The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.
Sunday, 23 August 2009
BANARAS CALLING - IV - (HOW WOULD HAVE KABIR REACTED?)
Till my 5th standard, I used to visit a pond near my school. It was called ‘Kabir Mutt’ but had a ‘Shiva’ temple but during those days I never tried to why it had not any Kabir temple. I knew about Kabir from the DD serial on his life but my knowledge was limited to the curiosity of a small child and my visits to that place were propelled by childhood inquisitiveness. Later on, I graduated to college and then to higher education. All this while I never tried to revisit the place though it was always in my memories.
It was after my graduation. On a day like this, I was walking on the terrace. I noticed a huge dome of a temple that was being elaborated with shining white stone sheets. I had not noticed the structure earlier though it was pretty big in size. Probably the shine of that white granite caught my attention. For next many months watching the masons working on the dome with white granite sheets was part of my walking moments on the terrace when I used to think about all ‘the possibles’ that would come to my mind giving my own logics and then producing counter logics. I came to know the dome was part of a temple being constructed by the Kabir Mutt. Knowing this was a sheer disappointment for me and it formed a chunk of my reasoning and logics when I used to watch the erected structure being ornamented.
We know about Kabir, at least this much, that he was a weaver and how he struggled even to find a ‘Guru’. But an enlightened soul he was and he went on to have ‘Ramananda’ as his ‘Guru’ and went on to become one of the greatest seers of all the time though he was unaware of the chemistry of words. A saint of frugality with unlimited wisdom of life and beyond. So it was disappointing for me to see such a stupendous structure being erected for someone like Kabir who would never have approved such action. But why Kabir followers only. History is replete with followers of luminaries; followers who went on to modify, differentially interpret or distort the ideologies propagated by their Gurus. Organized business of ‘sect cultures’ is direct outcome of this. Sects and cults of gurus have created multi-million dollar empires today. The trust in wisdom of sages was never in crisis as is the case today.
Spending millions on constructing temples is injustice to millions who do not have time to follow any sage or guru. When I say guru, I quote figures like Kabir and Sai Baba and likes and not any so-called guru of the day. To say economically, a Kabir would deny this honour to utilize resources for the masses given the widespread destitution that is prevailing today. I cannot forget the long discussion that I had with caretakers of Lucknow Ramakrishna Mission. It was about 8 years ago when I was in Lucknow for a day. I used to visit Ramakrishna Mission mutt of Varanasi and when I came to know the Lucknow mutt was holding an exhibition on Swami Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda I knew I had to visit there. The exhibition was realty informative but what caught my attention and perhaps left me reasoning was the multi-crore temple that was built in the mutt premises. I appreciated the architectural brilliance but I could not appreciate the intention behind the huge structure. Apart from other social missions, Ramakrishna Mission also runs chain of well established hospitals. I was just calculating the opportunity cost of this temple for a hospital when most of the country’s population could not afford even the basic health care expenses. I went on discussing this with caretakers. They could not buy my statements, neither could I their.
It was again this feeling when I heard about the Kabir temple at Varanasi’s Kabir Mutt for I was sure Kabir’s soul would be in discomfort on this act of his followers. It sent me to know more about Kabir Mutt and the followers’ patrons. Kabir Mutt is nearly one kilometer away from my house on Lahartara-Mandudih road. When I decided to visit the temple and the Mutt then only I came to know that the place I knew as Kabir Mutt near my initial school was not linked to Kabir in any respect. When one approaches the Banaras Hindu University through Lahartara-Manduadih road, the iconic ‘pond’ and the new temple lie on the left while the mutt lies on its right. These are within 100 meters of Lahartara crossing.
I still don’t know much about the sect though it draws big number of followers regularly for annual functions. I intend to complete my primary and secondary research about it during next trip to Varanasi. But what is ironic is the ‘iconic pond’ associated with Kabir is almost dead, silted, full of discharge from adjoining houses in the area, and remains almost dry for most part of the year. The temple has been built in premises of the pond and now it is so imposing that the dejected pond is bound to find its nemesis. I am sure a much lesser sum of money would have assured the restoration of the pond and the area where this big temple has been erected could have been used for purposes like hospital or educational centre.
Kabir, Ramakrishna, Vivekananda are just few names. We can easily draw a long list. Latest of the Delhi landmarks, the imposing and grand ‘Akshardham Temple’ is probably the contemporary culmination of cult of ostentation and opulence, the most ‘Ungodly’ act when millions are bound to live in misery. Would “Sai Baba’ be happy with the controversy surrounding his ‘Charan Paduka’ being taken to America? How would have Kabir reacted had he been alive to witness all this?