Salvation, not yet!

I visited Ujjain this year for a friend’s destination wedding. I found the whole Marwari wedding affair overwhelming and at times too fancy. But it was a novel and educational experience at the very least.

Ujjain also happens to be a renowned Hindu pilgrimage centre. How did I know that? Wikipedia!

Mahakal Temple Ujjain.JPG

On the last day, my friends and I had the entire morning free and the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple was only a few kilometres away. We decided to make a small religious trip because Google said this was one of the must do things in Ujjain.

Like all important temple cities, the economy is an interweb of all religion-ancillary services: Accommodation for the pilgrims, transportation, a million different offerings for God at these temples, Pundits and the list goes on…

Its 7 am in the morning when we arrive at the temple location, it’s cold. The rickshaw ride was a war against the chilly winds and I had made the wrong wardrobe choices by wearing a half-sleeved t-shirt. But what was I complaining about; people make perilous journeys through the Himalayas to Amarnath, in the hope of achieving salvation. A cold rickshaw ride was a first world problem in comparison.

As we sipped hot tea, which pleased my insides, the tea vendor informed us that our phones weren’t allowed inside the temple premises. Complicated temple rules all over this country! No Photographs! No phones inside! They’re justified to be honest in setting up these inconvenient rules and regulations. There are terrorists planning to bomb religious places all the time.

The tea vendor offered to keep our phones in his possession during our time inside the temple. I’m not suspicious person innately but handing over phones to this person who could have easily been an extra in Sholay as one of Gabbar’s henchmen wasn’t really a comforting thought. He didn’t have lockers. He had a big bag where he collected phones from devotees. This was a common practice supposedly. There were a bunch of vendors doing the same thing. And people around us were actually following through on these offers and handing over their phones to these vendors like they were candy and then proceeding towards the entry gates. My friend and I looked at each other trying to make sense of this dilemma and within a split second, mutually without any spoken words we decided to go with the flow. So after handing over phones that had collectively cost us 80000 INR approximately, we moved on to seek the Lord’s blessings.

It was early morning and there weren’t as many people. So it was going to be a smooth and fast process overall. I was glad we’d avoided “rush hour” devotee traffic. I literally sprinted with my long legs much to the annoyance of my friend who took relatively short steps as we moved ahead in the queue. The zig-zag metal arrangements to manage devotee queues are always a fun experience for me to navigate. We’re moving but are we really going anywhere? That’s often the case in life too.

Though my physical body was engaged in the quest to reach the holy Shivlinga, see it, bow before it, say my usual prayers and then chart the course towards the exit, my mind was still fixated on the fact that my phone was not on my body. It was far away, outside the gates, with a man whose name I didn’t know, whose contact details I didn’t have and given my inability to remember new faces, I could never describe him to a police officer if the need for such dire steps ever arose.

The entire time I was inside the temple, having travelled almost 600 km from my home to be here, I was thinking about my phone with that man. The only time I guess I deliberately tried to not think about it was when I was bowing my head with my hands folded saying my prayer when I finally reached the inner sanctum of the temple where I could actually see the real deal- the Shiv Linga.

Our journey towards the exit was far shorter, given the fact that now getting my phone back was the only item on my agenda and my feet moved accordingly.

This isn’t a mystery thriller. I did get back my phone. I had another cup of delicious hot tea that I savoured even more as I celebrated the reunion with my phone.

But the rickshaw journey back to our hotel was a much more sombre experience. I realized that the material world had me well trapped in its tentacles and I wasn’t even remotely ready for salvation, yet.

6 thoughts on “Salvation, not yet!

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  1. I had a happy-sad experience there once. I went to Ujjain in the summer of 2015. I’d decided on visiting a few places, Mahakaleshwar being on top of the list. I’ve always been fascinated with Shiva and was very excited for Mahakaleshwar in particular, especially after reading about the ‘Bhasma Aarti’. At the temple I found out the temple management had this system where you could enter the sanctum sanctorum only if you bought a ticket that cost something worth 1000 Rs. If you didn’t, you’d have to see the Shivling from afar. Of course I didn’t, it seemed unfair, when there were hundreds of people who would be seeing the Shivling from afar, why did I have to spend my money on entering the ‘Sanctum Sanctorum’ to pray. I wasn’t exactly happy but I knew buying the ticket was nothing short of a bribe and my conscience wouldn’t let me do it. I was content until the security guard said they allowed everyone to enter the Sanctum Sanctorum for an hour or two in the evening regardless of the ticket. In hindsight I wish he hadn’t said that and hadn’t given in πŸ˜‰ because after standing in the queue for three hours in the morning I was back in the evening in the hope of entering the Sanctum Sanctorum. As life would have it, just before it was my turn, the temple management realized they’d allowed too many people for the day and that was it. I couldn’t go in. The End.

    That day I realized there was no point of it anyway. What difference would have it made had I said my prayers in the Sanctum instead of from 100 meters away? nothing right? Also with so much rush, they did not even let people see the Shivling for more than five seconds even though a lot of people had actually bought a ticket. So I came out, went to my room and logged into the official Mahakaleshwar website and watched the ‘Shivling’ up close live. Sometimes I think that’s what I should have done in the first place. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha..I saw it from afar too. But in my case, it wasn’t about the money, it was just about my impatience and my phone I guess. I’ve realised that all the rituals we do, we do coz my mom wants me to do them,if I had my way I wouldn’t even light a diya on diwali.

      You should written an essay or a blog with that answer πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. I’m all for long form, its dying everywhere.
      I have to edit my ballerina blogs so much coz I have a 650 words limit πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am guessing you have an iPhone. πŸ˜‚
        Hahahaha.. ‘If I had my own way I wouldn’t even light a Diya on Diwali’🀣
        Though I don’t mind the diyas I’ve never really understood the logic behind colorful lights(and crackers, of course!) that start a week prior to Diwali and continue for more than a fortnight. Such waste.
        As for visits to holy shrines, you must have seen the Kshipra in Ujjain. So much unnecessary pressure on the natural resources. I’ve realized the best I can do is not visit at all. Or visit only if it’s a must. Like of course when Mum wants. πŸ˜…That’s the best I can do on my part to help that place.

        An essay. Haha.
        Why do you think I don’t write often?
        It’s because I can’t cut short things. And long articles take time which I don’t have anyway.

        650 words is too less. But I’ve read some of your ballerina​ blogs and though not too long, they convey the purpose with beauty. They are great. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hahaha..I saw it from afar too. But in my case, it wasn’t about the money, it was just about my impatience and my phone I guess. I’ve realised that all the rituals we do, we do coz my mom wants me to do them,if I had my way I wouldn’t even light a diya on diwali.

    You should written an essay or a blog with that answer πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. I’m all for long form, its dying everywhere.
    I have to edit my ballerina blogs so much coz I have a 650 words limit πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

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