I don’t usually write about too many serious things in life. I feel I am not knowledgeable enough to do that. But there are certain things you cannot be funny about. Like poverty, patriotism, ethics or the reason behind this write up– faith.
I am not going to go into one of those ‘does God really exist’ or ‘what is the meaning of life’ questioners. Neither am I searching for God here in this blog space. Born in a south Indian Iyer family, I have always been taught to pray; taught to say prayers; taught to visit temples every now and then; taught to give offerings to God. Everyone does these, I guess. My mom does pooja everyday and I have grown up watching her doing that. I too visited the temples regularly. There was a point when I used to visit the Ganapati temple daily. Daily at 8.20 pm for the deeparadhanai(aarthi). But lately, somewhere down the lane, I have lost it. I just can’t get myself to pray these days.
I had gone to Dharamsala lately and I did feel close to praying when I stood there before the statue of Buddha. But still, I could not really pray. I kept looking at the statue and the amazing calmness that was exuberating from the smile. And as I sat outside the temple, I saw this old man, who could hardly walk, going around the temple rotating the prayer wheels. He had a stick in his hand and was moving at a pace at which snails would be contemptuous of. But still he went around rotating each wheel. The Buddhists believe in rotating this wheel which has prayers written on them. And rotating all the wheels, they say, is equivalent to chanting those prayers. Pretty short cut method of praying, was what I thought sitting there. But as I saw the old man disappear the question kept cropping up on mind on the amount of faith that he had in the whole ritual. Most of us have rituals of our own to build on our faiths on our respective Gods. Mine has been, saying a slokam on Ganapati as I come out of the shower. The other day I did that subconsciously and then thought to myself, “when lips pray and the heart wonders”. I have been forcing myself to pray for a while now. I decided to visit some(any) temple on all full moon days. Not because someone asked me to, but just because I felt like. But that did not last long either.
I look around in temples, I see people making huge amount of money as offerings, I really can’t tune myself into that frequency. I cannot comprehend the fact that good things will occur to me if I get a darshan of one God, even if it takes 4 hours of standing in a queue to do so. I was amongst these mixed thought process and the effort to restore the old rapport I had with ganapati, when someone tells me that there is a temple in Hyderabad which is called the Visa temple. People who want to go abroad, go there and pray and they get their visas stamped. And there are people who visit certain temples to find their brides/bridegrooms. My aunt calls me and tells me she went to this temple 30 kms away to pray that I get a good life partner. Would these pseudo things appeal to God ? Would he be keeping count of all these things? If I say out some prayer 28 times daily, without even knowing the meaning of it, and more importantly, without even meaning it, would I be blessed with all good things in life? And the customs and the rituals whichare built on this faith – would I be able to justify them?
I have found myself thanking Him more these days than praying. May be that is a sign in itself that things have been smooth. For, when trouble strikes, the first thing that you tend to do is to remember the almighty - to ask for help; and to ask him for intervention. I have been asking questions to my friends lately. Questions like, ‘What do you pray’, ‘What language do you pray in’,’Is it like a conversation’. I was interested especially in the last one, just to ascertain that I am normal. Because that is what I do. I go to meet Mr.Ganesh and I have a good conversation with him. He would tear me apart left, right and centre. And I try to find answers. Or else it happens the other way around. I keep asking him for something or the other. Good marks, Good health, reciprocation of love, the list would last a mile. But it’s been a while since I did that too. It might sound funny, but ever since I heard the lines, “Tum se kya mangun main, tum khud hi samaj lo maula” , and in that divine tone, I cannot ask him for anything. May be that is why I haven’t been getting a few things I wanted too. But nevertheless, I find it selfish and guilty to ask for something to God. And I know I am not the only one who subscribes to this thought.
The closest I have got to praying is when I hear some divine note of music. I am not talking about the Carnatic keerthanas or the Bhajans alone. It could be the scratching sound that might be coming from a DJs kit. One of the things that man discovered in the earliest of ages must have been the fact that music stirs up minds. And must have used it as a tool to spread the faith and the various beliefs weaved out of it. And one hell of a tool it is too. When I look back at it, I feel the panchavadyam that used to be played during the deeparadhanai at 8.20 pm was what I was looking forward to daily. I could close my eyes and just let my thoughts flow when I heard them. And the conversations with God became so much clearer. Most of the vedic chants, prayers, choirs etc would be composed with atmost care so that it makes you hooked to them and paints an illusion that you are praying to the God. Have you ever woken up early in the morning for a big day ahead? And while getting ready, breaking the silence of the dawn light, have you heard the Adhan being called out from a distant mosque? I have. And that for me was one of the purest moments of prayers. Again, it was not the content behind it or the ideology behind it that struck me. It was the sweet flow of voice through the air which was giving me hope for the day ahead, giving positivity to my thoughts. And that is what praying does too, I guess - A positive note to overcome your troubles and a hope of happiness. I hope I hear some piece of music sometime soon, which would get me back into the conversational mode with Him. And someday, I will say the prayers too; understand them and mean them.
Song for the Occasion:
Saakshaatkaara nee sadbhakti
Sangita njaana vihinulaku
Mokshamu galadaa bhuvilo jeevan
Muktulu gaani vaaralaku