Time flies. Last weekend we were in Orissa and our trip started with a visit to the famous temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri. Lord Jagannath is known as per Hindu Mythology as the Lord of the Universe. He is the Lord of the Dark Ages, of Kaliyug. I am no expert on Hindu mythology, but this much I knew and I looked forward to the visit to this sacred temple. My friend forewarned me that there are many so called "holy men" who will offer their services rather forcefully to escort you to the temple. The temple is governed by the priests called Pandas. They are rather persistent about showing you around the temple in return for money. Well, you do encounter such things everywhere but, that did not prepare me for what we experienced.
As we got out of the car, there was already a person taking charge of our tour party to show us the temple. We politely declined, however, he would just not give up. His speech slurred and his eyes rolled and I was sure this could be no messenger of the Lord. As we sidestepped from the grips of this man, another "holy guide" took charge and he was so persistent that we could not shake him off. This new guide with bloodshot eyes did not provide any confidence.We tried all our tricks on this new guide, all the tricks one has learnt from edge of the seat thriller movies where the hero tries to shake someone off his trail. We failed. Beaten and irritated, we followed the "holy guide" into the temple. As we entered the temple, someone was at the door blessing everyone. He would hit you on the head with a little stick and utter something. Lo and behold, he hit my daughter on her head and blessed her saying "Don't worry, always sing Kolaveri!!". Now, that was a novel blessing but a bit strange. And then we entered the temple, and as we tried to find the sanctum sanctorum, our "holy guide" took us on a wild goose chase. He tried to lead us everywhere but to the deity. We were a bit confused initially. Finally, it struck us that the many doors on the inner wall, all lead to the deity. We stepped in and we saw the tall deities staring down at us. I suddenly realized that Lord was right in front of us and a strange sense of peace filled my heart. We were running around in chaos and suddenly, peace fills us as we stood in front of the Lord of the Dark Ages. We stepped out of the temple joyfully recollecting the experience, remembering the chaos of the outer world , contemplating the sudden realization and peace in the inner sanctuary oblivious of everything else.
I wondered long as to why this sacred temple had turned into a business for the not so holy "holy men". I wondered why they stopped innocent pilgrims from seeing the Lord in a peaceful manner.I wondered why it had to be so chaotic. And then I realized, here is the Lord of the Dark Ages. His temple is a reflection of the world we live in. We spend our time chasing happiness. We find our own guides, some who tell us the new car or the new house or that lovely holiday by the beach is what happiness is about. We go running after that, and then we discard that to run after the next. We walk all around in blindness, in chaos. And suddenly, we step inside. We step into our inner sanctuary, into the peace that has always been waiting for us. We realize that peace and happiness is within us, if we choose to step in. The Lord of the Dark Ages rules your heart, look inside and find peace.