It had been quite some time since I visited temples. Not that I am an atheist or something…I am a firm believer in the Almighty. But it is the crowd at the temples that makes me stay away from them. There is no space to sit and meditate and have that conversation with the Lord in peace. In most of the famous temples that we have here, you’d be lucky, if you are able to have as much as a glimpse of the Lord after those long hours of waiting. Push comes to shove, and you are out of the sanctum sanctorum even before you realise you are in. I would rather have my quite time with my God in the tranquility of my home!
Well, at a recent visit to a temple, I was pleasantly surprised to see lesser crowd than usual and I decided to have a quick “parikrama” or “pradakshina,” which means going around the deity thrice and seeking his blessings. But very soon I realised,there would be no quick parikrama, as an elderly lady walked slowly ahead of me, presumably with a friend. “My daughter-in-law is such an awful cook, I tell you,” the elder woman complained to her friend, as the other lady nodded sympathetically, “wonder how my son manages to eat what she dishes out!” Nice place to nitpick! “He seems to have lost a lot of weight, I remember he used to be so chubby as a kid,” remarked the friend, while the elderly lady let out a ‘tch’. The idiom, “adding fuel to fire” must have been invented by observing someone like her friend, I assume. As for me, I itched to just get past them. As the conversation continued, I politely asked to get ahead of them, inviting cold stares. Not that I cared!
I had not even walked half a dozen steps, when I passed a couple discussing where they should head for dinner later that evening. Good lord! That couldn’t wait till they got out of the temple? That was not the end, because next was the world’s busiest man, talking on the phone while doing his parikrama. The phone call couldn’t wait until later,I presume! So while he robotically went round the lord, he kept talking loudly on his mobile, oblivious to the fact that he was disturbing everyone else!
A group of girl’s excitedly discussing their results were next. By the time I finished my first round, there were few new faces, and among them a couple, the wife chiding her husband for not wearing a dhoti. “You could at least wear dhoti when you come to the temple,”she said, a marked disapproval on her face. “Don’t start again,” warned the husband, as he inched past her leaving her fuming to complete her parikrama alone. Not all were like that though, some were seriously lost in their world of prayer, and I couldn’t understand how one could achieve that state of meditation amidst all that chatter!
I decided to stop right there after completing one parikrama. I had hardly been able to concentrate on praying, my mind being distracted with all the drama going around me! There was no meaning in doing something just for the sake of doing it, or because it was the norm, when the body and soul were not in tandem, each going their different ways!
I looked at the idol of the Lord as I bowed before him as I left… He must be having the last laugh!