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Godman`s Cult - Part 5 : The vision

by  Meena

Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Word Count: 2827
Summary: Part 5 of godman's cult

Part 5 – The Vision

It was dark outside but on the far horizon behind the tiny looking temple dawn was breaking. As we drove towards the temple on the long winding road it felt as if we were in a time zone. When I turned back to look at the entrance we had just entered, the people with the torches had vanished. The gates were locked once again to the outside world. On either side of the gates at the entrance there were two huge Shiva lingams with gigantic snake sculpture winding round the lingam. Each lingam had a fountain which was constantly showering water onto it. They were the biggest lingams I had ever seen in my life. They looked magnificently awesome.

I turned back to the front to take in the front view of the place. I could see a shadow outline of trees, shrubs, flowers and water features shinning in the upcoming dawn. My mind began to wonder and visualise the Godman and his appearance. He was, he was I rubbed by chin thinking...someone who probably lived it up in private with burgers, chips, Coke or other junk food. Fat, dressed in white flowing robes as nothing else would fit a fat slob. Drowned in heavy real gold chains, diamonds and other jewellery. A beard with long flowing hair. Bloody hell what a horror it would be to see someone like that in person!!!

Drifting, excited voice of Uncle Praful declared

‘We are well early. I hope we get the darshan of ‘Devji Maharaj’. You kids are lucky. You will get to see his powerful miracles.’

Oh! Yeah, yeah! I rolled by eyes, shrugging and voicing
my opinion aloud

‘If miracles could work, the whole world would be here by now asking for their dreams to come true. No sorrow, no bombs, no wars, no pain, plenty for everyone, a blissful world. What a blinkered view.’ I smiled sweetly and coolly.

In return I a got cool glare from Uncle Praful, and, a harassed ‘NIDHI’ from dad, meaning shut up. Great.

I nudged Sanjay and Naman who had climbed back into slumberland after the brief noisy commotion at the entrance. Honestly boys are so lazy and laid back. No wonder there brains don’t start functioning until well into their teens.

‘Hey, guys, Wakey, wakey. We are at the temple.’

Both stirred, yawning and grumbling whilst rubbing their eyes. Near the temple we were directed to a parking area by temple attendants who waited whilst we disembarked. The attendants were in their early teens maybe 16 –18 dressed in cotton saffron coloured ‘Kurta and tight drain-piped pyjama’.

We were shown to guest area where we were asked to refresh and come to the ‘Prathna Ghar’ for early morning prayers. Uncle Praful asked casually about having darshan of ‘Devji Maharaj’.

‘It all depends on the Maharaj and his inner divine inspiration. If he is in meditation, no one disturbs him.’

What bullocks, I thought. Perhaps he is just having a lie know a lie in meditation!!

I could see Uncle Praful’s face fall with disappointment, with the excitement running out of steam

‘But..but we have come a long way. I have brought my relatives also for the first time to see his greatness in the hope they would see and join us.’ Uncle Praful pleaded.

One of the attendants replied ‘For the new devotees and everyone else this is the programme for the day.’ He handed each one of us a programme and than walked away. Uncle Praful really looked embarrassed and guilty after all the palva about this place.

Ah, the programme. I looked to see what treasures of excitement lay ahead for the day

Sankesim - Day visitor's Programme

7.00 – 8.00 Prayers in the Prathna Hall

8.00 – 9.00 Breakfast [Dried potato curry, yoghurt, puris, a type of deep fried bread] in the ‘Jaman Hall’

9.00 – 12.00 Tour of the ashram

12.00 –1.00 Midday prayers in the ‘Prathna Hall’ or outside in the gardens.

1.00 – 2.00 Dinner [Chapattis, rice, mixed vegetable curry, carrot halva] in the ‘Jaman Hall.

2.00 – 4.00 Rest in the ‘Vishram Hall’.

4.00 – 5.00 Tea [Kichadi made with rice and lentil, chapattis and aubergine curry] in the ‘Jaman Hall.’

5.00 – 7.00 Free time to look around

7.00 – 8.00 Prayers in the Prathna Hall

8.00 Depart time for non-devotees and non-Snakesim living residents.

Please Note : During the day ‘Devji Mahraj’ may or may not give darshan. Everything depends on his inner divine instructions. Otherwise there will be a video projection of his darshan taken from past celebrations such as Diwali, Christmas etc..

Whoa! Everything perfectly organised. Excitement of the day ‘Spot the Godman - Devji Maharaj’.

I whistled to Sanjay and Naman

‘Psst! Great isn’t it? All this way and we may go empty handed and empty visioned.’

‘We are here now. Can’t put the clock back. Might as well grin and bear it.’ Sanjay murmured.

