My wife believes in God and that’s the reason why I often get chance to visit temples to offer my prayers to the almighty. I being a human being, my feelings attached with the prayers intensify when I am in some kind of pain or if I desperately desire something. Else it’s just a formal Hello. It happens with most of us I guess.
I am a kind of “Happy forever type” so for most of the time my visit to temple implies short conversation with god like-
“Hi god, How are you today? I am good. Thanks for the rain last night. It was awesome”
But my wife always has listed agendas which are to be brought to discussion with the lord. In short she spends hell lot of time interacting with the gods. So once my small chit chat with god is over I get ample time to look around, while my better half remains busy debating over our life’s problem with the almighty.
In my first few months of almost every day visit to the temple I realized that every temple has a fixed group of devotee apart from few exceptional ones. These exceptional are variable and appear only and only if life has kicked hard on their ass or else they need god to manipulate some results before it gets public.
Apart from these two groups of devotee there are Pujaris, who are considered closer to the god than normal breed of people and usually act as mediator between the two. In bigger temples, each god has devoted Pujari. These devoted pujaris are kind of specialist in specific gods. They can help you with methods and mantras that are mandatory to please their categorical gods. Not to be surprised, this can cost you a fortune. However, I prefer praying on my own.
Then there is the most neglected group of people ‘the beggars’. They generally sit on temple stairs with each pieces of their asset circled around them. These are the belongings which they somehow managed to gather from the garbage around. There are many specific characteristics of these people which often lead you to treat them as untouchables. These peculiar attributes include nose chocking foul smell, age old untidy rags wrapped around them etc. These rags, if lucky enough, barely manage to hide their most private parts. I have seen haunted female devotees, rocketing down the temple stairs to avoid unexpected eye catch to the uncovered ones.
It was Sunday and it being a holiday I was quite sure that my wife would be taking extra long to explain her grieves to the god today. It is like, all pending problems which were not reported to God on weekdays, on account of time constrain, were added in weekend prayers.
As every other day, I completed greeting all available 27 gods and sub gods, spread around one kilometer radius of the temple, in few minutes and then sat on the temple doorstep.
I prefer this place for waiting as it can entertain you with both inside and outside views of the temple.
A devotee caught my attention, his eyes were closed and hands were folded in prayer. He has been a regular visitor since last couple of days. Tears were rolling out of his eyes; no doubt he was in pain. After few minutes he started switching prayer positions in pursuit of the best one to please the god. After thirty minutes of continuous effort he finally got assured that all methods of prayer known to him has been covered. He offered donation in the donation box and then final statement came out of his mouth
“Ohh God please help me out of this andI will offer 101 coconuts in return”
And he left
While he was leaving the temple, one beggar got in to his way. He was starved thin and was probably bath deprived for months. He was begging for few pennies that could help him fill his stomach. In his effort to get his motive fulfilled, the beggar first caught the devotee’s leg and then tried resting forehead on his leg. No matter how hard the person tried to ignore him, the beggar kept on switching his begging positions.
It was surprising, how things changed from inside the temple to outside. The one who was begging before god inside was portraying god himself for a lesser privileged man outside. Tears have changed eyes and prayers were replaced by begging.
No matter how hard the beggar tried, it didn’t leave any impact on the devotee. He completely ignored the beggar and moved ahead.
I could not help myself and called for the devotee aloud
“Hello Mr “
The man turned towards me and replied in surprise with his index figure pointed towards his chest.
“Yup You” I stepped down the stairs to get closer to him.
In my way I passed the beggar who has now started to offer his prayers to me. Displeased with his one god he has decided to check with another one.
“This beggar seems really hungry, why didn’t you help him with few coins?” Devotee got shocked by unexpected question and so did the beggar.
Devotee hesitated for a second and then said directing his index finger towards the beggar
“If I would help him today, he will never learn to earn by himself and will keep on begging forever. “
He finished it quick and got moving again.
“Nice thought man, but what if god is thinking the same in response of your prayers which you have been offering to him since last couple of days.” I shouted from behind.
I don’t know what are you trying to convey Mr., but I don’t have time for this. “He replied without even bothering to look back.
“Imagine yourself to be the beggar and the God to be a devotee. He is not taking away your pain because he wants you to learn from it. He wants you to fight it and get stronger in the process.
Life is too long brother and begging to the gods can’t help you forever. Don’t make him feel ashamed of his own creation. God designed us to fight not to see our sorry face all the time.” I explained myself in an increased tone of voice.
He stopped and stood there motionless for couple of seconds with his back still facing towards me.
Then he turned to throw a smile of gratitude at me and moved on.
As I turned back, my wife was standing right behind me, smiling. I looked for beggar but I could not find him.
We still visit temple regularly but surprisingly, I have never seen that devotee or the beggar around after that day.
Most importantly, my wife’s interacting period with God has decreased manifolds 😛
“Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
– Garth Brooks