In some of the earlier posts (Secluded Faith, If Technology Fails, Abundance), I have shared the lively experiences and ideas from Mount Abu, the place where I had not only been able to roam but also stayed for 10 months. This post, ‘The Indian Redeemer‘, is a recollection of the exceptional experiences of the first day of my entry into the Mount Abu wildlife sanctuary.
My first day in Mount Abu was definitely one of the most wonderful and mysterious days of my life. And the main among all the possible reasons for that being so mysterious and unforgettable was the absence of any kind of earlier experiences from that place. In fact, that day in Mount Abu marked the first presence not only in that region but also in the north-western Indian state of Rajasthan. Usually, most of our knowledge is not based on the real sensory perceptions but on the information received from various sources. Based on such second-hand information, we always tend to make some generalized assumptions about everything. I always had been having such an opinion for the Indian state of Rajasthan. Based on the early education and generalized media depictions, the notion that Rajasthan was a dry, hot and desert area was always in my mind. I had imagined that the extreme shortage of water and overwhelming heat must have made the life of locals very challenging and perhaps the outsiders could never adapt themselves to survive in such harsh conditions. But when I reached at Mount Abu, on my first ever visit of Rajasthan, all such preexisting generalized beliefs got miraculously diluted as a result of which it was difficult to understand whether I was really in Rajasthan or in any inadvertent region of the world.
On the day of arrival, Prakash Mardaraj, with whom I had got an opportunity to explore the Mount Abu Wildlife sanctuary for next one year, had come to receive me at Abu Road railway station. He was accompanied with three local guys; Raja and Shiva, the field assistants and Mohan Bhai, the driver. Except Prakash, whom I had been knowing from past a month, the whole region and all its people were strangers for me. Although everything was entirely new, the dry and dusty surroundings of that bright sunny day made ‘Abu Road‘to be a little bit around my convictions about Rajasthan. Being aware of the location of Mount Abu on the map of India and due to some resemblance of the surrounding conditions with my preexisting beliefs, the flat ‘Abu Road’ was convincing enough to make me feel in the southern Rajasthan of north-western India. But as soon as the vehicle left the plains and started moving over the hills of Mount Abu, the unanticipated landscape captured me deeply and made a sudden shift in my state of mind. It was really challenging to consider that region as a part of Rajasthan. Contrary to my beliefs about Rajasthan, I was facing the hills and valleys and could feel the mountainous breeze. While the trees were negligible in Abu Road, a few minutes after starting the uphill journey a dense flora was seen on the hills and the valleys. A gradual shift in the the type of forest was also noticed. While the forest of lower altitude was dry, that of higher altitude was greener. Except an obscure building on one of the peaks, which according to Raja were the Jain temples of Achalgarh, there were no signs of human interference. We were passing through a forest on a hilly road. Those unexpected and surprising elements created an enigmatic world. For a moment it appeared as if we were on a secret hilly road to approach the Himalayas.
Around one and a half hour later after starting the journey from Abu Road, some settlements started to appear. After crossing the main checkpoint, we were inside the Mount Abu town. By the time I reached at the place which was going to be my residence for the next one year, the idea of being in Rajasthan had completely evaporated. The direction illusion, due to the series of unexpected events, was so much strong that the idea of being in India was also doubtful. And then I saw something which further consolidated the feelings of being in an alien land.
From the terrace of my new residence, a big cross appeared on the top of the front hill. By the camera zoom, that structure was identified as a huge statue of Jesus, largely very similar to the ‘Christ the Redeemer‘ of Rio de Janeiro of Brazil. That moment of appearance of Redeemer further intensified the feeling of being far away from India. Although I had never been to Latin America, for some time I kept viewing Mount Abu in the reference of Rio. Perhaps the modern city of Rio is always seen with the reference of ‘Christ the Redeemer’. My idea about Rio revolves so much around the Redeemer that for me the ‘Rio’ and the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ are like synonym words. Due that feeling of partially in India and partially in Latin America or totally somewhere else, the first day of Mount Abu was among the most mysterious days of my 10 month long stay there.
With the passage of time as I became familiar with the terrain and people of that area, the notion of being in an alien land gradually got fainted. During my time in Abu, I visited the Indian Redeemer many times. Based on the internet information about ‘Christ the Redeemer’, it was certain that the Indian and Brazilian sculptures were very different from each other. The Redeemer of Abu was much smaller than the Latin American counterpart. After knowing the history and facts of ‘Christ the Redeemer’, the reasons to get that counted among the greatest art works of contemporary times became more obvious. On the contrary side, the Indian Redeemer was never seen that extraordinary and hardly anyone was aware about the copy of ‘Christ the Redeemer’ in India. While the original Redeemer would have been attracting millions of people all over the world, the Indian redeemer was at a dry location. whenever I visited the Indian Redeemer, besides those friends who were accompanying me, I never encountered any stranger there. Despite being ordinary in comparison with Brazilian Redeemer, I always had a content time at Indian Redeemer. Although I had no experience from Rio for any better comparison between the Indian and Brazilian sculptures, the location of Indian redeemer was certainly filled with a deep peace. That deep peace could not be justified only by the presence of Jesus, but by the divine confluence of faith and nature. Although nature is divine on its own and does not need any object to complement itself, perhaps the reason of the installation of signs of faith in nature is that they make it easy to identify the beauty and divinity of the nature. The lack of awareness and so the absence of humans was also one of the reasons for that existing peace. One other reason for the peace prevailing at that place was the better visualisation of a large landscape of the plateau. Although that was not the highest point of Abu, the natural and artificial world could be seen together from there; the true depiction of a peaceful coexistence but also a constant reminder of the limits which should never be crossed.
In the refuge of Indian Redeemer, I had an experience which I kept counting among the ordinary ones until I met ‘Prakash Didgeridoo‘ of Rishikesh. Although I became aware about and started learning the didgeridoo from ‘Prakash didgeridoo’ at Rishikesh, the Indian Redeemer was the original location where I experienced the didgeridoo vibrations for the first time.