Sunday, August 23, 2009

My story with Ganesha!

How many of you are fans of Ganesha? I am asking about Lord Ganesha. I am a big fan of him because he was the one who gave me moksha in life! He was the inspiration for me to follow my dreams. Ok! Now I know many of you may be thinking why am I talking all these. I will now tell you my story with Ganesha!

I was born as a Brahmin! So you can imagine the rituals that a Brahmin family sincerely follows. They are pretty consistent in following whatever their ancestors have left for them. They do not even think twice on why is it required or why should we do it? Well, questioning itself is not followed in such families. So I was lucky to take birth as a Brahmin and thanks to my mom and dad who made me follow whatever they used to follow since their childhood. It was more than a practice and hard work that goes in to the system that is being followed. I was made watch and learn from them doing all the religious stuff; celebrating each and every festival in their own way with the help of all puranas; following blind beliefs and managing life with such beliefs without assessing whether it is right or wrong; and many such non-scientific practices. Few of them were good and few of them were meaningless. But who cares? If they ask me to do something, I had to do it without questioning back to them else I would be punished for disrespecting elders. So I learnt saying ‘Yes’ for everything!

Because I was born as a Brahmin, my parents made me follow everything they used to follow when it comes to God. Sometime during my Pre-University 1st year, I was made to take up Upanayana (Threading Ceremony). I knew there were many gods (countless) and because our god was the richest of all and he is on top of everyone, we had to go to Tirupathi for his blessings during my threading ceremony. I was supposed to get dressed in a funny way with all the Namas and Juttu (red and white paint on my forehead and my hair looking like a fountain). There were many relatives who attended the event and blessed me religiously. I was only happy for whatever gift money that I had received. From there my tough time started; I had to follow all formalities mandatorily on daily basis which looked like more than having the food on time. I had to chant prayers everyday holding the thread in my hand. I had no options but to follow whatever I had to follow. Else my dad would’ve beaten me up and down. I learnt how to be more disciplined in life.

There comes the entry of Ganesha in my life! Because I was poor at prayers and Vedas, my parents decided to send me to the Ganesha temple near to my house in Bangarpet to learn Vedas and Mantras every day. The schedule was fixed and I was not supposed to bunk any session. I was posted on a part time duty to Ganesha temple and the guru (teacher) there was pretty close to my dad. So there was no option for me to play games. I thought that is the end of my own life and my life would be taken care by lord Ganesha going forth. So I started learning managing time effectively with multiple tasks.

So from there, my life was kind of living with Ganesha most of the time. I was very prompt in attending my sessions at the temple. Slowly I was made to do all the things a normal priest would do in a temple. Go to the temple in the morning, make Ganesha take bath in the dirty water, Clean him top to bottom and do the Pooja, attend to customers, learn some more from my guru, be with Ganesha for sometime till my guru comes back to temple, collect prasadam, then go back home and get ready to go to college. Again come back from college in the evening, go to my mathematics tuitions, rush to the temple, change my attire, be with Ganesha, attend to customers, wait till my guru comes, learn some more and go back home in the night. My tuition mates used to come to visit me at the temple and I used to feel shy to present myself in that attire. But I used to conveniently distribute flowers (preferably roses) to all the girls who used to visit the temple. I used to enjoy doing that and my guru used to tease me royally for doing that which eventually would lead to more learning on that day. But I learnt handling multiple clients anyway.

The same schedule and my life with Ganesha continued for a few months and I had become senior at the temple. I was managing all the customers alone and I was used to make Ganesha take shower quickly and get him ready in no time. I used to be very creative when it comes to Alankara (dressing Ganesha) and used to get good appreciation from my Guru. By the way, my guru was called as ‘Bhabi’ (I do not know why). I was made to attend to customer calls alone and I was sent out to their houses to process their requests during the festival season. That’s when I learnt customer service in life. With little service that I used to give, customers used get delighted and used to give me money as a fee. I used to get some part of it after handing it over to my guru so I was happy about it. I was not disclosing it with my parents about the money I used to get. But my friends used to get Masala dosa treat from me quite often. So I learnt how to keep customers satisfied so that I can earn enough money to take care of my college life. So eventually I learnt some business sense as well.

This went on for more than a year and my parents were happy about it. I was getting used to my life with Ganesha learning new things every day. More than anything, Ganesha taught me common sense to lead my own life. One fine day, I was reading a book sitting next to Ganesha and waiting for my guru to come. I was thinking about how my life has become so superficial that I am doing things which cannot be believed. Why am I here? Am I here to get some money by attending customer calls or am I here to clean up Ganesha every day? Am I here to distribute flowers? Am I here to keep myself busy with collecting coins in Hundi (a small iron box where coins are collected in the name of god)?

I looked at Ganesha; realized, even though he has taught me so much in life, he is just a rock inside a closed room. Spirit cannot be found in the rock. I used to find the spirit in every customer’s eyes and their belief in something that used to drive them to the temple. It is not the belief in the stone. It is the belief in self and belief in some spirit. My guru and my team members are working here to earn some coins to lead their lives. There is life beyond this and we have to believe our own spirit. We can create wonders if we just break out of the blind beliefs. So, that day, I decided to quit and resigned from the job. Even though my parents opposed on many occasions, I stopped believing in blind customs and followed my own self. Now I do not go to any temple, I have no religion, I do not do any Pooja (sometimes I am forced to do at home which I still refuse to do). But I believe in the belief that my parents have in Ganesha or any God. I believe in the belief that my friends and closed ones have in God. I do not disrespect them.

So I started believing in myself! And Ganesha remained as my good friend. He was the one who helped me to come out of the shell and lead my life with a clear purpose.

Hope you all have enjoyed ‘My Story with Ganesha’ and took it in a positive spirit. Happy Ganesha Chaturthi to one and all!



Vaishnavi said...

hey nice post! Like we used to learn in school, God is omnipresent. Even I went through learning bhajans and chanting and all, but that's because of the school I studied in, where we greet everyone with Hari Om! But I guess that brings about a certain amount of discipline in us, irrespective of how much ever we crib and complain.
By the way, do your parents know about all this? Why don't you show them this post?! Or else, I'll courier a print out! What say?!

Raghu said...

Nice post. This is what we call God: the Belief in something. Whether we believe in some physical structure or not, the Belief in itself lead us in our life.

Narasim said...

Dear Srikanth,


Your extraordinary self-discovery story beside a Ganesh stone statue in Bangarpet is a deeply moving personal essay. It brought tears to my eyes.

It is one of the great tragedies of Hindusim that the Indo-European transactional relationship with god forcefully presented in Books 2 through 9 of Rig Veda (c. 1,200 or 1,500 BCE) still dominates religious practices.

One of the most profound human thoughts ever conceived, embodied in the Pancha Mahavakyas of the Early Upanishads (640 BCE), has never held much of a sway in Hinduism as practiced.

Your friend Ganesha enlightened you to the core idea of the Pancha Mahavakyas, namely, that there is a larger entity than self and you are that larger entity if only you can discover the truth. It is no wonder that you consider Ganesha as your great friend. Bravo!

It is my fondest hope that all thoughtful Hindus will abandon ritual practices and focus on the profound wisdom enshrined in the Pancha Mahavakyas. One does not have to be a "Hindu" to do so.

That you have commenced that great transformative journey is genuinely heartening.

That Ganesh showed you the path is somehow proper. After all, Ganesha is said to help one to overcome obstacles. In this instance Ganesh has enabled you to overcome the greatest obstacle in life, namely, the illusion of knowledge.

Unlike Adi Shankara who denigrates this life in pursuit of Brahman, you have chosen to seek Brahman in service to the less fortunate others, who are after all, your own self and Brahman.

May you live long and prosper in service to others.

For me as a Chandala, service to others comes naturally. To that extent, I am very lucky.

Unknown said...

Hey Sri.. It truly a nice story to see how Ganesha has halped you to grow, not just financially, but in your knowledge...

I guess for almost all the Hindus, Ganesha is a bigger part of our lives.. Because "Prathama Pooje" - the first prayers go to him, irrespective of the function or festival we celebrate...

The influence of Ganesha on our lives can be in many ways.. But the most of all, I guess its the love with the "kid" god, and his stories of ethics make us more near to him than anyone else...

sajana said...

