Wednesday, December 1, 2010

FOR SALE! - God's blessings

I am a passive worshiper. When I say this, its that I believe I don't have to go to a temple to pray to God. I believe God is all around us, within each of us. God is omnipresent and omniscient. I don't even give a form to the spiritual being, that's why I cant say if God is a HE or a SHE. Another belief of mine that has welcomed criticism and disapproval especially from my mom is that when I say God knows what my needs are, so I wont ask for it while praying. My prayer are just thanks to God for what I have been bestowed upon, what I would be bestowed, for giving me beautiful people and this beautiful world.. God knows best, why ask, just thank. It has not been easy for me coming from a traditional family, my mom doesn't approve my ideas even a bit.

Yeah, but there are few unavoidable situations/pressure from elders when I have to go to temple to appease the Gods :-) Its not that I don't like going to temples; in fact I really like that peace one gets; what I dont like is the experience with people. Yes, the drama and the business put forth by the priests and the sevaks.

Its really disheartening to see Gods as mere exhibits to milk money from the devotees. I have either experienced it or witnessed it each time I have visited the temple. Right from the special darshans, VVIP queues; the funda seems to simple. More the money, sooner the God's darshan. More the money, more blessings, more closer proximity to the diety, more longer time you can spend chanting hymns.

So, does it all boil down to money? Is God only for those who have money? It would seem too hard to believe when I say that nowadays temple management have professionally qualified MBA gurus to set up strategy for earning. Few months back, I visited a famous temple and opted to donate a meager sum of money to sponsor lunch for 2 kids for an entire year. The sevak who doubled up as marketing and sales consultant was trying to sell me a 'package' where I could gain closer access to the main deity of the temple, chant hymns as long as I wanted on one day every week, savor tasty prasads, gain backdoor entry, closer access to the deity and get special VIP invitations on festivals and special puja days in addition to sponsoring lunch for 2 kids for a year. All this, hold your breath fellas, for 25000/- ONLY

It took me too much of an effort to explain to that gentleman that my main intention was sponsoring the lunch and nothing more. I had to firmly tell him that I have no interest in getting special invitations or gain any special status. Is he asking me to buy God's blessing for 25000/- per year?

At another temple, right after the pooja, a priest came by with the aarthi and as tradition goes, I dropped Rs.10 in the plate. It seems that it was another priest's turn to carry the aarthi plate. So now, he lost his 'earnings' to this guy who had his turn already. To the shock and dismay of the devotees, this guy started blaming him and the other shot back and later these 2 guys started yelling at each other. Priests yelling at each other in the sanctum sanctorum. How do you expect devotion?

Not to forget the fees for numerous darshans, offerings, miraculous wishing ponds, strategically placed donation boxes and cups and yeah! a poor helpless elephant which begs!

I tried lot, but I cannot comprehend why the level of accessibility to God depends on how much money I can spend. Anyone of you have any idea?


  1. 1st paragraph of the post-Ditto my feelings..same pinch :)

    priests yelling at each other??? Upsetting :(

    Liked the title of the post..goes with the theme so well !

  2. Exactly the case! Once my father had gone to a some city and there he visited this famous temple. He was in a hurry as it was nearly time for his train.
    So he asked the priest that how long will it take so that he could be able to worship the deity from within the temple. The queue was long you see.
    Guess what the priest might have answered? He said that there was some special offer for those who wanted 'Quick' darshan at the cost of Rs.300 per devotee.

    How ridiculous.!! (~_~)

    PS: My father did not give him any money. He just prayed from where he was standing and left for the station.

    It's the same situation everywhere. As they say 'Money Speaks.'(Doesn't matter who you are, where you are from.)

  3. I visit lot of temples and have lot of experiences.I also do not like when God's darshan comes with a price. I like to visit temples with no crowd.
    But once I went to a very famous temple where lot of pilgrims visit. The priest while giving viboohti was gesturing with other hand to offer him dakshinas.I was shocked to see this. Same temple in another shrine I made my offerings which was duly returned to me as the priest felt it was a paltry sum. I took it back, Such arrogance from people who serve god.He had kept a basket full of crisp notes of 50 and 100 as if for exhibition.Was he expecting the same from me,I don't know. When we visit temples it is just saying Hi to God. no pooja, no archana and I find time to follow my passion.

