I am sad on many levels when I read that 102 people died last week due to an accident while they were on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala Temple in Kerela, India. The media is full of questions about why this happened and why didn't the 'government' prevent this. What a useless scapegoat the government is, when the fault lies in believers of the pilgrimage.
That 102 people lost their lives in doing a pilgrimage makes me very sad. But that these pilgrims do the pilgrimage to see "celestial light" that has been proven to be manmade, or to attain "moksha", makes me even sadder. I am not trying to pick on this pilgrimage or the devotion of the pilgrims. I would do a pilgrimage if I were to learn something. But I would have no hope of celestial light or moksha; because that I already have both of them. In my view, all pilgrimages done with the intention of future reward, are a waste of time. That is exactly what they are.
It is a waste of time in this life for obvious reasons! But also what a grand waste beyond this lifetime. Truth is eternal ... never dies, it is always remembered. Can you recall any people who did the most number of pilgrimages in the past 1000 years? Can you even recall how many pilgrimages your parents and grandparents did. Chances are that you can't. It is immaterial! Pilgrimages are not the true path. Never were, never will be. You can remember people who were good in their lives. Because goodness is truth. Eternal. It stays.
For those who haven't been to the temple, the journey takes you through forests and hills, and in the end you climb 18 gold steps, to eventually see in bold letters: "Tattvamasi" ... "That You Are." You also see a statue decked in jewellery. Without crossing any forests and climbing any steps, just sitting at peace in your living room, try to think about what "Tattvamasi" means. It might take only a few moments of peace and unlike this pilgrimage there is no need to fast for 41 days before sitting down to think. Or sing,listen or understand the beautiful bhajan about Swami Ayyappa at the end of this blog post can also be used (hopefully with the understanding that Swami Ayyappa is the ONE God that resides in you). Or you can call everyone you see "Swami" around you because they have the same light as yours. If you want to do more, read the entire Chandogya Upanishad (from where Tattvamasi comes from), or read all the Vedas, and use them in your life. Its easy now in the digital age ... all resources are only a few mouse clicks away.
The heavenly light one needs to see is that of the understanding of the scriptures in one's heart. That light you can enjoy with all your loved ones, even your wife and daughters, who, if they fall within the ages of 10 and 50 year, are not allowed to see the fake "Makara Jyoti" from Sabarimala.
Wake up, my friend! God does not move into a statue on auspicious occasions with a miraculous flash of light. Those who have seen it are relating lies of fantastic fiction; and those who perpetuate it are either mired by greed or foolishness. Be smart and be good, and in your goodness, God will reside in you. Remember "Tattvamasi": "That You Are!" Close your eyes and make your mind climb just one step. And see yourself decked in Gold.
Life is short. Don't waste time. Take a few moments. Understand! Only Love is the path to realize God, not pilgrimages (Read more: "Jin Prem Kiyo")
Tragedy at Sabarimala:
Nothing divine about Sabarimala light:
Why Vivek Oberoi, the actor goes there:
Background on Sabarimala
Why millions throng Sabarimala temple:
Interesting background on Ayyappan:
Beautiful Swami Ayyappan bhajan and its translation: