Life Is Sacred; Not Bricks

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Literature, Media, Musings, Poetry, Soliloquy)

A poem by Kuvempu, an important writer in Kannada, begins with the lines: “Devaru Sereyaal, Degula Seremane, Kaavalu Poojary,” to mean, God is a prisoner, temple is the prison, the priest in the guard. Temple culture and temple business is being criticized by the poet. But at another level the poem points at the irony where human civilization feels the need to protect God and Goddesses, who are supposed to be the savior of the world we live in.

Devanoor Mahadeva, a prominent writer in Kannada, in a small article for Kannada Times, had recollected a story which he said was narrated to him by Siddlingayya. The story was of a village deity named Manchamma. The villagers felt the need to construct a temple for Manchamma and the work for the construction of a Manchamma temple began. As work was under progress a villager was possessed by Manchamma. Through the villager Manchamma asked the people as to what they were up to. The villagers informed Manchamma that they were constructing a temple for her. Listening to the villagers, Manchamma asked if all the villagers have a proper house to live in. A villager replies “No I don’t have,” listening to which Manchamma announces that she will accept a temple for herself only when every believer of hers have a proper house to live. Following this incident Manchamma came to be known as Mane Manchamma. The prefix Mane in Kannada means House. Devanoor Mahadeva mentions that even to this day Manchamma is worshiped in a roof-less temple like construction, indicating not everyone has a roof over their head to this day.

The story of Manchamma becomes important because here the deity is making the villagers realize that a house for people is more important than a temple for God. A golden chariot, a diamond dressing and all are made for Gods and Goddesses which distantly reflects that men are trying to take good care of the Gods and Goddesses’ and make the Gods and Goddesses’ feel good!!!

Towards the end of his life Swami Vivekananda was in Kashmir. Even in the paradise of earth, as Ramachandra Gandhi writes, the heart of Vivekananda was heavy and felt tormented by the fact that successive invaders has desecrated and destroyed countless sacred images of Hinduisms Gods and Goddesses and pulled down Hindu temples and built mosques over their ruins. Unable to bear the burden of the humiliating testimony of History, Ramchandra Gandhi writes, Vivekananda poured out his anguish at the feet of divine mother in a Kali temple. “How could you let this happen, Mother, why did you permit this desecration?” asked despairingly. Kali whispered in his heart the following reply to his question: “What is it with you, Vivekananda, if the invader breaks my images. Do you protect me, or do I protect you?”

Ramachandra Gandhi narrates this incident from Swami Vivekananda’s life, in his book Sita’s Kitchen which looks at the issue of temple for Rama at Ayodhya, Writing about the Ramjanmabhoomi issue P. Lankesh, wrote an editorial under the title ‘Ittige Pavitravalla; Jeewa Pavitra,” to mean “Life is sacred; not the bricks.”

24 February 2010

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