    But marketing and consulting is news to me. Haven't come across such packages. Go to any Kerala temple ,there are no paid darshans. All are equal before God. There, no priest will spread his plate for dakshina. I love visiting Kerala temples.

  4. In principle I agree that you need money to worship GOD and GOD is not impressed by the amount of donation.

    However, donating to temples and priests is okay as it is their primary source of income. For them, it is a job and they have to make money out of it and we need to accept this fact like we accept it for other occupations. Some people say medicine is a noble profession but docs charge too much, but it is their primary source of income so they have to charge.

  5. this is the usual scene everywhere..I never go to temple to pray..I never ask for anything from god either..I think we have discussed this..

    the special packages are a common phenomenon these too there are many famous temples where you are offered special must be aware about the ganeshotsav celebration here..very famous ganesh pandal at Laalbaug - if you stand in official way in the queue, then you will get the darshan after 20 hours :)

  6. I completely agree with the 1st para. I think the same way about GOD too which doesnt go down well with my family too. This 'special' thing has been going on for much a long time now that it starts to feel common. But there is famous temple in HYD where there is no special treatment or anything... i like temples like that. They feel pure and worth :).

  7. Interesting post. You wrote “More the money sooner the God’s darshan”. You also wrote “God knows best”. Therefore instead of saying money buys special darshans and blessings, why don’t you think that God knows best. He/She makes arrangements for some people to have special darshans because they may have done some good deed and God likes that.

    Priests and sevaks are not saints. They are just employees. So it is natural to fight for money. But I don’t approve that in front of the devotees.

  8. we thought...
    GOD made MAN ,God gave wealth and Man saw Money...
    IT is,

    Man made God , Man gives wealth and God makes money...since man owns God, man makes money
    Man's easiest business venture...GOD
    Runs on Motivation, hope at the same time runs on fear and sin!

  9. Hi Insignia,

    Nice to know your thoughts about this...I have had few notions on the whole concept called The God during 2009 Jan...I would like to request you to read it when u have time n let me know ur take on that....
    It has all those what I would have otherwise commented here....I like the format of ur blog and the way u have written it...its free flowing n no fabrication :-)

  10. Frustrating isn't it. Such is life and it has become so normal that we would be wrong to question it. We should have questioned it years ago when it all started but now, its normal. Just like corruption. Sad world...

  11. Scribbler,

    :-) Same pinch
    Yeah priests yelling at each other was really bad

    Thank you.

  12. Enigma,

    Yeah it is ridiculous and at the same time sad.
    Your father did right. Thats what I do. Money has quite a lengthy hand.

  13. chitra,

    I was interested to read your comments as I know you have lot of experiences.
    Exactly, we believe temples are one place to connect with God but this is what happens.

    Yes, marketing and consulting at a very premium 'branded' temple. You can take a guess. Its very famous.
    I like temples in coastal Karntaka where everyone are treated equal and its the same treatment. I really love those temples.

  14. A,

    I did not say we must not donate to priests. But I am not approving the way they 'demand' donations.
    A doctor can charge, but he cant snatch. however nobler the profession is, we have our stomach to fill.
    doesnt mean they behave like wolves.

  15. Neha,

    Yup! 20 hours!! Oh my God! I would rather stay away.

  16. Harini,

    :-) Same pinch. Good you have such temples in HYD.

  17. SG,

    Thanks. Who are those He/She? You mean to say some people deserve special darshan because they may have done some good deed and hence can afford to pay for the special darshan?
    Maybe SG in your part of the world. In this part, good deeds goes unnoticed.
    Even Gods answer only if you show the money

    Priests and sevaks are not saints agree. So they should not preach as well or put themselves just next to God

  18. Sreeram Santosh,

    Welcome to B Log :)
    Hahaha thats a good one. I go with you :)
    Keep visiting :)

  19. Same feelings. but

    You know. God sometimes wants bribe. Not offending anyone but he/she does. he/she seeks attention. Isn't it?

    Still I believe that God knows what we want. So its within us. All of us have one-to-one contact with God.

  20. Arun,

    Thanks, welcome to B Log.
    I am glad you liked my blog and the contents.

