Usha Kishore

Buddhas of Bamiyan
Two vast statutes stood on the Silk Road,hewn into sandstone cliffs, sculpted fromlimestone, mud and straw, stuccoed by theingenious mind of man. Giant frescoes fromthe other side of time, one of carmine red,celestial light and the other of rainbow hue,meditating radiance, pillaring a world,shrouded in the grey mists of war.Their quotidian rhythms breathed patternsof a mountainous day, a dusty white dippedin ochre and of a swathed night, a gunpowderblack deflagrating into a pyrotechnic dawnthat endlessly debated on vice and virtue.
Their robes of sandstone lace pure as the sun,who dreamt on cormorant wings, his twilightprayers lighting their feet. The ancient jewelsof their robes, robbed by the wind, told of timewarped conquest and siege. Nesting in their folds,the songs of passerines that aspired for the skies.
Nothing remains of that Gandhara art, the handsthat carved and the mind that dreamt, all devouredby the hungry earth. Their outlines still linger onthe ashen rock face. Behind them they left bluemurals, moth eaten by time and sitting Buddhasin vermillion robes, cross legged on the thresholdof palm leaved centuries. Mythical creatures playat their feet, sketching intertwined lines of somegreater universal causality that manifests in sandstone.

Gandhara – Indo-Greek
Siddhārtha becomes Buddha
Spirit like, a starved, ethereal Siddhārthatakes a sip of milk from the village girl’spitcher. The milk chokes in his throat as hegasps for air. He is a warrior prince reducedto seeking alms. Suffering and sensuality tiehim up in infinite knots. Somewhere, a wheelspins and a conch speaks. Siddhārtha listens.
The conch speaks in a Pali dialect of beginningsand endings, of desire spreading like wild fire,of ambition vaulting over the Himalayas, of truth,bitter as fenugreek. The wheel spins stories of thewhite elephant dream of a childless queen, of abeautiful woman, birthing a lotus boy under ashala tree clinging on to its flowering branches.He reclines into jade dreams of spinning mandalasin lightning runes and nirvana, ultimate liberation,etched in gnostic lustre. The infinite knots bindhim like seasons binding the cyclic sky, like thesun and the moon binding the pregnant earth.
He wanders the streets of Gaya, the wheelspinning inside him. He hears it rattling in thegiant banyan tree, he hears it in bird song, heinhales its pulsing rhythm. He feels the searingpain of spinning into himself, while turning away.
Under the sacred banyan tree, he spins out themarble palace that walled him from the outsideworld, the music that danced from torch lit halls,the chariots of gold, the comely woman pining forhim in yellow robes, the chuckling infant, imprintof his lineage. Under the banyan tree, Siddhārtha,the blue eyed one becomes Buddha, radiant as light.

Indian born Usha Kishore is an internationally published poet and writer, now resident on the Isle of Man, where she teaches English in a Secondary School.