Tag Archives: hungry ghosts

Narrator – by foot under the eye of the Cyclops


The first two days Luxembourg showed itself from its delightful side. I walked by a magical valley where I might have met elves and fairies. The people were nice and I imagined myself in paradise.

After this lovely meeting, I made acquaintance with Luxembourg as trolls country where hungry ghosts lived. The third night in Luxembourg there was a terrible thunderstorm. In the dark the flashes seemed to come from the eye of the Cyclops [1]. The lightning illuminated my path; the thunders rolled by the valleys. I had to flee, but there was no way out. Terrified I could only walk on. After several hours the thunderstorm disappeared and in a shelter I finally found rest. The rest of the night I heard the ticking of the rain. At dawn the rain stopped.

[2]

The whole area was shrouded in a thick fog and it was very cold in the early autumn. This world was new to me; I felt trapped in a grey dark underworld. I was looking for a way out. I saw nobody; I heard nobody. I was completely alone in a silent cold world. On my beard, my eyebrows and eyelashes were small drops. My clothing was cold and clammy. This night the Maasai God Engaï [3] had not brought me to life again. Was this the punishment for the night fire in the forest [4] that was lit by our militia in Kenya where we had killed the villagers with joy who wanted to escape from the fire?

[5]

After a half an hour walk it became slightly lighter; the sun rose: first very vague in the distance, later as an eye through the haze. This world was strange to me. I was still very cold. Later near Amsterdam I would get used to this weather type; I could blindly find my way in there.

[6]

On the left was a way uphill. I had to get away from this underworld. Tied under a ram Odysseus escaped from the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus. Covered in woollen clouds I walked uphill out of this underworld. Slowly it became lighter and the greyness faded away. At the top of the hill the clouds in the valleys looked like the fur of a flock of giant sheep.

[7]

On the way up I escaped from this lugubrious underworld. The sun was shining at last; after an hour walk I was dry and warm again. Luxembourg showed itself from its fairy-tale side. Via the plateau I arrived in Belgium.


[1] According to Greek mythology, Zeus owes his lightning, and Poseidon his thrident to the Cyclopes. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclops. See for a brief description of the adventures of Odysseus with the Cyclops: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus

[2] Source image: http://lb.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donnerwieder

[3] According to a Maasai myth the God Engaï gives cattle to the people and he brings people to life after their death and each day he lets the Moon die. After a sin wherein an opponent was desired death, Engaï lets people die and each night he brought the Moon to life. Source:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[4] See the last part of book 1 of the Mahābhārata where  at the fire in the Khandava forest, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa shoot arrows with joy to all that leaves the forest. Sources: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and further; Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fog

[6] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebel

[7] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebel

Narrator – away from home


Like my father, I travelled from my mother country to another continent to have a better life. I didn’t want to wander around Europe but I decided to live in Amsterdam – a city where men may love men. Finally this intention worked out exactly reversed.

Via the parents of Arjen – named Arjuna by me – I received documents and a visa for the Netherlands. I left my name Kṛṣṇa behind in Kenya. In this way I hoped to leave behind the dark pages in my life in which I lived with the hungry ghosts in hell. This was not successful: in my dreams and in my stories these pages returned for a long time.

[1]

In my passport I have listed as first name Narrator [2]; like my father I wished to have the role of storyteller in life’s story for the audience. As a tribute to my father, I provided the surname Nārāyana [3].

At the end of the school year I resigned as indwelling teacher at the school. I said goodbye to Arjen and his parents and I thanked them for all the help. One of the teachers at school introduced me to a driver who regularly travelled via Nakuru and Lodwar to Jūbā in South Sudan. The driver made contact with a colleague who drove to Khartoum – the capital of Sudan [4]. In Khartoum I could travel to Wadi Halfa, just before the border with Egypt.

My experience and instinct as a soldier were helpful at a roadblock. With yet another bend to go, the driver noticed a checkpoint in the distance just before a town. The driver could not justify my presence. In the bend I could slip out of the truck. Via a detour through the scrub I entered the town. There I met the driver again to continue our travel.

At Wadi Halfa I could start as indwelling servant on a tourist boat on Lake Victoria. This boat travelled to the North. At Abu Simbil I visited the Temple of Ramses II. Here I saw images of rulers from lost times who were venerated as idols in their hubris. On my trip along the Nile I noticed more forms of pride – as dust particles in the universe. At school I learned the first commandment according to the Catholic format from the sisters: “Thou shalt not worship idols, but worship only Me and above all love me”. This “Me” always remained for me the starry Night and the Moon. These images of idols were no match for the sight of the night sky at new moon.

