On the Ghats of Varanasi

The night is dark, but the roads are bright 

With fire in hearts and lanterns in sight

Reflections of hope, lay floating on the river 

And the stars have arrived down to Earth

On the Ghats of Varanasi 


Saints and sages are draped in saffron

While men and women, devoid of passion

So they say, the water never blemishes

From the dips of these wandering souls

On the Ghats of Varanasi 


An array of shaven heads bright minds, stand uptight

And the seekers, like moon borrowing sun’s light

Capture a lesson, a memory, before they leave

While the hymns of life continue to echo 

On the Ghats of Varanasi 


A look to the right, a pyre flaming high 

Wails of the dear, all trying to mollify 

On the dead trees lay dead dreams

But the woods never stop burning

On the Ghats of Varanasi


But why did the man ever strive?

Was the ultimate goal only to survive?

Bundled in white, again the man sinks down

In the waters, never to rise again

On the Ghats of Varanasi


History of masked men, no one knows

There are no seeds to ‘reap what one sows’

Likewise, no innocents to pray for a harvest

Just hollow actions basking in warm sunlight

On the Ghats of Varanasi


A day in the life, of a sage so wise

Roams he today, amidst the ashes and cries

Only he is aware that the World’s building her pyre

From the actions of men, whom she had birthed 

On the Ghats of Varanasi


The waves of Ganga once danced in the sky

But for his kin, a man refused to comply

He brought her down, from Himavan to Bengal

So all his dear dead could breathe again

On the Ghats of Varanasi


The shades of these waters aren’t deep today

In an era of doom, who’ll repent and repay?

The Ganges will continue to devour the sins

But the proud man refusing to enter still stands 

On the Ghats of Varanasi


Inspired by William Dalrymple’s The Age of Kali


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