Thursday, June 18, 2009

hope...and faith

no this post is not about the show on star world (of which i havent seen a single episode).

this post is about my recent trip to one of the most revered pilgrimages of this country- vaishno devi. no it wasnt my first trip, in fact it was my third. but it was perhaps the first time that i have really put thought into the topic of this post.

during the 12 km long steep climb, one of the members of our 9 member entourage asked "so why are we going here?" to that, my dad replied "well you see the story is that the rakshas bhairon was chasing the goddess and..." before he could complete, the questioner said "toh humhe kya? why are we climbing this steep hill?" there was a little bit of silence...and then some explanations were how its all a matter of faith, and belief. and the famous saying: na maane toh pathhar, maano toh bhagwan. my dad said something about how you should sacrifice something (in this case you exert yourself physically) to attain something (in this case darshan) for it to be worthwhile. my mom said something about there being total focus since you're climbing this steep hill and you're giving it your all physically. the questioner was partially convinced...and we all continued to walk.

but the question remained with me- why is it that lakhs of people, from all corners of the country and across all strata of society, undertake an arduous journey, to get darshan of this mata vaishno devi, for a fraction of a minute? (interesting point to note- there is no idol or photo of mata; she is said to have manifested in the form of three stones, "pinds" they call it) there are people who walk barefoot the whole way, those with physical handicaps, people carrying their infant children the whole way, old people (and i mean old like 80 yr olds) walking slowly....just for a fraction of a minute. to the cynic or the atheist, it would seem sheer stupidity. to the believer, its faith.

i wouldnt call myself a very religious person- i dont pray daily or follow (or even know) many rituals...but im not a cynic or an atheist. i believe in a superpower, a power greater than humans, something which controls this universe. i find peace in certain places of worship, i have certain quirks which you may attribute to religion.
the greatest thing, i think, is faith- a kind of immense and unconditional trust, faith in your god, a state of total surrender, which perhaps drives people to walk 12 km up on a steep hill. it is a belief that mata would solve all their problems...or a kind of a thank you to mata for solving all their problems.

the climb up vaishno devi is an interesting mom, when explaining the why, stated "do you remember your worries while climbing? you are in an almost trance like dont remember your office problems or the problems at home. you are just climbing."

unless you are a hardcore cynic, hell bent on proving that this climb is sheer stupidity, its difficult for you to remain untouched by the experience of this journey. its by no means easy- there are sharp turns, there are really steep stretches, at times it rains heavily, there are ponies/horses/donkeys all the way leaving veryyy less room to climb at times, its very cold and c-r-o-w-d-e-d at the top, and you may have to wait for hours to get a darshan (not to forget the body aches and pulled muscles you endure)...but the fun of the climb, the sights of all kinds of people walking up the mountains and the sheer ignorance to the physical pain, and the feeling one has during and after the journey, is absolutely indescribable.

much like life itself.

they say faith can move mountains. maybe. to me, the greatest thing is that it moves people.