The ‘agents’ of God

We are living in a world where feelings are oppressed and we die for our own avarice. Today’s world is based on greed, intolerance and synthetic desires. The world consumes more out of us than we can actualize. This life has been passed by our prior generations and we are passing this to our next generations. What concerns me the most is in this rat race of life how many of us actually have the spirit to follow the ethical boulevard! Not many…

Let’s talk about God and his ‘agents’ …

Kalighat Temple, located on the river banks of Hooghly, is one of the most ancient and significant place of worship in the city of Kolkata. The name of our city Kolkata, also known as Kalikata, is said to be derived from the name of the temple. The temple being the shrine of Goddess Kali, marks footsteps of hundreds of pilgrims everyday from the city and from different parts of the country and the world. Many saffron clad foreign tourists can be spotted in the temple premises everyday trying hard to peek through the crowd and understand the incoherent English spilled from the mouth of the Brahmin escorts. Yes, these are the self proclaimed ‘agents’ of God!

I have been frequenting to the temple of Kalighat from my childhood days. My most recent visit to the temple was last week when I went there to offer my prayers to the Goddess and came back home with a tinge of disappointment and a feeling of betrayal. A temple is supposed to be the abode of God, where we visit to pour our heart out, understand the words of conscience and offer our prayers for all that God has been doing for us since the beginning of our existence. But what if our right to pray before him gets suppressed and exploited by people who claim as the agents of God? Why do we need an agent to have a conversation with God?

They say we do.

This story is not only about Kalighat temple, Kolkata but about the countless Hindu temples around the whole of India. A number of saffron clad priests can be seen lingering around any Hindu temple not in a spiritual trance but with the sole motive of making money. Hypocrisy and cheating is the most common scenario of the Hindu temples here which is a really bitter fact. To take a glance at the idol and to seek her blessings one has to pay through the nose! Why should one pay to seek God’s blessings?

They say we have to.

I have personally witnessed being shoved by these priests to the deity after paying what he demanded (though we negotiated on this a little… yes, one can even negotiate with them!) and then dragged by my wrist outside the shrine because I refused to pay to the rest of the fanatics who had tried to bully me into buying a ‘holy’ one rupee coin smudged in vermillion sindoor for Rs 500! I am sure we can negotiate on that too but I just refused to buy it and hence was forced to leave the temple premises. Yes, we are living in Kaliyuga and hence we should be expecting this animalistic behavior but what I was embittered with, is the fact that I was in the house of God and was getting a taste of ‘Kaliyuga’.

One goes to the house of God seeking peace but why do we see people stampeding each other to take a peek at the deity? We see people kissing the stairs in a trance and the saffron clad priests giving them instructions and shoving money in their pockets. We see people coming with baby sacrificial animals to offer to the deity, and the narrow drains of the ancient temples, crimsoned with the blood of these innocent animals. It is a pitiful sight indeed, to take a glance at these animals that are ready to be bathed in their own blood. But, there are majority of men who even pay to be the first in the row to watch these animals being sacrificed. They say it is holy to get a sprinkle of the blood! Why do we kill animals in the name of God? Did the deity ask for the blood of animals to purify the soul of human beings and send them to heaven?

They say God did.

They claim to be God’ ‘agent’ and hence they have the self proclaimed right to declare God’ wishes on men. I paid and hence was allowed to enter the shrine breaking all rules through the ‘VIP’ entrance. There were hundreds of other devotees who cannot afford the extortion and hence stand for hours in the burning heat to catch a glimpse of the deity, while the numbers of people who can are allowed to enter the shrine and pray before the deity as long as they want to. Yes, they are the ‘agents’ of God and hence they have the right to decide who can enter God’ abode and who cannot.

We often read about pilgrims killed in stampede, women assaulted in a temple premises and we sigh and say ‘Kaliyuga indeed!’

I consider these religious atrocities as ludicrous and barbarous and many like me can feel the same…

They say these are holy. And ‘they’ are the ‘Agents’ of God.

Upasana Mallick

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