Parvathy River at Kasol
Chalal, India, Kasol, Manikaran, Parvathy Valley, Vashisht

Back in Vashisht, Bro!

Pink rose at the wayside
Appreciate the small things

After three weeks in Parvathy Valley I have come to like this place a lot. Surrounded by lush nature and lovely people I feel at home. My itinerary so far:

Kasol to Manikaran…

Then Pulga, Kutla, Tosh, also Kalga and Tulga visit while roaming around aimlessly

Kheerganga and Tunda Bhuj

After that return to Pulga, Barshani and walk 20km back to Manikaran to have lunch at Gurudwara Temple. Then to Kasol! Stay in Kasol across the river at Cosmos21 campsite instead of Maya Café (like last time) or Nirvana Bamboo Huts (recommended by Mandeep Bhay and a wonderful place to hang out with food and bonfire).

Cosmos21, Kasol, great place to stay, very friendly young owners
Cosmos21, Kasol, great place to stay, very friendly young owners

Now i am back. Back in Vashisht. It’s Aman’s B-Day. First thing i do though is to get a veg thali and Ginger Lemon Honey at Village Bakery down the main road. Oh, how i missed that delicious thali!!

Delicious vegetarian thali at Village Bakery, Vashisht, India
Delicious vegetarian thali at Village Bakery, Vashisht, India

It feels just like when I had left this place 3 weeks ago. The restaurant opposite of here still plays BUMBUM music and the people are still smiling in a friendly way when they see me strolling. Still traffic jam down on main road. I think it’s a great idea to revisit Manali and Vashisht once in a while. It’s a good place. Good people. What is more, I am kinda known here already. Makes things easier.


Yesterday i went up & down Rashol. Left Chalal village at around 4pm, reached Rashol party area at 5:40pm and the village itself 20 minutes later.

People were waiting, resting, playing music, smoking. Lighting up was also the main activity in the upcoming hours. Later I heard that they started at around 11pm with the music and charged 2,000 rupies.

Party Camp Area at Rashol
The camp at the base of Rashol village, 2 hours uphill from Chalal (… for some people i met, with all that luggage… it took them 4-5 hours)

Rashol Village
I don’t stay for long. I take a walk around Rashol village.

And i am oh so glad that i went down before dark (it took me ~40minutes to reach Chalal again – and i met Pankay on the way who invited me for a maaza can, i.e. mango juice and went to Cosmos21. Enjoyed good music from Kerala, Ram and Snoop. I gave him that name, actually 🙂 L8r they sent me this photo letting me know he had broken his arm. Well, coulda been worse riding a motorcycle in India, right?!


Ram and Snoop
The Good Guys 🙂
India, Kheerganga, Parvathy Valley, Vashisht

Lucky man in India

This is what I appreciate:

  1. Having the back row of the local bus from Dehradun to Dharamsala to sleep
  2. Not having gone up to Triund when the weather turned
  3. Having the chance to sleep at Pedro’s Café for five nights
  4. Getting a mandala tattoo for free from Sooraj
  5. Not being up in the mountains above Vashisht when the landslide strikes
  6. Finding another family in Vashisht at Arbel GH. And I can set up their profiles online
  7. Having a place to rest at Mandeep’s place in Pulga and visit Kheerganga twice
  8. Taking the effort to go to bed early and get up at 4am to have a bath at the empty hot spring beautifully lit by two lamps
Grahan, India, Kasol, Parvathy Valley, Sharing

Grahan village

The other day was Cunni Mahand’s 40th birthday, and it reminds me of the fact that mine is coming up, too. He joined us at Nirvana Bamboo Huts for a couple of hours. I roamed around the village Chalal. The dog Bhagira joined me at times 🙂 Lovely campfire in the evening. Food all invited, and spliff ditto. I slept like a baby. Had some Parvati fish tonight, grilled and seasoned by Raju, the funny Nepalese cook at Nirvana Bamboo Huts – even tho i tend to live a vegan life normally. But hey, in India i ain’t normal.

Another day i walk to Grahan village, south of Kasol. I am sitting at Evergreen Café having Israeli breakfast. Still feel a bit weak but that might have to do with morning time and lack of proper food, i.e. fruits, veggies, nuts, stuff that makes me strong. Here, it’s mostly white rice, chapatti, roti, porridge, potato, egg. I like that, don’t get me wrong please. It’s just stuff that is filling at the moment but two hours later i am hungry again. The heat helps, though, because i don’t eat as much as i would in lower temperatures.

Now a flight is also booked for me. Joy was so kind to take over this task. 260 bucks to Amsterdam. Plane will take off after midnight from Delhi. It will be 14 hours with a stop in Moscow. How lucky i have been to find a flight to Delhi in March for 275, 7 hours, direct from Vienna.