    I dont have any doubts on the existence of God. I only dont approve of money minting that goes in the name of God.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing the link, I shall sure read it and pass my views :)

    Keep visiting :)

  21. Aditya,

    Yes it is. And i bet how!! I was apprehensive to write about this because as you said we become wrong by questioning it.
    But its so ridiculous. Its sad yes.

  22. Hit Wicked,

    :-) Maybe, maybe not. But if God asks me a bribe, I wont bribe.
    Hard luck for God.

    I dont think God seeks attention. God is among us, within us.
    God seeking attention is the same as we seeking attention.


  23. very well written.
    god is in you and me no need to search anywhere.
    god is within us.

  24. I had latched on to this truth - 'why ask favours from God; he should be knowing my needs'. By the time I was in my teens, my frequency of visits to temples came down; but whenever I went, I'd say - 'Lokaa Samasta Sukhino Bhavanthu'- Let the entire bloody world have a jolly good time.

    As Chitra said, the temple priests in Kerala are not as demanding and greedy as those in the rest of the country. But look at Guruvayur, Sabarimala and such - they are just commercial enterprises. So, it is only natural that MBA guys should managing temples - it is just another business.

    Belief in God is proportional to the growth of Devil in our minds. The more evil you do, the more you seek God!

    Great post, B!

  25. I love to go to temples but rarly do i go to big temples because of the rush and the materailism there as you end up feeling more agitated there and the mere reason of getting peace is lost :( . I prefer to go to a small temple near my place, which is far less commercialised and peaceful.

  26. well my mom flips everytime i talk something like this..I never visit temples and being a tamilian urself u know how obsessed ourfamilies are about em..:P

  27. sm,

    Exactly, thats what I believe in as well :)

  28. Bala,

    I guess I am similar to you on most lines. Haha so true, the more evil you are the more you seek God.
    When you are not evil, why fear :)

    Glad you liked the post.

  29. neha,

    I agree, the smaller ones are more quieter and uncorrupted.

  30. Madhu,

    :-) I understand your plight. Welcome to my club :)

  31. Praying or belief in an omnipotent power- call it God is and has to be a very personal and private affair like......!

    So each one to himself as long as you understand the proverbial yellow line or the virtual yellow line Balan mentioned in his post.
    As for appeasing Gods by offerings - well things really started there and not by the Kalmadis the Rajas or you and me.

    And also prayer and running after largess from God is perhaps because of the ego and belief in us that we are necessary for the world to turn around and the sun , moon to rise and set. Goddamn what egoistic thoughts man keep.
    And yet again I endorse Balan's opinion that running after Gods is because that the Devil has ensured that he possess you.
    In fact being away from these quagmire I have, though not had greatest times in life - have had tremendous peace . Because I do not run after Gods benevolence And I realise that I'm just a speck whose being here till kingdom come is a foolish asking and unnecessary.

  32. In hindsight I felt I missed out some thoughts I had after going through your Blog.
    With all the rape and desecration of the virgin forests in around the precincts of the Sabarimala temple, the filthy pollution inflicted on the river Pampa from the sewage and muck thrown indifferently by the so called devotees, do you believe that the good old Lord Ayappan still abodes in Sabarimal. He might have ran away long before!.
    Which temple among the big shrines ( temples/ churches or mosques)can offer quite, and peace?
    Lord Balaji borrowed beyond his means and prudence, more than the average American and is still paying his credit card dues. And people like fools throng there and offer bounty. What in return? more money, power, filthy material wealth?
    Honestly I get incensed in these matters. None of my business in fact.I'm at peace in this regard because I feel the same impassion or dispassion( not disrespect) at all places of worship and will be rude to reject and turn down any askance for offerings by the greedy, hungry ,avaricious people in the cloak of temple officials.
    All said and done good topic you posted and good questions you put forth.

  33. This is a sensitive and a very personal issue. But, the commercialisation in the temples must be stopped.

  34. anil,

    Exactly what I am trying to express. I am not questioning here the existence of God, the choice of worship and such. Its each own's personal. What I dislike are the practices that goes about by crooks and goos.. Of course not everywhere but most places. You quoted excellent example of Sabarimala. I dont think Lord Ayappan would find peace there anymore.

