Practicing Hindu and Professing Hindus
By Nivedita Bhide
In one of the tours in North East, we were passing through Assam to go to Arunachal. The Karyakarta accompanying told me, ‘Didi, Vijita, a young girl working as a teacher in our Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalayas comes from the neighbouring village. In recent floods her house was swept off by the river current. Shall we visit her parents?’ ‘Yes, of course. Is Vijita here?’ ‘No, Didi she is in the school.’
So, we slightly detoured and reached the place where her ‘house’ was there. Just behind the house, river was flowing majestically. Nothing was left of earlier brick house. From the broken flooring we could make out a house must have been here. In the corner, of the plot with some tins a shade was made, somehow the arrangements were made to cook food or to sleep in the night. We entered inside. Both her parents were very happy to see us. We sat on the mat. Vijita’s parents were quite old. A very smiling and dignified couple.
After talking few other things, I asked gently, ‘In the recent floods you suffered very badly. The river carried away everything?’ The father looked at me solemnly and smiled slightly. He said with calmness, ‘She is mother. As she loves us and gives us abundantly, she also at times gets angry. So it is alright. Maa only has taken it.’ I was speechless. I knew that rivers are called as mother, as there is Ganga maiya, Narmada maiya, but such living faith! It was a moment beyond description as it was a moment of realization of seeing river as mother. I have never forgotten this incident. It was not just knowledge but insight, it was Darshan of river as mother. The rivers became alive for me as mothers.
Another incident which again made me look within was in Vrindavan. I had gone there for a meeting along with Sri Balakrishnanji. As it was my first visit to Vrindavan, he asked two sthanik Karyakartas to take us round the place. So, we had Darshan of main important temples and places. Vrindavan, Barsana is associated with life of Krishna so much that every place has some memory of Krishna. When we reached one temple, others went inside, I was slightly behind. On the way, almost near the entrance there was a tree. Under the tree some ‘stones’ were kept. A small boy was standing there to perform poojas, etc. to those ‘stones’.
Puzzled I asked him, ‘What are these stones (Ye Patthar kya hai?)’? He looked at me evidently hurt and told in displeased tone, ‘Ye patthar nahi hai. Bhagwan Govardhanji hai’. I felt ashamed. Unintended, I had hurt him. Did I hurt him only? I had hurt the civilization that has withstood invasions and derision for thousands of years – the civilization to which I belong, I had hurt it. I had hurt myself. I folded the hands and prayed with all my heart, praying Ishvara that grant me that vision that I see only You everywhere, grant me that vision where I do not see the stones, and trees and people but see everything imbued with You. Grant me that at least till I experience You everywhere, I do not by my words, tone or look hurt anyone’s Shraddha.
Seeing me praying intently, his face returned to normalcy. I smiled at him as if asking forgiveness and then entered the temple to catch up with others. That was the temple of Govardhanji. Govardhanji who had the great fortune of being lifted by the hands of Sri Krishna was worshiped in this temple in the form of a big Rock. After Darshan as we were coming out one of the Karyakartas who accompanied, asked me, ‘Didi, why did you get delayed?’ Already we were out of the door exactly standing before that open temple under the tree. I told him, I was enquiring and praying here. He said, ‘Didi, here any stone is worshiped as Govardhanji.’ I did not say anything to him. Another one told me, ‘Yeh to business ho jata hai yahan’. I did not respond to that either, as I had seen the real Shraddha of that boy. But many thoughts came to my mind.
When I was narrating this to someone, she asked, ‘But any way to know, you would have to ask that isn’t it that what this stone is?’ I told, ‘No, when it was so evident that he was standing there to do pooja, when some flowers were on it, I should have asked, ‘Yeh kaunse bhagavan hai? – Which God is worshipped here?’
But basically, we have lost the sight of seeing Ishvara everywhere. We may chant Ganga stotra but does She move us deep within? We may offer worship to Her but we allow the sewage water to enter in the river, we throw the plastic bag in Her in which we had brought the flowers for worship! While plucking flowers, fruits and leaves do we seek permission of the plants, and express our gratitude?
Swami Vivekananda has said in one of his best lectures, Common bases of Hinduism’, given at Lahore that religion is not in believing but in being and becoming. There may be religions in the world in which belief is adequate. But Hindu Dharma is for elevating the human life and that is possible through practice. Thus, professing is not enough, the Dharma is to be lived and practiced.
River is mother. She has right to be angry is told as lovingly as we may tell of our mother. Yeh patthar nahi Bhagvan Govardhanji hai, told with deep hurt as one may feel if his parents are called as stone or something. Though we are proud of our Hindu Dharma and want to work for it, but have we got swayed with the exclusive ideologies that have come to our country, in which God sits somewhere up in the heaven? Somewhere have we ceased to feel the divine presence? Seeing the flowing river, do we experience something welling up in heart? As said by Sant Tularam – Vriksha Valli Amha Soyare Vanachare – Seeing the trees do we feel that my brothers and sisters are around me, protecting me? Seeing worship in any temple do we go beyond the form and feel the divinity? The day it starts happening to most of us, we would be practicing Hindus and not just professing Hindus. Then, what work we are doing of organizing the society would really be taken to it’s culmination of re-establishing Bharat as Jagadguru.
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