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?