Woman or Goddess or -----?

Woman or Goddess or -----?

Through centuries people have been exploiting the religious sentiment of people in India , using myriad ways and means.

I wish to enlighten the readers on yet another form of religious exploitation of innocent and unhappy devotees.

Apropos to the discussion that follows, I ask the question— woman or goddess or -----?

The blank space represents the indescribable titles that so-called spiritual leaders bestow upon themselves,

or insist their devotees bestow upon them, as a further testimonial to the extent of their exploitative tendencies.

Let me begin by narrating a personal experience. The incident discussed below occurred about 20 years ago

while I was on a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi’s temple. Our group comprised of about two thousand

people who were traveling in a convoy of buses from New Delhi to Vaishno Devi. The journey was fairly

long but very well organized. The leader of the group was a highly respected lady, who was worshipped

by many as a Goddess incarnate and referred to as Mataji. During the journey, the devotees were singing

Bhajans and Bheuts in praise of Mata Vaishno Devi. The atmosphere was fully charged with strong vibrations

of devotion and excitement. The love and affection for each other was beyond explanation. It seemed as though

everyone was filled to the brim with the love of the Mother and it was over flowing.

The journey was very pleasant and we reached Jammu . On the way, wherever we stopped, people from

all the buses would come and surround Mataji, the echo and sound of Jai Kars was all pervasive.

People from nearby villages flocked to see this divine caravan passing through their area.

Once we reached Jammu , the transport authorities informed we that the Jammu Katra

road was blocked and it would take 24 hours to clear the way. So we had to stay for

the night in Jammu . Arrangements were made for our overnight stay and everybody was

pleased that they had another day to spend with Mataji. They saw this as a blessing of

Mata Vaishno Devi Mataji.

It was now noontime and everyone was told to eat something and rest and gather at 6 p.m.

for bhajans and satsang. Most of the devotees had come with their families and thought of

doing some shopping or visiting the temples of Jammu . I was in my teens and had no

company but Mataji, who really loved me dearly. So I preferred to stay with her.

I was feeling extraordinarily fortunate that I was so close to Mataji and was very happy.

I had lunch with her, and after a brief nap, we sat with a few devotees and Mataji again

gave her blessings through her spiritual knowledge. I was feeling on the top of the world

and was thanking God profusely for providing me this golden opportunity.

In the evening, the entire group gathered at an open place. A special dais was erected for

Mataji and a messenger came to escort her to the congregation. I accompanied her and

sat very close to the dais on the floor where I could easily touch her feet and she could bless me.

I was feeling especially privileged. Then bhajan kirtan started and the air was filled with melodious

music and jai jai kar of Mata Vaishno Devi. Suddenly the sound became more intense and everyone’s

attention was diverted toward Mataji. I saw her entire body and head shaking violently.

It was a strange experience for me. I thought that she had some disease and was shaking with pain.

I was puzzled that no one came forward to help her, but the devotees were loudly rendering the

jai ghosh of Mataji. Her hair was open and flowing, face was red and exhibited a strange arrogance.

Shaking violently, she threw whatever article she had at certain people. They caught those things and

cheered loudly. She repeatedly gave some more things to one of her associates, very silently and secretly.

I could see all this since I was sitting very close to her. Another thing that I observed was that she was

trying to fix her sari to cover herself as this strange episode was unfolding. I got up to help her but others

stopped me and pointed out that I should keep sitting quietly. I saw that the violent shaking of her head

and body was slowing down and she was coming back to normalcy. People were still chanting

jai mata ki but in comparatively low tones. People seated at a distance also had pushed their way

close to her and sat down very close. So my seat was taken away and I was pushed back.

Mataji began listening to people’s complaints and problems. She spoke and told them of certain

remedies to absolve them of their problems. I was surprised to hear that she was giving only one

address of a temple where people should go and donate different things for removing their troubles.

It was in the same way as when religious leaders (Pandits, Pujaris) told their devotees how many

Brahmins to feed, and to whom to give money, land or cows to feed themselves and their families.

