A Fishy Story: Pushka

Huge Fish
Huge Fish

When traveling in India, I met up with two friends, John and Mel, and we traveled together awhile. We decided to visit an ancient temple town in the Rajesthani desert called Pushka. At its center is a sacred lake filled with huge fish, and is surrounded by temples. Hot and sticky after the long and dusty bus ride from Jaipur, we made a beeline for the water.

John and Mel stand on the lakeside as I strip off to my underpants and dive into the murky water. It is my most direct way of honoring and getting to know the spirit of the place. I break the surface of the water, spitting and spluttering, with a huge joyful grin on my face. How gloriously refreshing! I swim out to the center of the lake and float on my back under the spiral sun. After a delightful, cooling rest I float closer to the bank, where priests are performing puja, chanting and officiating at a brightly decorated temple. I am in bliss, supported by the cool water, a gentle breeze fanning my exposed skin.

Suddenly I jackknife bolt upright, shocked, and in the process swallow a mouthful of water. Oh God… Something large and solid has just brushed past my leg. Visions of ‘Jaws’ flash past my inner eye. Oh my God it’s happening again, and yet again…then the back of a huge fish, maybe six feet long, breaks the surface next to me, and then another. I realize I am floating towards the center of a shoal of huge fish. The priests are feeding them Prasad, food that has been blessed during their ceremony. Hundreds of the monsters, some over five feet long, slither and writhe together, backs out of the water, sunshine skidding off their mirror scales.

I decide to relax and let go. This requires a great deal of trust, but I simply cannot deny this extraordinary experience, indeed, gift of the gods. I drift among these giant water beings, totally surrendered to the outlandish experience, and have the extraordinary sensation of being massaged by countless muscular, smooth, hard, sinewy, serpentine beings in an orgy of sensation. I am transported to a new, unimaginable universe in which beautiful aquatic beings communicate by body language and touch…

Rubbing, sliding, rasping, butting, and pulsing, they cover every inch of my body. Sides, back, front, top and bottom are all rhythmically serviced: I am in ecstasy. After swallowing another couple of mouthfuls of extremely dubious water, discretion takes the better part of valor and I rejoin my friends by the lakeside. I give thanks for such a wonderful welcome by the spirit of Pushka, and eventually come back to earth. After drying myself quickly in the fierce afternoon sun we walk together in search of rooms for the duration of our stay.