Dump that mail…

Prayers are not meant to be forced down people’s throats but to be handed down to those who are interested to quench the thirst for knowledge of the religion and to open a line of communication with our Gods.

A roadside "temple" in Bangalore

A roadside "temple" in Bangalore

There are quite a few things that I have found very disturbing and I have been attempting to find out the answers.

I am not sure I have found the correct answers. But after serious thought, I have decided to encourage people to keep away from two things religiously:

Chain e-mails

Be they may of Sai Baba or of Gayatri Mantra or even in the name of Lord Ganesha. Some of these are in poor taste and are considered to be spam.

In fact, these degrade our religion rather than enhance it. I immediately dump such e-mails rather than forward it.

Our prayers were not meant to be in chain mails or chain e-mails. They were meant to be the mode of communication between our God and me, the individual.

Prayers are not meant to be forced down people’s throats but to be handed down to those who are interested to quench the thirst for knowledge of the religion and to open a line of communication with our Gods.

Donations

Keep away from organisations who call for cash to build temples. Unless you know them personally or they are people of repute.

I visited the website of a particular U.S.-based “temple” and found everything fishy about it. These guys seem to play on Hindu sentiments to make a quick buck!

So, never ever encourage or put these two things on your website or social network like Facebook or through your mail. Your website must remain “clean and pure” by not including these things.

And, in case you feel like giving donations, my suggestion is to give to people you personally know and not those recommended by third parties.

What does our Saunskar say? In our saunskar, whenever we undertake a journey, or start a new project, or a function like marriage of pooja, for good luck and/or for God’s blessings, we keep something called ‘kaniks’. These are meant to be collected in a ‘dabi’, which is usually kept in the Deva Kapat.

Any urge for donations may be deposited in this ‘dabi’. And, whenever possible, see that this amount reaches your own Kuladevata’s temple.

If you go personally to deposit this amount in your Kuladevata’s temple, needless to say, the benefits are untold!

And, of course, if you physically visit any temple other than your Kuladevata’s, you are free to give whatever you wish, as a token of your feelings, which should be deposited in that temple’s donation box if it is a small amount or handed over to the manager/secretary/cashier in exchange for a written receipt.

I know of at least one temple where they do not solicit for donations despite regularly performing anusthans and other religious rituals frequently. Moreover, at this temple there is no “rate card” for sevas, since they believe that a temple is not a kirana shop and a devotee should be able to perform poojas of his choice without thinking about the cost and pay whatever he/she can afford.

After I wrote to some people my feelings on the above subjects years back, I received e-mails which, surprisingly, supported my viewpoint.

One such person, who innocently forwarded the e-mail to me, said, “I am sorry!”

Well, I told the sender, you do not have to be sorry. We all make such mistakes on the spur of the moment, especially when it says that we will get Good Luck if we do this and Bad Luck if we don’t do this.

An interesting incident

Everyone has problems of various magnitude and that includes me. And during one such period, a close friend of mine recommended me to meet a tantrik while in Bombay.

Believe me, he said such amazing things from my past which only I knew. Then he made some fantastic predictions. Of course, then he recommended some things to be done, of course, at a cost.

We have all heard of tantriks (and mostly notorious ones at that) and the kind of things they do and so we were hesitant to follow his advice.

We went to Hyderabad and meet our priest there and he gave me a simple advice: We (meaning GSBs) don’t believe in Tantra, we believe in Mantra, that is, the power of prayers.

Then he told me that the best way to get rid of any problem is by praying to our Kuladevata and other Gods and performing rituals as prescribed in our shastras which we are following as GSBs and Konkanis.

Before I end this, please don’t feel that I am sermonising. Actually, to tell you the truth, I feel bad when I dump such chain letters. But when I realise its consequences, I feel I have done the right thing.

Footpath temples

Chain letters are as degrading to our religion as footpath temples. In fact, footpath temples are even worse.

Footpath temples are built by unscrupulous people, without following any shastras, and I personally consider it an insult to the God concerned.

According to our Shastras, even if we have a Deva Kapat at home, we have to follow certain basic rules.

These roadside temples were not built for any other purpose than for selfish reasons.

All sorts of people pass by and knowingly or unknowingly do such things as would horror a devout person!

The idols kept in these temples are seldom worshipped in the prescribed manner and are not taken proper care of.

My appeal to organisations like Shiv Sena, VHP and RSS (not that I subscribe fully to their ideology!) is to start a campaign to remove such temples in a proper manner and perform the visarjan (immersion in the river or sea) of the idols contained therein.

Slum temples

And, I am not talking of just the roadside temples. There are many such temples which are located amid the slums, which have been built specially to “protect” these illegal slums. These have been constructed by criminals.

These are meant to intimidate not people from other religions, but duty conscious people from our own religion!

I am no expert! Before I end this, let me confess that I am no expert on this subject, neither am I an authority on any religious subject! I just wanted to get this out of my mind for a long time!

The intention behind this small “lecture” is to provoke a discussion on these and similar other subjects, and I welcome your comments..

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