Posts Tagged ‘Self-illumination’

Pilgrimage by Sally Peden

April 16, 2010

Pilgrimage

The deity waits in the cave temple 12,000 feet
high in the Himalayas.
A black mound stone idol
dressed with brilliant yellow, golden orange flowers.

For his darshan they travel on foot, donkey, bus or cart
for miles and miles and miles,
climbing hill after hill, mountains terraced with green rice paddies,
lush gushing streams to wade and drink.

The multicolored cotton saris pulled across the women’s faces,
hiding from foreigners in taxis.

Tattered clothed children, scarlet bandanna-wrapped heads, wide grins, open palms.
“Baksheesh! Baksheesh!” they cry, gathering around
begging for coins from rich Americans.

Always climbing upwards, upwards, with white, gleaming snowy peaks in sight,
leading them to the dwelling place of gods,
chanting His thousand names,
to gain holiness that resides within the cave of Being
they come for Self-illumination. It is the tradition.

For hours, endless hours
we drive up the winding mountain roads
rocky with breath-clogging dust.

“A pilgrim bus slid on the curve
and went over the cliff last week,” our driver says.
“Thirty were killed.”

“And you heard last year 200 pilgrims
were trapped in the pass to Kailash?
Strange summer storm, the snow hit suddenly.”

“They froze to death,” he said,
shrugging thin shoulders wrapped in his ragged shirt.
“It’s the way of karma.” He sighs, a toothless smile.

—Sally “Sali” Peden

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(Also see: Timeless Journey and To Jyotir Math by Sally Peden)


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