Almost daily i meet people from Gujarat and Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi. They all come up to Himachal Pradesh in order to go for a hike and enjoy the cool fresh air that nature provides in abundance! They come in flocks to escape the unbearable heat in the desert southwest of here. Forty to fifty °C is common in these areas. Concrete starts to melt. People ought to drink 10-15 liters per day. So, whoever can afford to escape this hell does.

There is a cool pool not far from Nattai Homestay where i found a big room for only 100 bucks. Two windows, wooden interior, homely and spacious! Very happy to have found this special place in HP – Parvati Valley in general and Grahan village in particular – and to be able to take a dip in a waterfall after 20-30 minutes of leisurely walking through a pine forest interspersed with ferns, weed, and wild orchids. Sometimes a horse, cow, or donkey crosses path with me. Sometimes Indians. Or Israelis. The list of stored phone numbers on my Indian sim card is getting longer and longer each day.

Chalal, India, Kasol, Manikaran, Parvathy Valley

Parvathy Valley, westwards

The signs in India are hilarious sometimes. Today I saw a written warning on a house:


– 5000

And they are right: If you do not touch, you will be fine, if you do touch, you will definitely be fine 😉


Manikaran – Kasol – Chalal. So i left Pulga which is located in the very east of Parvathy valley and walked back west. After a 5-hour walk i reach Chalal. And Kasol without even stopping – just pass. Then wrong way uphill instead of along Parvati riverbank and anger comes up. Belly starts revolting in the afternoon. I say ‘No thx” half a dozen times today as i am invited to boom along.

The walk was quite long, with one hour lunch rest at Gurudwara in Manikaran, to fill my stomach with rice and beans and some gooey yellow stuff (leftover – proud of myself for not munching it down just to finish the plate) and thanks to Sahib Babaji it’s all for free, for everyone.

On my way from Pulga to Manikaran I get checked. Even if I’d had something on me, 5-0’d never have found it. Very superficial search. I found that i am super comfortable with Himachal Police. They are friendly, and almost seem shy or polite in comparison to Austrian police. I could sense their respect before they got out of their car and approached me, asking where i go, and ‘Do you smoke cigarettes?’, and ‘Does your father smoke?’. It all went smooth. Clear head – clear answers – keeps you outta trouble.

Arrival at Maya Café, Chalal. I arrived at the village and after some asking around found the café and its owner Guptaram, cousin/bro of Thirtu. Thirtram mentioned this place in a morning conversation, also said he’d call his bro but he never did. Just now Gupta Chachu (uncle) came with his celly to let me talk to Thirtu in Pulga a bit. Nice. What also feels homely is the fact that Bhagira, a black dog, showed me to my room and then lay down in front of my door. He is gone now. Probably went back with Chachu.

Search for ayurvedic herbs. The smooth digestion i enjoyed end of April is gone. It’s back to stabbing, nagging sensations and diarrhoea. I have been trying to find these ayurvedic pills that the Rishikesh doc had given me. But they are nowhere to be found. In Vashisht at the hot spring a doctor told me that pharmacies don’t sell them, only ayurvedic doctors have access to these special herbal mixes. Hmmm… he is probably right.

beautiful waterfall
India, Kheerganga, Kutla, Parvathy Valley, Pulga


… Denn manche machen plötzlich
Mitten im Wind Halt
Sie stoppen denn sie schweben
Und sie lachen sich halbtot
Haben aufgehört zu halten
Und gestalten ihre Not
Um zur Tugend
Sie bemerken dass das Fallen
Zum Schweben wird
Wenn man aufhört
Sich an Dingen festzukrallen…


Today is Sunday. Dogs are barking. Keep barking like crazy. That’s about the only sound there is. 6 a.m. and they have been going on barking for about 15 minutes. I guess that’s the equivalent of the rooster’s morning call.

Leaving and arriving. I plan to leave Pulga today. The people here have grown close to my heart just like they always do. Thirtram has mentioned his cousin running Maya Café in Chalal. So I will head there and see if i can put my luggage at Gopatram’s place, i.e. Maya Café. क्या मैं अपना सामान यहां छोड़ सकता हूं ?

Oh, yes, Maya Café. … a nice place to hang out with friends of various backgrounds. Now that we are talking MAYA: At Kutla i met a guy who called himself ‘Illusion’. No, not kidding. For real. He even had that name written on the back of his jacket! I think it’s a fabulous way to remind yourself of the illusory nature of name (just as well as form). We usually get so identified with our birth name and the form the body takes that we forget about their real nature.

The trip to Kheerganga with the group of 8 was extraordinary. Quite different from when i went up there on my own. Together there is much more smoking, talking, laughing, singing. Less silence. Less awareness. More pHunn, yipppiieee! It’s all in the game, right. I got a bit dehydrated, I think. High altitude. Smokin chillums. Hot sun, hot spring. Moving around, going or rather: jogging back to Pulga in 2hours30mins resulted in belly stabbing sensations, temples pulsating, weakness, dry lips, diarrhoea. Symptoms of the body to show me: TAKE IT EASY. Choose sleep over another party. It will all be over in a couple of hours. Like usually, i can just sleep it off.

