‘Aap kripya karke ek joint banayenge?’ requested Shankar Baba. Smiling mischievously, I gladly obliged. After all, Naga sadhus are exempt from the NDPS Act of 1985 that bans the possession and smoking of marijuana in India. It was the crack of dawn in the mountain town of Baijnath in Himachal Pradesh. On that cold October morning, congregated next to Babaji’s dhuni – the sacrificial fire, I could see him perform his morning ritual, which involved chanting mantras for specific deities. Not very far from his little hut was the Binwa river, flowing in her full splendor. The gushing sound of the river and the smell of fresh herbal incense grounded me further to my core.
While my mind was synchronized in a meditative poise, my heart was looking forward to the upcoming adventure – trek to the temple of the Great Lord of Lightning, what the local villagers refer to as Bijli Mahadev. It is an ancient Shiva temple nestled in the laps of Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. Babaji tells us, that every 12 years, massive lightening rips apart the Shivling into pieces, which are later put together by the temple priest using local butter.