It was an usual evening after yet another uneventful day at BHEL and I decided to go for a walk down the road which runs outside the township here in Bangalore. I had my companion with me, she kept playing my fav tunes one after the other and before I knew it the road on which I had set upon was over and I was on another road heading for Yeswanthpur which is a good 8 km from my place.
I kept crossing roads for fun, juggling with the fast B'lore traffic and occassionally made a mental note of the bus numbers of that route coz there was not way I was going to walk back to the township from Yeshwanthpur. Around the corner I noticed a familiar structure. A bright white temple against the black night sky. It was the ISKON Temple of Bangalore. Though I have fond memories of visiting this place with a dear friend a year back, this particular visit added a new dimension to my understand of prayers/chanting and moreso the logkepper (goD).
I had walked for almost 2 hours and I was tired. I had one bottle of Nimbooz. So by the time I walked up the stairs of the temple (which are are a lot by the way for no reason and you have to go through each and every small temple before you reach the Don) I was thirsty, hungry, tired and I wanted to pee. On the way up the stairs there were signboards guiding your way and there were posters of "hare rama. hare krishna". They had tag lines like "chant my name and your mind will be free". Well, so I did chant. I am an athiest by reason and not by conviction, so it is only fair I give everything a chance. So I chanted and I sang. I sang in tune and I sang out of tune. I sang down the stairs even when people started staring at me. By some weird logic it was ok to sing lorDs name in the temple hall, but not down the stairs. But I was still all "harE ramA, harE krishnA", coz I had to give it a chance. And to my amazement in the state of HRHK buzzing in my head I started beliving that there was a guy somehwere, clad in JARI clothing listening to me and saying " see he is chanting my name, lets make him happy".
I was soon out of the temple and after a little more walk I got a 401B to drop me back home. This was when it all dawned (at 9 pm). How it was just chemical imbalance which was causing me to believe in a non-existent unproven being. In that tired and dehydrated state of mind I would have bought any crap that was told to me. As I regained my breathe and felt the cool evening breeze against my face, I began to piece it together as to why all the places of worships are at such difficult to go places. Take for example Thirupathi or Badrinath or Kedarnath or the long Qs in the Shiridi temple. The basic underlying principle remains that by the time to reach the shrine you should be so fu*king tired out of your minds that you will believe anything they tell you. WHat you will see will be a mixture of dehydration, tugg of war amongs the crowds to stay a second longer to stay a little longer in front of the idol and your own confused sense of belief. It not fair to drug a man and then show him something make him belive that crap and then hold him accountable for it later on.
This is only the spiritual end of it. There is also a commercial end to it. Leaving the temple is not that easy either, you have to go through atleast 10 different halls selling a variety of items from books to pictures to keychains and even krishna endorsed plum cakes. So you are tired and have most likely lost most of your ability to use logic and reason and then they- these men of goD who designed this place- push you along a mall... Rest should be obvious.
Well, not much can be done about the char-dham as they are going to be on hill tops or in tunnels where you will have to sweat it out to get a glimple of the idol or plain ice in some cases. But if you ever go to ISKON I would suggest a motor ride than an 8 km walk so that you don't end up with krishna endorsed plum cake and HRHK key chain. :)
PS : If it is about darshan, try Tata Sky Daily Darshan.