I am curious what the last month in India holds in store for me. Of course, life is what you make it. Sure enough. Maybe after Parvati Valley I will go to Vashisht to meet old pals Aman, Naveen and Lucky, Passang and Nitish. Or I go to Thirtan Valley and explore new territory. It doesn’t seem like i am going to attend a vipassana retreat at the end of my trip this time. Cuz in all my previous trips i had attended one at the beginning and one at the end before going home again. The one at the beginning is to properly adjust to the climate and to arrive, to let my soul rest before i embark on exploration. The one at the end is to rest in what i have experienced and to prepare for the arrival back home in a stable and calm state of mind.

Am I more than a mere tourist? All these friendships, I ask myself at times, how deep can they go? And how easily can they be broken?! When it comes to money-making, I guess i am just another guest. And what to do with guests – treat them kindly, call them bro, so they may feel like home. Safe. Sound. Then they stay, and spend their money here. It doesn’t necessarily mean they like you. If feels like that, and it should, and maybe they do. But money is probably what most of them like about you the most. So in a way, as long as there is a salesman-customer relationship at play the main interest remains the same, i.e. make profit. Only sometimes, outside this commercialized frame of reference can brotherhood be real, genuine, authentic.

India, Parvathy Valley, Pulga

What a weird night

Yesterday evening I was sitting in Moon Star Café. Sergeant tells me he wanna go to that party in the woods with me. Next thing i know, he’s gone. No trace of him. Didn’t even say ‘bye’. I figured he’d come back. After a while i decided to leave. That party, though… he mentioned a ‘fairy forest night’ …. sounds promising. But how to get there? I go to Mandeep’s place to get a flashlight and meet up with the homies I have met at the café. Can’t find them. I go to the neighbouring guesthouse and find a group which also intends to leave. Problem is, they are drinking, eating, smoking, and it seems it’s gonna take a while before they finally leave. If at all.

Back to homebase. Meet Thirthram-bhai again. He has got the tandoor heated up. I lie down and chill. And as soon as i lie down i feel the tiredness. Eyelids gett’n heavier by the minute. Chill. Just chill. Siddharth-bhai calls and tells me to go to Fairy Café, imploring me to come to the forest. Lucy is there. Ok, bro. So i go there and see a similar scenario, only Israelis speaking ivrit, with their chimney papers, imbibing from dirty glass containers (you wouldn’t call them ‘glasses’ either, trust me), and i find it hard to get a word in without sounding rough or like an intruder. There is no ‘Samir’ guy (the name Siddharth suggested would be helpful in finding the group that leaves to the faaaairy forest party) and the people who are there do not seem to leave soon. Hmmm.. I figure, ‘maybe i want it too much?’ I ask nonchalantly about that party, but they seem to have no idea where to go, where the party takes place. It starts to sound like a bit fake, but it makes it all the more intriguing to get to the bottom of it. Not easy, indeed. But i know where the fairy forest is… so i go there and try to listen carefully. Maybe i can hear some faint music in the distance and follow that cue? Nah… nothing. After some time i conclude this expedition. All in all a rather depressing episode of my stay here in Pulga, I must admit. I mean, I meet all kinds of people, I make friends, and i am welcome everywhere, but still i can’t find that damn party in the nearby forest?! All those ‘friends’, ‘brothers’, pfff. … fuck y’all.

Then and there, I stop. What am i doing, actually? Instead of enjoying myself where i am i try to get someplace else cuz i think it’s gonna be better there, more fun? Part of me takes refuge in the thought that it’s a good thing i have not been there. Sour grapes, I know. Those juicy grapes, ahhh, they weren’t any good anyway so why bother or regret not getting to taste them, right?! It’s consoling to think like that. ‘People take mind-altering substances and then marvel at their experience. Changes of perception. Hallucination. And then, coming down and not having learnt anything about how perception works. Just feeling the urge to repeat. Ahhh, let’s go for it and have another trip. What a waste of time.’ Yes, that helps. Watching thoughts like little fluffy clouds. Good night.

India, Kutla, Parvathy Valley, Tosh

Tosh & Kutla, mid June 2019


In the midst of snow capped mountains and a forest of cafés and resorts, having passed a ‘private paid parking’ I find myself in a Tibetan Café in Tosh. It just started raining and yet i can see the sun shining on the hills on the other bank of the Parvathy river. I am glad to have found Mandeep, and through him got to know some bros around here.

