It was meant to be a shrine. A quiet place for introspection. For reflection. For peace. And some sense of calm and if you are blessed, a chance to connect with yourself. To the You within you.
Our car parked about 10 meters from the entrance. “Shoe, chappal gaadi mein rakh sakten hain” suggested our driver. I didnt want to. The road was a mess – dried dung, mango seeds apparantly subjected to intensely elaborate working-on and let go after extreme reluctance, paan spittle under various stages of drying up, and, I shudder to even type this, phlegm. Glimmering puddles of repulsive colours and diverse viscosity all over the place.
I kept my shoes on. And walked near the entrance much like a soldier manoeuvering landmines. I must have looked a spectacle hopping about outside the temple. There was the shoe-rack, thankfully just outside the Shrine. And a thoughtful bench where you could sit to take off your footwear.
The flooring inside the shrine was all marbled and polished. steps led up to the rather large meditation hall with eager devotees scattered across the carpetted floor.
I was abused
It hit me as I stepped inside the hall. Much like the annoying air curtain that blasts overhead in most public places these days and dishevels your hair beyond hope. As it hit me, my eardrums responded violently to the assault. My eyes on reflex searched for the source of the attack – and there sat the evil one right inside the shrine of peace and pathway to God, with an intense, savage look on his face.
It was such a vicious expression, one of barbaric intensity. Fierce and determined to leave you writhing in agony. Taking the visual impulses in, my body shuddered in resonance with my Tymphanic membranes with equal excruciation.
The monster suddely went into a shudder himself and stared right at me. A savage look came on his face and he paused for less than an instant – and then went into a fit of beating his hands against each other and making loud, incredibly loud clapping sounds.
I had by then lost my bearings. There was this queue that had formed, that was making its way towards the deity, all seemingly in some sort of awe inspired trance, hands folded and mind in the throes of a divine buzz…
The clapping had risen to a sort of a climax and the monster was now shreiking and subjecting his vocal wherewithals to extreme test. It seemed like a battle of his vocal apparatus pitched, if I may use the word here, against the thin delicate unsuspecting membranes stretched iniside my ears. The monster was working up a cresendo of superlative cacophony. About this time I became aware that the monstor was not alone. there were two others with him. one was banging a sort of a drum like he was trying to end the world with his actions and there was another that was slamming two small metal plates – the annoying Jaalra – against each other with an almost evil determination in his eyes you might have spotted on Hitlers eyes when he shot the 999th Nazi and was approaching the 1000th.
The cresendo was achieved and there were a few moments of respite. The speakers were still reverberating with the noises that had just died down. And for a moment the shrine was as it should be. Silent and still and calm and peaceful.
The monstor, I shook, was leaning again into the mic to announce the next devotional bhajan number that would be dished out. I broke out into a sweat and just wanted to run out of the shrine at the speed of light.
I like Shrines. I like to visit Shrines and close my eyes and think of the Almighty. I like Bhajans. I like the tranquility that can come from soft bhajans playing in the backdrop ocassionally. I like to feel a sense of peace and calm envelop me. I like to feel a connect with the Almighty.
What I dont like is to be subjected to the whims of how other devotees like to connect with the same (or any other ) God. What I dont like is for a combination that can be most deadly on the genuine devotee. This is a serious threat and can most endanger the fast disappearing species of honest devotees.
A Higher Calling
And that was my beckoning. That message was delivered to me loud and clear. In fact deafeningly loud. For those few minutes that I hovered about in the shrine, my eyes fell on the deity and an overwhelming wave of some fresh sense of purpose swept over me. I knew all of a sudden in 2 minutes of my entering that accoustically disasterous hall, exactly what I had to do.
I had to leave instantly, of course. But I also had a mission now assigned upon me that I now must undertake. To ‘blogit’ and lay down the first measures to conserve the species and prevent three impulses – repulsion, reluctance and fear of accoustically unfavorable shrines.
A Mission Near Impossible
As an immediate measure with the objective of protecting the depleting species, it is upon me now to take the first steps to save them. A clear understanding of what endangers the species, what threatens their very orientation(spiritual) and what causes their dilution is important. The conservation approach, at least the first steps will begin with eliminating, or directing effort to eliminate these factors. The combination of three or more of the following must be strongly discouraged in any shrine.
- Inept bhajan singer
- Bhajan Singer with a terrible terrible voice
- Bhajan singer who cant sing one, just one good bhajan if it would save his life
- Bhajan singer totally comprehensively tone deaf (perhaps one can tell why he is deaf)
- Singing a Bad Bhajan composition
- Rendering a bad Bhajan composition set to the tune of a popular hindi movie song
- Lousy accompaniment with Low quality drum and shrill jaalra ‘ching-chakking’
- Terribly deaf mic technician
- Inept electrician who cant remove crackling sounds
- Inept mic guy who cant take the ‘koooooooooonkkk‘ off the speaker
Join My Crusade
Your Responsibility begins the minute you see this fullstop. <—- Yes this one. Now you have no choice but to join my crusade and end the tyranny that gets in the way of a true honest to goodness devotee and God. If you see any of the three points above valid in a Temple, Shrine or any place of worship, DO something about it. Either leave in a huff, or tell someone about it. Tell 10 friends. Or Send them an email. And end the email with a subtle threat of some bad outcomes if they dont forward it to 200 other people. Stand up on the table at your office around lunchtime and shout – NO MORE MICS! Or some such thing. Do something. Do anything. It is only limited by your creativity.
But come back and let me know what you did.
Let us make a difference.