Sunday, July 29, 2007

A visit to the temple - A Rare spiritual experience

Today, I visited the temple after ages! Its been over a year since I have paid a visit to the local temple I used to frequently visit with my parents when I was child. Years of westernization - rock music , hollywood, Television, & agnostic orientations, coupled with a nihilistic outlook towards life have rendered me very cynical towards the very concept of religion & God & especially to conventional forms of worship.

Yet when I went today to the temple, I prayed - I prayed from the bottom of my heart. I was in peace with myself for those 20 minutes. I was far removed from the daily bustle of life, from the negativity & pessimism of the daily News, from the din & chaos of a maddening megapolis, from the lack of objectivity & confusion that surrounds my life and yea - not to mention, from the programming!

What surrounded me was a sense of peace & bliss. The flickering of hundreds of small diyas, the ringing of bells, the idols cast in black, colourful malays(garlands) that adorned their necks, the priests performing puja, the devotees with their offerings, the priests chanting Sanskrit hymns which originated thousands of years ago. Technology has created the illusion of the world being smaller, but reality is that there is so much diversity of human art, culture & religion! Where technology fails is to enable us to be at peace! And perhaps, to escape the routine monotony & the woes of daily life, man seeks refuge in the shelter of God's abode.

I prayed yet I did not utter a single sanskrit mantra - my prayers were said in English. After all, a prayer is supposed to be the gateway for you to connect with God. What use then, is a prayer in Sanskrit when you don't understand it? I prayed for myself, for my family & for the world. I prayed for success in my studies, success in projects that I undertake - but most importantly I wished & prayed that my life becomes structured, that there be direction &objectivity to it & that the cluttered & confused mind be tidied for clarity of thought. I also prayed that wisdom & foresight prevail upon this world & that God help us seek solutions to some of the problems facing man today.

After those 20 minutes of silence, prayer & solitude, I was certainly rejuvenated. Its been refreshing - a much needed break from loud music, endless television programs, movies & all other associated forms of escapism.

There is something deeply satisfying in the thought that we are being guided by an invisible force, that this force will be there for us as a guiding beacon in times of despair. Call it faith or maybe the human mind's psychological need, "God" is comforting. I still have some reservations to blindly accepting God or associated humanized idiosyncrasies, but thats another matter.

There are events & facts in the world which lead me to be Agnostic, to be a non-believer. And yet, there are acts of good samaritans going out of their way to help or heroically rescue others, which affirm the existence of a positive, omnipotent & omnipresent force that guides us. Yet, I must admit - for a long time now, I have believed that the situation in the world is too unfair & grim for me to blindly believe that God exists. If He does, why doesn't he intervene? Perhaps because he wants us to learn on our own? I really do not know.

My point simply is this - whether God exists as a real entity or is the result of the human psyche - it is deeply humbling & peaceful to imagine yourself to be a server of such a pristine cosmological master. Though slavery of any form is an abomination, yet it is deeply moving in some way to subjugate oneself at the hands of such a force. To tuck oneself in God's arms, free from all woes & without a care in the world.

In the end, I do not know whether God exists or not, but I sure hope & pray he does.