The moment I entered Tosh I hear ‘Hakeeeem! Kimo!’ So i turned back to see someone waving at me. I went back with no idea what name to attach to his face. He seemed vaguely familiar. He told me that the first guesthouse on the left ‘Maya Shiv Shakti’ is his property. On my way up i stopped at Café Him and had a good time chatting with some youngsters who taught me that ‘bhand’ means ‘stoned’ – slightly different from ‘bandh’ which means closed. I will move on to Kutla from here. Wondering how Romulo and Ana managed to stay here for more than a week. Tosh is full of trash and cafés.


It started to pour in buckets, and it still does. As i can hear the drops against the roof, my head a little aloof, to be honest, it strikes me how lucky i was to meet Ivan on my way down to Tosh. He had been mentioned in a conversation with Mahindar about an hour earlier. Ivan pointed out that Gappu-bhai was on his way up, with eggs. I understood my Russian fellow traveler saying ‘with axe’ and imagined a stout bearded lad coming straight from the woods having slaughtered a bear or a similarly bulky creature.

I finally stayed in one of the big tents at Gappu-bhai’s place, i.e. campsite. Mahindar prepared some delicious thali for everyone. The mind-chilly chutney, hmmmmm…. we sat together. Gappu-bhai stepped around (danced?) to electronic tunes (ntz ntz ntz) and the air was warm from the tandoor and filled with smoke. When i checked my phone before going to sleep i noticed it is June 12 here but still June 11 in Vienna.

Next Day

And the rain goes on. Yet it doesn’t prevent me from walking down to Tosh and Pulga to meet my friends Mandeep-bhai and Thirthram-bhai again. I find a new route back over another bridge, too. It leads up via the power supply station. The rest of the day I spend with my homies shoveling sand, leveling the ground – oh, wait, that was the next day morning – ah well, the days get a bit jumbled up while i am here in Himachal Pradesh.

Next Day (for real now)

After leveling the ground with Thirthram, Mandeep suggests to go to Kheerganga with a group of 5. Eventually, we end up trekking the afternoon and even into the early evening together with six other brothers. Mandeep, Chunni (the campsite owner/guide), and five people: Siddharth!, Sanil, Matin, Dev, and one more guy whose name I have forgotten. Shiva is ever present. Bomm Bolenath! Boom Fala Bali Walla! Mujo Diye Ko Bejalla! Jingalalla! Boom Bolenath Sabke sath – Chillumpinahamaresath 🙂


After King’s Café in Rishikesh, Pedro’s Café in Bhagsu, Arbel Guesthouse in Vashisht, Mandeep’s Home at Pulga… all of them welcomed me with open arms, hospitality overflowing. I am provided with shelter, food by parivar – family. Shiv Sagar with Jivan, Kamal and Koshri Chachu (uncle) treated me like family and took care i had dinner every time i dropped by after a day hike. In the end, when the time to say goodbye had arrived, i asked ‘what do i owe you’ and they said i could just choose what to pay. Be it because they are simply great people, generous and kind, or because i am a fast trekker and i bring some customers with me, or because dogs feel attracted to me, or because i agree to drink shanti shanti sips of some alcoholic drink (wine? or is it rum? i dunno, exactly) which later on is mixed with fresh water: ‘Nature Power’, Chunni calls it. Who knows why in India i am welcomed everywhere with open arms. Everything seems so easy going here. We share experiences and have a great time and don’t think about the world at large, only what happens here right now. Nothing else on the mind.

India, Parvathy Valley

Notes on Pulga

A lazy Sunday afternoon chilling with friends from Israel: sabkuch milega – efshar alok – everthing possible! At Mandeep’s café in spe, yes with Boom Fala himself. It’s a crazy thing to think back and forth in time. Every now and then Mandeep takes me out of my reveries and sings:

I’m gonna die
You gonna die
We all gonna die
Why cry
Enjoy life today
And get high

Boomfala Baliwalla

Three days at Kheerganga!

What an incredible adventure. The trek itself is easy enough, and still some people tell me it took them around 7 or 8 hours. Well, sabkuch milega, I guess.

The way to go: 3-4 hours straight, or with a lot of stops, or walking meditation… you decide.

More and more I understand why Himachal Pradesh is the place to be when it gets hotter and hotter in the south of India. It’s cool, it’s fresh, it’s nature!

The culture up there at approx 3,000m altitude is, let’s say, a foggy one. Due to the hot spring, due to campfires, and due to the high times. Charras rules and everything takes just a little longer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Time is money” is definitely not the mantra of H.P. [ha-ppy]. Rather, it is “Gut Ding braucht Weile” as we say in Austria. The clocks tick differently here, indeed, if they tick at all cuz with all the power cuts, and batteries are hard to find.

As always there are non-human companions joining people on the Kheerganga trekking tour. Some have to carry the weight of food and beverages (left) while others enjoy the scenery and explore the areas up and down the pathways.

