This project aims to look at the origins and modern manifestations of a name that is sacred in India and crosses continents, from the east in China to as far west as Iraq. That name is Kashi. This is not a story about me or my family history. This project is in parts a visual anthropology and reflection of cultural and spiritual heritage of Hinduism and an outsider's attempt to understand what the current state of affairs is in these places and how a name travels in an arc.
Kashi derives from Kishi in ancient times from India and was for more than 5 (check that number) thousands years the name of what is now Varanasi, India. It is the founding site and most holy place in Hinduism. The great Ganges River runs through it and at that point is the confluence of 5 rivers so for millennia has been the repository of so many ancients cultures, as rivers historically carried the memories of human civilization.
Kashi is also the original name of what is now Kashgar in China and is connected to Kashan in Iran. Finally, it makes an appearance in ancient Baghdad, Iraq, which is where my mother and father were born.
I have already been to Varanasi, India to begin this long term project and I seek funding to finish (or depending on if we feel Varanasi is done) or move onto the next chapters, which will ultimately include Kashgar, Kashan and Baghdad.
The distinct vibe of Varanasi is live and let live, indulgence in religion and an easy way of life. The ancient rhythms are infused into today's reality.
Avoid politics and instead of looking for differences and problems, seek a more spiritual (non ecumenical) feeling and look for commonalities of humanity based on shared values and history, regardless of religious, political or ethnic differences.