I wrote this piece in 2010 after a visit to a place called Bhojpur near Ujjain.
On Sunday, I witnessed the birth of God. In a matter of a few minutes, the God disappeared, leaving behind the offerings of mortals. It was a moment of confrontation with truth. In a manner of speaking.
It happened at the Shiva temple at Bhojpur. They claim it is the tallest Lingam in the world, the precise dimensions are not material. All that one needs to appreciate is that the Lingam is beyond the reach of the human hand. In walked an old man, clad in a saffron loin cloth and a kurta, he must have been in his 80s. I would find out later that he is a local resident who comes every day to do his puja, make his offerings to the God. He came in with a basket of flowers and a kamandal (jug) with water in it. There was something about his presence which captured my attention.
I have seen many old men in my life, I am half way there, but he was different. Obviously, the man could not reach the top of the lingam to do a proper puja. There were no scaffoldings to climb, not that he was the type would have climbed one even if there had been one.
He simply created his own God. He took some water from his Kamandal, poured it with his hands on the stone and using his fingers drew a lingam as best as he could. Then he took out some flowers from his basket and decorated this shape he had made with water. It was a simple sight, yet a stunning one. I was witnessing the birth of a god. That’s the photo I have posted, of the image of the lingam drawn with water on stone. Adornment done, the man offered some incense to his god. Pooja over, he left as quietly as he came. I hung around. Within a few minutes, the image he had made of the lingam disappeared, as the water evaporated under the glare of the sun. The god who he gave birth to, simply evaporated, the image erased by the blazing sun. I don’t know if God died but his image certainly was no more.
I have heard often that it is man who creates god in his mind and while I understood it at a certain level, this experience really drove home the truth. God was created by the old man and when he was done with it, he left the god to fend for himself. Who then is this god that we need to protect? Who is this God that we need to worship and why? The BJP wants a temple at Ayodhya, the birth place of Ram, they want to protect our gods and goddesses. Who is this god we turn to for help and protection if we start getting into conflict to protect their depictions in the first place? I never understood it, I understand it even less now. The truth of it all as driven home by the old man’s actions.
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