Saturday, September 25, 2010

In the Name of God

There are a number of things we do In the Name of God – we perform long and arduous poojas, we undertake punishing fasts, we chant lots of verses, we visit far off places of worship – but what is the basis of all these doings? Did God really want His devotees to incur so much pain to please Him?

Temple visits today have become painful tasks for common devotees. The commercialization of temples is a much publicized fact today. For every single step, there is money to be paid – tickets, Prasad, everything today comes at a price.

I recently visited a temple in Karnataka. Due to some renovation work in the temple, the darshan timings had been changed from 4:30 PM to 7 PM. We reached at 4 PM only to realize that we still had 2.5 hrs to kill before darshan. Unfortunately, there was not a single waiting area to be seen. Worse still, it began raining thereby compounding the woes of all the stranded devotees. The security guards were having a field day driving away people who were trying to take shelter under the main roof of the temple.

A long and painful wait later, the queue gates were opened for devotees at 5 PM. We finally had a roof above our heads. But no seats were available and we had to sit on the floor till 7 PM when the temple gates were finally opened. Phew! A typical South Indian Temple visit scenario!

Usually, no food is taken before any major pooja. But that means, if due to any reason the pooja gets delayed, the person performing has to undertake an impromptu fast…! This happened to me last year. I was up at 6 AM as the pooja was supposed to take place at 6:30. But the pooja got delayed and didn’t take place till around 10:30 AM. All the while I was trying to survive on an empty stomach with just water and some fruit which I was not feeling like to have. Luckily, the ritual was performed before I could faint. How I enjoyed breakfast on that day!

I was recounting this episode to a friend of mine who made a pertinent point – my devotion need not be measured by how long I have starved… he asked me to keep some biscuits or something handy the next time there is a pooja at home so I need not suffer like that again. I saw the point – after all, spoiling one’s health is definitely not the motive behind any pooja, right? So this time, I had a few biscuits with me which I munched whenever I felt faint…: -)

It is common for people to ask for fulfillment of wishes at any temple, probably famed to be wish fulfilling. When I was in Hyderabad, I visited the Chilkoor Balaji temple there which has supposedly been modeled on the Tirupati Balaji temple. Chilkoor Balaji is famed as ‘Visa God’. The reason behind this nomenclature is that the area around the temple (Mehdipatnam) has a lot of engineering colleges where the desire of most students is to go abroad. They would visit the temple and pray for Visa. Sooner or later the wish would be granted and thus, the name ‘Visa God’ stuck!

But I sometimes doubt the rationale behind asking for wishes like job satisfaction, marriage or kid at a temple. Isn’t the fulfillment of these wishes more in our hands than in God’s? And the Pandits then have a good time making the devotees perform various poojas to supposedly fulfil these wishes and thereby the devotees end up spending a lot of money. The dakshina that Pandits earn these days support a lifestyle similar to that of a high ranking official in an MNC (I am not joking!). In fact, in places like Mumbai where devotees are hard pressed for time, Pandits customize the long shlokas making them shorter and less time consuming!

As we move in a more modernized era, people should become more rational in their approach to God. But I don’t see any change… and people continue doing impractical things… all In the Name of God!

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4 Comments:

At 5:37 PM , Blogger mythalez said...

me too no likes rigorous-organised religion that is force-fed :P

 
At 12:46 PM , Blogger pRasad said...

Visa god :))...

BTW,Indeed pandits are earning more than you and me..I am planning to change profession..:)

 
At 1:03 PM , Blogger Bharat said...

Again you want to change the world but not yourself...

It's pandits business....they are in the business of pleasing d god (which they failed to do for themselves) and u r their customer....u wanna avail their services ...avail it or else leave it...choice is urs.....why blame others for your own foolishness...

 
At 11:50 PM , Blogger SRILAXMI said...

Mythalez,

Well said...!

Prasad,

First of all, welcome back... :) n yeah, visa god is really der... let me knw wen u change ur profession... will call u home for the pujas...!!!

Bharat,

Shot mara... why not share ur ideas wrt the issue instead of finding fault with me...?

SRI

 

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