Time and again, I remember Baba (shoutout to you my friend!) in Bhagsu telling me about the guy with a towel blowing off the clouds so that a clear blue sky remains. And in my humble opinion that is needed to tune in and accept a slower pace of life in general. Appreciate the blue sky, folks! Especially now – cuz there is no time like NOW! Oh, the silence, that genuine ocean of silence I was blessed to dive into!

Uphill from Kheerganga: Tunda Bhuj

Here are some impressions of the camp at Kheerganga.

Now, if you are like me, you think that reaching Kheerganga is just the beginning. There are so many hikes to explore from here! Himachal Pradesh is India’s doorway at the foot of the Himalaya, the land of snow. So one morning I get some breakfast and move up move up move up. Up until it starts raining. Moving on up.

Crossing a river I see one guy going uphill as well. We walk together for an hour. No talking. And still, nothing is left unsaid.

After about three hours of trekking I stop in order to meet the man who lives up there at around 3,300m above sea level. A real mountain man. Meeting Vindrabala Baba at Tunda Bhuj is certainly one of the most amazing things I experienced:

It is still raining when I start my descent towards Kheerganga.

Back in Pulga

Another morning i wake up from slumber. The body is awake but the eyes are still a bit sleepy, adjusting to the sunlight. Two workers are preparing themselves to start working outside the hut – when the restaurant is opened a toilet will be needed. So let’s get diggin’. But first things first. Thirthram is making the first mix of the day. For Italians it’s an espresso, for the Indians it’s chay-chillum-chapatti before a man goes to work.

A stonemason has to come in order to split a huge boulder which is in the way

Pulga, Kalga, Tulga

As mentioned before, everything takes a bit longer in Himachal Pradesh. The other day I walked through the neighbouring villages Kalga & Tulga. I could literally sense the atmosphere of calm abiding… or of stupor, maybe?! Hard to say what’s what, really. The people here are so used to plant medicine they have fully integrated it into their daily diet. It makes them mellow. At the same time, they seem to have no trouble getting things done anyway – slowly slowly, but steadily.

Inbar and Gali from Israel tell me they have been staying in Parvathy valley for a month now. Time flies, not only for me, apparently. Today and the next couple of days I would like to go to Fairy Forest around Pulga, to Kutta and Budhavan. After that I plan to travel to Grahan and Chalal in order to visit Gopatram (Thirtram’s relative) at Maya Café.

All in all, Parvathy valley is of outstanding beauty. It’s not pristine nature anymore. Too many tourists roam this valley and they leave, unfortunately so, much more than mere footprints in their wake.

Getting cash in Kasol and Manikaran

The fact that ATMs in Kasol and Manikaran are rare, and if you find one it is either closed or empty or doesn’t accept your card means that everyone who ventures forth deeper into the valley and closer to the source of Parvathy nadi soon runs out of cash. This is also due to the prices for food which are double at Kheerganga and Tunda Bhuj. Still very cheap, though.

By the way, there is a trek starting from Barshani to Spiti Valley. It takes 12 days. The guides have everything – gas, food, sleeping bags, tents. I guess there are enough waterfalls on the way to refill the containers and drinking bottles. For me, alas, this is not an option this time around. Given that i have only around 1,500 rupies left in my pocket I am gonna skip that trek. My plan is to get back to Jari or Bhuntar in order to cash-up. Let’s see where I’ll end up.


In Choj Village

Arriving at a new place is always a bit strange. It takes some getting used to the fact that friends have been left behind with the promise to come back. I am staying at a guesthouse on top of a village in Parvathy valley. The place is called Choj village and it’s across the river around one hour walk from Kasoul as we like to call it around here. Alas, I can’t really feel the flow yet. I mean, I don’t really know what I am doing here. Maybe all this is more than a bit strange. But then again, given that i have just arrived this afternoon, who wonders?!

Revisiting the past weeks, I think of my friends in Vashisht. Vashisht struck me as a wonderful place, a paradise for trekking lovers like me. And because i found family there. They were hospitable and provided food for me several times free of charge. I helped them out here and there. We went to the hot spring together and decorated the restaurant they planned to open ‘any day now’.

Right now I am staying at a homely place. I share a small room with two other travelers. The room is as big as the room I shared with my bro when I was a kid. A thin mattress and a carpet-like blanket to cover up when I take rest. I can hear repetitive music through the walls.

