Bangkok is truly a city that never sleeps. At all hours of the day and night, tuk tuks and bright pink taxis zip past street food stalls loaded with steaming pots of tom yum kung. Street sellers hawk their wares, ranging from illegal copies of blockbuster movies to counterfeit Nike sneakers. Wrinkly old women brew potions made of Chinese herbs in the city’s traditional pharmacies. Bangkok is modern and traditional, Asian and Western, all at the same time. There is a buzz and energy to the city that can be matched by few other metropolises. This has made the Thai capital into not only a favourite tourist destination, but also a hub for art and design that attracts creative minds from all over the world.
The intricately carved pillars lead you into the chamber of Beauty and Divinity. Beauty in Divinity; Divinity in Beauty.
Your eyes want to linger on the details of the pillars, take in every piece of carving and beauty. At the same time the inner quietude pulls you in.
Your footsteps slowly take you in, quietly, with a sense of awe and quiet anticipation. No rush, no hurrying through, you just walk through the space slowly, purposefully or with no purpose at all but just to experience the majesty and glory that is all around you.
Or you don’t walk at all. You just stand still. Quietly, in silence, you just stay there. For as long as you must. For as long as you hear the poetry of those stones, the music in that silent space.
The experience is not merely an aesthetic one, for that would last only as long as you are in the physical presence of the art. This is also not only your mind’s or heart’s journey back into the glorious past of India of thousands of years ago when thousands of Sun-worshippers would have gathered in this temple dedicated to Lord Surya, the Sun God.
This is more than that.
This is a journey within. A journey into the chambers of the inner you where you want the Light of the Sun God to shine, into all those corners from where you want those pesky little darknesses to be gone. A journey that gradually leads you to a bright and vast openness, that makes you, the inner you, more receptive to the new Light that must fill those spaces within.
It is in this aspiration and appeal to the Infinite that all details find their rightful place and purpose. You begin to know intuitively why and how the detailed abundance of the majestically carved pillars and the intricately elaborate gateway are steps to experiencing the sublime beauty of the divinity within, and also the divinity of beauty within.
A certain type of critical mind, which often fails to see the inner significance of what the outer eye meets, looks at the profusion of artistic detail on the ancient Indian temple walls, gateways and pillars, on the hallways of old palaces and other buildings and asks – why is everything so crowded, why is every little space filled up, where is the blank space, how can one take it all in?
But to an Indian heart and mind,
And long after you come back, the beauty of that experience still lingers within, quietly and often without your awareness. It is not really a memory, maybe something more, something subtler. It is a vibration, perhaps. And you know what you need to do to re-experience that vibration.
You just need to go back, no not to the physical space, but that space within where you first felt that touch of delight. You sit quietly and go to that space and recall it.
And the words begin to resonate –
As the Infinite fills every inch of space…
…with the stirring of life and energy…
…because it is the Infinite…
These words reverberate inside, quietly. You let them. You stay in gratitude for that experience, for that vibration.
Images are of the Sun Temple at Modhera, Gujarat, India. All photographs by Suhas Mehra. Please do not reproduce or copy without permission. The article first appeared on Beloo Mehra’s blog.