The lost joy of being a Brahmin Priest

In the ancient days priesthood was a very prized position and was not earned merely by birth, it was earned by hard work and excellent education in the deep roots of ancient philosophy. But as all things change, this too changed for the worse.

Time, need and desire have changed the overall landscape of this divine profession. There doesn’t appear to be too much pride in this role any more as it is clouded by the deadly imagery of corruption, greed and complete disrespect for the divine. Incidentally these men are the keepers of the faith and sadly they had not lived up to divine or mortal expectations. I have had very sad experiences with current day Brahmin priests, and like every other person walking to the temples with some hope, my desires towards a drop of enlightenment have been massacred too within these ancient walls, leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth towards my own faith. While most of us end up cursing the faith itself and search for our own warped inner peace, the only way I have known that works for my temperament is to believe extremely deeply in the faith but disqualify the current keeper of it. The bottom line being, I am the keeper of this faith at this time and it is my duty to learn it for myself and not depend on anyone for it. 

But I have wondered about the role itself and often felt the urge to want to learn the science of it. I have taken active interest to learn ritual to some degree to my personal satisfaction and have also fallen prey to the disease of "How things should be done" as compare to "What are these things and why are they done that way". I don’t have the answers to everything, but yes I have chosen not to question everything in order to believe it, because I know, if I wait for an answer and not practice in the mean time, I will just lose precious time and that is not good. Hence I am a believer, and I love the rule of discipline and orthodoxy consciously because I know, its the only way to reign my wandering mind back into my "divine" self. I have chosen this path.

And this decision has set my mind thinking many times. What if I was blessed to be a Brahmin priest in the ancient days... how would I have been?   

I would have considered myself the luckiest. The joy of this role speaks for itself. While in these times it is a job that reeks of corruption, deceit, and utter selfish motive with no adoration towards the Lord incarnate, the original purity of this role was well worth several lifetimes.

The moments of spiritual bliss, the pockets of joy dotting my day would be in the rigorous worship of the Lord from the early hours of the morning to the late hours of the evening. What a wonderful moment it would be to enter into the sacred garbha griha as if it was my own home and chant sweet words of adoration to his being that rests within these thick walls of time. The gabha griha otherwise is forbidden ground, for only the pure can enter. Its ironical that in these times, one has to be pure physically while the mind festers the darkest poisons within itself!

Lighting the lamps and pouring the oil to keep that divine flame alive, bathing the Lord in traditional abhishekam and dressing Him in his royal robes and decorating Him with beautifully woven garlands of flowers and vilva leaves...I would eagerly wait for this moment everyday and when it becomes the main task of my life to spend these living hours with Him, wouldn’t I be truly blessed?

To have a feeling of divine ownership, to be the ever present servant of the Lord during my living hours, to be the keeper of His home, to be the cook for his daily meal that He blesses as Prasadam, to sing to Him and pour sprinkles of Bhakti in these divine tunes, to hold up the divine light of Arti and see Him up close in all his grandeur, what more can I ask of life.

It would be joyous to share the divine light with any bhakta who came to His doorstep, it would be a pleasure to explain the divine doctrine and enlighten people to understand His presence within this idol and its significance. It would be inner happiness while I contribute to the community to teach this knowledge to all who are interested. How then can I ask for money blatantly when others would like to share this joy? How then can I be rude when a bhakta attempts to learn more about His divinity? How then can I sell my knowledge to perform rites for a few hundred bucks? How can I cheat people of their inner peace when they come to meet the Lord? And finally how can I ever face the Lord the next day when I come back into his chamber...until I have killed the life in him and consider him just a stone and my knowledge is just part of a text book and left me with no wisdom... when I have not spent my time doing my fair share of Vichara?

