Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Vaikunta Ekadasi - A gateway to heaven





I saw a hoarding recently advertising the Vaikunta Ekadasi celebrations in a nearby temple. I guess by the time it is early morning Sunday here, many streets in Bangalore will have lines of people queuing up to walk through the hallowed gateway to heaven. A single consecrated day when God pardons all our sins and welcomes anybody into His abode of joy and bliss. A day when God shall grant the highest and the lowest of boons freely for He is pleased with us all.

A beautiful thought indeed.

But then again I wonder. How tiresome all of this must be to God. How tiresome must we be to Him? We ask for boons, for salvation, for joy, for truth and everything else; everyone of us; all the time. Stop. Hold on to that thought for a while. Let us come back to it.

Look at the world around us. There is food, nourishing delicious food all over the land. There is air filled with the perfume of flowers to breathe in. There is water, cool and life giving for us to drink. There are songs and stories for our pleasure. Grasslands for us to stroll in; mountains for us to seek silence; oceans for us to sail on; birds to sing us song; animals to give us company. There is life for us to live in a million myriad ways.

And on the other side, there is hunger for us to relish our food. There is stench for us to understand perfume. There is thirst for us to quench. There is sorrow and pain to feed our songs and stories. Deserts that scorch our feet; humidity that brings out sweat; cold that makes us shiver; disease that makes us strong. There is darkness and evil to show us the meaning of things.

What a marvellous world we live in. There is nectar drawn from the earth, the sun and the skies and stored in a mango fruit for us. And there is poison drawn from the same earth, the sun and the skies and stored in the snake's venom for us. Like a painter who uses the same colours and paints infinite scenes, our Goddess (I prefer the female personification) too paints a multitude of scenes in this world of ours.

And beyond all this, there is death. How sweet, how full of promise and hope is this thought of death! A final, long sleep of rest after all our toil! And how do we sleep? Under the cool earth, covered by the green grass with the birds singing over our tomb while the trees, the worm and Mother Earth Herself consume every inch of our putrid flesh, without wasting a single cell! Or if our is a pyre, not a tomb, then all that flesh consumed with a greedy lust by the fire, as he kisses, licks, bites, scratches and makes love to our rotten body as if it were a heavenly nymph!

How delightful it is to consume!
How delightful it is to be consumed!
How delightful it is to live!
How delightful it is to die!

Now, let us revisit that thought again. We are born with limbs that adapt to work, with a mind that thinks, imagines and creates. We are born with the birds, the dogs, the squirrels, the tigers and the snakes as our kin. We live a life full of hope, dreams, pain, sorrow, humiliation and glory. We have the sun to fill us with light so that we may toil in his heat for our fruit; the moon to wash away all our weariness in her cool nectar; the rivers, the mountains, the oceans and the ancient trees that teach us all that is there with their eternal silence. We devour life, this eternal buffet that comes with a never ending platter of dishes each filled with countless tastes.

And yet, we stand in front of God and ask for Paradise? For heaven? For salvation? For a teacher? For a path?

How derisive! How insulting!

The Goddess, our beloved has blessed us already. She has raised us, feeding us with the milk of life from Her own breasts. And when we are done with our sport, She welcomes us back into Her cool lap and puts us to sleep. And She has granted us all these boons to us, because She is already pleased with us. In Her arms, every day is Vaikunta Ekadasi; every day, a day of boons.

Therefore,

Ask no more!
Seek no more!

For to ask and seek is a sacrilege against Her.

There is a paradise. Its name is earth.
There is a true teacher here. His name is silence.
There are boons. Their names are Now and Here.
There is salvation. Its name is life.
There is a Goddess, a living Goddess. Her name is Me!