The Eternal Return

Majuli Island surrounded by the waters of the Brahmaputra River in the Indian state of Assam.Amongst the rice paddies and sparse forests of Majuli stand a number of Neo-Vaishnavite monasteries known as Monks in a Satra temple play sacred music.A monk in front of his home.A monk dries harvested rice in the sun.Three generations of monks in their living quarters. A monk in front of his residence in the morning sun.A fisherman in the Brahmaputra River paddles along the crumbling edge of Majuli Island.Monks perform a ritual in a monastery temple.A young monk.A peasant scatters seeds while a monk looks on.A pet parakeet and a young monk studying his lessons.Monk.Pilgrms prostrate themselves to receive blessings from a monk.A peasant winnowing millet at a Satra.Eroded by the Brahmaputra, Majuli Island crumbles into the water.A monk hangs his clothes to dry.Drumming during a sacred dance in a temple.Devotees light candles during a ritual in a temple.A monk looks on a a cow who has just given birth, the calf still unable to stand.Lunch time in a monk's quarters.An old monk.During a ritual ceremony a monk distributes sanctified flowers to visitors.In a monastery garden a monk tends to his plot of potatoes.Along the perimeter of Majuli, the Brahmaputra has washed away all the vegetation and topsoil, leaving behind stagnant pools of water.On a winter morning a monk and a cat warm themselves in the sun.In a temple, monks and lay people gather for a ceremony.A peasant harvesting rice in the monastery fields.Two monks debating.One of the monastery cats and a young monk.Guided by their instructor, monks practice dancing in preparation for an important ceremony.A basket of dried rice on his head, a monk heads to the granary.In those places where the water has stripped Majuli of its vegetation and topsoil, the lush, tropical island takes on the semblance of a desert. During the monsoon these eroded areas become completely flooded and the desert becomes the sandy bed of the Brahmaputra.Two monks. Fruits and utensils.Monks take a break during dance and drumming practice before a big ceremony.Monk.Candles lit by pilgrims during an important ritual in a temple.A young monk helps a sharecropper woman winnowing rice, while an older monk looks on.Late afternoon at a monastery.Fishermen work in an eroded and flooded part of the island.A young monk. Before morning prayers monks prepare offerings of apples, grains and coconuts. At the conclusion of a ritual a monk distributes sanctified flowers.In front of his dwelling a monk studies the Mahabharata, an ancient Indian epic poem.Monks perform sacred music and dance during a ceremony in a temple.Darkness falls on a desert-like landscape and a new channel cut by the floodwaters of the Brahmaputra.Masks used in sacred dramas.A young monk in a sacred drama about the life of Krishna, an incarnation of the the god Vishnu.A monk plays the cymbals and sings, withdrawing into himself, into the center of his being.A monk prepares himself before a sacred drama.Applying makeup to a boy monk who will play, and symbolically become, the young Krishna.Monks drumming during a sacred drama.Prayer at night.A monk applying his own makeup.A solitary prayer to Vishnu.A monk during a sacred drama.Lost in thought.A Satra mural depicts a Hindu creation myth in which the god Vishnu dreams the universe into existence.Algae in a pool of water left behind after a flood on Majuli Island.