I look outside – it’s drizzle weather. It’s fresh. I find myself in the middle of nowhere here, really. At the foot of a mountain range. If i wanna use the bathroom I have to get out of the room, walk down the steps, out of the house, go around two corners and have my feet already soaked when I get there. When I am finished, I wash my hands. Power cut. Pitch black. I mean, absolute absence of light. Hmmm… I think about joining the group to the jungle to gaze at the stars… ahhh, no, it’s raining. I can’t see my hand in front of my eyes, and BOM BHOLENATH I have got my cellphone with me. Take it and turn on the torchlight. Walk back to the dorm where four mattresses are lined up like they are in barracks – on the floor, with around 9 cun (the width of three hands) in between. And a carpet as ‘blanket’. Yeah, i know i said that already. Living with the bare necessities, there we go…


Neun Leben

Neben Shantaram und White Tiger empfehle ich auch Bücher von William Dalrymple, für alle von euch, die sich für Literatur über Indien interessieren. In Himachal Pradesh habe ich letztes Jahr sein Buch The Age of Kali gelesen, das ich in einem Gebrauchtwarenladen in Manali fand. Hier im Folgenden zu den einzelnen Kapiteln einige Gedanken, die aufgetaucht sind, nachdem ich mir nun in Wien sein 2011 auf Deutsch erschienenes Buch Neun Leben (orig. Nine Lives. In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, 2009) in der Stadtbücherei ausgeliehen und zu Gemüte geführt habe. Es handelt sich nicht um eine Inhaltsangabe, sondern um eine Reflexion auf Aspekte, die ich hervorheben möchte; Reflexion im Hinblick auf extreme menschliche Schicksale. Dies soll Anregung sein, das Buch selbst zu lesen.

1. Die Nonne

Ist es besser, sich selbst zu täuschen und in der Illusion zu leben, man hätte die Kontrolle? Oder ist es besser aufzuwachen und darauf zu achten, kein Lebewesen zu schädigen und auf Heimat, Besitz und schließlich Körper freiwillig zu verzichten, wie die Jaina-Mönche und -Nonnen das zu tun pflegen?

2. Der Tänzer von Kannur

Theyyam ist ein ritueller, ekstatischer Tanz aus dem Norden Keralas. Du musst dich als Theyyamkaran vollkommen darauf einlassen. Sonst kommen die Götter nicht in deinen Körper. Einmal wirst du als Dalit (“Unterdrückter”) abgewertet und baust Brunnen, ein anderes Mal wirst du von denen, die dich voriges Jahr noch abschätzig behandelt haben, als verkörperte Gottheit verehrt. Die gewöhnlichen Menschen sehen nur den oberflächlichen Schein. Das Leben ist hart. Die Realität muss akzeptiert werden.

3. Yellamas Töchter

Die Geschichte wiederholt sich. Erst verflucht man die Eltern, und dann handelt man genauso wie sie. Geld regiert die Welt, und für ein paar Euro kriegt man schon eine Hure im zarten Alter von 15 oder 16 Jahren. Bloß wird die Hure devadasi (“Gottesdienerin”) genannt. Sie wird in ihrer Kindheit oder Jugend der Göttin Yellama geweiht, die falsch beschuldigt sehr leiden musste. Sogar die Sexarbeiterinnen finden noch andere Huren, denen es im Vergleich zu ihnen schlechter geht oder über die sie sich erheben können, auf die sie herabschauen können. Egal welche Gesellschaftsschicht, das Prinzip bleibt stets dasselbe: Schau dort, die sind noch viel viel ärger als wir. Um die Hoffnungslosigkeit zu verbergen oder besser zu ertragen, bildet man sich Status ein.

4. Der Epensänger

Die Fähigkeit zu lesen hat zweifellos viele Vorteile. Doch in dieser Lebenserzählung des Epensängers scheint es, als würden mit der Alphabetisierung auch einige Fähigkeiten verloren gehen. So geht die Fähigkeit verloren, sich lange Lieder, Geschichten und gar vollständige Epen(!), deren Vortrag tage- und nächtelang dauert, auswendig zu lernen und sodann vor versammelter Dorfgemeinschaft zu rezitieren. Mit dem Erlernen der Schrift und dem Lesen von Texten geht somit die Kapazität des Gedächtnisses bzw. die Fähigkeit, sich lange Texte zu merken, verloren. Was haben wir dann zu erwarten in Bezug auf Zahlenreihen, wenn z.B. Telefonnummern automatisch gewählt werden?

Bhopas werden im Glossar des Buches als Schamanen, Dichter, Epensänger erklärt. Ihre Rolle in der Gesellschaft ist nicht zu unterschätzen. Wo sind die Schamanen und Dichter unserer Gesellschaft, ohne die wir die Zusammenhänge verschiedener Geschehnisse und Lehren der Vergangenheit vergessen, weil sie in der Hektik der modernen Zeit in einem Meer von Projekten untergehen? Bhopas tanzen, singen und spielen die Ravanhatta (lt. Glossar eine rajasthanische bundlose Spießgeige). Doch sie können auch heilen, weissagen, Zukünftiges voraussehen. Mündliche Überlieferungen stehen natürlich dem Film gegenüber, und die Verbreitung des freien und ungezwungenen Erzählens in Gemeinschaft ist in Indien eine aussterbende Kunst, da die jeweils folgende Generation immer weniger Interesse daran hat, die Tradition fortzuführen. Und wenn die Hirten ihr Vieh verkaufen (müssen), um in der Stadt die Tempel putzen oder Rikscha zu fahren, geht auch der letzte Bezug zu Pabuji verloren. Der neue Schrein ist der Televisor oder das Smartphone. Ein Bhopa ohne Publikum erscheint dann wie ein Relikt aus einer verlorenen Zeit.

