The Enigma

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bhagwan Inc

Am neither religious nor an atheist. I believe in god as a supreme power whom you revert to when you feel you need support, strength, motivation, inspiration and all the other siblings of theirs. Sometimes I find god in solitude, sometimes in music, sometimes in my parents, sometimes in friends and so on. Idol worship is definitely not my cup of tea, but I understand that it is a way of reaching out to that supreme power for many a fellow Indian.

I was appalled a couple of days back when on a trip to Tirupati I realised that God is no more that divine power or that idol people worship, it is a business now. The only thing I would expect from a pilgrimage with family is to have a look at some exquisite temples, some ancient cultural anecdotes to listen to and some soothing sanskrit chanting and to see people around and feel amazed at how they could travel all those miles to stand in serpentine queues, wait for long hours and then when offered a half-a-minute rendezvous with god's idol, they just close their eyes, pray for a second and move away or rather mowed away by the security guards. And ya, the catch is that if you are ready to donate a few kgs of gold, a few bundles of notes, then you can hang around a couple of minutes more.This happens in almost all temples, in every corner of every city.

But, this seems to have taken too big a turn now. The Kalyanam of Lord Venkateshwara in Tirumala temple now has a commentary in English. Though my sister applauds the move, I think otherwise. What do you think people go all the way to Tirumala for? To pray god in peace, get mesmerised in the divine chantings and take home a feeling of satisfaction. For people like me, the feeling of a pilgrimage sinks in when you hear those indecipherable sanskrit chants and try to fathom some of them, and through the proceedings and anecdotes understand a few intricacies of culture. But now, the peace that one could incur through that vedic chanting, that divine peace of a puja atmosphere is now replaced by English commentary that keeps telling you what the Lord is doing on the stage in the ceremony, or rather what the Pujari is doing on his behalf. I felt disgusted to listen to that English commentary because it only means a loss of identity for a ritual. It makes me feel that all this religion, pilgrimage etc etc are all fake, they are just ways to promise god to those dollar wielding Indian diaspora who are ready to shell out expensive gifts to god.

We need not explain the unknowns about what our religion and culture are, mainly because the main part of a religion and culture come from the local flair attached to it. The day we lose that, we are just selling our religion which is what seems to be happening now. This is nothing better than all those venom-spewing quotes by politicians creating religious differences.

All we need to see what else does money make people do... These are days of customising god to suit the most wealthy customers the name of religion could lure!

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At March 02, 2008 8:40 AM, Blogger Rahul said...

An English commentary :o sounds preposterous

At March 04, 2008 9:39 PM, Blogger sasi said...

Funny aint it... how people's views change over time... I have been the audience where this very author said that all these mantras, puja and stuff were crap as they dont let you pray in peace and are very intrusive and while a church was calm and lets you offer your prayers in peace. But now he craves for those very things. Though, for all i know, this could be choosing between the lesser of the two evils or the argument then was woozy due to the booze :)
U dont allow anonymous comments!!!! :X

At March 08, 2008 5:39 PM, Blogger Ujj said...

so much for prayer being a personal thing and all.
always wondered what do they do with all that money?

At March 13, 2008 1:02 AM, Blogger a blue eyed girl said...

when i went to india last year one of the things i really wanted was to see "real" india. i didn't go to a lot of "tourist" spots because i wanted to see everyday india. im sure that if i went to a temple and heard a commentary in english i would have been disappointed, because even tho i would obviously understand what they were saying instead of having my friends translate, i would be like "wow is everything so westernized here, even the temples"? it defintely seems like a loss of identity.


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