Grail Quest

It’s Republic Day in India (the 26th January – the same day as Australia Day & Burns’ day by the way) & I’ve just had a lovely meal at the sai krishna hotel, Jeypore’s finest restaurant. It was paid for by Biswa (world in oriya) & his mate Saroj (lotus) – with Biswa being the 26 year old guy who runs my fave internet shop & I guess I kinda paid for it myself with me being a regualr customer. We’d got on famously & he’d been playing me loads of indian dance music, some of which Im adding to my disco set. In return I gave him a load of western tunes, the like of which Jeypore has probably never seen. He says he’s gonna dish em out to all his mates – so DJ Damo’s gonna be a big name in the Eastern Ghats I hope. We had a lovely chat, with him filling me in on Orissa – its poverty, education problems, temples & dynasties – & me promising the lads somewhere to stay if they visit Edinburgh. Whats also cool is they are eagerly running thro a print out correction copy of my indiad as we speak – he’s just asked what thro means – its actually my version of through, which has alerted me to cleaning up my personal indiosycnhracies when it comes to grammar. Incidentally, Saraj says the freedom that republic day represents is merely a facade.

Now, just before I set off out for India I was writing this book about the lost battlefields of Britain, & was just nearing its completion when Charlie parachuted into my room & started hogging the computer for ketamine/jerry lee lewis sessions. So the book was left unfinished, but one of the last chapters I wrote concerned my discovery of the true grave of King Arthur. Its a water tight theory & was convincing enough for teh Scotsman newsaper to say they’d run the story. However, I think they chickened out – but the story’s going nowhere. Yet life has a funny way of working these things out, & I’m just about to embark on a similar mission. It all began back at the library at Vizag a couple of weeks ago – it was the first day I was there, with the young Sameer as my guide. Once he’d shown me the palce & the wonderful puppet life stories of Ramakrishna Swami Vivenanada that filled teh walls, I though t he’d move on. But instead, he got out a book & began to read beside my. Its subject was how buddhism influenced Jesus Christ, a fascinating wee subject.

A few days after that, in a quiet study moment, I took the book out myself & fell into its depths. It turns out that this russian geezer at the end of the 19th century had discovered a a tibetan text in an obscure kashmeeri monastaery, which detailed the story of christs visit to india. Theres an 18 year life-gap in the bible & it makes sense that he was studying esoteric religions in order to proclaim himself the messiah & free jerusalem from the romans. All the immaculate birth, miracles & ressurection are post-addenda to the myth to make christ seem more appealing to the laymen. Underneath it all, he was probably just a spiritual teacher. Anyway, at first I thought I’d whirl on up to Kashmeer & see for myself – but then I realized the best i’d get was a glimpse of some scroll in a language I dont understand. So I actually read the text & discovered that jesus was supposed to have spent time at the juggernaut temple in orissa – exactly where i’ll be in a couple of weeks or so. These are the relvant bits form this chronicle;

Chapter Five

In the course of his fourteenth year, the young Isha, blessed of God, came on this side of Sind and established himself among the Aryas in the land beloved of God.

Fame spread the reputation of this marvelous child throughout the length of northern Sind, and when he crossed the country of the five rivers and the Rajputana, the devotees of the god Jaine prayed him to dwell among them.

But he left the erring worshippers of Jaine and went to Juggernaut in the country of Orissa, where repose the mortal remains of Vyasa-Krishna and where the white priests of Brahma made him a joyous welcome.

They taught him to read and understand the Vedas, to cure by aid of prayer, to teach, to explain the holy scriptures to the people, and to drive out evil spirits from the bodies of men, restoring unto them their sanity.

Ive figured that somewhere in teh depths of a temple’s vaults theer may be something to corroberate the story, perhaps in a chronicle of the kings of kalinga in the state capital, Bubaneswar. Either way, my instinct says im gonna find something & with discovering King Arthur’s grave & searching for a Christ-related object, I feel like im going off on my own little Grail Quest.

After a couple of sessions on google / wikipedia, Ivecome up with a few other leads. Even if nothing comes of my quest, I should at least encounter some literature which I never knew existed;

The Mahavasma – teh epic of the sri lankan kings (in pali, the same language the lost story was originally in) – the same that mentions ashoka & other indian stories. There has been a new version uneartyehd recently in Cambodia, with many new details – unfortuanteluy its only in pali at the moment

The dipavamsa – connected to teh mahavasma & translated by Hermann Oldenberg

the White Yajur Veda – a veda which I need to raed to see if it connects with th sermon on the mount (which I also need to read)

The mashidisha – contains 84 holy men, one of which could be Jesus (the fisherman perhaps)

