Friday, May 7, 2010

The Beginning

I finally managed to put pen to paper or more precisely fingers to the keyboard. I have been meaning to write a travelogue of our temple tours for the past decade and for some reason I have not been able to overcome the inertia and the trepidation to get started. There is still a nagging self doubt on how this will finally emerge. Just as Julie Cameron says ““We are trained to self-doubt, to self-scrutiny in the place of self-expression.” Each one of us is spiritual, at least at a subliminal level. Many of us have had a fleeting spiritual experience during meditation or during extreme physical activity or in a temple or at a satsang and it disappears before we recognize it. For me personally, temples have been a medium of these experiences. My only hope is that each seemingly innocuous experience will somehow crystallize into something tangible and significant in the near future. So write, I will and in the process will trigger of a spiritual quest in you and hopefully the latent spirituality deep within me would emerge too. So I’m throwing caution to the winds and in the forthcoming weeks hopefully I will be able to give a pictorial tour of the various temples we visited.

Our interest in temples started in 1998 when we had a chance to visit some temples in and around Kumbakonam. Back then the crowds were a lot lesser and you could actually bask in the tranquil surroundings suffused with spirituality. I need to lean on the words from “ To kill a mocking bird” to prop up my limited power of expression and give form to my thoughts.

It is entirely real and entirely fascinating. There is a hint of nostalgia, few traces of courage and disbelief lurking in the fabric, all very old fashioned but looking clearly into the future. A little like the music of Brahms which can be accused of something similar having one foot rooted in romantic sensibility and the other rooted in all that was modern. It’s not a matter of style but a matter of heart of walking through this dark forest of experience to find a voice of beauty and wonder”.

It was in Alandur that we were completely taken in by the lord and I can say it was the beginning of this long journey to total surrender. We had reached Alandur at about 2.00PM after lunch. As anticipated the main temple was closed. We were sitting just outside the main praharam and I was chatting up with someone who claimed to be the watchman for the temple. He went on to give me details of the temple, its antiquity and its significance etc. Sure enough, I was hanging on to every word he said. Seeing my interest, he said that it is important that I must awaken the spirituality dormant in me. He also said that all issues pertaining to a rashi (which incidentally was mine) would vanish So much from a watchman!! I was stumped. The darshan was fantastic and I came out with a feeling of inexplicable happiness. . This is how our journey started.

So fascinated were we in that first visit, that we decided to make periodic yatras of this kind. The next question was “Where do we get started?” .We decided to focus on the “Paadal Petra Sthalams” and to visit other temples in and around these magnificent Shiva temples. This gave direction to our quest and gave clarity and pointed us to our next destination. Another thing we decided was to have unplanned trips. We plan the first leg and the number of days of yatra. We find this kind of travel, fun and a lot more fulfilling. Probably the lack of expectation and the hurry to get to the next destination makes us enjoy the present in its entirety. My teenage daughter does not enjoy these trips. Can’t blame her! It’s wrong of me to expect her to be enthused by the likes of Appar and Sundarar in a world of Beyonce and Leona Lewis So I take off on these trips by myself these days. I set off on these solo ventures with a tinge of guilt for leaving my wife Bhavani behind to take care my daughter.
So, how much ground have I covered in this spiritual journey ?? To draw a parallel I have reached Basin Bridge after leaving Chennai Central. I still fly into a rage, enjoy Rajini movies and enjoy my Bacardi and scotch on the rocks and the crowning glory, in the corporate rat race too. So here I am with a million rough edges and burs to be chipped and smoothened.