Dawn is misty on the banks of the Sangam. Enveloped in a gigantic quiet, the water awaits the pilgrim. Sanatan dharma—dizzyingly varied, incorrigibly plural, welcoming of all, celebratory of difference and eccentricity—reveals its ancient provenance in millions of little rituals performed on the ghats. It’s fairly twinkling with life. There is incense, there are lamps, there is cannabis.
The greatest Mughal emperor too succumbed to the addiction of the Sangam. The orthodoxy wanted a face-off with Akbar, but Akbar’s face was turned towards the Sangam. The emperor built his largest fort—the Allahabad fort—on the banks of this quiet confluence and dreamed of Din-e-Ilahi, Sulh-i-kul, respect for all religions.
Sangam is a belief system. Sangam is a way of life. The spirit of the Sangam is infused in the great unifying philosophies of India.