The Nathanamavali / teh mosque of fataphur sikri / the quaran / sufi traditions / Bhavishya Maha Purana / Rajatarangini – all have refences to jesus in india

Thats enough to be going along with for now. My first mission is to find out who was the king of kalinga during jesus’ time – jainism had supplanted buddhism by now so maybe they are connected. Plus the other cities he was supposed to have visited. Then just go with the flow

At the moment I am spending my 6th day in Jeypore. I reach’d here last Friday on a train from Vizag, steadily climbing up the west side of the wooded Aruka valley, with views growing spectacular by degrees. Every time we hit a tunnel a huge cacophony of screams & yelps uttered forth from teh mouths of the Indians – in the end I realised they were playing with the tunnels echo-systems. After a few hours we hit Asias former highest railway station at 997 meters above sea level. It was usurped of the honour in 2004 by, I’m guessing, the express railway that links China & Tibet. From there began the steady drop into Orissa & Jeypore through a landscape that increasingly looked like the highlands of Scotland.

After the comfortable hotel at Vizag I’ve opted for a bachelors lodge, with my decent but basic room costing a quid a night. Its a bit noisy at times, but I like the fact there’s no TV – a lot more conducive to working. The town itself is not that big, & its size & the way it peters out into the countryside reminds me of Wigton in Cumbria. However, what a countryside. On one side its a level plain stretching as far as the eye can see toward teh state of Chittarsgarh. On the other is this wonderful horse shoe of wooded hills. At the heart of them is this great hydro-electric dam. I took a walk over to it one day & came across this giant mace-wielding statue of the monkey god hanuman, like a little slice of disneyworld had been planted in India. Back in Jeypore, one can find a shambling old palace in the centre of the town. You cant get in, but can look down on it from neighbouring roves like a sepoy sniper during the 1857 seige of Lucknow. Theres also some proper filthy bits. Theres this school, like, who’s playground is essentially rubbish damp. Then theres this old ghat, completely choked by weeds & rubbish. Still, I thought, I’ll take a wee walk round. En route I encountered 6 man having dumps, & had to avoid a thousand human faeces – not that nice an experience actually.

This was counter’d later that day by experiencing the JAI CHITTAMALA Music Band Party. It was this ramshackle sound system on four wee carts being dragged through the streets of Jeypore. ON the heavily decorated carts were speakers & generators, plus a techno style djembi player & an eight-pad electro drum kit player. Providing the music was this cross-legged moustached guy & a Yamaha keyboard playing all sorts of celestial swirling sounds. By him, walking alongside, were a coupel of singers, huddled liek MCs at a rave. One was about eighteen, & his groove surfing melodies were better than both Ian Brown’s & my own voice put together! Amazing stuff. On both sides of the carts were an assortment of snare players & trumpeters, while directly in fron & behind were the dancers. In front were a bunch of wee boys pulling off some amazing moves including cartwheels, while at the back were all the older men doing a lot of stuff with their hands. To the side of these were all teh women, slowly walking & made up to teh gorgeous Indian max – very hot – inclusing the curious nose-bling that Orissa seems to be the home of. Then behind them were the reason for all this fun & frolics, a very handsome man, again decorated wonderfully, sat in an ambassador car either on his way to & coming form the wedding.

My nicest day involved a two & a half hour bus ride in search of Deomali – the highest mountain of the eastern Ghats. En route I passed thro Koriput, which was full of soldiers with guns gaurding against attacks from the maosit Naxalites. By the time I got to Pattangi, a small dusty town, I still had another 30 k to go to get to Deomali. Howevere, there was a pretty massive hill right in front of me, so I just climbed that instead. At the top I found myself like the sungod Surya, with the peaks of green hills circling on every side like orbiting planets. It was so reminscent of nortehrn Britain it was uncanny, & I could make out the outlines of both pendle Hill & Arthur’s seat.

Im gonna set off into the Orissan hinterland in a day or two. Its a proper step into teh unknown really. Of the 5 million tourists who visit India, less than one percent hit this state. Of them, the vast majority visit just Puri & Konark. The district Im heading for is Mayurbhanj – which has lovely nature reserves full of tigers, but also 3 rapes & 2 kidnappings a day, plus a wild killer elephant that hasn’t been caught yet. So I’ve been getting my bearings really, Orissa is another India completely & I’ve been learning a few words of Oriya to assist me – including ‘bolo swada’ which means good taste. I figure if I do get kidnapped by the naxalites, by complementing their food I should get on their good side – thats if I get fed, however…


26 / 1 / 11

PS – Ive just found out that the ex is coming to India for a coupel of months with the express intention of not seeing me. She could have gone anywhere in the world, but had to come here. I think she was missing the oppurtunity of doing my head in.

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