Sunday, December 26, 2010

River of Prayer

I sit in the corridor of a thousand pillars in the Ramanatha temple in Rameshvaram. I overlook a great pond which is filled with delicate pink lotuses. A cement platform extends out over the pond, and high up on the ledge, men toss down metal buckets into the water over and over again, reeling them up expertly. The men splash that holy water onto the heads of swarms of eager pilgrims who flow out onto the platform.

This is only one stop in the maze of 22 holy wells within the temple complex.

I feel like one of the columns here, watching and watching, very, very still. I have begun to see the moods of the variety of pilgrims who come - most people are rushed and a little frantic in their quest to visit all 22 holy wells; some arrive with creased eyebrows, some demand more water.

But every so often a group of Vaishnava devotees will come. They smile from ear to ear and chant Hare Krishna, sometimes with arms upraised or palms folded. Ha! A crowd of devotees just arrived, grinning and jumping, chanting "Haribol! Haribol! Haribol!" They are so happy, so in bliss! They receive the water on their heads and dash off with the cry, “JAI!!!"

Every day, day in and day out, people come to receive the holy water. The people change, but the lake remains, the columns remain. Upon closer inspection, I see that the columns are pockmarked with graffiti. I see names, numbers, dates... actually, the pillar in front of me has a faded heart with two names inside scrawled in Telugu.

Amazing. No matter the country or language or culture, people will graffiti monuments, buildings, trees, or even bathroom stalls and picnic tables. People want to leave a mark that will live on long after they're gone.

Isn't that the nature of the soul, to be eternal? It is so painful to die. We all want to live on forever.

But the truth is, we are all like someone in this river of pilgrims who come to receive their splash of water. Our time in this world is just for one fleeting minute. And some of us arrive with arms upraised or palms folded, smiling, chanting the Lord's name… and maybe that's all I can ask of this life.


In Love With Krishna said...

//And some of us arrive with arms upraised or palms folded, smiling, chanting the Lord's name, and maybe that's all I can ask of this life. //
Given that you are on a South India trip in Margazhi (dhanur) month, you have indeed been blessed by Krishna.
Ask an archaka/temple devotee in any of His temples to explain you about Thirupaavai, and Aandal.

Revathy Thyagarajan said...

Hare Krsna! Simply beautiful Bhakti! Jai Jai! :)

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