I offer my humble obeisance to you Rev. Sri. Sri. Om Swamiji🙏🕉🌺Much Love and Light surround you always🙏🕉
This post is an ode to my dear Maa Ganga and Divine Maa Kali🙏 Forgive this child of yours, but this is how you made me Maa and I love you for being there with me always🙏🕉🌺 Jai Maa🙏🕉🌺
My first steps to understanding life and Bhakti :
Childhood takes pleasure in the minutest details of the life surroundings in all innocence and nothing else. Be it the privileged or the under privileged a child would still love to play innocently and react smilingly to colours, toys or little objects according to the given circumstances. For in the true sense a child’s innocency understands only love which is purely devoid of hierarchy.
In a way isn’t innocency in itself not an awakened state!
Let me take you on a little journey of a Budhu ( when a child is innocent/simplest and is expressing)
Have you ever felt the strong breeze as a child, or gazed at the smiling rising sun shrinking the eyes, or felt the dark evening and noticed the rabbit figure etched in the moon,
or for that matter the chirping of birds in flocks , to eerie feeling of some crawling species ( for many of us cockroaches, lizards)in the home space.
Did you as a child react to the mud sticking at the sole of your feet or even a twig or a tiny little pebble unknowingly in the shoe hurting the foot.
Ever felt the hot lentil soup burning the tongue or worst even tasting some bitter food and throwing it out.
Ever felt uneasy seeing poverty on the pavement, where little kids begged for food , when you are snuggled in the warmth of your car or cab munching on your favourite delicacy?
or worst even witness little kids or their dear ones sleeping on the pavement on cold chilled evenings.
The cold fizzy drink that quenched my parched throat made me realise of the drained faces of poor kids drinking from a roadside rusted pump that gushed out muddy water but once in their cupped hands felt like nectar for them.
There are innumerable expressions and experiences to life we all witnessed during our childhood. And that is what an awakened state is . Just being humane to human expressions. For if we have felt all the above and more , clearly shows that we have taken birth to experience our journey spiritually with expressions of love and compassion that leads to pure serving . That’s another story as with passing years we are made to reframe our sensitivity conducive to our upbringing and company .
Each one of us has his or her share of childhood memories especially of the town one is raised in. Our early memories do remain etched throughout our lives. Let me share My first significant memory of childhood when I was around 5-6 years of not just my school days but more of my time spent with my parents and journeying with them .
Little does one realise what is in the storehouse of the destined time granted to each one of us .
Spending great times in cities like Calcutta and Bangalore the childhood and teens witnessed the best fusion of culture, fashion and holy ness.Experiencing the posh yet submissive Indo Punjabi, Anglo, Christian, Bong , Kannada atmosphere all my teens I understood and felt I was born to be in a city venturer forever. There was no two ways about it. Now that is what I had perceived as a child.. the rest of course is history ..
The Holy Ganga Ghat so awakening:
The sight of River Hooghly was a treat to the eye though the sacred waters suffered because of the ghats which catered to the multi rituals carried with honour but only to pile on the residual after effect of litter, adding up to the already scattered drinking bottles , tattered clothes, and polybags etc. left behind by mankind in continuum which I guess was also religiously considered a natural and normal sight and way of living .
Avoiding its thoughts, all I would enjoy once in a week as an outing with my parents at Babughat was sight seeing and soothing capture of the Howrah Bridge and fancied to sit in the wooden boat and have a spectacular view of early sunrise, the sweet singing birds who too seemed to love dancing to the early beams of the sun that would be kissing and warming not just them but their reflection in the waters too.
The evening time at the same place though would have a rather smoggy and dusky effect of the fading sun , and the waters seemed rather resigned and intense as if flowing in the conversations of the days happenings and what the night had in store . It seemed the waters witnessed the tendencies of human nature more than human themselves.
The old outlets would be reflected with low wats of bulbs , the pathways decorated with pillars of Victorian lanterns held high from the ground level, offered just a throwaway effect of sparing light and seemed busy entertaining only bugs dancing around its shades, so walking there would always make ones step feel extremely heavy. I never liked the evenings there. Little cheer on the face was found by having , Fanta, chocolate , jhaal muri and puchkas.
The best add on to the dusky evenings were the boatmen ( traditionally dressed ) who would lit their wooden boats with old rustic traditional lanterns and it felt like some kind of collective honour by these rowers offering diyas to the beautiful flow of Mother Ganga. No sooner the old experienced creaky looking oars touched the dense waters, one could but as if sense the waters speaking that Maa Ganga needed rest now, for after 7 pm was retiring time of these tired boats to halt on the side of the ghat. Thank God there were rules and hence both the waters and boats had respite. For a child of 6 years that was enough I guess to experience the holy flow.
The Sun kissed birds and waters
The traditional lanterns lit in the wooden boats
People sleeping on the Ghats fighting the weather
Every Soul in the given situation adding delight to the Universe in his own way
Holy bread and butter one strives to believe in , the will of human to survive
Maa Ganga the view of Babu Ghat…each one in their own inner ritual
The Hooghly effect surely gave me lessons of its charm, awakening and immersing at a very young age .
