Location: Goa, India
My driver Christna and Kumar the guide raced me from each site in Hampi, the site continually seeming bigger and bigger as we moved through the valley and under archways leading into and out of the sites. The information over load had begun and as I tried my best there was just so many facts coming from Kumar that I had to give pause and remind myself that no one, Saint or no, could retain it all. Fascinating stories of the 33 million gods that made me sparkle with excitement and humbled in the face of a theology so vast I would never understand it all. Of all the things I might have forgotten, Kumar took time to detail that there is 10 incarnations of Vishnu the final has yet to reincarnate. So Vishnu plus 10=11 which is a sacred number in Hindu, which gave me pause to say the least 11 being the holy scripture according to Edmond and again I was reminded that the entire universe is bound by the tiny threads of fate that hang invisible all around us in the entanglement of our existence.
The sun rose higher and became hot as I peeled off my extra shirt and continued marching up dusty hills and over boulders to find the next temple or statue that would make my heart and mind race at light speed. I was inside my manifesto at this point and I actually recognized it standing at the foot of a giant single stone carving of the largest Statue of Ganesh in India. This is the entire point of my existence, to be at that place where my feet were on the earth at that moment. Adrenaline shot through me, what a gift, to be able to write this down, what a gift to be further from the place I came from than ever before and be learning from this man, in this place on this day and everything is fucking connected. I actually felt my eyes dilate as i entered the spirit world. Kumar broke that moment with the origin story of Ganesh, how he ate sweets until his belly burst and tied himself together again with a cobra, and that’s why Hindus leave sweets for him at the shrines. He followed that with the story of how Ganesh was brought into existence to turn away people who might interrupt Shivas shower, then beheaded when he stood up to all 33 million Hindu gods when he denied the wrong god entry, then his head replaced with that of an elephants.
We continued further onto the remnants of Hajara Rama Temple, a giant staircase covered in carvings of yoga postures, war, Gods and Goddesses up to a flat top where there once stood a wooden cap that I could imagine in my mind would have been so brightly colored and so impressive that just the thought made my heart beat a rhythm faster as I shot to the top taking two stairs at a time letting my imagination completely take over.
Further still we stopped at the location where the Kings wives and concubines were housed, 3 buildings all within a stones throw of each other, which kind of blew my mind. The Lotus Mahal was best preserved and had a fantastic mix of Islamic and Indian architectural styles. Through a gate Kumar lead me further through the walls protecting the kings women to the grand Elephant Stable, 11 giant stone stables to house the royal elephants that were used for ceremonial purposes. Again, 11 making my Saintly senses tingle, I ran around for a while in wonderment of the carvings and the fact that everything around me was once buried by sand, dirt, dust and time.
It was getting later into the afternoon and the worry between my driver Max and my guide trying to get Max and I back to Goa before it was super late in order to avoid the danger of driving on the dark, narrow roads crossing from the current Indian state of Karnataka and back into Goa. Kumar took me to the main attraction, which he warned me not to get too excited because the temple had closed for the lunch Indian “siesta,” which lasts about 3-4 hours. We came around a corner on foot and from the top looking down through giant boulders I could see the Hampi main tower and temples.
I raced down the stone hill trying not to slip in the dust while Kumar smartly marched behind me. the tower rose from the earth like it was supposed to be there, like the earth had willed it there. It was eroded by time but all the intricate details remained in tact just enough in order to make me race closer and closer to try and see more of the insane amount of detail that was put in by its constructors.
Standing beneath the tower studying it gave way to the mystery within fairly quickly, when Kumar said to hurry inside because the temple hadn’t closed. The reason, which I later learned was because it was the day of the new moon and an important day in Hindu, the new moon just happened to be on the 29th (the other holy number according to Edmond), and EVERYTHING is fucking CONNECTED.
Inside the temples plaza there were monkeys everywhere, keeping to the edges where humans wouldn’t trample them. They climbed high and low all over the temple and that part of me that is still Mogli from the Jungle Book just giggled in elation. I couldn't help but sing out loud until Kumar kind of smacked me in the back of the head letting me know to behave in temple. I respectfully stopped and just watched the cheeky monkeys play and harass the tourists.
Kumar ushered me over to an elephant on left side of the temple plaza where he told me I should go and get blessed by the elephant. He explained that I should work my way to the front of the crowd surrounding it and place a cash donation into its trunk and it would bless me by putting its trunk on my head, a sign of good luck. I walked up to the small que within a larger crowd of Hindu’s. The elephant saw me immediately and his trunk reached over to me and I placed my 20 rupee into its trunk. his trunk went around behind him and placed the money in a small woven basket then back around to me. The strength of elephants always amazes me, the animals trunk reached past my head onto my back and pulled me a little closer laying the entire weight of it on my body. I pressed my hands together in prayer like the others had before me, and after a long moment the elephant pulled away and the blessing was complete. I walked over to Kumar who looked at me and said “you must be a very special person, the longer the elephant leaves his trunk on you, the better the blessing.” I just kind of glowed with all this information and mental action I was experiencing. It was so much more rewarding being from a religion where so many small offerings and rituals mean so much.
We walked around while Kumar explained more and more, until it was just noise in my head while my eyes drank it all in. Finally on our way out, after collecting our shoes I was invited to make a wish into the cows ear at what is considered the “monkey temple.” Owed to the God Hanuman. Into the right ear I whispered my wish, the sum of what I hope my life would be and did so with a definite sense of purpose and pride knowing that most people, nearly all people cant even recognize what that wish is. I was proud that I carry on the tip of my silver tongue the hopes for the sum of my life ready to drop on anyone willing to listen or give a fuck.
On exiting the temple Kumar continued that Hindus, by worshipping the cow worship all 33 million gods at one time. Each of the gods represented by different parts of the animal. Shiva is the head for example and all parts of the cow is represented and that is why the cows in India do exactly as they please, they are basically the embodiment of their Gods.
We left the monkey temple, I paid the rickshaw driver and my guide, tipped them handsomely a brilliant job done and walked around HAMPI town for 30 minutes waiting on Max, poor guy was still sleeping, and miles away from the madness of the site. I stood there a king in the Indian sun with not ten rupee to my name to buy water after tipping the guys out. I stood in the heat for over an hour before he finally found me after all my fucked up directions about where I was and once connected we got right back in the road. It was 5, and we had 8 hours to drive. I started seeing double about 2 hours in and I kept pumping Max full of red bulls until we ran out and I gave him a provigil which he reluctantly took. We were blasting past everyone, going 140-160 km sometimes slamming on the breaks to avoid speed bumps and the odd scooter who'd whip in front of us. By half way I started writing this post, my body was in shambles, 4 countries thismonth and god damn if I didn't work for it.
I was having little nods and waking to the most vivid waking dreams that would last less than a moment, all strange, wonderful and totally influenced by where I was. Young Indian girls telling me it was all as it should be in a winds whisper, Ganesh peering down on me, my heart was full and my dreams were reflecting it. I was happy, which is a rare thing for me to recognize.
We finally made it back to the hotel around 23:45 that night, after some really intense winding roads in the dark. Heart still racing once I arrived at the hotel I had dinner and a beer then climbed the stairs to my room and crashed the fuck out almost immediately. Goa has overnight transformed from my easy beach going, drug slamming party holiday to an exploration of Indian culture and wonder at all it's unique beauty.
If you happen to find your way to Hampi, I highly suggest giving Kumar a shout, he is absolutely magical and a wonderful guide and all around wicked person. Contact him at KumarHampi@gmail.com or you can call him at +91 944 9654524