In the same manner, this Mataji also said that some of their wishes could only be fulfilled at a certain

temple in New Delhi . Later on I came to know that the temple belonged to her. This went on for

about half an hour and then Mataji started shaking again. People made a circle around her like

soldiers so that no one could go near her. They fed her with dry fruits, offered a glass of water

and sprinkled flowers on her. Her body was fully drenched with perspiration and she was lying

like a lifeless or exhausted person. All fans were directed toward her. Everyone gazed at her

with folded hands and filled with devotion, as she lay semiconscious. The people were now

serving her and were trying to bring her back. Then she sat and started distributing prasad,

which people took with great devotion.

Finally, she stood up and very proudly raised both her hands to bless the public and went

 inside the room with her special devotees. Everyone was talking and praising her powers.

Then I asked the devotees that what had happened to Mata ji. They told me in reverent

tones that Mata Vaishno Devi had entered Mataji’s body for our benefit. I felt blessed that

I had virtually seen Mata Vaishno Devi with my own eyes. My devotion increased manifold.

The next morning we reached Katra where several thousand people were already awaiting their

journey to Mata Vaishno Devi. Our group also joined them and we began climbing the rocky path.

People’s devotion and excitement was beyond words. Everyone— young and old, men and women

were loudly chanting jai karo and ascending the difficult path.  My trust and faith were multiplying

with every step that I took toward the temple. I saw handicapped people and little children climbing

with such devotion that their love for Mata Vaishno Devi seemed to hold a magical quality to it.

We reached Ardh Kumwari and passed through a narrow crooked cave called Garbh Joon.

That was a miracle in itself since people of all sizes, the largest and the smallest, could pass

through the cave with equal ease.

Then we advanced towards Sanjhi Chat. The path was becoming steeper with each step.

But no one was fatigued. Mataji was also walking with us. Devotees were always ready to

help her in whatever she needed. They felt as though Mata Vaishno Devi was walking along

with them. We were all singing to the beat of the drum, dancing and chanting jai karas.

Our group reached the most sacred place, Mataji Ka Bhawan. After resting for a while,

everyone bathed with the ice-cold water and then we were especially taken toward the back door.

Mataji was famous there too and had influence on the Mahants. She was given special treatment.

The head priest of the temple was with us. We all received special privilege and we had the fortune

of worshipping Mata Vaishno Devi with great devotion. My love and devotion was overwhelming.

After the special darshan, Mataji told everyone to enjoy some recreational time and meet at Katra

 in the evening. I again stayed with Mata ji. When she went in her room to rest, I remembered that

my Gurudev has given me the name and address of a Mahant whom I was supposed to contact here.

 I went to the office of the management of the temple and enquired about him. I discovered that he

 was the same person who had escorted our group and helped us to do darshans in a very open and

congenial atmosphere. I gave him my Guruji’s reference and he took me around to show me all the

arrangements at the temple that are not open to the general public. Then he took me to his house.

This entire time one question was bothering me. I asked him with great respect and devotion,

“Mahantji, is it possible that such a powerful Mata Vaishno can enter into the body of an ordinary

human being and show herself so clearly to her devotees? Can she prescribe remedies, as Pandits do,

to feed Brahmins, donate this at this place and to a particular faith? If she is really Mata Vaishno Devi,

incarnate or manifest, why should she have to resort to remedies? A look from her should suffice to

remove all troubles.” He began laughing at me as though I was an ignorant child. He counter questioned me.

“What do you think what your knowledge or education tells you about this?” I explained that I was

confused and needed know to be enlightened on this subject. He began explaining things to me.

While talking about Mata Vaishno Devi, it appeared as though he was watching Her right in front

of him. My inner curiosity became absolutely satisfied. His explanation was beautiful without the usage

of any offensive, disrespectful words. He explained the glories of Mata Vaishno Devi in a way that placed

Her right in front of me. I was drowned in the beauty and grace of Mataji. I felt her everywhere around me.

My life became purposeful. I was experiencing total joy. I thanked him profusely and returned to our rest house.