Priesthood is a definite path to heaven, if the path is chosen and lived well. While the path starts in the lines of religion, it slowly converts to spiritualism. My time and consciousness is always towards the Lord, my mind stops taking this as a regular job but starts working on the lines of contemplation i.e. Vichara. He is always there and yet not that close for me to feel Him, He plays with my mind, a silent game of hide and seek and leave me a whole lifetime to learn and understand him. He gives me all that is needed, the environment, the divine scriptures, and the constant time that I need to serve Him and its now my turn to realize the true value of what lies in front of me. My only magic portion is Bhakti and when I sing in its tunes, my spiritual path lights up before me... I am now a true bhakta. I am no longer a priest; I am Shiva, pure divine consciousness.


JC said...

While wishing all a Happy New Year, 'Priest', ie, 'Pujari', is derived from the word 'Pujya', ie, one could perhaps, say, the one who acts as a link between (common) man and God (Jan- Gan- man), the formless creator-perpetrator-destroyer the one and only three-in-one GOD!
And, the highly elevated souls among our ancestors, the 'Brahmins' (who realised the Truth, Satya or Sat the essence of the infinite universe) found Him/ She/ It to reside within all, and said "Aham Brahmasmi", ie 'I' am Him/ Her/ It!

Raju said...

God is bound to mantras and Brahmans possess them, so god always very easily accessible to Brahmans...and the greatness of temple depends on the priest who work there, because of whose shradhdha devotees can have the darshan of the god n can move forward in their spiritual path etc if any.,....some where i read....
how ever the entire world is currently under the blind path of west marketing. even few of the best minds of our land forgot to follow our language, customs,heritage. best example of it is wearing jeans in deserts also.
Temple reflects the greatness of Hinduism. unlike other religions where Christians who just speaks or sings or muslims who just say , god is like void, Hinduism says that we can see the god like you and me. and in temples we do avahana of god, invite god to stay there. without any second thought its confirm that god is there in all the temples ready to bless us.But many common folks forgot that all they are simple creatures or worms like in front of the great god. many people forgot that the great god can give us anything including Moksha.
In olden days of india if somebody wants to do above his capacity, takes mantra deeksha from a guru and they pray/deeksha that godess/god as required and they used to get anything they want, how ever they have to be positive to avoid any negative happenings in future, we forgot all these and sing the songs of west, celebrate the festivals of west....change is coming fast...and the golden age starts again very soon....

JC said...

Hi Shri Raju, Kavitha,,, It's a matter of belief and faith in the existence of the one and only source of unending sound energy expressed by letter 'O', possible in mortal humans only if one were to have unlimited capacity in the lungs, to store breath, ie, 'Air'!!! Which alas! is not true and hence addition or yoga, ie, fusion of letter 'm' to 'O'... and thus Ekantvad to Dwaitwad the duplicity (+/-) apparent in 'Nature'...

Thus 'Om'the 'beej mantra' (Cosmic hum) to connect with the formless unborn and unending creator, expressed by the three-letter-word GOD (Nirgun, ie, inert 'O' in the middle of Generator and Destroyer) in the 'west',,, and as Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh the three-in-one creator-perpetrator-destroyer, ie, Treyambakeshwar: symbolically represented by Shivlingas made of material representing the formless SHIV the immortal responsible for the thoughts received in animal brains, different from each other as per a GRAND DESIGN, to reflect the evolution of pure energy, to start with, in to a grand variety of forms,,, expressed in the simple and entertaining story related to "Churning of Milky-Ocean under the supervision of Brihaspati, ie, Jupiter" (essence at the navel of Vishnu/ humans out of which believably evolved SUN, ie, Brahma the creator of physical forms, seated on a lotus flower, essence at the solar plexus!)... and so on...

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Anonymous said...

Hello Kavita, I stumbled upon this by chance. I found some lines very revealing. The choice of the word, " profession" for priests. The conclusion that one should find it out for oneself and just disqualify the gatekeepers.

One thing I have realised in this process is that the very seeking is the losing of it. In stillness alone is it.

The seeking reinforces the seeker. When the seeker is, the other will not be.

Vino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vino said...

What a beautiful article! I was so immersed as I read each word as I completely share your feelings. I have been following your blog for a long time now..about 4 yrs but never left a comment, but have always felt how similar our lines of thought are. I admire how you can write such amazing poetry describing God and your devotion to Him. I wish I had the same talent to express myself. You are indeed lucky to be living in India and hence have the opportunity to visit the ancient gems of temples. I was born abroad and also living abroad but do visit India now and then and take the opportunity to visit as many ancient temples as possible. Do continue writing and feeding our souls with the joys of loving God and being one with Him!

