Thoughts on Borobudur

Morning takes shape with a faint breeze from the south-east. Brightening light, sunlight without the bite, green, green spreads of a world still in touch with its past. Luminous glow of newly transplanted paddy-green, stretching to the lap of the still unseen mountains – still clothed in their dawn attire of soft opaque mist.

School children tripping along – a happy lot with smiles for strangers.

From the green rise the timeless stones. Borobudur. An ancient seat – of power, of Buddha, or of man’s lasting impression of the Enlightened One? They watch the dawn, the green and the distant mountains.

A few fallen stones  – weather or earthquake, does it matter. Meanwhile power and religion change  hands – The Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwar) giving way to Buddha then to the moon and stars. But does it really? Here Buddha lives on in the villages and mountains, in the gentle smiles  of the people and the black stones.

Borobudur- tier upon tier- rise with it and forget your base self. Climb higher and at every step your vision widens. The green fields push back, tops of trees turn whole, all elegant courtiers to this King of Stone.

The sun is stronger, Merapi takes shape with a cloud or is it smoke at its top. It is the God of all things here. A watchful eye to cover man’s misdeeds and Nature’s beauty with the same fire and brimstone – just once in a while.

Panel after panel of stories wrought in stone. Stories of Gods and Goddesses; of a Man who in his inward single-mindedness brought half – a world to His feet; of Kings and Queens; of the lives and glories of  small men. Of deaths and the everyday.

Cryptic letters from the past telling of the passage of time and the oneness that runs through human life. And Merapi takes firmer shape with smoke at its top.

Only Borobudur does not feel its fury. Like the Buddha, it meditates uncaring of Merapi’s sleeping violence.

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