Monday, January 04, 2010

God Doesn't Live There Anymore

It was September 2007 when I moved into my current place of residence. I usually call it home but today I won’t because of the state of mind I’m in. I’m not supposed to live here forever.

Anyway, It was easy to give anyone directions to my place. Before they dug up the main road and created our very own crystal maze of course…if you do reach here somehow, you will never get out. I just had to tell people to ask for Inchara in JP Nagar 6th Phase and then look for a Ganesh Temple a little up ahead. It was that same lane, next to the Ganesh temple.

It was a humble temple then. A room really. Quite basic. And there was a platform outside for people to sit. Most evenings there would be old people talking their hearts out after having offered their evening prayers. And very often, even as late as 9 in the night, there used to be a wayfarer sitting on that platform, brooding at times, waiting at others…sometimes lost, as if waiting for God to open the door and offer help. One could really knock on God’s door at any time of the day, so to speak, when one needed to.

And then they decided God needed a palace. They got all the money from somewhere; it is never difficult to collect money in the name of religion. They cleaned up a tract of land around the temple and started the construction of a Gopuram. They built small idols of deities all over it and painted them in silver and gold. They planted a flower garden around. It took longer than a year to build this palace but they did it. They installed the deity a while ago for people to worship. The room stayed but everyone started visiting the bigger temple to offer prayers.

They were poor, all of them; they had no kindness or love to offer. So they made up by offering their material opulence at God’s door and hoped He would understand. They decked Him up and started visiting Him wearing Kanjeevarams and silken panchas.

All this while the room stayed as it is, that humble abode. But then they all started to feel insecure, the world was becoming such a dangerous place. God must feel fear too. So one day they razed the little room down and built a wall around the temple. A thick wall. And they started closing the doors every evening. No wayfarer could now sit at God’s door and wait for him. Or brood his troubles away against the wall knowing God was behind him, behind that closed door.

It reminded me of that story. There was once a poor woman in a village and she was a devotee of Krishna. Everyday she would gather wood and sell it off to make a living, barely making the ends meet. Any food she would get she would feed her children with it and what remained she lovingly offered to Krishna. Then one day someone said it was blasphemy. How could she offer leftovers to God? It was sin and she must make amends immediately. God-frearing as she was, she did make amends and started offering food first to Krishna and then to her children. But Krishna refused to eat.

She asked him, puzzled, why he wouldn’t eat food now that she had amended her ways. And Krishna said it was because earlier she would give him the same food as her children, and consequesntly treat Him as her own, her child. Now she was treating Him like God and he did not want that food anymore. He preferred being treated as her child.

The day they built that wall and closed the gates off the message was loud and clear: He is God, he is not your friend, not someone you can sit by and talk about your troubles with. You must climb a flight of stairs to reach the elevated place he is at, you lowly mortal.

The day they built that wall, they distanced God from me. Further.

14 Thinkers Pondered:

arun said...

Well said. It is hard to stand the atrocities people do for the sake of religion or belief. Getting back to your point, I don't believe god will ever want to be locked up in magnificent buildings or offered money and food as long as there are hungry and homeless people out there in those streets.
God doesn't live here anymore.

Vijay said...

//They were poor, all of them; they had no kindness or love to offer.//

:)

Nirupama said...

Lovely post. The relationship with God is more like something between an upper caste and a lower caste man! Although, we know that He doesn't want to be treated that way. Nicely written D...

mentalie said...

what a beautiful post that was, anupama.
i've often wondered about the great distance between god and religion... like you say, there is more peace and 'god' in the tiny wayside shrines that crop up unobtrusively under trees and on street corners along the roads of india...

agent green glass said...

loved it. its true. i wonder why they try and make god god. why he can't be someone easy to find, easy to talk to. but i guess, that's human nature. put god on a pedestal.

Shri said...

It somehow reminded me of how they have commercialized the temple in Tirupati.

Thank you for the beautiful post!

Priya Iyer said...

loved it! :)

am touched...so true and well written..

Sathej said...

Am very touched..poignant

Sathej

Anonymous said...

I inclination not concur on it. I over polite post. Expressly the designation attracted me to study the unscathed story.

Satish said...

Our fascination for material wealth, just gets extended to GOD also. Irony is more opulent the temple, the greater the number of devotees. Just a drive in Bangalore, will confirm this...

Manbir said...

Awesome!!!

Sritama said...

Beautiful post and amazing observation.But then sometimes lesser mortals get so far away, be it emotionally or geographically, that it becomes difficult to reach them even though they happened to be our soulmates at one point.Its sad but its true..

Anupama said...

Hey Arun,

I agree with you...I have a feeling God would want to live among us...if we perceive him to feel all human emotions and protect him, I'm sure he gets lonely sometimes as well! Alone in those big halls...

Hey Vijay,

Thanks for the comment...

Hey Niru,

I like that analogy...upper caste-lower caste...the 'madi' custom pretty much makes us The Untouchables when it comes to God!

Hey Mentalie,

Thank you so much...distance is exactly what we are creating between us and God...and we are using delusion effectively to do that...

Hey AGG,

Welcome to the blog...I think we do the same to some humans as well...they are born of the common lot, the spiritual Gurus...and then the moment they start enlightening people the pedestal starts to be constructed...and they can never remain on the ground again even if they want to...human nature for sure...

Hey Shri,

Yes that is another example of distancing God from us...thank you for the comment...

Hey Priya,

Thank you so much!

Hey Sathej,

Thanks a lot!

Hey Anonymous,

Thank you for the comment...

Hey Satish,

I can't agree more on that...we seem to think if we offer our riches to God he will offer his help to us...perfect example of how we have started measuring everything in terms of money, including devotion...what else can lowly mortals who are bent upon killing each other offer to God anyway?

Hey Manbir,

Thanks a lot!

Hey Sritama,

Yes I love that thought...that once we all used to live together, the Gods and us...and then we drifted apart...

zephyr said...

A very pertinent point, well made. God certainly doesn't want opulence, but love and faith. I agree about closing the gates too. God is always there for His devotee, day or night. Nice post.