JC said...

Hi Vino, 'I' read Osho say, to the effect, that a realiation cannot be expressed in words. However, man being a social animal, words are needed to communicate one's feelings to others. But, any numbers of words used might not be sufficient...

Ancient Hindus, however said that for a 'wise' person, only a hint might suffice!

Best wishes for a happy year 2012 (that sounds like 'to 012', formless and Sun & Moon!)...

Kavitha said...

Thank you Vino, for finally dropping in a comment after so long :). And thanks for the comment, I felt really nice reading it.


JC said...

Kavitha, I agree that the presentation is moving... However, you can say that every seeker has a goal, of reaching the unseen, the one and only formless being that only matters...

However, human life is like a maze, say a Ludo-like game of possibly reaching the goal in a few steps only through ladders at certain locations, if only one is lucky... But also possibility of being pulled down due to snakes, placed at certain particular locations...

And, reaching the goal is determined by the throw of two cubical dices, each having six possible numbers (six-faced Kartikeya, or Parvati's 'skandh' or shoulder, the favourite son of Neelkanth Shiva, responsible for 'material' that is indicted evolved at the end of the first stage of 'churning' when poison was either consumed by Shiva, or consumed some of the devtas and rakshasas, both!
It was only after Parvati creating Ganesha, responsible for the 'spiritual', to keep Shiva the Destroyer at bay and grant immortality to devtas, ie, members of our solar system... and so on...

Vino said...

Hi Joshi Uncle,
Thank you for those comforting words. And wish you & family and Kavitha & family a very Happy new year and Pongal!

Sharat Shastri said...

Nice to have come across this blog!

I can understand your thorough disappointment with Brahmins nowadays. As one myself who was chastised to grow up in a “secular” way, it took me quite many number of years and discussions to realize why we have become what we have become today.

Vanishing Culture of Learning

We were supposed to learn anything for the pure thrill and the kick of it, and thereby transform us in that selfless learning in the service of God. Once practical matters chipped in, things changed for the worse.

Andre Weil, a brilliant Jewish mathematician, visited India in 1930 and stayed for nearly two years. Before he arrived, one day, his mentor, Sylvan Levi called Weil up. “Are you serious about going to India?”

Weil: “Of course.”

Levi: “Would you be willing to teach French civilization?”

Weil: “French or any other, I don’t care; to go to India I’d teach anything they want.”

Honestly tell me, will anyone have Weil’s motivation to come to today’s India? It was through Weil that I learnt the story of Satyakama Jabala of Chandogya Upanisad, and the greatest virtue of a Brahmin: honesty.

Anand said...

Wondeful and excellent article.

Pusshkaran Thirumudhukundram Venkatesan said...

செம்மையே திருநாளைப் போவார்க்கும் அடியேன்!

வார்கொண்ட வனமுலையாள் உமைபங்கன் கழலே
மறவாது கல்லெறிந்த சாக்கியர்க்கும் அடியேன்!

என்னவனாம் அரனடியே அடைந்திட்ட சடையன்
இசைஞானி காதலன் திருநாவ லூர்க்கோன்
அன்னவனாம் ஆரூரன் அடிமைகேட் டுவப்பார்!

Wondering on Sundarar devotion!

Pusshkaran Thirumudhukundram Venkatesan said...

வார்கொண்ட வனமுலையாள் உமைபங்கன் கழலே
மறவாது கல்லெறிந்த சாக்கியர்க்கும் அடியேன்!

என்னவனாம் அரனடியே அடைந்திட்ட சடையன்
இசைஞானி காதலன் திருநாவ லூர்க்கோன்
அன்னவனாம் ஆரூரன் அடிமைகேட் டுவப்பார்
ஆரூரில் அம்மானுக் கன்ப ராவாரே!

Sundarar's friendship with Our Siva is the way!