Just after I posted Saraswasti Puja Day, Drubgyud Tenzin Rinpoche texted me to say he’d been invited to a Sawaswasti Puja by Bettina, a German woman who runs a library in the Benares Art and Culture building, and would I like to go along. And of course, I couldn’t resist.
It turns out that Bettina is a highly respected Indian Tantric scholar who taught the khenpos and monks as Dzongsar Institute last year. Indian scholarship is overflowing with proud and painfully chauvanistic Indian men, and for her to be held in such high regard here—the Indian government admires her so much they even granted her Indian citizenship—is quite an achievement.
The puja took place on the top floor of the building and adjoins the rooms that house the library. I found the whole place breathtakingly beautiful, and at the same time very simple and elegant—my favourite combination. And such a contrast to the streets of Varanasi that flow with the diarrhea of so many beings, mixed with copious other bodily fluids, the exact nature of which I prefer not to dwell on.
It was a short puja, I don’t think it took more than two and a half hours, and very cosy, just 16 or so participants. Rinpoche and I passed the camera between us, so I’m afraid I can’t remember exactly which pictures he took and which I took, but the monkey that spied on us on Shivala Ghat is Rinpoche’s, and the Saraswasti at the end, which is the one I showed with her head covered in my previous post, is mine.