Back home and to the Darshan of Maa Kali Temple, surely was an awakening at every step:
The city life is always a blend of people of different cultures, backdrops and interests. Each one of us go through our own experiences and the projection given yet could be perceived differently. Because every child is different. Sometimes the best of atmosphere may not be the best for him , and many a times there are the ones who are blessed with an ability of even rising from the worst .
Since I got the most soft treatment at my home sweet home I happened to witness tough and aggressive attitude when I first visited the Kali temple . I guess holy meant, “ holy cow!”
For right from stepping out of the car near to the temple , the first thing one would notice was being hoarded by outlet owners to take Prasad from their little shops, even though Pa had a fixed place he would take us to , where we could take out our slippers, wash our hands and feet and a sweet family used to run the place. The washing of the feet was always short lived for as you would walk towards the temple premises the sticky wet mushy leaves and flowers and muddy water unapologetically snuggled the sole of your feet like rugged socks 🙂
Entering the main temple and then being inside it was a some kind of marathon between ones breath, mind and feet , as people would be choking right on your face, the sweaty smell of clothes , the envious and hunger expression on peoples face to have the Devi attention and darshan above others, as the queue was big and patience was bare, and I would deeply search for faces who were rarely calm ( that’s the first thing as a child one is taught to maintain a calm demeanour and be respectful my little head pondered ).
Apart from the wrathful push and pull effect of the people inside the temple were constant yells each time to move forward even knowing there was no space to move ahead. Each family or individual hired their own pundit which was a must , who would hold the basket of offerings and Prasadam on their behalf ritually and would constantly keep vocalising highly pitched notes of Mantras. We too were asked to repeat the same by the pundit Pa would hire. Though the Mantras were beyond my understanding . Wonder why a darshan was made so tough and loud. Tired already in my head all I would do is keep glancing at the face of my Pa and Mom , simply to escape the questioning looks of the Pundit of refusing to repeat after him ( lest he lays some internal curse, all thanks to the Panchatantra stories in my head, where one is cursed for not adhering or respecting rules of scholars or saints ) .
Now can you imagine all the energies of the collective pundits of different families each one echoing higher than the others to impress, was enough to burst my tiny ear drums and I would simply get a wrathful feeling within of pushing away from everyone and run and sit outside in peace. Perhaps that is known as the Maa Kali effect. How is Maa Kali handling this for years I wondered.
And last but not the least in the maddening rush the money grabbed quickly from your delicate little dreamy hand as you approach the idol of Maa ( imagine the small child with all the Bhaav that she would be placing the coin on a Maa’s hand once she reaches her ) was enough to shatter my wishes of communicating with Maa.
Icing on the cake was the Pundit sitting next to Maa’s idol hurling Mantras and quickly showing you the big door to go out with a harsh and forceful quick application of the vermillion on your forehead which could easily leave you with a neck strain.
Finally , mission successful ! Did we just step out having the darshan of Maa?
Well one could now heave a sigh of relief , absolutely not, for now we had to face another collective force, the wrath of beggars pouncing for money and Prasad, so I would always request Pa to make me sit with my siblings in a nearby tea stall and once they were done sorting with the poor people would I then agree to walk to the place where our slippers and bag were kept. I would then grab hold of my father’s finger with much relief and Pa would realise from my little tight grip how I would be feeling . Brushing my scuffled hair in a pacifying manner he would walk ahead to the car holding my little hand in sweet calmness ( thank God the darshan is over). I carried within me endless conversations with Maa Kali as to how long has she been bearing the brunt of so many humans.
Are temples meant to release emotions and be at peace and smiles or does it invoke one man-ship, authoritativeness a fixed structure of rules. Why do we have beggars outside the temple whereas inside heavy offerings were made to her by so many people. The Pundit sitting next to Maa grabs the money from your tiny hand , and it’s considered auspicious , but outside if the beggars snatch some dimes from your hands they are hurled as being uncouth. My little head was constantly figuring out all the answers more than questions.
I would shudder and detest at the name of not just Kali temple any temple for that matter , for I witnessed it was a place of wrestling of emotions where even maintaining a quietude which is an embodiment of high reverence to the Divine residing in the temple was actually made into such a big deal and scatter an unhappiness feel which does leave a long lasting imprint.
So what makes us go to temples? Also at one point we are taught God is everywhere even within so why go all the way searching, falling and slipping and disturbing Maa Kali at the temple and eventually the Kali within too.
Kali Temple and it’s premises.
Each time a visit to Maa Kali this little child silently felt Her guidance asking me to remain my true self , an atheist , an observer for in anyways we are all connected to the Divine string. She has blessed every child of her’s with the simple ( Buddhu ) awareness. Though the Bodh ( simpler) and The Bodhi ( simplest) effect gets even more clear as one grows …
Ganga Maa responded subtly to my expressions … she took me further… to another Ghat …the story continues…
Much Love and Peace to All🙏🕉
pic courtesy: Google