I was quite surprised seeing the title of your post...coz u know y ?? :) i started reading i remembered the story you had told about your connection with Ganesha :) and you suddenly turning an Atheist!and me teasing you every year for doing those puja's for the sake of your parents :)

Good that you have your own belief and you let others practice theirs.

A good story and a diifferent one least expected one from you though :)

Unknown said...

hey Srik,
as usual, very nice interpretation of your learnings from God himself. Actually people tend to hide such facts of life thinking that others might make fun of them... but it takes courage to accept things the way they are and learn from them... that makes you more grounded and full of mettle. Being so down-to-earth is greatest of your qualities and that would keep you going higher in life...
all the best dude! & keep it going


Manikandan said...

Hi Srikanth,

Gauri–Ganesh Chaturthi wishes to you too!!

It was an amazing post and well ‘released’ on the apt day…..quite surprised to read out this lifetime experience of yours which comes to only a few of them..

The nice part of the post was even though you had mentioned in the traditional angle you have added the ‘flavour’ of modern management techniques in the initial paras”

The various turnaround of events was aptly mentioned but never expected that it will do a ‘U’ turn of life which eventually lead to believe in THE SELF.

To say about the various blind beliefs or non-scientific practices mentioned…certain practices needs to be clearly addressed and good to know that you have taken courage to express through this mode to all.

To sum up, let me share a following little story:
It's 10,000 BC. LOTHAR is travelling alone on a hunting trip. While building a fire for the night, he meets HILGAR, a hunter from a village far away. They have dinner together by the fire. They begin to discuss their beliefs about storms. LOTHAR thinks that a great god named Thor creates storms to show his power over mankind. HILGAR thinks that a giant spider named Goral spins rainclouds like a normal spider spins a web.
The religious response is for the two men to think the other man is mad or just wrong and stay firm in the belief each was raised to believe.
The scientific response is for the two men to think: "Maybe MY belief is incorrect. Let's go observe the rainclouds and look for a spider or a god and record whatever we see."These are two very different reactions to different beliefs.
That is why religion is not very useful except to serve as an emotional safety net when confronted with things like death or injustice. Science is always looking to the future, not holding on to the past. Science looks OUTSIDE the human heart for answers. Science looks to nature for answers.
Religious people look deep in their own heart for the truth. They listen to that "still, small voice" that they claim is God, but in reality it is their own flawed, human emotions and limited imagination.

Thanks a ton for this interesting post with a loud message of “God helps those who help themselves-Benjamin Franklin”.

Manjunath Byadigere said...

Hi Srik,

I should say this is a very frank and daring autobiographical revelation.Educative comments follow from Narasim, Kowshik and Manikandan.Nice piece of work from you,Srikanth.

I had partly heard this story when we were visiting TS's parents at Thimmapura near Bangarpet.You had shown me the Ganesha temple during that visit and explained me about what all you did in that temple.

It is also very emotional to get all your feelings into a written document and it is quite uneasy and uncomfortable to put it into words.Very nice to see that you have expressed feelings,emotions and sentiments in understandable words.

Religious ignorance is well known and the only good news is that though we are slow, we are getting out of this web in our own pace.One of the greatest hinderances for rational thinking and development is the religious thought process.The worst possible crime is,I think,is to put religion and its allied beliefs above self belief.Religion has to be kept where it belongs to find the truth.

It is very sad that we Indians still depend on our parents for a lot of things.Parents also have an influence on our abilities to think freely.Individuality is one thing which is rarely found in Indian families.I find it infantile if people try to push things using parents name.Its time we get out of this jinx.

In this post, I think, Srikanth is trying to make a point against unscientific religious beliefs and idiotic good-for-nothing orthdox practices. He is also, I think, trying to highlight the importance of independent thinking, individuality, innovation, perseverance and self belief.

Great post Srikanth!.
Thanks to all for enlightening me.

with kind regards,
Doc Manjunath

Manjula said...

Nice one Srikanth, each and every event in our life teaches us lesson, only thing that makes difference is that how and howmuch we take out of it. It needs lot of courage and self confidence.

Unknown said...

hi Srik,
No words to comment !!!!!!!!!!!!

SuZ said...

I just hope people take your blog in positive spirit and consider it as a learning.
In fact, I think Ganesha showed you a better God :)

Srik said...

Yeah! Suz, you are right. Ganesha showed me a better god :)