving on competition and greed. It has made me reclaim my internal centre, balance and a soul. And, made me complete. My relationship with Him was unlike the other ones. It was not conditional and mercenary. I had found my liberation in an old stone statue in an old cave…simply because I had started to believe in things beyond commercial. Kin are those whom you can always relate and talk to… I intend to do just that with the Shiva in my home.
Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 21 published books: Seven collections of poetry; three of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award—2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015.