It's been a journey this far, one into deep spiritualism... deeper than you have been possibly, and also one of the most enriching. There is fatigue and intoxication in the mind. Fatigue because I am determined to see my divine family, in this world and in the next and my search is not quite taking me anywhere. Intoxication because they are making doubly sure this search continues and I don't give it up for any reason. I thought this was a subtle tease until I was posed with a very deep question... One that has started me on a new journey, a different journey.
The circumstances of having gone to Jagannath, of having visited the temple and experienced the depth of Neela Madhava Bhava to some degree has left me saturated with such emotion. This divine intoxication led me to take a daring trip to the remote shakthi peetha of Tara Ma and despite warning of lack of safety in the rural region of West Bengal, I dared to surrender to MA Tara and tell her to protect me.
With Lord Jagannath residing in my heart and the beckoning call of Tara Ma, I headed out of a way side hotel in Tarapith to meet her at 3:00am. They say that the form of Ma Tara actually hides a deeper potency within herself, the sacred form of her feeding Lord Shiva; but what I had thought was all there is to it 2 years ago, led me to believe there was more. This form actually hid yet another vigraham within it and it had eaten into the reserves of my unending curiosity to know what that firm really was. Yes, I had kept this hunger going for 2 years, I had made it my purpose to know what was within that which the panda so carefully had hidden away...or maybe Tara MA herself for she did want me to come back again to bathe every form of hers that I subsequently discovered.
I had been excited about performing the abhishekam of what I thought was the inner form when I realized it was but a teaser to a form deeper within it. The discovery of Tara Ma has taken me 3 visits spanning few years. And sitting in a wayside shop waiting it out for a panda left me reflecting on what a friend of mine had said the previous night.
"It's a long queue at 2:30am, that continues till 3:30 with or without a panda and we get a glimpse of the inner form for a few seconds.
But the instructions of the panda were otherwise. "Come at 3:00am and we will take you inside." Here were conflicting pieces of information, packed with added stress when the panda's wife replied to our frantic calls saying he was unwell and couldn't make it, led me to wonder what was in store. I was not going to curl up and sleep, I was going to brave it through the dark streets of the night. I was here for it and I was not going back without it.
Yet this intoxicated heart could barely wait to see her, as her intense mysticism overpowered my soul and no, no human was going to mess around with this sacred rendezvous.
With the panda's son's arrival to lead us into the temple at 4:00am, I had no clue what was lined up but the size of the offerings in the basket indicated there was a lot to be done. We waited our turn in a rather empty temple while few others were inside offering their prayers. We were called in, and I set eyes on her mysterious self, her core, the inner most idol, her potent earthly form that stood there awaiting me to bathe her.
I am particular about what thoughts cross my mind at these moments for they govern my perspective of life back in my mundane world. And in this blank mind every thought that trickles through is a potent message from my spiritual family, and I wait for the next order or pearl of wisdom.
And in the silence of the chamber, in he silent waters of my mind I heard the swirling question come towards me.
"I have given you my heart in a Saligrama, I have given you my life energy that it breathes with. I have shown you what there is to see in my earthly splendour be it at Kanchipuram, be it a Puri, be it at Lingaraja, be it at Tarapith. I have granted your wish to visit and discover everything there is to my earthly form. And now I ask, have you found me? Is this all there is to know about me? Or do you perhaps need to start looking within to go on this search?"
The question stung me hard. Go within, that's all I thought, but how and where?
I have crossed the threshold, some kind of threshold, I don't know. I have lost my anger to compassion. I have shrunk my materialism to triviality in relation to deeper faith. I have lost my expectations to forgiveness and tolerance. I have lost my earthly attachment to divine love. And now the path has opened up to go within.
The search continues but will I ever visit temples again... I don't know. They are within me and I am them. The temple out there... Maybe they will call me again if I fumble.
What a splendid lesson to learn on Shivaratri.