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.