The Sufi who stood at the Bamyan by Shama Mahajan
The first time I met the Buddha, he was on the battlefield of Kalinga
Dancing between the corpses, a Sufi finding that piece of land for his Dhikr, yet to be conquered by Ashoka,
Where each wail of a widow...a prayer, “may every Siddhartha become a Buddha”.
Buddham Sharanam Gacchami – the feet too heavy to dance, he let them get buried under the weight of peace, the circle of Karma coming to a standstill...he watched the Tandava while his lips sang the Raas,
The Buddha stood holding the universe in his palms.
The next time we met at Bamyan, the spell of meditation lay crumbled in smithereens
Dhammam Sharanam Gacchami – the silk road chanted as the artilleries learnt to pronounce ‘Salsal’ but the universe was having a power cut that day.
The gun powder corroding the sandstone,
The Queen Mother’s tears left the niches in the valley -the black hole.
They tried to fill it with the 3D Holograms – the Resurrection of the Buddha for a night,
Children stood clutching the paper rockets, they’d never again let them fly,
The Buddha stood alone meditating while the lanterns cast shadows on the empty valley.
Now, I meet the Buddha every day as he stands on my table away from the monastery listening to Coldplay and Khusrau, guaranteeing wealth and prosperity
But behind the smile, there is the urge,
of a Sufi - to dance with the mani chos ’khor,
of a monk - to reside in the stupa of the Bamyan,
of a Siddhartha - to be reborn as the Buddha
Whose feet aren't burdened with the weight of corpses as a barter for a king to learn peace,
Whose resurrection is not a utopian dream trapped in the metaverse of holograms of a dystopian world.
I met Buddha in metaverse by Chetna
I met Buddha in metaverse
Floating through Altspace
His radiating Immersive Avatar
Pixel smiles exchanged between us
Across the virtual bar.
Small talk is tough in any realm.
‘weird without legs, isn’t it ?’
I ask, overwhelmed.
Bemused, he replies
‘Just like before.
Who uses feet to travel?
No great mystery that
Mind can’t unravel.’
I wonder if he is selling an app
To preach Guided Meditation.
Man wants to be seen
Fantasies of better self
Is an age-old quest of being.
Why else have we built
To endlessly search
To our frailties and compulsions.
Our real moral lives still,
lie in our embodied soul.
In the flesh and bone
with what we are left
when we take off our headsets.
References: The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th-century monumental statues, Salsal and Shahmama (in the Hazaragi dialect of Dari Persian), which were carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan. The world’s largest standing Buddha statues had survived for a millennium and a half—until the Islamists of Taliban ordered their destruction. On 27 February 2001, Talibani leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, issued a decree ordering the elimination of all non-Islamic statues and sanctuaries in Afghanistan.