‘I feel irritated and frustrated.’ I continued to complain

Naman whispered

‘Let’s get the feel of the place and the going on in this place. That is the reason why we came here in the first place. Come on Nidhi, try to relax.’

‘Hum! Yes, I suppose so.’ I replied exchanging meaningful but secretive spy messages with him.

We all had a quick shower and changed our clothes. Dad and Uncle Praful had bought all of us saffron coloured clothes – I realised that this was the uniform for Snakesim devotees. For men and the boys it was kurta pyjama and for us women and a girl - me – it was a sari with full sleeved and waist long blouse. I love Sari’s. I think Saris are cool and sexy in all the right places, only wish I could have worn my favourite colour blue.

We made our way for the prayers. The Prathna Ghar was a sea of saffron coloured people. At the entrance ladies and men were separated. On one side of the hall it was all men and on the other women. There was pin drop silence. I giggled and told mum

‘We all look like Meerabai that great saint.’

‘Shut up Nidhi. We are no where near that great saint’ mum responded.

We were directed to sit down at the next space available. Soon the hall was full of rows of people. In front was a huge stage which was decorated with fresh flowers, garlands, candles, diyas and incense sticks. All the main Hindu gods were represented, each having a small temple of their own. Beyond on the wall was a screen playing images of the various parts of the ashram. A high-tech temple, awesome I thought. The ambience was of peace, serenity full of the calming aromatic smells of rose, sandalwood and jasmine wafting over the hall from the candles and incense sticks. Soon a man came out with a huge arti full of lighted diyas. I gasped and thought I have spotted the Godman ‘Devji Maharaj’ and waited for everyone to chant or do something as he entered. But no one moved. Huh! Why not, I was thinking, when he got introduced by a voice to say he was the keeper of the temples – a priest. Soon the prayers and music began. The prayers were the same as the ones we spoke at home, so nothing new as I was expecting.

After breakfast we were put into groups of fifteen and assigned a ‘Sevak’ who was to be our guide to the ashram tour. Our Sevak was tall and quite good looking actually, but not like my hero Salim Khan.

No sign of the Godman so far.

‘What’s your name’ I questioned

‘Samir’ he replied.

‘So how long have you been a devotee of Snakesim’ I interrogatory asked

‘I was left here by my uncle after my parents died in a car crash. I was eleven years old and I have lived here ever since.’

I cringed, what a sad story. I thought if I asked more I could write a great story for a bollywood film, besides maybe I could find some facts which might ring bells in every adults head...So, I turned meaning to ask him about his age and his life at the ashram and before I could say a word I got head butted with a slap by my dad

‘Shut up, Nidhi. You do not ask personal questions to strangers.’

‘But dad, I am curious to find out about Snakesim. Aren’t you pleased I am taking an interest?’ I argued coyly

‘Shut your gob’ Sanjay hissed hard

‘Just go with the flow, yaar’ Naman hinted.

Really, parents, siblings and friends can be a pain in your butt sometimes, acting as censors to research and free speech! I started to follow the flow again........

We were shown round the farm where the ashram grew all the vegetables, grains needed to feed everyone at the ashram. We were shown the ‘Gaushala’ where all the cows were kept who provided for the milk for the ashram. We got shown round the gardens, the water features. All very picturesque indeed. This was a self-sustained ashram-village. I was amazed and feeling guilty at having negative thoughts about this place.

No Godman has popped up yet.

Soon we came to a huge building. This was the school. We went inside to look at the facilities. The classrooms were clean, well laid out and had the latest technology like computers, and printers. We went to the back of the building where the playground was. We were being led away from the side path when I noticed a building on the side. Samir did not mention it or glance at it. I stopped and decided to take a look. I went to one of the windows of the building. I peered into the room. I saw some women and children all sitting there like zombies. They all looked up as I popped by head near the window.

Samir shouted ‘No, that building is out of bounds for outsiders.’

‘Why?’ I asked defiantly

‘Nidhi’ my dad rushed and got a hold round my upper arm, dragging me away. Just as I got dragged I thought I recognised a woman’s and a child’s face. I wanted to go back to take a look again. Yet what could I do against a powerful adult. I was confused and frustrated, but there we go I had to join the flow again.

No sign of the Godman yet!

After the midday prayers and dinner we all decided to rest. In the Vishram Hall, I tossed and turned it was too stuffy and hot.

I went outside, in the open air amongst the beautiful gardens full of roses, jasmine and other varieties of flowers. It was cool with a soft breeze when I spotted a figure on a bench. As I neared the sole person I recognised him as Salim Khan. I could not believe my eyes. I went over to him all excitedly and gasped

‘What are you doing here? I thought you were a Muslim?’

