Here To Eternity
by Barun K. Datta
Here To Eternity by Barun K. Datta is a pictorial representation of the journey of the Naga Sadhus from Gangasagar to the Kumbh Mela.
It begins on a very insightful note from Subrata Roy Chowdhury and Pinaki De. They talk about the journey from “samsara” (day to day world) to “nirvana” (salvation). No barriers (economical, cultural, or social) stand in the path of the devotees as they walk the path to take a holy dip and wash away their sins.
The holy bath also signifies the end of a cycle; the end of the past to embrace the new future that awaits the re-incarnated being. They talk about “Karma” and how it shapes destiny and leads to “Swarga” (Heaven).
The pilgrims assemble in the fair (mela) in the hope of a fleeting glimpse of the infinite, to experience enlightenment. Moving amidst the pilgrims and the Naga sadhus, photographer Barun Datta manages to capture exceptional moments with his camera.
The call for the journey begins beautifully with a prose from Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali. Pictures that follow transport you to Gangasagar and Kumbh. From the innocent children to the experienced sages; from the serenity of the content few to the cheer of the millions that gather for the procession; he has managed to click inexplicable moods and looks. The bright and colorful attires; the umpteen accessories adorning their body; the ganja-smoking satiated souls; all finely caught by the ace lens man*.
Amongst all the pictures, a few particularly caught our eye –
The one titled “Karma” (action, deed, work, destiny, cycle of cause and effect) shows just the hands of a sadhu in the meditative pose, chanting on the beads. Four exquisite rings adorn all the four fingers of his left hand. And a gold plated watch rests on his wrist. His right hand holds the beads. Truly an exquisite representation of one of the primary means of karma… the human hand.
“Poetry in Motion” is another splendid work by Datta. The reflections of devotees walking around the shore exude such rhythm and grace that you forget you are looking at a still picture.
“Seeking Grace” shows a traditional Hindu window –bereft of luxuries – seeking salvation and grace from God. The old lady, dressed in white, sits near the idol of a Hindu deity decked with garlands and accessories. What a striking contrast the picture shows!
Overall, the book brings alive the entire journey, from Gangasagar to Kumbh, into your reading room. It is captivating, enlightening and marvelous. It shows the facets on a rich Indian philosophical tradition that has been enticing people the world over – the yatra (journey), Karma (action), Artha (wealth) and finally Moksh (freedom from the cycle of life).
Lay your hands on it and be a part of a sensational journey from Shunya to Nirvana.
*Barun Datta is the recipient of Photographer of the Year Award (2003) from Better Photography, Photo Division National Award from the Government of India and the 1st Award of the Photo Contest organized by Ministry of Information and Culture, West Bengal Government.