Of all the stress-busting means, watching aarti at temples does wonder for me. I have been to Dwarka, Somnath, Benares, Haridwar, Rajgir … especially for this purpose and came back home refreshed and rejuvenated.
Another temple, almost at our backyard, I have often been to is Dakshineswar Kalibari. In the evening I would proceed towards the building, adjacent to the main temple, where people of all hues converge. They team up and sing bhajans to the accompaniment of musical instruments, creating an aura, a divine atmosphere.
One evening, sitting on the floor, at the rear end of the gathering, my eyes suddenly fell on a person standing, dressed in shabby clothes. He seemed to be in an ecstatic mood, clapping, swaying to the beat, quite resigned to his fate. Without meaning to, he silently offered me a sage advice: What the morrow will bring should not concern you. It’s not in your hands but in His domain alone. He who looks after the birds looks after you, too. Therefore, cheer up and keep smiling at all times.
Years ago, I went to Rajkot to attend an official training course. When it got over, I took a bus to Jamnagar and then to Junagadh, where I checked in at a hotel located a little distance away from the revered Revatak Parvata range, older than the Himalayas, housing the sacred Girnar Temple. The trek to Girnar was not in the mind when I arrived there. I remember looking constantly at the top to gauze the distance still to be covered. When I reached the midpoint in the journey (9999 steps in all), I thought I could not go on anymore. Dehydrated, hungry, I sat on a stone.
After a while, I saw an elderly Gujrati lady coming my way. She carried sticks in both the hands. As she was about to pass me by, she looked at me and said: “Beta, feeling tired? When you reach there, all your pains turn to godly strength that sustains you amid worldly chaos.”
On the way down, I could not see the elderly lady anymore, without whose promptings I would not have made it to the temple, where I stayed for
an hour absorbing the pristine air the virgin forest all around exuded.
Paulo Coelho, the writer of The Alchemist, with whom I’d the fortune to correspond for a while, urges the reader to be aware of the angelic presence assigned by God along the path you are destined to pass through. The man at Dakshineswar and this lady at Girnar were certainly godsend for me.
A version of this article appears in print on January 08, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.