He replied ‘This place is open to everyone. No religious barriers here. Besides faith does not have to be bound by boundaries. It should be free and open.’

‘Oh I agree’ I said all awe inspired

He looked up and said ‘For someone young and pretty as you, I find it very surprising that you are here.’

‘It’s my first visit.’ I explained, trying to hide my suspicions and negative feelings for the whole place.

‘Isn’t this garden lovely? May I sit next to you?’

‘Sure.’ and than he turned to me saying, I write poetry as a hobby and you have inspired me with a verse

‘Oh gosh! Really!’ I exclaimed excitedly, clasping my hands ‘Please can I hear it.’

Salim began in a melodious voice

Sky and Mother Nature
I request you to
Rain with petals and flowers
Fill the air full of the sweet fragrance
Bring the rainbow colours in the sky
With the showers of petals and flowers
A divine welcome
As by friend and beloved has come

‘Oh! soo-sweet’ I cooed

‘Which is your favourite flower’ Salim asked

‘Roses, I love roses’

Suddenly Salim started showering with rose petals; I closed my eyes to feel the showering of the soft petals from Salim when I got stung sharply

‘Yakees!’ I cried with pain and I heard mocking laughter. Embarrassingly I realised I was daydreaming again. Sanjay and Naman each had a rose with thorny branches which they had shoved on either side of my cheeks

‘Day dreaming about Salim Khan’ Sanjay jeered

Naman laughed ‘Come on Nidhi, when are you going to stop dreaming about him. You know there is no chance for you. He must be meeting lots of beautiful girls.’

‘Ow! Shut up both of you. No harm in having dreams. Sometimes they come true.’ I blushed

Dad and co. just came out ‘Come you kiddos, time for tea, a look around and prayers before we go home.’ Dad announced

After tea, I asked dad if we could look at the school again, because if he was thinking of sending us here it was only fair to see it again.

Dad replied ‘Good idea. Now you are talking some sense. You guys have a look at the school while we will roam around the temple. But remember no poking around areas you are not supposed to.’

He could read my mind I thought and he had not forgotten the earlier incident either. But I made no promises and just nodded my head demurely.

It seems the Godman is still mediating as no one has mentioned him.

‘Let’s go’ I said to Sanjay and Naman as I started to dash towards the school. Once there, I rushed towards the forbidden building

Sanjay stopped in his tracks ‘We are not supposed to go there.’ He shouted

Running backwards I remarked ‘Come on don’t be a coward. Don’t you think we should know why we are not allowed into that building? Don’t you want to find out the secrets, if there are any?’

So this time they followed my flow towards the forbidden building. Dusk was setting in so that made things easier for us to camouflage ourselves. We quietly approached the building, with me leading; I slowly worked towards the window I had been peering through earlier. When we got to it I whispered

‘Through this window I had seen some people in here. They seemed tired, drained and in a dreamy state.’

We all edged our way upwards to peer through the window, and there they were-these people-but they were lying down asleep. We squatted down on our knees, breathless and puffing, I muttered

‘That’s strange. Sleeping this early. Also, earlier I thought I recognised a woman and a child next to her, but now they are sleeping and I can’t see them. What shall we do?’

‘So that is why you were so keen to come here’ Sanjay remarked

‘Exactly. Also it’s strange that the Godman has not been seen yet. I mean this place is very beautiful, the temple is awesome. Even the school looks good. Maybe I am just being a bit schizophrenic about the whole thing. Yet I get this feeling that something is wrong here, I can not pinpoint it and that is why I keep dashing around and being so electrically hyper.’ I explained

Naman suggested

‘Look, let’s go back. What we will do is maybe ask our parents that we come here on Saturdays only to start off with for cultural studies and satsang. Finish off our year and think about the future. At least they are intelligent enough not to insist on spoiling our school year. At the same time we would not be forced to come here fulltime, giving us time to explore and find out more about this place.’

‘That’s a great solution’ I responded

We went back and joined our gang and made our way to the Prathna Hall for the final prayers of the day. We were separated once again. We sat down at the indicated place and waited. Suddenly the lights were switched off and a movie started. On the screen we saw a festival being celebrated. The title of the movie was ‘The birthday celebration of the Devji Maharaj’. We saw the decorated ashram full of lights, artefacts, flowers. Then we were shown the audience in the great Prathna Hall. In the audience I saw some famous people from politics, industry and bollywood. Than came the vision -the Godman seated on a gold throne like chair was shown to us in a long shot. As the camera zoomed nearer to the seated Godman, I was shocked, surprised than hypnotised, and spell bounded to see the vision of this person. He was nothing like what I had visualised in my mind.