When I see people torturing themselves in the name of offering prayers or thanking God I think they are crazy, they are insane to pierce their cheeks with a needle, walk on a slipper that is made of nails, fast for days together or eat food without adding salt, worse eat food on the muddy ground without a plate they are simply morbid! Now that it is time for me to get married and the alliances do not come my way few reject my profile and I reject few, if both like each other horoscope reject us, quite funny if you ask me! According to the elders around me this is a very depressing phase for me in life, because I am 25 and I am not yet married but then all my friends are married not all, actually but that’s how they say and officially my life is getting disastrous without a husband. So one day I told them that I don’t want to get married at least till I feel the urgency, I am perfectly fine being unmarried besides I totally hate the idea of arranged marriage so it’s just nice this way. Maybe I will find my partner myself.
But you know how stubborn the elders are, they told me to fast every full moon day and the third full moon day I will have an alliance and I will surely get married to him. I said they were stupid and I don’t want to fast, scientifically it is not good for my metabolism and logically, no God said that I should fast if I want to have something quicker in life so I am not going to starve for a silly reason like this, things will happen when it is supposed to happen. My mother is a very sweet woman she never imposed anything on me and that from my childhood. She says you learn from your mistakes and I always did. But my maternal grandmother who is in her 80s was so adamant and she wanted to see her grandchild’s wedding before she died so she played a melo whenever I visited her, I thought fasting was better. So for her contentment more to stop her drama I fasted and it was tortuous! All I thought the whole day was Food, Food and more Food! Finally, an alliance did come I met him we liked each other so much infact we had a thing going on between us from the time we met. I was so afraid that I was going to mess up with my theory on fasting if this worked out, still I was happy. The guy was handsome, well settled, well to be precise he is a typical Indian “eligible” bachelor who satisfied the protocols of both the parents and daughter. Our families gelled so good and one fine day after all the talking the alliance was dropped because of the great great horoscope mismatch. I had to go through a great turmoil, but I was happy in the corner of my heart that if the alliance did not work out it implies the fasting did not work out too. But my granny came up with a totally new conspiracy she said it did not work out because I never believed in fasting and that I insulted God. She said my parents completely spoilt me by giving me lot of freedom and it’s irrevocable now they are going to regret very soon. I couldn’t stop laughing.
In my point of view, these people are masochists. They are so badly obsessed about what they want they are ready to have it through any means and so they can go through any kind of torture to have it in their life. But God never asked you to torture yourself if you wanted to have something, they say God is equivalent to a child, will a child want to torture you? He/She doesn’t even know the meaning of such a word. From a very small age, I was taught by my mother and grandmother(my father’s granny, a very sane and brave woman!) that there is no particular way to worship God, all you have to show is love and affection, and he will surely love you back. So that’s how it has been since I was a child I don’t follow the hard rules they have on the scripts. I just make sure I take bath before praying God and I don’t pray daily, I don’t spend hours together in temples. I go to only one temple that’s in Thiruvanamalai where the mountain is worshipped as God, they say lord Shiva is in the form of a mountain there, and I read in a book that as per science it is a sleeping volcano. The first time I went to this place I saw the mountain I fell in love with it, it was like how Bella was attracted to Edward Cullen in Twilight. The type of peacefulness I get there I don’t find it elsewhere. I walk around the mountain for 15 kms and it is one of the most enjoyable things I would prefer to do in my life. I talk to the mountain like he is my friend and I ask questions to him. If I feel bad I cry to the mountain because I was told that the mountain is Lord Shiva, so I am sure he is listening to me. My mother and I used to walk around the mountain in odd times sometimes in the midnight, sometimes in the afternoon under the very hot sun, we would say the mountain, “we have come from so far to visit you but look what you are doing to us, it is bloody hot and you are not bothered.” Sometimes it rains and most of the times it gets very cloudy that we won’t feel the sun’s heat after that.
When I was a teenage girl I was talking to my dad about God and I found that he is an atheist, strange he married a woman who is a believer and gets offended if someone says God does not exist. He says if there is God why there are so many people suffering in this world. He argues a lot and never comes to any temples. One day, I told him to come with me to Thiruvanamalai just to have the experience of walking for 15 kms, he loves me a lot and so he agreed to come. From then, he never stopped coming and by and by he started going to other temples too. Although he never changed the way he argued he started liking God, he never prays but he visits temples and tries to understand few things about God and his greatness. My friends used to be astonished by the way I pray God, they recite long slogams(prayers) and behave very respectfully infront of the idol in the temple. I just stand there staring at the idol admiring his greatness, most of the time I visit a temple only to admire its architecture as I already told you that the only place I feel the devotion is Thiruvanamalai.
Once my friend pulled me to one of the slogam classes so I can learn few and tell them when I go to the temple with her, I went there once and after that I never turned up. They were asking me to respect God, have fear for him and not treat him like another human being, they said there are fixed timings to pray God apart from that I cannot disturb him it was in contrary to what my mother taught me when I was a child, she said that he is my friend and I can talk to him whenever I want to. I told my friend, my human friend, “I am not coming to your class anymore they are trying to hamper the tight relationship I have with God, they are saying strange things which I don’t believe in.” She said prayer is a way to thank god, to which I said, if prayer is a way to thank god, I can find my own prayer and from then till today I don’t know a single prayer other than Shivapuranam. My mother taught me this when I was in class 10 and she also told me the meaning of it. The slogam is completely about how beautiful God and his creation are and how I as a human being fell crazily in love with him. It is amazing! There comes a line where it says, ‘Eerthenai aat konda enthai perumane’ which means you pulled me towards you with your strong gravitation and you influenced me and my thoughts. She tried to teach me many other slogams but nothing inspired me as much as shivapuranam did she had to give up after a point of time. I told her, “I know one and I know it perfectly so I can stick to it. Moreover, why are you asking me to pray so many Gods? You introduced me to Shiva so I will stick to him we are in such good terms already he knows me well, I don’t want more. You were the one who taught me about the Monk who dug a pit! You are confusing me now.” It is a very beautiful story.
