My trips to Kolkata are kind of incomplete without a visit to Dakhineshwar Kali Temple. My attendance has been pretty regular all these years and it was more out of discipline and to maintain a certain amount of humility in me, rather than faith or the fear of angering the Gods by a proxy visit – getting someone else to offer the prayers on my behalf. My connection to God is way above that.
Though Dakhineshwar Kali Temple is more popular as the work place and temple for Thakur Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the famous 20th century saint of India – I was however more inclined towards the simplicity of his wife – holy Mother Sarada. My soul is awakened by her way of life. I need to live a dozen life times more to incorporate even one percent of that.
18th December, 2008 was Mother Sarada’s birthday. The date usually varies by a day or two every year based on Bengali calendar. I had all reasons to feel elated about it as I was in Kolkata during that time and till I woke up that morning, I did not know about the importance of the day in that perspective. The day mattered to me as it was my birthday and I was being flooded by wishes, messages and calls since morning.
The very next day after I landed in Kolkata, I had already visited Dakhineshwar Kali Temple. However, my brother in law suggested we visit the Ramakrishna Mission in Barrackpore as there would be special activities for Mother Sarada’s birthday. I instantly agreed as I like the Ganges flowing besides the orange colored building. Moreover my school and college happened to be pretty close from there. Nostalgia is always welcome to a mind that loves to remember old times and think ahead about future, with equal vigor.
My mind was pre occupied with a few thoughts and I was upset regarding the delay in the opening of my boutique outlet in Kolkata, arranging funds to buy a shop and these were the stimuli to my impulses and low mood.
When I reached Mission, the melodious tunes sung in praise of God floated in the air and the pleasant smell of incense sticks struck a chord somewhere very deep. All arrangements for the Yagya were in progress by junior students while the revered Swami was preparing to conduct prayers. After watching them for some time, my attention got diverted to the other school children who walked in a disciplined manner and occupied seats in the ground, under a huge tent. I somehow felt something that was very disturbing. I continued to watch the children for a few minutes only to observe something which I had not noticed till then – all of them were handicapped, either dumb, deaf or blind.
That moment, I really grew up, felt tall that I had been here because this experience made me shun my silly thoughts that worried me, in no minute and I took a deeper look at the children there. I knew no way to even communicate with them. I was handicapped in my own way, I realized.
There are two things I could have done – either finished my prayers and come home or pondered on why I was there that morning. The latter prevailed in my mind for an unusually long time. I probably knew the reason.
I had to find a way to fight the handicap I was born with, most of us are born with – the short sightedness and limitation to overlook what others lack or are incapable of – in our knowledge and abundance of having it all. No wonder we comfortably use Gods, prophets, Messiahs etcetera merely as a fashion statement of our beliefs with marathon rituals, rather than means to be – just human!!