5. Die Mystikerin

Wahhabiten verehren das Wort und kämpfen mit dem Schwert; erklären den Koran, diskutieren und legen allen Wert auf traditionelle, orthodoxe Auslegung des Prophetenwortes. Sie sagen: Für die Rechtgläubigen hat Gott ein Paradies im Himmel vorbereitet.

Sufis predigen und praktizieren Liebe, Tanz, Musik, Vergebung. Alle sind willkommen: Frauen, Nicht-Muslime, Sünder – denn sie wissen: wir Menschen sind schwach, und jeder von uns ist ein Sünder. Sie sagen: Alles ist in uns, Hölle und Paradies. Der Dschihad ist ein Kampf gegen die inneren Feinde: Begierden und Hass.

Schauen Sie“, sagte Sain Fakir und legte die Hand auf Herz, „alles ist in uns. Hölle und Paradies – es ist alles in uns. Nur wenige verstehen…“

Sain Sahib hat mir einmal eine Geschichte von Lal Shahbaz Qalander erzählt“, sage Lal Peri. „Eines Tages war Lal Shahbaz mit seinem Freund Scheich Baha ud-Din Zakariya in der Wüste. Es war Winterabend, und um sich warm zu halten, beschlossen sie, ein Feuer zu machen. Sie fanden auch Brennholz, hatten aber nichts zum Anzünden. Da schlug Baha ud-Din vor, Lal Shahbaz solle sich in einen Falken verwandeln und in die Hölle fliegen und von dort Feuer holen. Er flog los, kehrte eine Stunde später aber mit leeren Händen wieder zurück. ‚In der Hölle gibt es kein Feuer‘, berichtete er. ‚Ein jeder wird dort von dem Feuer gequält, das er aus dieser Welt mitgebracht hat.‘“ (S. 176)

6. Der Mönch

Sich von jemand anderem sagen lassen, was oder wer man ist, wie die tibetischen Mönche, die ihrem Gelübde abschworen, um in den 1950er Jahren den bewaffneten Widerstand (Chushi Gangdruk) gegen die chinesische Belagerung zu führen und den Dalai Lama 1959 ins Exil zu eskortieren. Mit ein paar Männern sind sie den Flugzeugen und Panzern, der mit Maschinengewehren bewaffneten Infanterie der Chinesen hoffnungslos unterlegen. Es bleibt nur die Flucht in die Berge, die Heimat des Schnees, den Himalaya. Klöster und Tempel und Paläste werden bombardiert. Tibetische Flüchtlinge werden gejagt, gefoltert, erschossen. Mit dem Glauben an Karma laden sie sich die Schuld voriger Leben auf die eigenen Schultern und fürchten sich am meisten davor, den Chinesen gegenüber Hass zu empfinden, da sie dadurch von ihrem spirituellen Weg abkommen. Viele meinen, sie müssten nun erleiden, was sie den Chinesen im 7. Jahrhundert angetan hätten. Als ließe sich das Universum mit einer Milchmädchenrechnung erklären und der Einzelne müsste heute für Vergehen büßen, die von Menschen vor 1300 Jahren begangen wurden.

7. Der Bronzegießer

Zeus, Jupiter und Isis sind tot und vergessen, doch Shiva wird heutzutage immer noch verehrt, und mehr denn je. In den Tempeln – den Palästen der Götter – geht es v.a. um Wunscherfüllung. An bestimmten Tagen und zu bestimmten Zeiten werden die Wunschgebete eher erhört.

Was für eine schöne Vorstellung, dachte ich: So wie es heilige Bilder und Orte gibt, so gibt es auch heilige Zeiten. Für gläubige Hindus war es, als öffne sich für einen Moment ein Fenster am Himmel, das einen direkten Zugang zu den Göttern ermöglichte.” (S. 218)

Es ist essentiell, in der Werkstatt der Bronzegießer “wie Yogis an die Arbeit heranzugehen” (S. 238), denn es handelt sich um eine Familientradition, die seit 700 Jahren von Vater zu Sohn weitergegeben wird. Dies kommt im Zeitalter von Internet, Informatik, Digitalisierung und Online-Business zu einem Ende.

8. Die Tantriker von Tarapith

Es ist schwierig, psychologisch zu erfassen, was im eigenen Gemüt und Geist passiert. Wer sich nicht erklären kann, wie es zustande kommt, dass Religiosität, Glaube und Hoffnung den eigenen Lebensweg bestimmen, wird den Werdegang und die verschiedenen Lebensabschnitte einer Tantrikerin leicht missverstehen. Doch Urteile sind hier fehl am Platz. Der Bruch mit der eigenen Familie und das Verlassen gewohnter Verhaltensregeln, die Missachtung konventioneller Wege waren und sind seit jeher Kennzeichen tantrischer Praxis.

