Sunday, July 3, 2011

The silent God

The past few days, we have been covering Thiruvananthapuram, total gluttons for the sights, sounds and smells of this bio-wealthy state. It seems to have everything; beaches, mountains, the backwaters, rivers, rain, spices, gold, temples and to top it all, these rich resources are beautifully showcased against a fertile, friendly and median weather. 

The province certainly appears to be blessed although there is the sceptre of communism holding this potential tiger in leash, so to say. The girls love the food even though some experiments like ‘fruit chappati’ and ‘karupatti coffee’ and ‘jaffel’ threw up unexpected surprises. The bilingual skills of the local populace are proving to be the proverbial icing on the cake.

Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
Appreciative of the place and people of this ‘Abode of Lord Ananta’, it has been the temple darshans that have challenged them the most. Like most other young and unafraid people their age, there is a natural resistance to the authority that religion represents. The lamp of the sacrificial lamb does not glow in their hearts at this age. There is something contrived in their bows, a clear indication that they do not understand the rituals and rhythm of the revered and ancient edifices although having been brought up to respect all cultures and beliefs, they do take care to observe the protocol and code of conduct. There is acknowledgment of the devotion evident around them yes, but without letting it into their own personal selves as yet. There are too many questions, too many contradictions, far too many inconsistencies to warrant a conversion at this point.

At the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple today, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, they dutifully trotted after their parents, gulping down the butter prasadam and letting the mother push them in front of the haloed deities for a little bit of the holy blessing rub off. But there were questions on their lips, a frown on the foreheads and an effort to fathom, in their eyes. The architecture and sculptures impressed them as did the physical symbols of India’s ancient and advanced knowledge but there was also a sense of the increasingly commercial nature of the practices.
Temple East Gate
Other than marvelling at the 100,000 crore INR worth of gold found sealed within the thick stone walls and vaults of the temple, currently under review by a seven-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India, I wondered at the intangibles on display for anyone who cared to look beyond what the guide pointed out. There was the obvious zeal and dedication behind the stone carvings and creations. In the colonnades, labyrinthine passages and reliefs depicting processions and combat, I sensed the power and control wielded by the temple at one time. In those walls were some of the most superior remnants of the human past. I got goose pimples thinking of the effort and perseverance of people who built this obvious dynamo of influence.

Considering that ancient civilization was hierocentirc, surely one of the outcomes of this temple was civilization itself. And yet, why did I feel a sense of sadness and oppression in the presence of the golden grandeur? Was there a whiff of mould in the magnificence around?  In the midst of all this mental mixie churning, I remembered to fold my hands and asked the Lord to bless my girls with stability, humaneness and wisdom.  

As we left the holy and silent precincts, I wondered if the supernatural lines will ever hum again. Will God take up on mankind's behalf anytime soon?! 

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