March 7, 2010 1 Comment
It was a first time trip to Vaishno Devi- inevitable, I guess since the time I landed in Jammu.
The atheist in me had avoided it but accompanied parents this time to the shrine for which you need to trek 15 kms up a hill. The trip was a display of staunch belief of people – in God. The belief which leads them to walk the arduous road up. The first thing that came to mind is why is God such an evil that it forces people to take such pains just so that they could prove their faith in him(‘her’ in this case). Or is it the people who need to reinforce their own faiths that the god exists. Do they feel that by taking lot of pain they will get recognized in God’s eyes? May be he will have a look at their problems and solve them too? Pain is the path to the salvation. Something like that guy from Da Vinci Code who wears a skin piercing belt on his leg.
To endure this tough path, there are plenty of measures. The first and the foremost is the omnipresent shouts of Jai Mata Di. The verse has been quite well marketed actually. People of all religions, castes, creeds etc etc are seen chanting the same words. Taking the Goddess’ name after all helps to take the mind off the pain. The irony however is the same very people wont chant those words once they have left the place. To endure other pains of the world there are many other options – blaming someone, abusing, beating etc etc.
Among other things, which come generally in the early part of the trek are those ‘jagrata‘ songs which remind of certain popular hindi songs – same music, different lyrics. They were so loud that I could hardly hear Metallica on my I-pod. Talk about finding Peace in the arms of god!!
But then again, after enduring much of that ‘healing’ pain as you near the main bhavan, you realise that all this pain has different classes too. There are some on whom the goddess has already bestowed her blessings.They have come to thank her (hopefully) on a chopper. Swoosh in – 5 minutes, go through the VIP Darshan and swoosh out – 4 minutes flat. and there are others who still believe that their walking trip, their path of salvation will lead to them coming through chopper and the VIP darshan some day. (who wants the pain, anyways??). Then there may be some adventure seekers or observers who are more interested in the journey part of it – may be group of friends on a religious picnic. I doubt God’s calling plays a major part in their being there. Its more like “achaa!! sonu is coming and monu too??? ok. I will think about it. Oh!girls
are coming too… I am in!!” (Their pain is of different kind which comes later)
On the positive side of it, the whole route, specially the Bhavan was super secured. I had not seen so much layers of security at New York airport as there was at Vaishnodevi shrine. Nothing except your clothes are allowed inside. Belt, wallet, shoes, socks, keys, mobiles. That all is fine. But the problem was that many times something was allowed inside by 1 layer of security and then asked to be removed by the next one. May be this was another way to increase the pain points – making it much tougher to reach the god. The closer you get, more painful it will get!!
Interestingly, not only it was tough to reach the God, it was tougher to depart from there. Carpets had been provided en route so that it is a bit easy for you to walk bare foot on the cold marble floor. But they were distinctly absent on the way out. Surely, after the painful(pun intended) experience, which will last for a couple of days (less if you travel by a chopper), you are bound to remember the God. be it while standing when your legs hurt or sitting when your back hurts!!