Once a monk goes to visit the richest man in town, he was asked by the servant of the richest man to wait in the service hall as the man is offering pooja to God. The monk waited. After half an hour the servant returned and told the monk, ‘Sir ji is offering pooja to lord Ganesha now, please wait.’ The monk nodded his head. After another half an hour the servant came back and said, ‘Sirji is offering pooja to Lord Krishna now, please wait.’ The monk said, ‘I can wait as long as he wants me to but can you give me a crowbar?’ The servant gives him a crowbar and leaves. The monk starts digging a pit, every time the servant came and told the monk that his boss is offering pooja to another God the monk kept digging the pit. Finally, the richest man finished his pooja and came to the monk when he saw 6 pits in front of his house. The monk had dug 6 different pits. The rich man who was confused asked why he had dug 6 pits to which the monk answered, “You offered prayer to Ganesha, Krishna, Murugan, Shiva, Lakshmi and Durga. I dug a pit everytime you offered a prayer to another God and so they remained as 6 different pits, if you had prayed one single God and have chosen one path. I would have dug a well by now!” The essence is told and done!
She stopped insisting me on praying other Gods from then. It’s like you go and ask for the same thing to all Gods, Ganesha thinks his dad Shiva will take care of it, Shiva thinks Vishnu will, Vishnu thinks Murugan will and finally nobody does because you had gone to all of them screaming for help and they have few devoted people who rely only on them. From then I will go on saying shivapuranam many times a day I say when I am stressed, disturbed or sad sometimes when I have nothing to do I started reciting this slogam and my mind becomes very calm and peaceful. She also taught me 1 more mantra as I would like to say it. Arunachala Shiva, Arunachala is the name of the god in thiruvanamalai and Shiva is obviously Shiva this mantra was told by Ramana Maharishi who was a great maharishi in Thiruvanamalai. I have a bad temper, so she told me whenever you get agitated say this mantra, keep saying it until you calm down. It became a habit that even today if I am nervous my mind switches on this mantra and it starts going on its own without me making any effort.
I never had a specific way to pray God, I talk to him just like how I talk to my friends. I tell him, ‘Hey, I am really upset and you are responsible. Just do something about it.’ Next day, things will be normal. I thank him from wherever I am. He is omnipresent, so he can hear me! I don’t say, ‘Dear lord, you are my savior. Please get rid of all my trouble for me and I will fast for 2 days.’ Then when everything’s fine, I take all the fruits available in the market and coconuts to the temple, break it on the floor and make as much noise as possible and give disturbance to others who are praying for their lives just like you isn’t fair. And if you have ever noticed, God is meditating too so you cannot make noise and disturb his meditation. And please, he’s not a human being you bribe him and he gets things done for you. He has things in mind for you and it’ll happen in its own course. You can donate the fruits to the poor, not the beggars who are sitting out of the temple, they are lazy and so they are beggars but you can collect the money you use to buy flowers or fruits in a piggy bank and donate it to an orphanage or to the poor near your locality, seeing them smile God smiles. Why do you waste tonnes and litres of milk, honey, water on an idol? Accepted you worship it as God, but why do have to waste all of it by just pouring it on God? A litre would suffice to keep him happy. Those days the kings did it because they flourished, poor people at least had a roof above their head but now it is not the case so now that we are in Rome we should start being Romans. That milk could be given to the kids who have not even seen it, fair enough! Do you remember learning in school? The easiest way to reach God is to help the poor. There is a saying in Tamil, ‘Dhanathil sirandha dhanam Anna dhanam’ Meaning the best way of donation is donating food. They also say, ‘Yezhayin sirippil naan kadavulai kaangindren’ means I see God when the poor smiles. So if you give him the milk that you are pouring on God in the name of abishegam the poor will smile which means God will also smile!
God never asked for bounties, he never said you should starve and put yourself through great pressure to have something in life. God, how do people even fast! My mother feeds me well before taking me to any temple, otherwise I don’t enter the temple I look for hotels nearby go, eat and only then go to the temple. When you fast you don’t think of God you only think about food and shiva lingam looks like pineapple, how will you pray? And I hate to starve. I am not mocking the idea of fasting or the torture people put themselves through to show their love for God, but why are being so rude on yourself? I really cannot believe when I heard people get coconuts broken on their heads, dude! There are great chances for your skull to get broken and then you get a direct ticket to heaven you can meet God there but no coming back! When I say these things people think I am an atheist I talk stupid things. Few even say I am mad! But I think logically and I don’t offend God I offend people for bringing such stupid things in practice. God only asked love and nothing else. Tradition is something written by us and I don’t follow a book, I follow my mother and my conscience. My mother says you can pray God in the way you feel is comfortable I do and I find contentment in living this kind of life I always get things that I wanted and if I don’t I get something better but God has never let me down. I am definitely not an atheist but I just think a little or maybe too much that few think I am nutcase! But who cares! My creator understands…