[5]

In Egypt I travelled the Nile with different boats. On the way I saw several pyramids at a distance – for me pointers to the starry Night and the Moon.

[6]

I could pass the Nile delta by boat to Alexandria. In the library of Alexandria, I read all the stories of Scheherazade – the narrator of the stories from “Thousand and one Night”. Every night she came back to life like the Moon was brought to life by the God Engaï [7] in the Maasai myth.

From Alexandria I left Africa. As my father never returned to India, I never came back in Africa. My mother was not able to come to Amsterdam, because she could not leave her herd. I dared not to ask my father, because I was afraid that he would never go back to my mother: I could not inflict that on her.


[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hel_(mythologie)

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrator

[3] Nārāyana means in Sanskrit: “”Son of the original man”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[4] In Sanskrit “Su” means amongst others “supreme, good, excellent, beautiful, easy” and “Dān” means “to be, making straight.

[5] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboe_Simbel

[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Giza

[7] According to a Maasai myth the God Engaï gives cattle to the people and he brings people to life after their death and each day he lets the Moon die. After a sin wherein an opponent was desired death, Engaï lets people die and each night he brought the Moon to life. Source:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

Narrator – back on earth


The fire in the forest [1] burned all night. The next morning it still smouldered; in the late afternoon the fire finally died. The nocturnal massacre on the edge of the forest yielded nothing. The smell of burned forest mingled with the smell of dead bodies and blowflies were everywhere.

At the beginning of the next moonless night I left the militia. I walked the whole night. I followed the destination [2] of my name Kṛṣṇa [3] – in that moonless night I escaped alive from hell and I evaded the death of Engaï [4]. Later I understood that a few months later the militia was massacred by the army of the country. Just before the first sunlight I discarded my uniform and weapon.

[5]

The next day I traded some belongings from the militia against clothes. In just over a week I moved to my mother’s pastures [6]. Through information of acquaintances I found her temporary residence.

[7]

She saw me at a distance and my younger brothers and sisters ran to me. My mother was so happy until she saw my eyes – dark and cold as the night. She saw in my face the fire in the forest, my movements reflected the hungry ghosts and she smelled the hell on my skin. I received food and shelter, but the next morning she sent me away with the words: “You took from the world, now you must give back to the world. Afterwards you will be welcome as guest.”

By foot I went to the capital. On the outskirts of the city I received a non-paid post as indwelling teacher on a school. During the hours I helped pupils with their work and outside school time I went to the library for study. My English and Sanskrit improved tremendously and I learned and practised the important epic stories so I could start as storyteller – like my father.

[8]

In the city I met the most beautiful men on whom I secretly fell in love. After a year I encountered my first love – so normal, so obvious, so salvaged. His name was Arjen; I called him Arjuna [9]. His parents moved from Netherlands to Nairobi for their work. Outwardly we were only friends, secretly we were lovers. His skin was much lighter; he studied at the University. I helped him with Sanskrit; He helped me with English, French and German.

Two years later we visited my mother. She greeted me as her lost son. All my brothers and sisters were so joyful to see me. A few days later my father came along and we were happy.

My mother saw immediately that Arjen and I were more than just friends. To protect me against the overwhelming forces that a love between young men evokes in her country, she sent me away to a city in a distant land where men may love men. In this way she bridged [10] the dilemma between her world order and duty and human action [11]. She called the name of the city: Amsterdam. A few days later I left. Never I visited my parents again, but they accompany me wherever I go.


[1] See for the fire in the Khandava forest: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm book 1 Section CCXXVII and also: Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990,  p. 71 – 84

[2] In Sanskrit  nāmadheya means next to  “name” or “title” also “designation”. Source: Maurer, Walter Harding, The Sanskrit Language, An Introductory Grammar and Reader. London: Routledge Curson, 2004 Deel II p. 771

[3] Kṛṣṇa means in Sanskrit amongst other “black”, “black blue”, “dark period of the mooncycle” Source: electronic version of the dictionaire Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[4] According to a Maasai myth the God Engaï gives cattle to the people and he brings people to life after their death and each day he lets the Moon die. After a sin wherein an opponent was desired death, Engaï lets people die and each night he brought the Moon to life. Source:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[5] Source image: http://ki.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sunrise_over_Mount_Kenya.jpg

