Krishna And The Knicker Snatcher

The Brahmaputra river that runs through Assam, is one of the largest rivers in India, and one of the mightiest in the world during monsoon season. If you’re travelling from Arunachal Pradesh and you need to cross, it’s a right bitch. To travel by road it is a 500km trip to the nearest bridge, the Indian government began building another one over the widest point some years ago, but like a lot of things in this country, the project was simply half baked then left to go stale. Thankfully there are a few wooden ferries than one can embark on from the muddy banks of Sonarighat, an old army bus will take you the rest of the way to Dibrugarh. The whole operation seemed a little under the table to me, but it was by far the quickest way…

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The muddy banks of the Brahmaputra, with the half completed bridge

Majuli Island in the middle of the Brahmaputra, is the largest river island in India. The island is low key, here you can enjoy the laid back vibe and eat parathas for breakfast, lunch and dinner as that’s all any of the restaurants sell. If you want to get sweaty you can rent a bicycle and go for a ride along the island’s lush water meadows and rice fields, watch out for the goats…

Majuli (like that Ali G song, ma Julie) is the abode of neo-Vishnuism, a form of Hinduism that was created in the 15th century by Sankardev, an Assamese philosopher. Unlike everyday Hinduism which worships 330,000,000 deities, Vishnuism focuses only on Vishnu mainly in his Krishna carnation. 22 sutras (vaishnavite monasteries) can be found on Majuli Island.

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Vaishnavite monks

For many Hindus, Krishna is incarnate, he walks the earth just like you and me, but still can defy the odds of space and time. There’s a tale which claims that Krishna had 16,108 wives, and that he manipulated himself 16,108 times so that he could be with all of the woman at once on his island-city of Dwarka. That many woman at one time? No wonder he’s worshiped, every man in the world would love to be like Krishna!

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Garuda, the mount and protector of Lord Vishnu

On our final morning, I woke up to find that all of our underwear had been stolen from the washing line. After a little sleuthing about, the locals seemed to think the culprit was the village madman. Crime is non existent on Majuli except when it comes to garment grabbing, this happened once before, five years ago. I was recommended not to bother reporting the incedent, as the police would most likely be busy playing cards and bribing rickshaw drivers. So I managed to put my disturbing thoughts of a dribbling lunatic wearing one of the compadre’s size 32F’s aside, when the man who owned the lodge said we didn’t have to pay for the room to make up for the inconvenience. I gladly accepted and we left the island having broken the record for the cheapest paid accomodation yet, at a remarkably low price of a pair of kegs, 6 pairs of knickers and a bra!

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