In the evening our group walked down to Katra. I was totally submerged in a certain ecstasy and was walking

as if in trance. Everyone gathered at Katra and we decided that at night the buses would start the return journey

to Jammu . But before that a Bhajan Sabha was organized for the evening. I again occupied my favorite seat close

to the dais and to Mataji. Bhajan Kirtan commenced and she was singing and chanting along with everyone and

enjoying herself immensely.

Suddenly, I noticed that some of her close associates had gathered all pooja samagree such as flowers,

prasad etc in advance, and were ready for Mata Vaishno’s entrance into her body. It was clearly indicative

that all arrangements were pre-planned. Mataji summoned some of her more trusted devotees in front.

She inspected the gathering in a very strange manner and found everyone in place. She started singing again.

Suddenly her body started shaking violently again. According the sound of the chanting, the jai karas also

become more intense and fast. But I was very skeptical of the entire scene. A strange feeling of distrust had

entered my head. I was suspicious of the reality of Mata’s entry into Mataji’s body and wanted to test this

phenomenon for my satisfaction. I wanted to verify whether Mata Vaishno Devi has really entered Mataji’s

body and was giving solutions to people’s problems. I needed proof and determined that if indeed she was

divinely entered, Mataji’s soul was out of her body and would therefore not feel any pleasure pr pain, or

 awareness of anyone’s presence or the fact of her sari not being in place. My brain was working fervently

to establish the truth. I took out a needle from my pocket. When everyone was fully engrossed in Mataji

and her devotees, I gathered courage and pricked her feet with the needle. The moment she felt the prick,

she screamed loudly and slapped me with all her might. She called me names and became absolutely

unaware that she had stopped trembling and that people were watching her. Quite suddenly, Mata

Vaishno Devi vanished and an ordinary woman with all her arrogance and weaknesses was exposed.

People were bewildered at such behavior. They wondered why she stopped answering question in that

mysteriously spiritual voice and started abusing this boy whom she loved so dearly.

Then I stood up and told them what I had done to prove that there was no Mata Vaishno Devi in her and

she had merely been acting. I said I wanted to know how, if Mata Vaishno Devi was in her body, she

could feel pain? How could she react like an ordinary and even lowly woman and start slapping and abusing me?

 If she had powers, she could destroy me with just one look; I had dared to test her power.

If she had divine powers, why did she make constant reference to only one temple seeking donations?

Mata Vaishno Devi could solve problems b merely raising an eyebrow!

The above episode is one illustration of how individuals exploit innocent masses to meet their own

selfish ends. I just want to make my readers aware of the fact that saints and sages have spent centuries

in penance in order to acquire an iota of power. It takes centuries to describe Mata Vaisho Devi’s powers.

Is it so easy to tolerate that supreme energy, cause of the cause, creator of the universe, destroyer of the universe,

 and operator of the universe to enter into the body of an ordinary human being? It is hard to explain the

magnanimity of that power. Millions of galaxies together and their stars may lighten all at once; the light of all those

 galaxies together will be dim in front of Her light. Is it possible to tolerate that power in any human body?

People do bhakti (devotion) and meditation, which when brought to certain levels of intensity gives them certain

limited powers called Sidhi’s or Vaksidhi or Mohini. These are actually obstacles in the way of further spiritual

progress. Sadhaks (practitioners) use these petty accomplishments to start displaying these powers as little miracles.

But in reality they are harming themselves. They are consuming the bank balance without further addition.

 They misguide people, insulting super natural powers and creating misconceptions about Dharma (faith).

What an irony it is that these con artists summon Mataji whenever they want, make Her solve certain problems

or curse people, and then at their bidding She supposedly departs! This can be understood in India to some

extent since large numbers of people continue to be illiterate. But I am surprised to see such exhibition of

ignorance in America as well. Some one has Kali Ma (whom even Lord Shankar could not control) in their

bodies, others have Jawala Ma, Chintpurni, and some even claim to be possessed by Baba Balak Nath. It is

 up to you to believe in all these or not.

I pay my obeisance to the Lord residing in all of you and wish that you remain on the right path with His divine guidance.