Tuesday, 1 June, 2010

Keep walking

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.


sumana said...

or else they should open up restaurants just outside the main temple, and some clean restooms..i guess even God would want us to be non tired while doing the chanting. some say that the way to a temple is difficult as it is while walking those wafer thin uphill roads, thirsty and longing to rest ur behind, is when you keep saying "O god, how far is it?", and in turn chant His name some more. i am not faking, this was told to me while I embarked on such a journey...

Prachi Bansal said...

very cynical bloke....
Lord doesn't want anyone to believe anything blindly... we believe whatever we want to...

gowri said...

lol sid u gave one more dimension to the temple experience
I had the following in mind-
immerse all the senses in activities which lead to a trance like state which leads you to believe that some higher power is acting, this includes-
1) bell tolls and important sounding nonsense verses to immerse the ears
2) deity in its grandeur to impress the eyes
3) sandalwood, agarbattis etc to swindle ur sense of smell
4) prasad for the taste buds
5) sprinkling water, keeping tikas, circling of hand around aarthi etc for the sense of touch.

and an overall air of seriousness, importance and unquestionable self righteousness leads to the creation of the trance.

Now you may add your money to the hundiyal after a few moments of concentrating on the omnipotent stone figure and hey presto your wishes are granted.

The physical endurance angle is something which is true, but I hadnt thought of earlier. Fasting is also a part of the game i suppose.

Nitish Vashishtha said...

very controversial topic, because i think religion and beliefs are not explainable by current science to a level of confidence/conviction to justify our logic. I believe there is more to be lead into false beliefs, for eg. there are hundreds of temples in the mountains which are taxing to reach, so physically exhausted ppl should be equally vulnerable to hokums at them all, that is where the human factor comes in, how come millions of ppl are led into believing that 1 temple gives better return on prayers than the other? just because sum one told you so? 99.99% times, yes.... Ppl in psychological distress are more vulnerable and hence to reduce risk of prayers going unheard prefer to visit a place with much better track record. The funny thing is unlike most investments(yes i am referring to prayer as an investment), ppl dont keep a record of their heard and unheard prayers on paper... hence no proof, just word of mouth, on worthiness of temple, translating into greater fan(devout) following.

Nitish Vashishtha said...

anyhow, good to hear you still find time for long walks, i envy you :(

NIshaDoshi said...

lols.. now i cn mk out how u wrote awakening.. :P