Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Religion in a Sadhu's terms.

Religion ? Wikipedia defines religion as

A religion is a set of common beliefs and practices generally held by a group of people, often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.

I usually avoid temples for reasons i am not sure many people would like, one of them being people themselves. Temples were supposed to be a place of peace and serenity where one would come up, find peace within himself, practice his religion . But today everywhere i go i see these huge temples with grandeur matching that of a king's palace. Lush white marble floors, huge ceilings sculpted into unique designs. golden offerings. People turn up into these temples in specific days , views which i do not yet adhere to. So basically its like Thursday for a specific god , and saturday for another god. Temple authorities also have made sure to abuse this thing to every scrutiny, by which i mean the temple works over time on those special days in a week where they keep open even after midnight. People come all dressed up, offer money to god ( which in turn goes to temple authorities), they would stand in queues for hours just to get an glimpse of the same god who would have no worshiper on next day . I find all this really troublesome.

To me religion has been an elusive obvious. More i read more i question. Usually i just throw my questions about religion to shastry and books. I was walking down the road today, and came across this small temple just on the opposite side of this huge Temple with all the lightings that would rival a power house. Funny thing no one cared to come up across the road to this temple. The temple across the road had was about the 3/4th the size of my computer desk. Yeah thats all of it. And it had a sadhu ( priest) sitting in it and offering prayers. Funny thing, i found serenity in such a small temple that i couldn't find in those once in a week visit temple routines. I was really curious about the temple, so i started asking the sadhu about it. He told me stories about the god for which the temple was built and the reason for all those flags outside the temple. He told me he was 85 years old, his name was maganbhai and that he had been in this temple for past 15 years of so, sitting their all day from early morning to evening , after that he would leave to sleep at his son's place and he would be back early morning.

After few minutes of conversation, i popped my question on religion and life to him . What he answered was one of the most clear definitions of life and religion i ever got from someone.

Although he referred to this in terms of Hinduism, i believe it shouldn't be any different to any other religion or atheism.

He said Life and Religion go hand in hand , he said religion is nothing but 3 words that you should follow upon in your life

1) Neeti ( Your strategy for life, your thinking).
2) Dharma (Your faith in your religion, stick to your rules).
3) Punya ( Helping others in need).

He said,
Never let your thinking about yourself, your faith get corrupt. Stick to what you think is right and not what your priests say is right (which is pretty popular in this part of world).

Dharma, he explained is various practices that retain your belief in God and a deep trust in yourself. Its a way of living your life and sticking to your rules as shastry once said to me.

Punya, the sadhu said is helping others in need. He said money was never a help and would never be. He told me this story from hindu mythology about a king Karana.

"The king was a very generous person, and that anyone needy who would come to his door. His alms would include gold and all the material wealth he had. In the end when the king went up to the god, the king was really hungry and asked the god for some alms. The god in turn gave him gold. To this the king was really turned off, and started whining about how he would give alms of gold which no one other even had a heart to give. The god in turn replied that this all your alms, you never gave anyone any food or cloth or shelter. "

My point, in all that the sadhu said, is that Alms and donations should never consist of money. Food and cloth are the bare essentials and that you should stick to it. He also mentioned about gau dhan and some other stuff.

All his teachings brought some more light in my way of thinking about religion and life. I now understand that you don't need to stick to any specific rules, gods or priests. It's all about your inner values and not what is written in a book. I would post the photo of that small temple i get a hold of a cam.