TODAY -

Temple runs for a pilgrimís journey

Kamal Baruah *

 Temple runs for a pilgrimís journey



One of my earliest memories is of visiting that unforgettable journey to Northern India at my youthful days. The tour had been designed to a religious event to the so-called temple run. Late 70s, we ten families of NF Railway found bucket list experiences of a life time. It was beyond doubt a quintessential occurrence over day and night journey on a reserved coach. Sooner we joined a big family living together for 30 days on wheel.

The list of endless temple run was incredibly longer from Gaya to Prayag, Sarnath, Ayodhya, Mathura, Vrindavan, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Amritsar, Dwaraka and Puri. Being Guwahatian which brought ten temples (Kamakhya, Bhuvaneswari, Basistha Ashram, Hayagriba Madhaba, Ugro Tara, Aswaklanta, Umananda, Navagraha, Janardana, Vishwakarma, Purb Balaji) into being I was not very mesmerised for those ten temples one after another.

Young people donít like it. I donít either. I keenly noticed those landscapes instead of visiting shrine. The effect of hiss-hiss train journey had begun and the landscape slowly appeared a different look. But my parents and other senior co-passengers had shown supreme faith.

I watched lines of vendors selling foodstuff with enthuse at the station. Tanga ride was most fun and frolic on those days. Waste piles up in every household area. The walls are artistically pasted by cow dung. They are the fuel for Chulha. I was about to tap an idol praying at Padmashan. It was living Saint at dhyan beneath sacred Bodhi tree, where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment.

I was not convinced the confluence of three rivers at Triveni Sangam but I liked the floating coconut as swimmers got a fast forward and rewind for another prayer there. We felt the presence of Lord Krishna in every corners of Mathura. High priest professionalism did discomfort at Varanasi.

The priest catered yet more prayers for visitors. They were incredibly user friendly at concessional offer too. The water of the stream at Rishikesh was in pure form and fishes were floating plenty. The etiquette of sitting and eating at Guru-Ka-Langar at Amritsar was great learning situation.

The birds were catching nuts and biscuits while travel by sea to Bet-Dwarka. We left stranded at Jagannath. Hurrah! The bath at Puri beach gave us with great fanfare. The Camera man took shots and promised to return in the evening. Yes, Odia people are named to be honest and he returned with those memorable photos.

India is home to all religions. We see politician affirm oneís faith on particular religion openly in public domain? Mixing of religion with politics is certainly unrespectable for many. More than USD 1 Trillion of Gold was held by temples in India. Still, the temples have an aura of mystery over Indiaís vast hidden wealth. Over the decades, devotees have made generous offerings when their special prayers were answered.

Padmanabhaswamy, Lord Venkateswara at Tirupati, Siddhivinayak, Shirdi Sai Baba are the leading Rich Gods living with poor people in the era of commercialised religion in India. A huge amount is invested on festivities and idols instead of spending for people in need. The successive governments failed to improve the lives of the Indian masses. The Government go subsidies spiritual tourism nowadays. Should temple gold go to nation-building and strengthening the economy?

The government now followed up on the Supreme Court order of 2012, which dictated that the subsidy should be phased out in 10 years. Money for the subsidy believed to total Rs 450 crore at present Ė would be better spent on the education. It was not just the Haj alone. They are Kumbh Melas in Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain.

The government including various srates Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand also spend money on Mansarovar Yatra on security and health facilities for the pilgrims. Meanwhile Assam and Madhya Pradesh send senior citizens for Pilgrimage under the Punya Dham Yatra and Mukhyamantri Tirtha Darshan Yojana respectively.

Ours was the fun on the travel. While I start to draw those memories today, I found diversion of religious thinking. Suddenly the sagas of temple run by politicians have begun. They made us believe on it. There is a cacophony of such conflicting issues around, which must be set in a sensible context. They all are interested such misadventures steps and are going behind records.

However the Apex Court is doing its best. Sadguru once asked to answer. If god does not necessarily exist, why do we need Gurus? He answered it shrewdly. Devotees are in unfamiliar terrain. Like GPS, it is sensible to take instruction from Gurus. GPS means Guru Positioning System.

Undeniably, they are funny indeed. Citizens donít understand what all the fuss is about happening around. 2019 must be on the doorstep. All of a sudden, the list of renaming of cities appeared. The clamour of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya grows bigger. Even leaders fall prey to the Gotra (clan) to woo voters. They are incredibly excited. Are those celebrations all about hankering after power or a true patriot?

Despite Indiaís fast growing economy in the world, millions still remain poor. That is a Billion-dollar question. Sooner or later they will be revealed. Only time will tell. Itís no end to the temple. After four decades, my heartís desire is just to visit again.


* Kamal Baruah wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a resident of Guwahati and can be contacted at kamal(DOT)baruah(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 12, 2018.



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