    Thanks for your comments and an extended view later. You did read this post a couple of times it seems :)

  35. Chowla sir,

    God is each one's personal issue, I would not rub that. I am only worried about the commercialization of the temples and fail to understand why man is so blind not to understand that

  36. No idea Insignia!
    I remember going to a temple where people were not sure whether they could take the prasad (meant to be free), just because the priest standing by it had a 'give me 10 rupees if you want it' kind of look. And that priest fight inside the sanctum sanctorum- Shameful!

  37. Destiny's child,

    Thats so disgusting isn't it? Its turning out to be murky.

  38. There are so many serials on gods that I guess day would come when people stop going to temples, churches or any other holy places and switch on their TV to worship! There is a channel from Vatican telecasting the Mass every day. So why go to the church!
    Recently I saw an ad on TV which says “Worshiping God never so easy. Just switch on to Tata Sky Darshan and see live poojas from ISKCON, Kashi and many other holy places!!”

    I think the poor should be given some discounts for Darshans. There are rich people who throw in bundles of black money amounting to crores at Palani, as offering to God for protecting their black market business.
    Even Gods accept bribe! Indian gods have Indian attitudes. I think he has also tied up with our politicians. Most of them visit him regularly, and frequently after every scam.

  39. hahah kaasedhan kadavulada....antha kadavullukum ethu theriyumada....hey insignia..u wil be the first one to forget me...u r so busy all the time buddy

  40. The same thoughts have passed through me several times, and I could never comprehend..
    Agree a lot with strategically placed donation boxes; I even saw an ad like poster everyday in front of a temple asking devotees for specific donation. Why do gods need so much money?!

  41. I cannot understand this concept of paying for darshan. It is especially sad because temples, which are supposedly above richness and poverty, just find a way of making money through their devotees. While I understand the need fr donations, making money in this way is a bit much.

    I am with you on being a passive worshipper and on the concept of not asking God for anything.. I am happier praying where I feel at peace rather than a commercialized religious centre.

  42. A very important question is being put up by you.
    Is it money which defines our worthiness towards God?
    Who made money?
    Who made GOD?

    I have seen situations where the priests are drunk and couldn't even stand properly but are still giving prasad. These VIPs and VVIPs are always a pain.

    Its very painful to see people standing out and praying to the same GOD to which we are nearer physically but with a sense of pride f being a VIP.

    God is Humbleness and not Pride.
    Hope people follow this..:)



  43. "Even Gods answer only if you show the money".

    When did you actually witness a God speak? It is the people who manage and/or work in temples "answer". Gods just observe and watch (believers) or Gods are only lifeless statues made out of brass or rock (athiests).

  44. I've felt the same each time I go to the 'famous' temples.. and believe me.. the more famous the temple is the more access for the rich folks...

  45. dr.anthony,

    Hahaha true. Those serials are so dramatized that even God will be surprised. Is that so?
    You get Vatican, ISKCON, Kashi in your drawing room! Awesome

    Why blame Gods? Indian or non-Indian. Gods are all same, its we who are corrupted!

  46. Ramesh,

    :-) Old song, I remember.....

  47. et,

    Hmmm great minds think alike :P
    Why do gods need so much money? Hmmmm...maybe even in their world cost of living has raised and they are fighting inflation :)

  48. Smitha,

    Glad you echo the same sentiments as me. Its really sad.

  49. Nipun,

    Priests drunk? Oh my! Thats heights of irresponsibility.
    Well said, God is humbleness and not pride :)

  50. SG,

    I am sure you are smart enough to understand my statement was not in literal sense.
    Yet you ask me the silly question of when did I witness a God speak? Funny!!

    And again sir, I never questioned the existence of God here. I am just talking about commercialization of the faith and milking money out of it

  51. Meety,

    Thanks. Yeah, I agree with you.

  52. My sentiments EXACTLY!! It leaves a bad taste on seeing such practices in a religious place. It's pure business for them! :(

  53. Shilpa,

    :-) Glad you agree with me. Its business for them sadly. I feel we should be clever enough to figure out whats devotion and whats business and discourage such things.

  54. By God ... i swear the theme of your writing are the exact thoughts that i have harboured in my mind for long. seriously cudnt agree wid u more...

  55. Rupam,

    :-) I am glad you have similar thoughts as me.


I'd love to know what you thought :-) Please shoot!