Thursday, November 13, 2008


The kebabs we had for lunch were awesome. Tender, crispy, just perfect. Finished off with Cabernet Sauvignon and another perfect meal was thus ended. Later braving the irregular Boston streets and making use of the great American feature that is the expressway, we were out in the suburbs heading home, when I suddenly decided to take a detour. Just on a whim, I took the exit onto temple street and proceeded to the Ashland Laxmi temple. None of my companions said anything, but the question hung there, like juicy kebabs just about to drop from the skewer. I had just slaughtered a few innocent animals, washed them off with alcohol, and I hadn’t even showered. And here I was, at the temple, in all my non-vegetarian, unwashed glory. As I parked, one of the company announced his intentions to stay outside owing to his having consumed a goat. As I removed my shoes, I felt guilt finally stab. ”You uncouth creature…at least you could have bathed”.

Was I wrong? I personally felt that I failed, not because of my perceived sins, but because I felt guilty. I did not have any reason to, I hadn’t done anything wrong. Or had I? Was non-vegetarian consumption a sin? Surely then scores of people on the world couldn’t worship, even most Hindus. Didn’t Shiva himself live in a cemetery? Did not the ancients sacrifice goats and loll about in jars of soma? And then I thought of my people, all pious, washed, sinless and vegetatively fed. I went to the temple because I felt like it. That’s all. No moon positions influenced me. Nor did any sins ask for absolution, and for once I had no favours to ask. The temple itself is in an exceedingly beautiful area, with several small streams and woods and that drive alone is divinity. At least it is to me.

Nevertheless onward I pushed. It is not in me to reach a destination and deny myself entry to it. So I went and did whatever I do usually. I prayed, I sat quietly, I asked for stuff, I watched people affirm their faiths. And all the while I was thinking. Furiously. And I was frustrated that I was unable to reach an answer. Essentially whether I was wrong would depend on whom I asked. Like India itself there were several variations, but everyone absolutely seemed to agree on the depravity of my unwashedness. And I realize that this is a conundrum that I myself have to solve. Does a bath wash the turkey off me, like the Ganges? Does alcohol dissolve into righteousness under the cover of night, to be replaced with piousness when the sun rises? Can I eat and drink after I visit the temple?

There are no rules. There are actually, but they too are shifting, allaying themselves to the times, to popular opinion. Its’ my life, my Gods, my sins, my blessings, my dharma, my karma. Or is it? Isn’t my family linked to my karma? Why is it so complicated? Wouldn’t it be just easier to confirm, not just to appease the ubiquitous others, but to also silence the beast within? And from clarity emerges chaos again and I am drawn into a whirlpool of questions. I see all my friends clearly, meat eaters and unalike, all clear in where they stand religiously. Firm and faithful or equally firm in their faithlessness.

My road it is to drive, and I have a lifetime to explore it. Laying the Questions aside, I accept the Prasad noting that the priest has a leather jacket on to protect him from the biting cold.

I smile.

PS: idlichutney celebrates it's 50th post. Thanks to all you readers. We love you for reading us. :) And the writings shall continue.


Anonymous said...

Scruples over something so mundane as eating meat and going to the temple? Don't be so hard on yourself. The lord himself accepted an offering of meat from a devotee. It's the devotion with which you pray that matters and nothing else. So chill! :)
PS: But going to temple without shower is apacharam, apacharam pa! dirrttee fellow! *sprinkles turmeric flavored water from kalasham with beetel leaf :P

Coconut Chutney said...

Its okay, its not whats in your stomach that matters its whats in your heart. :)

Congrats on no.50! :D

Prashanti :) said...

I think its our upbringing and the values that are ingrained in us that lead to these thoughts but then, thinking on a deeper level, it is the inner devotion and faith that matters !!!!
Priest with leather jacket huh !!


adi said...

very insightful man! And what timing, we were talking about your non veg explorations just few hours back. Lol...the post drove home a point and was funny too.

Congrats on 50. Am I the only person who never counts his posts?

Liberal said...

Nice! something i have been sayin for a long time to my zealot friends...u put it very congenially!

Liberal said...

congrats on the 50 post thing! keep writing

swatimala said...

tht was very well put...congrats on 50 posts...keep writing :)

chocoliciousgal said...