All jene, die anderswo eingesperrt, ruhiggestellt, versteckt, verspottet oder gemieden würden, werden hier verehrt als weise, erleuchtete Narren. Man kümmert sich um den Nächsten, toleriert einander. Hier finden selbst die Schwächsten und Verlorensten Intimität und Gemeinschaft, hier können sie zu Hause sein.” (S. 256)

Man mag sich wundern, wie viele Menschen sich anstellen, um sich den Segen der Göttin in Form von Ma Kali, Ma Durga oder Ma Tara zu holen, indem sie rituelle Opfertiere töten lassen, sei es fürs Familienglück, für gute Geschäfte, oder sei es als werdender Politiker vor einem entscheidenden Wahlkampf. In Bihar ist Wahl-Kampf durchaus wörtlich zu nehmen, denn “wer in unserem Staat in die Politik geht, darf nicht zimperlich sein. … Bei den letzten Wahlen betrieben viele Kandidaten ihren Wahlkampf aus dem Gefängnis heraus, und viele Abgeordnete sind vorbestraft.” (S. 256f.)

Die Blut trinkende Tara ist durstig und hungrig, sie will gefüttert werden, und Tieropfer sind an der Tagesordnung, um unentwegt den Versuch zu machen, diesen unstillbaren Durst und Hunger zumindest vorläufig zu lindern und sich des Schutzes und der Macht der dunklen Göttin zu versichern. Aberglaube hilft den Ärmsten und Unterdrückten, Gleichgesinnte zu finden und eine Heimat zu schaffen, um in ihrem Glauben nicht allein zu sein. Aus psychologischer Sicht begreife ich dies als coping mechanism, der in Verbindung mit anderen, die genauso denken, verstärkt wird. Mit jedem, der um etwas bittet und Erfolg hat und dies dem Umstand zuschreibt, von der Göttin erhört worden zu sein, wird die Göttin mächtiger. Jeder, der hingegen “kein Gehör findet” wird dies so interpretieren, dass das Opfer nicht genug war, und dass nächstes Mal zwei Ziegen statt einer getötet werden müssen. So perpetuiert sich ein Weltbild, das von einem Pantheon regiert wird, dessen Regeln man nur erahnen kann; und so hält sich eine Vorstellung des Selbst aufrecht, dessen Winzigkeit und Nichtigkeit der Allmacht der Gottheit gegenübergestellt wird.

9. Das Lied des blinden Baul

Bauls sind durch die bengalische Lande ziehende Balladensänger. “Sie bringen Abwechslung in das dörfliche Leben, unterhalten ihre Zuhörer mit Lyrik und Musik, erzählen von Verlangen und Hingabe, Ekstase und Rausch, vom Fluss des Lebens und dem Körper, der sich wie ein Boot darin bewegt. Sie singen von Radhas verrückter Liebe zu Krishna, vom Göttlichen als dem unerreichbaren Objekt menschlicher Sehnsucht. Sie erinnern an die Vergänglichkeit der Welt, fordern dazu auf, Hass und Feindschaft zu überwinden, sich dem Ich zu stellen. Erkenntnis, so ihre Lehre, erlangt man nicht durch Macht über andere, sondern indem man sich selbst besiegt.” (S. 277f.)

Das Sich-Ergeben und Sich-Hingeben ans Schicksal beherrschen diese Menschen! Da können wir hierzulande viel lernen! – was jeder Indienreisende bestätigen wird. Philosophische Fragen werden nicht gleich abgewertet als “bloßes Philosophieren”. Vielmehr sind sie Teil des Lebens und Sterbens in Indien. Ebenso die spirituelle Suche und Erforschung dessen, was für das Auge unsichtbar bleibt und nur mit dem Herzen gespürt werden kann: “Spring nicht in den Fluss der Begierde”, sang er mit voller, samtweicher Stimme, “denn du wirst das Ufer nicht erreichen.” (S. 280).

In einem “Symposium in Liedform” (S. 280f.) kommt zum Ausdruck, dass der Mensch das Seelenheil in sich selbst suchen müsse:

Weiß man, ob die Götter überhaupt existieren?” …

Findet man sie im Himmel?

Oder auf dem Himalaya?

Auf der Erde, in der Luft?

Gott findet man nur

Im Herzen dessen, der Wahrheit sucht.”

Wie einst Alberts Wort, wir könnten zwar tun was wir wollen, aber nicht wollen was wir wollen, wird dich auch dieses Buch bis zur letzten Zeile mit den Entscheidungen und Taten deiner Mitmenschen versöhnen, auch wenn sie dir oft schmerzlich sind.