It has turned into an annual routine now.
Every year, when September arrives, making the air colder than usual, the sky paler and the heat a little less cruel, I start evaluating my life.
This year, it happened in the largest functioning Hindu Temple in the world, the most illustrious Vishnu shrine in India, The Renganadha Swamy temple in Srirangam. The richness of the history and legend of this ancient monument has been a thing of fascination, even before I actually visited it. So much so, that I couldn’t stop dreaming about visiting the temple for a week straight.
I was obsessed and in love with a city I’ve never been to before, and I find the very thought that I am capable of being that crazy, quite embarrassing.
Ever since I moved into NIT Trichy, I’ve been talking about Srirangam and wanting to go there. Funny thing is, when people asked me why, I didn’t have an answer.
I managed to convince two less-crazier friends of mine – Janani and Ram – into taking me there. We’ve been on and off this plan for more than two weeks now, so even when we were discussing the time and other details of the plan, I wasn’t believing it was happening.
If only Ram and Janani had a blog, they’d tell you how hyper excited I was to finally step into Srirangam and have the tall temple tower catch me off gaurd and shock me with it’s powerful magnificence.
I’ve never been this quiet.
I’ve never been this deeply inspired.
And I’ve never wanted to visit some place this badly.
I felt a lot more comfortable and at home in the few hours I spent inside the temple, than I did in the two months I spent at Opal, which is frightening to me, because my spirit seems to trust the unreliable and ancient building, compared to the stability of my own stationary hostel.
When I was finally there, inside the shrine, and so close to the Lord, I felt a warm caressing touch, a presence, an intangible feeling of security and love. So much love. I wish it had been just me and Him, I’d have been starring at him for hours together, then. But we had to move. We were forced to move, because this was a democratic country and everyone else deserved to be just as close to Him as much as I did.
It was only for two minutes that I stood there, I guess. Two very intense minutes.
I glanced over my shoulder, only briefly-mind you, to look back at what I was a few seconds ago and what I’ve turned out to be after finally seeing him, after so much yearning.
So much lost along the way, and so much gained.
What I gained and lost, is a long and self-contradictory list, I’m afraid.
For instance, I lost some of the intensity of feeling of wanting people to understand me. I lost the desire to write when I don’t feel like it. I lost the desire to force feelings and to always be in control.
I lost the desire to have the people I love, love me back. I lost the urge I used to have to argue with people, beat them down with facts and ultimately prove them wrong.
I lost the urge to debate.
I lost interest in talking. I now prefer being quiet, and observing people, or getting lost in my own thoughts.
I gained an understanding about the economy of words. I finally understood that two words uttered in place of a large sentence had a deeper impact.
I gained the ability to let people view me the way they pleased, even though they may be far away from who I really was. I gained the kind of numbness that helps me trust second chances.
I gained the strength to numb down the pain of rejection, and pack my novel into a fresh envelop and send it to yet another publisher. I gained that invincible power to mute down the pain of betrayal and let myself smile at people I never thought I’d speak to again.
Well, there’s no point in lying – it’s been a tough year. Really tough year, but I’ve learnt so much. I feel better and stronger than ever before.
I’ve been thinking about Him a lot, recently. I know that I finished reading the Gita only a few months back and I’ve been officially calling myself Krishna Conscious only for a couple of years ago, but I guess the roots and foundations of the feeling had been laid when I was around three years old, or even younger – by my mother’s bedtime stories.
Everyone loves Krishna for different reasons.
For me, it was because he made me feel a little less lonely and a lot more complete. For me, it was because he filled me with Knowledge that I wouldn’t have had if not for Him. It was because He makes sense and life would be too precious a thing to waste, if not in His Consciousness.
But every time I find myself reaching out for The Gita, I take a look back. I ask myself why I want to read it in the first place.
I mean, reading it is a fun, wonderful thing to do anyway, but I do take a step back and take a look at my life and all that I’ve created.
I wanna check, double check, just in case I’m using this as an escape mechanism and I’m not as happy as I think I am.
That’s when I noticed that somewhere along the way, somewhere in between the tiny cracks and microscopic door of my rigid walls, I’d let someone in, for the first time ever.
That’s why I love Him. He let me love him, without having a solid proper reason. If that’s not true love, then I don’t know what is.
And that day, walking down those large pillars and letting my soul get immersed in the aura of the ancient temple, was the first day I really felt Him around. I could tell that he was there by the fact that my thoughts were organised, and I walked into the main prahar, not wanting anything.
I did not ask for anything.
I was just in love. Immersed in love.
Thinking about Him, and happy that I had finally made it.
Content that so many days of yearning had been finally satiated. I was grateful. For everything.
I told him I loved Him, and walked out.
Walking back out made me think a lot about loneliness.
Yes, I do feel a little lonely sometimes.
A few days ago, something unexpected happened and I know now that can never get rid of this vacuum of loneliness.I cannot talk about it.
I don’t want to.
What makes me sad isn’t the loneliness. It’s the fact that I’m okay with it.
Walking out made me stronger, and a lot more secure. Everything happens for a reason. When I woke up that day, I did not know I’d visit the temple of my dreams and heal the wounding disappointments of all the previously cancelled plans.
I guess loneliness and love work the same way. They’re both selfless, beautiful and genuine. They’re the only two feelings that work past the need to be reciprocated. Love doesn’t need to be reciprocated. Loneliness doesn’t have to be reciprocated. They both stand alone and they stand strong.
I used to ask this question to myself, in terms of loneliness.
Who did I value the most in life, apart from my family? Who was it, that I considered the most important friend I had ever earned?
If the world was ending, who would I run to spend the last few hours of my life?
All these years, I didn’t have an answer.
But I’m happy to say that after spending that one minute inside the chamber with Lord Renganadha, somewhere between those milliseconds of closing my eyes, murmuring a short verse of prayer, and opening them again, I realized that He had brought new answers to my questions this year.
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