June 14, 2010

Broken faith?

When I suddenly think back to some things that I tend to do, I realize that I have accepted certain things without question. These have been imbibed into me from when I was very little and though I probably don't know the premise of the evolved action, I haven't bothered to question it at all. For instance, the thottu-othifying - the practice of touching something with your fingers (typically of the right hand) and brushing them across your eyelids in an action of seeking pardon. For instance if you step on a book (which represents Goddess Saraswati or knowledge, no matter if it is indeed your Chemistry textbook or instead a trashy movie tabloid), you do the action of thottu-othifying to absolve the wrongness of the deed. You see? Similarly I have unquestionably followed in the typical Hindu faith of Idol worship. And no I am not ashamed of being "backward" nor do I question the power of that faith... when one stands in front of an idol, bowed by faith, and with an almost conversational plea in front of God, I think it's empowering. Especially to believe in an "upper cosmic force", something that can change things for you the way you yourself can't.

However, the purpose for this post was none of that. While cleaning the Swami Shelf (the cabinet that holds all my Godly possessions) yesterday, I came across a broken idol of Pillayar (Ganesha). It must've broken perhaps when we moved or something. And of course I felt inexplicably sad. I also felt that this shelf was not the right place to keep the idol anymore. Instead I decided to do a Visarjan (submerging the God's idol in a water body to represent the cycle of life and death) and ended up submerging the idol in the river Marne near my house. Why? Again one of those things that was put in your head for time immemorial. Did the idol lose its power? Did I stop believing in its power now that it had broken? Did I believe that the God wasn't happy there anymore? I don't know as a matter of fact and I only did what felt right. Was it right? Was I cheapo to purportedly banish the idol away? Again, I don't know. Was the faith broken? Not exactly. I believed that the idol would rather return to the water than be displayed out there in my Swami Shelf. Ok before I start sounding any closer to butterfly net territory, let me leave it as one of those things - to each one, his own. And in matters of faith, it is whatever that works for each one.

8 comments:

Madhumathi said...

Hey..i truly understand your feelings... whtever emotions one has, the broken idol should not be kept in the pooja room/sacred place.. What i did was kept the idol under the Asoka Tree or sometimes in a temple corner...no water source nearby to my home here in BGL...
But i did feel really lost while doing this to my Fav God "Lord Ganesh" :(

Kart said...

According to me "it is whatever that works for each one" : it is from this that every belief, faith, purpose evolves. Rightfully said Jaya !!

Anonymous said...

Well written Jaya. But i think the primary reason for Visarjan is coz if you have the idol you have to continue the pooja. You beleive the idol is the lord and hence you cannot keep away from feeding him.' prasadam'. No birth dealth for lord. It is only for we mortals.

Do idols necassarily need a form? Adi Shankara prescribed poojas mainly with Shaligram shilas and lingas. Even ambal in this worship is formless.

So do we need to do all this? Depends. If we really beleive in bhakthi and that this is lord himself, we dont necessarily have to. But if we are not too attached to that particular idol probably yes.

YOu could have just had the idol but i know it kinda feels bad. what if the broken idol is a bad sign kinda feeling. I think such feeling are stupid.

Aruna said...

Nicely written Jaya. Yeah, Faith is definitely what works for each individual. At the same time once we start understanding as to why we do certain things it only strengthens the faith.

Jaya said...

Crap... I wrote long long replies to each one of you and posted it. But the blogger comment form gave me an error and didn't save changes! And sorry but I have no patience to recollect and retype my flow of thoughts all over again. So I'll keep it simple - thank you all for your comments. Please keep visiting!!

Anonymous said...

It is all in the head.....

Jaya said...

Anon-> It truly is. Thanks for commenting and visiting!

Sat-Chit-Ananda said...

I must say the same happened with me but with the Idol of Durga. And it was a weird incident as it happened just after I lost my grandmother who was the most important person in my life. So I was in search of an answer myself and I came up with two possibilities. The source of strength no longer exists ( signified by my grandmother's passing which translates to the idol breaking ) or that the strength through her mortal existence has come to and end, so now its just energy, her soul is free from mortal constraints ( which also translates into the idol breaking - no physical form exists anymore ) only to deepen the faith that the soul is eternal and the physical body is just symbolism.

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