[6] In het Sanskriet betekent “nama” “weidegrond” (voor een nomadenvolk is dit een vorm van bestemming). Bron: elektronische versie van het woordenboek Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[7] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[8] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenya

[9] Arjuna is one of the main characters in the Mahābhārata. He is one of the five brothers who live together with one wife Draupadi – the most beautiful and influential wife of her time – in polyandry. The five brother fight for their rightful share of the kingdom, for the honour of Draupadi and for maintenance of the world order. The name Arjuna means amongst others “wit, clear, silver”; one may recognise also “arh” in the name meaning “worthy, capable of”.

[10] In Sanskrit the word “yuj” means also “link, tie, prepare, order”

[11] In the Bhagavad Gita – a small and old part of the Mahābhārata – Krishna – the charioteer – encourages  Arjuna to start the battle wherein families, teachers and pupils stand opposite each other in the warfare between world order and duty (Dharmakshetra) en human behaviour (Kurukshetra). Dharmakshetra consists of  Dharma meaning “place of continuous self/Self”, and  “kshetra” – literally: field. Kurukshetra consists of Kuru – a conjugation of “kr” meaning “to make, to do or to act” and “kshetra” – literally: field.

Narrator – from heaven to hell


In my youth I lived in heaven. At that time I had five obstacles in my life: my clothes got dirty, my body changed, my armpits sweated , my body smelled and life was sometimes uncomfortable [1]. My mother took care that my clothes, my armpits and my body were washed when we had enough water in the dry land. This was a feast. Changes of our body belong to human life; when the changes are over and the pains are forgotten, the situation is back to normal. And a sober, simple life does not always include comfort.

[2]

During my school time I sometimes adorned as warrior, more for fun and vanity than to prepare for battle. As student I was not interested in fighting.

[3]

At the end of my school time I moved from my motherland. I craved for the adventures as told in the stories of my ancestors and I felt an urge for comfort, money, fame and power. Or in the language of my ancestors: I wished to change from Nara [4] to Rājan [5].

While everyone was asleep, I left my mother; I left a note behind with the message that everything would be all right and that she could be proud of me.

After a few days wandering, I encountered a militia. I jointed them. I received an uniform with a weapon and I was trained to military just as the heroes from the Kṣhatriya [6] or warriors/rulers caste in the Mahābhārata.

[7]

I was not a strong soldier, but I was smart and fast and I immediately saw what was needed. The leaders of the militia saw this too: I was driver of the leader of the militia. Like Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad Gita [8] I was charioteer and advisor.

Similar to a charioteer on the chariot I was cook, I gave advise in battle, I encouraged, I offered protection in emergency, I rescued from difficult situations and afterwards I told the heroics of the fighters.

By the transition to the militia, I left heaven and I entered the world of hungry ghosts and the extremely painful world of hell. My life went from peace to war, from love and care to violence.

At the end of one night we set the forest surrounding a village on fire. The God of fire and the wind spread the flames. Our militia shot with joy at everyone and everything that came out of the forest and we were happy [9].

In daylight the disillusionment followed. We saw that we had killed everything and everyone from new-born to the elderly. Hereafter I left the world of hungry ghosts and hell.


[1] From: Cleary Thomas, The Undying Lamp of Zen – The testament of Zen Master Torei. Boston: Shambhala, 2010. Voetnoot 3 op p. 23

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people

[4] In Sanskrit “nara” literally means “someone who does not rejoice”. This word is used for an ordinary man.

[5] “Rājan” means in Sanskrit “rejoice in birth/origin”. This word is used for someone from royal or military caste. Source: elektronische versie van het woordenboek Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.

[6] For the caste system in India see amongst others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_use_of_children

[8] For an introduction of the Bhagavad Gita that is a small part of the Mahābhārata: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_Gita. A good introduction for a translation Sanskrit – English: Sargeant, Winthrop, The Bhagavad Gȋtâ. Albany: State New York University Press, 1994. An introduction of a religious – yoga – background: Yogananda, Paramahansa, The Bhagavad Gȋtâ. Los Angelas: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2001

[9] See the last part of book 1 of the Mahābhārata where  at the fire in the Khandava forest, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa shoot arrows with joy to all that leaves the forest. Sources: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and further; Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84