Thursday, May 13, 2010

‘Om is the sound of the universe’


By Shevlin Sebastian

When Gujarati businessman Rajeev Dholakia went to the Kedarnath shrine in September, 2007, he was struck by a powerful energy in the main shrine. “There were pilgrims who came with a lot of faith and devotion,” says Rajeev. “Probably, they brought in more zeal.”

Rajeev felt happy, peaceful, and calm, but the mood did not last for long. “The pujaris have become too money-minded,” he says. “In most of the well-known temples, it is all about how much money you can pay and the time in front of the deity will be allotted accordingly. I felt angry and frustrated.”

He also discovered that most devotees were casual about their faith. “Many had switched on their mobile phones during the aarati session so that their relatives in distant places could also hear it,” he says. “It devalued the spiritual experience.”

At Kochi, where he stays, Rajeev is not a regular visitor to temples. Instead, he prefers to pray, while driving the car or working in the office. “God is everywhere,” he says. Prayer, for him, is to keep murmuring the word, ‘Om’ all the time. “It is the sound of the universe,” he says.

He says that by chanting ‘Om’ his mind calms down. “Usually, the mind is always in a state of chaos, flitting from one thought to another,” he says.

However, in between, he reflects over profound philosophical questions. “I want to find out the purpose of my life,” says Rajeev. “What is happiness and salvation? Why have I come to this earth? Where do I go from here?”

When Rajeev was younger, he had fewer doubts. When he would close his eyes to pray, he would behold the image of Lord Shiva. “I used to see the blue body with the long hair, the snake coiled around the neck, and the water of the river Ganges sprouting from his head,” he says.

Rajeev says that his mother is a deep believer in Shiva and he imbibed that faith from her. But, nowadays, when he closes his eyes, he prefers to keep it blank. “However, sometimes, I see the image of ‘Ajja’ my spiritual guru, who died in 2007,” he says. “I am hoping to reach God through him.”

So, like most people, does Rajeev get angry with God when bad events occur? “No,” he says. “What you get is what you deserve. It is the result of your karma. So I don’t blame anything or anybody. But I do get angry with myself. I feel I have not done enough mediation. That is why bad events occur.”

Asked to prove that God exists, he smiles, and says, “It is like trying to explain why I was born in a particular Gujarati family in Kochi and not in Ahmedabad, or in the Ambani family? Why didn’t I have those choices? So, clearly, there is some force that makes these decisions. To me, God is this immense power in the universe. We live at His mercy.”

(The New Indian Express, Kerala)

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