The title of this blog entry may seem a little disparaging, though repeated efforts to initiate conversation or a relationship came to nothing. All I know about this man was that he was an older man, diminutive in stature and by his appearance was definitely a sadhu. It also seemed that Manikarnika Ghat appeared to be his home.
He was there every day, sleeping beside one of the temples amongst the goats and cows and spent his days silently watching the antyesti rituals. I never saw him engage in conversation with another human being, apart from to ask for chai, or some food, or to acknowledge with a little nod if chai was bought for him. His whole life seemed to revolve around the ghat where cremations of his Hindu brothers and sisters occured.
Assi Ghat is the southern most ghat in Varanasi where the Rivers Assi and Ganges join in confluence. It is a quiet ghat, popular with students from the close by Benares Hindu University, Hindu worshippers who bath before paying homage to Lord Shiva in the form of huge lingam situated under a peepal tree, and tourists who desire a quieter experience than that in central Varanasi.
Its origin is again bound up in Hindu folklore. The first legend states that after slaying Shumbh-Nishumbh, goddess Durga threw her sword away, and where it landed resulted in the emergence of a big stream ( the river Assi). Secondly, legends say that Lord Rudra was furious with Asuras. This fury has led him to slay eighty Asuras in a day. Eighty in Hindi would translate to Assi. So the place where these Assi (eighty) Asuras were slain, has been named as Assi Ghat.