Saturday, December 20, 2008
Temple…I have always been fascinated by temples…be they in any form. I visit temple, Daherasar (Jain temple), mosque (Islami temple), church (Christian temple) and Gurudwara (Shikh Temple). I was always curious to go to an Agiyari (Parsi Temple) also. But no one other than Parsi can enter an Agiyari. That’s the reason I have not visited an agiyari so far. And I have found a divine feeling in a temple of any religion – a feeling of eternal peace, of a satisfaction, of a positivity.
I love going to Mount Mary church and have visited Haji Ali Dargah and a few other mosques in Aurangabad and Ahmedabad. Visiting GoldenTemple and another Gurudwara called ‘ManiKarna’ in Manlai were one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Though I don’t prefer going to crowded places much, I like visiting SiddhiVinayak and Mahalaxmi temples in Mumbai. During one of my visits in Vadodara there was a private temple – owned by a family, Jaggan Nath Temple and another Kashi VishwaNath temple – both are etched in my memory forever! Visit to Swami Naarayan Temple in Delhi was also an Amazing experience.
I used to attend Aartis on Thursday evenings in a Saibaba temple in Malad. I had attended Aarti in a CheharMata temple in Mandropur(a small village in Gujarat) a few evenings when I was there. I had attended Aarti in RiddhiVinayak Ganesh Temple a few times and during all these occasions of attending an Aarti, I have felt a kind of energy flowing into me, in to everybody around clapping during the Aarti. With those musical lines of Aarti, I feel I am directly communicating with God.
It’s again a feeling which cuts me across from the world outside and connects me directly to God. I wonder then, why don’t I attend an Aarti every day?
When ever I go to RiddhiVinayak Ganesh Temple near my home, I pray. I close my eyes, fold and join hands in Namaskar mudra and feel that something within me, my aatma in the form of a jyoti - is moving out. It flies and goes outside the temple. It moves towards sky. It enters the universe far, far above earth and enters a bigger Jyoti which we call as Parmeshwar or Ganapati bappa. At this moment, I start praying,” O God, please burn all the vices, all the weaknesses, all the negativity present in my soul and fill it with fresh energy, new strengths and great positivity and all the good qualities.” I wait for a few seconds for letting God do that and then feel that the spirit gets separated from Paramaatma Jyoti and starts moving back towards me. It enters the temple and finally comes back into my body. This entire process is very quick and takes only a few seconds. But this happens only when I am in a temple.
At times, when I am feeling very low or depressed then I go to a temple and I feel better. I sit for a few minutes in the temple and try to feel the serenity and purity around. I observe people praying and children playing.
I love roaming and visiting new places very much. I make it a point to visit temples whenever I go to a new city or a new location. Even when I have gone for picnics, I remember of having attended a temple or two at that new place. I had gone to Pune and Chennai for some official work and found and visited new temples. I had gone to Daman for picnic and had attended a prayer in a Church there. I had gone to various places during my honeymoon and there also at all the places me and my wife stayed, we attended lot of temples.
I recollect two-three experiences during these temple visits in these far-off cities.
I had gone to Pune for official work and after the work, I managed to visit two Ganesh Temples of the famous AshtaVinayak eight temples. My journey to these temples was very unique and interesting. I sat on a hay pile in a truck and reached the temple at RaanjanGaon! I took an interesting local transport ride to reach another AshtaVinayak temple.
My visits and journey to temples of Dwaarka, Somanath and Nageshwar in Gujarat were also very very interesting.
I had gone to Chennai for official work and after the work I visited a few temples. Temples of South India are peculiar and lovely. I visited a very old (more than thousand years they claimed) Shiva temple – Kapalishwar temple. It was a beautiful grand temple with hundreds of Shivalingas of different sizes.
The next day I visited Kamakshi Temple in Kanchipuram and a few other famous temples there. One thing I very much disliked was that the foreigners were not allowed in a few of these temples. I heard in other few temples of South India, even women are not allowed. I can’t digest this idea. Why shall there be any rule for a certain sect for entering or for not allowing them to have a Darshan. After all God treats every one equal and God does not believe in any kind of discrimination. Then why we humans make such discriminatory rules and regulations?
My most favourite part of temples of South India is the dome.
It is called Gopuram and it has got a very peculiar and beautiful pyramidal shape. I loved the Gopurams of Meenakshi Mandir in Madurai and that of Rameshwaram temple near Hyderabad. I loved the Gopurams of Tirupati Temple as well as Mahabalipuram temples. There are so many Gods and goddesses in Gopuram facing all four directions. I also love that pillar outside south Indian temples lit with lots of Diyas. Though the south Indian temples are generally dark (or so they seem due to the Black stone used for constructing them) , their grandeur make you feel good and little in front of God or Goddess residing in them.
Rameshwaram temple was huge and houses more than 21 wells inside its premises. One has to take a bath in the holy sea water , at the shore of which this ancient temple is standing, and purify his/her body with all 21 well’s water before finally having Darshan of Jyotirlinga of Shiva which is believed to be built by God Rama himself. It’s a great experience.
I have been lucky to visit 6 jyotirlingas (one I just mentioned – Rameshwaram). There are 12 of them across India. I wish to visit and have the holy Darshan of all of them. One thing I dislike about these famous Jyotirlinga temples and other big famous temples is the commercialization in and around these temples. If you wish to have quick Darshan or touch the idol and enter the GarbhDwar of the temple, spend money, buy Tickets and you can do that.
On one side you will see some devotees rolling their body literally on the ground and going for Darshan and on the other side you will find different queues for the Darshan of same God. Pay more and your queue will be shorter! Inside temples also there will be Pundits treating devotees differently depending on their spending capacity. Prasads will also be available in different denominations! I simply abhor these ideas. In front of God, I believe everybody is same – be it a millionaire or a pauper. Then why we have this differential treatment for different class of people?
I love the NeelKanth Mahadev temple located in the middle of a small forest like area near Paadaa Kendra in Mahesana in Gujarat. (My in-laws place).It is actually not a typical temple. It does not even have roofs or walls. But still it is one of my most favourite temples and whenever I sit in this temple, the feelings I experience can not be described in words.
Squirrels run all around me whenever I am praying the Lord Shiva sitting in this temple and doves and sometimes Peacocks play in the surrounding area of this small temple. I loved a few similar temples in Surat - Gujarat also.
Few years back we had gone to Daman in one of my office picnics. There are some very beautiful churches there. I could not help myself from visiting a huge ancient Portugal Church. There was some special kind of prayer going on when I entered the church. Everybody was standing in two queues and the Father was giving a white sugar candy to them as they bowed their heads to him and they were eating that candy as Prasad and moved forward. I also was very curious and just joined the queue without thinking much. As my turn came, I also bowed down my head and father handed me a candy. But he suddenly realized something and asked me to return the candy back as only Christians were allowed to eat it as Prasad. I was quite embarrassed. I could not decide what happened was right or wrong. I left the church with remorse. But then realized that I should not have tried to be part of a custom which I knew nothing about.
I have many more such experiences to share but place and time permits me to write this much only for this Blog! I would surely share other such experiences in future Blogs...