Fresh Water: Veer Bhadra Mishra: Holy War for My Mother

Veer Bhadra Mishra

Lifting folded palms to the rising sun, silver-haired Veer Bhadra Mishra steps into the Ganges to begin his ritual morning ablution. As the mahant, or spiritual and administrative head, of the second largest temple in Varanasi, the main destination for Hindu pilgrims in India, Mishra is a very important man. Since the 16th century, the job has passed from father to eldest son. Devotees scramble to touch his feet, traders whisper their business hopes, and students seek his blessing before final exams. As a child he learned the sacred chants and rites--including the importance of a daily dip in the Ganges,...

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