MANO TOH BHAGWAN, NA MANO TOH PATTHAR
Pic.: Anima D'Cunha
Two weeks ago, my wife and I had been to Kashmir on a holiday. On one side of the gigantic Dal lake stood the magnificent Hazratbal shrine. We had a strong desire in our hearts to visit this shrine… Once there, we spent a great deal of time being just there… As women were not allowed to enter the main shrine, I walked in alone covering my head, barefooted… All that I did inside was to stand in silence… I had no prayer to pray… no idol to worship… no Holy book to recite from… All that I did was to stand there and watch my heaviness fall around me… and tears roll down my cheeks… I came out deeply moved, and humbled… and, yes, feeling immensely peaceful…
Allah is my God, too. Isn’t He?
This morning, when 16-year-old Shreeshay was on dais to speak, I casually asked him what his name meant. He said, that it was one of the many names of Lord Ganesh. I asked Shreeshay if he was deeply religious.
“I only have God’s name, sir… but, my faith in God is just as any young boy of my age would have,” Shreeshay explained to me. “I have friends who follow different religions and, that’s something amazing… I don’t like to pray to God in fear and I don’t like when people fight over their religions.”
Shreeshay narrated to us an incident from his life. “I was in standard 7 when my parents had taken me and my brother on a visit to a famous temple. Once, there, my dad tucked a fifty-rupee note in my hand and asked me to offer it to God. I decided to keep it in my pocket. When my brother saw this, he became angry and warned me of the consequences of such a ‘paap’… He also sternly told me that he would bring it to our parents’ notice. But, I decided not to offer fifty bucks to God… When we came out, I found a person who seemed very hungry. Without thinking twice, I got a packet of food from the nearby stall which cost me thirty bucks… When I saw the expression on the face of the man as I placed the food packet in his hands, I truly felt blessed by God… I looked at my brother to ask if what I had done had convinced him… Anyway, he did let my parents know what I had done… My dad was pleased… but, my mom was still worried fearing if her innocent son had offended God!”
Shreeshay had brought smiles on our faces; he had inspired us too… to place humanity before blind worship… to recognize the Gods on the wayside before recognizing the God in the shrine…
I was inspired to share an incident from my own life, which had happened when I was, probably, Shreeshay’s age… and had involved my own mom, too...
It was the Easter Sunday morning. During the ceremonious midnight mass on Easter, the priest blessed the water… and we would bring home a small quantity of this water believing that it was ‘holy water’. That Easter, as it wasn’t collected after the midnight mass, my mom had sent me to the church to collect it, early on Sunday. She had placed in my hand a small container to fetch the ‘blessed water’ home. On my way back home, as I and my friends were doing all sorts of monkey acts, my container went for a toss… and with that, the holy water, too!
“No issues,” my smart friends had a quick-fix solution. They took me near someone’s well nearby, got the container filled to its brim… and, I came home gloriously!
Mom was happy. She made all at home take a small sip of the holy water her faithful little son had just brought home… The container with remaining portion of the ‘blessed water’ was placed at God’s altar at home… We all believed that whenever we added some normal water to this container, it would turn holy… Yes, we kept drinking this holy water till the next Easter came!
Only I knew how ‘holy’ the water we drank was… Some forty-five Easters have gone by, you know!
I do not know if God was smiling this morning, when I narrated this story in our session… But, my young brave-hearts, certainly, were!
“Mano toh Bhagwan, na mano toh patthar!”