Where is that unadulterated, honest and corrupt free land of God? has been edited by Aashna Kanuga.
‘Where is that unadulterated, honest and corrupt free land of God?’ is an account of the author’s first-hand experience with commercialization and inconsiderate behaviour at a holy place.
Holy places, temples or any sort of a religious or spiritual place is said to bring a sense of calm to a person. It is believed that it has a soothing impact. These innumerable safe havens are supposed to comfort a person and let the sense of security dawn on.
A few of these things are true, and faith and devotion really do calm your senses. Recently, I had gone to Shrinathji. The air was disengaged from the urban façade and pretence. It pacified a lot of my insecurities, just temporarily though. I am not a temple person, never been one. However, my stay there was leading to a change of heart. I was beginning to think, that maybe I am wrong.
During the first few hours, I was so consumed by the number of people, the chilly air, the devotion with which people of all ages had come, unaffected by the climatic conditions or cow dung filled roads. I got carried away, naturally. A little mesmerized, filled with a newfound spirituality. Okay, maybe I am getting a little ahead of myself, but I am sure you understand what I am trying to say.
But half a day and three pujas later, I realized I was not wrong after all. I started noticing all that seemed so natural in the environment, it was almost unnoticed. Since the moment you step outside the parameters of the mandir there is this competitive aura. People leer at you; try to push you callously if you come between them and their God. In a place full of people trying to connect with God, humanity dies with every step you climb. No regards to age, weaknesses or the fact that there are infants being crushed blindly.
I saw notes of five hundred being slipped secretly; promises of VIP darshan being made. Almost each and every pandit was busy alluring devotees into huge donations. A dozen people standing in line like salesmen were selling God’s blessings, litres of milk for contribution in the prasaad; slowly ripping people off rupee by rupee in the name of God. I asked my mom, ‘What is happening, all of this? The superfluous exchange of money? The mad rush where people are pushing each other without paying any heed?” And she told me this was all out of love and devotion. She tried to explain me that the way everyone pushed each other, was just like the waves of Yamuna river.
Hearing those words shook me, it really did. Made the innermost part of my soul cringe. A sudden disgust, irrespective of the joyous feeling earlier, had spread all over me. I knew I had to sit out of the fourth puja of the evening, just to absorb all the good that came along.
That evening I wondered when did a place as innocent as Nathdwara got plagued by the shrewd commercialization of faith. Where is that unadulterated, honest and corrupt free land of God? Was there any at all?
I’ve heard instances of miracles, but more so of the con artists at Ajmer Dargah, the billion dollar business of hair at Tirupati Balaji. How much are we responsible to encourage this deplorable behaviour? I went to get some peace, to get in touch with myself. But I came home a little disappointed and with a flickering rage, with a purpose to write an article.
I am sure, that even the most forgiving versions of God or Goddess would not forgive one human stamping over another. The lack of compassion and heightened levels of deceit would not make the one above us all happy, not even a bit.
This might seem like a sceptical person’s blabbering, but look closer you will notice it all too. And might shudder, seeing how this corruption and inhumanity have internalized themselves in our society and life.
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