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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Synchronous Vibrations

After the forty minute ride in a jam-packed bus dodging groping hands, with sweat-soaked bodies pressing on me while I try to keep my unwieldy school bag and lunch bag under control, I used to be desperate for a quick wash as soon as I reached home.

The bath, of course, is subject to availability of water, thanks to water-shortage in Madras at that time.

Slipping out of my school uniform and donning a fresh pair of home-clothes, it was either straight to Veena class or Dance class most evenings. Homework will always be there, what are nights for?

kapaleeshwarar kovil temple mylapore madras india shivaHowever, in the middle of all the commitments, at least 4 times a week, I used to fervently walk a brisk 15-minute walk to Kapaleeshwarar Kovil, my sanctuary in those days.

I would take my time to go around the various sannithi (sanctum), lingering a disturbingly long duration in Kapali sannithi, sometimes tears welling up in my eyes begging Him to guide me well in this lifetime so I don't have to pass through any more rebirths - this plea was a secret between Ishwarar and me, and I guarded it staunchly those days.

Somehow, after the demure and awkward 12-year-old morphed into an angry and frustrated teenager dissatisfied with the circumstances she found herself in, temple-visits took a back-seat to achieving something, although it wasn't clear what.

And, places where I lived for the last 18 years didn't have easy access to temples, making it a superfluous activity which was easy to give up.

Decades later, the sights and smells of the very same Kapaleeshwarar temple bring back a flood of emotions.

Walking in the temple with D the other night, just D and me, kids safe at home with grandparents, I let my tears flow freely not minding the odd looks and thoughts it was provoking in fellow bhaktas. To set foot in the temple premises again, traveling miles and miles, made me feel so very grateful for the opportunity early on in life when I wasn't so far away from the second womb that I call Kapaleeshwarar kovil.

I was not a big temple-going fanatic. I just found a certain peace and a sense of satisfaction that the soul was craving when I visited Kapaleeshwarar temple. Lingering near the Sthala Vriksham (Temple Tree), the punnai maram (mast wood tree), near the Punnaivana nathar sannithi, remembering the mythology both about Shiva who plucked Brahma's 4th head, and about Shiva who cursed Parvathi to be born as a peacock (nevermind that peacock is the male) for being distracted by a peacock during His discourse, I would transport myself to that parallel world where all this was not some hogwash mythological tale...

The smells of jasmine flowers from vendors' basket mingled with the ever-present urine-stench, the neat piles of vegetables, the gregarious gaggle of soman-clad shastrigal exchanging notes and news, the stream of honks and clangs from rushing traffic, the little narrow alleyways surrounding the temple where people still live, and run business under low-watt lightbulbs...

Walking around the temple tank, showing D the South and North Mada streets which probably got fairly eroded by my frequent jaunts in those days, I felt so very much at home until I stepped on a stagnant puddle of putrefied waste that turned out deeper than expected while avoiding the oncoming vehicle flow.

This messy jolt to reality however does not diminish the fact that who I am now is precisely because of, not inspite of, growing up with these experiences.

If I could transport Mylapore, somehow make a seamless amalgam of the facilities and amenities of my Lents neighborhood with the cultural richness of Mylapore, it could be my personal heaven.

As Steven Tyler croons, Dream On...


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6 Comments:

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Zaara said...

At least you can always have the memories with you. I still pine for my daughter to attend the same school I did and have the same friends I once had....wishful thinking....I wonder when one can truly let go....

 
At 5:14 PM, Blogger Tharini said...

Wow. What a rich slice of memory of your history and your roots. D is right...you are made up of layers. the more you peel back, the more there is to uncover. It makes me both satisfied and impatient all at the same time. :) Strange.

 
At 11:45 PM, Blogger veeveeyes said...

The memories of student days Temple visits have been very nicely depicted. I didn't know U believed in Rebirth!
Anyway it is 'tween u and Lord Shiva...
Like to c many more of your reminiscences... Quite interesting to read as your dad.

 
At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sheela,

I am happy to see your spirits high doing all the things you liked to do. Yet another things we both love to do and cherish .

I love going to temple for the simple pleasuring being with people who share same kind of energy/frequency just like us. Having lived in a city full of temples this was our only past time : )growing up. Taking few minutes just to be with god amidst of all the sounds is a good therapy for soul.

Did you visit the arupadai Murugan temple in Besant Nagar. If you have time , visit this temple .

CS

 
At 8:21 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Dear CS, I remember you mentioning climbing up Rockfort all the time when you were growing up and was thinking about you when we went to see Manicka Vinayagar a month ago (didn't see Ucchi Pillayar - couldn't climb with kids)...

But, ya, I went to a few temples my mom wanted to show me- Besant Nagar Arupadai Veedu was nice - peaceful, calm, by the sea, not too crowded when we went... Pazhani Aandi is my mom's favorite of the six veedu

Also went to Prathyangara Devi temple (I was curious about the mythology surrounding Sarabeswarar and Prathyangara Devi) in Cholinganallur... Ana loved the Bhadrakali and Agni statues there - like 10-feet tall or something!

Of course, when i go to kapali kovil, how can i skip Velleeshwarar nearby - this happens to be my mom's favorite, she knows the shastrigal there etc. - I feel so welcome and enveloped in blessings when I visit Velleeshwarar and Kamatchi there. I was in heaven when by accident I was on South Mada st., with D and the kids the other day and popped in for a quick visit when it turned out to be Pradosham and, as I entered, Urchavar was coming around on Nandi... Now, this may not be much for many... but, I like to transport myself to the mythological world instead of questioning its authenticity with my limited logic...

Oh, actually, from Velleeshwarar temple is where I learnt about Sarabeshwarar...

Oh dear, I should've saved all these details for email or something :)

 
At 9:25 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

:Tharini: Hope you are healing well and your spirits are high as always... you are in my thoughts a lot.

:Zaara: You have a good point...

 

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