*shiva shiva* enna ippdi panniyutai :D

*giggle* I kid :) :)...Nice post and yea chill :)
Congo on your 50th post :) :) :)

Historiophile said...

buddy u bring the preacher in me...if it just gets too much just forgive, forget and ignore wat i say

its better to go to a temple unclean, having "sinned" etc than not go at all

its better to go to a temple having had a bath than without having a bath...more than spiritual, its also a matter of psychological, having a bath makes u feel fresh and u can concentrate or meditate better

its better to go to a temple after having bath without having had non-veg or liquor than going there in all ur "non-vegetarian unwashed glory"

As Swami Vivekananda said the difference between virtue and vice is one of degree, not of kind.

The Gita's purport is that if you think "I sin", or "I do something good", if u think that "I live", or "I die", or "I am virtuous" or "I am evil", then you r deluded, because in reality there is no separate you or me.

The rules in the past for Brahmanas were stricter than others, in terms of being purified, eating vegetarian, following prescribed rituals etc. because as per our scriptures they had to lead the society and how can they be at the lead if they do not set the right example, follow the ideals. You have a measure of faith in you because you were brought up in those kind of surroundings. Deny it if u wish, but that is the truth.

buddy said...

ducks to avoid yellow water :P

thanks :)

u r right!...yes leather!imagine!

i dont count, but blogger told me. and gtalk convos lead to deep things sometimes!

i think u r finally proud of me

thanks :)

abacharam! im going to get loads of paap now ...

deep stuff. am thinking again

maxdavinci said...

faith and rules don't go together.

it's us who created the rules for our own selfish monopoly!

on the other hand ppl genly go to temple only to ask forgiveness for their sins or to bribe the lord for something they want by offering stuff!

very few go, just to say hi!

jo chahe khao, jo chahe peeyo, bhakto to mann mein hoti hain pet mein nahin!

baba bangali has some views on it, but we can reserve them for later.

PS: lets not even talk of the shower tales!

Karthikk said...

paavi, i am a sinner too as I let you do all you did and was your partner in crime :) dont think so much da... its okay anyways ashland laxmi temple thaane yetho rameswaram poyittu vantha rangekku feel panra.. antha prieste rathiri McD poi chicken burger with extra cheese thindruppan.... I know you did not expect this from me, but this is what I really think despite the way I do things...

vitruvian said...

Damn! I didn't realise it was a true story!! i was just going to commend ur imagination!
neway as usual extremely well written and yaayyyy 50!!!

buddy said...

nice point of view...what does baba have to say on this?
PS: no bath talks..shhhhhhh ;)

nee paavi dhaan da...but im so going straight to heaven :)

are we still not getting us? :|
and yayy! 50! :)

Srividya said...

Hey Idli ... eating meat and visiting a temple ... I didn't know that was a sin or that it could trigger such a volley of Qs. But not bathing? For the whole day? Have pity on the gods man! :P

Fat Gujju! said...

"My road it is to drive, and I have a lifetime to explore it. Laying the Questions aside, I accept the Prasad noting that the priest has a leather jacket on to protect him from the biting cold."

beautifully wrtten! love u for this...
for arguments on non-veg n alcohol ... we will sit dude ...
else amazing .... :D

Elusive said...

I've been to a church and found peace.
In a mosque I saw devotion.
In a temple I found reverence.

Religions is yours to make and follow, culture and habits your's to adopt and follow. It isn't about following others, but making your own.

Happy 50th!! :D

buddy said...

i use deo!! ok?

we will, we will

ur comment is a beauty
thanks :)

Srividya said...

hey idli! Forgot to say congos on celebrating a golden! :)

And deo is no substitute for a bucket of water dude :D ... just thought you'd know :D

padmaja said...

God lives in you. Temple is a place for collective conscious to affirm the same. Rules were made by man...
Go figure!
BTW, Congrats on that 50!!

kusublakki said...

Its all about what you believe in.

To me, God himself is a man made term and the rules of worshipping are also made based on convenience...besides worshipping with a full and satisfied stomach is better than a hungry prayer..Your prayer will be happier :)

About no shower..its the other fellow devotees standing next to you that you should be worried about, not God!

Nice post!

Congrats on your 50th post!

buddy said...

@srividya: thanks...and it is!

@padmaja: very well put! and thanks

@kusublakki:haha..true, fuller stomachs make happier people.
and lol
and thanks

Anuya said...

Hear hear! *hic*