Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Priest

I have always detested priests, the closer physically they seem to be to the object of worship, the more arrogant they become perhaps thinking that they are somehow a medium to the divine within. I have no use for them for I worship by my hands, by my eyes and with my heart. When I was in Orissa, I used to go every night or as often as possible to my seat of power, The small hill at the end of patia town where I stayed, called shikhar chandi. I had been informed by the day priests there that the temple was basically the village shrine and I have on many occasions seen scores of villagers from there coming on Fridays to worship the goddess on the hill. By the time I used to reach the temple it was mostly night, sometimes even late nights or early morning. for the first 5-6 months which i had been there I did not see anyone after dusk coming to the place, I used to find the solitude very appeasing. Spending time with nature and divinity under the open roof sky. There have been scores of reports of rogue elephants and small predators on this hill, yet I know and anyone who visits shikar chandi will know that goddess does not let any harm in any way come to the worshipper of power. 
I met with makku maharana quite a few times before understanding that he too used to come to worship maha tara at night in that beautiful place, he too used to complete his work as a security guard and then take his bicycle or at times his rickety scooter and come from his village all the way to the temple to do night worship. I started seeing him more often as time went by and perhaps because I started visiting the place earlier in the night, It was very unpleasant at times to go late night to the place of power especially when one knows that the end of bhubaneshwar was a lethal combination of tribals, unknown powers and utter lawlessness. I have always insisted in carrying knives and protection mediums whilst moving into mysterious places. something to defend with apart from heart. 
Makku maharana tells me that he has a brother who has a clerk in the Indian Parliament in delhi when I tell him that I am from delhi and that I am in orissa to work. We take well to each other simply because we two come for the same purpose. To fall at powers feet and ask for a good life. Makku comes at odd times after dusk settles and cleans the sanctum and chants mantras and tries to be a part of that hill as much as he can. he climbs trees and breaks branches like the blessed monkeys of the hill and walks around bare foot most of the places without fear. 
Once he tells me that there are many snakes on the hill, sometimes as he walks past bushes and the thick jungles which existed before modern roads led to that place; that he would get many snakes perhaps wrapped around his legs. Yet he never bothered with them, for he knew that the goddess was protecting him. 
I sit and meditate on maha chandi, while he sits inside and prays too. He is very devout. Simple and humble and does not do worship for money or to make himself appeased that he is closer or better than anyone else. In his own words, he does worship as he was chosen to do worship after his father at the age of 14. Some the goddess keeps at her divine merciful feet, some are chosen with the hard seemingly impossible life, so that they can get a taste of something so blissful. 
When he is done with worship on most days its almost an hours affair, and I too am relaxed. I look around and see the horizons merging and the dogs barking down in the valley, whenever the goddess gets a visitor in the night, or whenever the goddess is awake :) 
He gives me a ride on his scooter whenever he brings it, but mostly he is on his bicycle, which i would find very difficult to ride as a pillion so mostly I decline his generous offer to sit behind him. Whenever this priest, this man of power would be so kind enough to give me a lift till my house, we would stop by at tea places; if open. He was frank in his dealings and he told me that his job never fetched any  money. He would make an average of couple of rupees a day for his hard days work, the kind of money I would not think twice of losing. 
He buys me tea and eatables, I always offer to pay, yet he flatly refuses. He knows the couple of hundred tea stall owners which are on the periphery of the KIIT road which leads to the temple. He stops as he pleases and when he doesn't have money he tells the shop keepers that he would pay the next day, yet he never accepts any money from me anytime. 
It is not a question of ego or experience of age or seniority with him, I can feel that. it is a genuine case of humility and love for another that his gestures prove for me. 
Makku tells me many a time to come to his village home in patia, where he claims he has another idol which is made by itself (svayambhu)/ An image of lord hanuman, who sits next to the mother goddess as is the case in many power places. 
I feel delighted when i remember his emaciated face; meeting in the temple at wee hours. It was truly the case of a devotee meeting another in this awesome mysterious world to worship the center of love and life; maha chandi.. 

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