It is yet another blessed day and I find myself headed to Puri once again with my colleagues. We called on the Lord really early this morning to see him before they closed down the great doors for his Bhog. The temple was brimming with life characteristic of its people and activities. Bhajans echoed through the distant walls that have housed the sacred shrines for centuries together. People buzzed around from shrine to shrine seeking every inch of blessings they could gather. The rhythm of the bhajans made a couple of people hop on their toes dancing to its tunes. The divine madness of bhakti and the urge to seek the divine transformed the river of people into a force that was hard to fight as we neared the great shrine. In the chaos that followed, we caught our glimpse of the sacred lord - Jagannathji, ever smiling, ever vigilant, ever alive well within the sacred shrine.
In contrast to all the people who have dotted this landscape across so many centuries, there lay other aspects of the temple that have never left their place through all this time. An ancient tree, believed to be as old as the temple itself, stood at the witness to the timelessness of this shrine. Staring up at the great shikhara from under the shade of this gigantic tree, time seemed to come to a halt. Many like me before and many like me later will stand in exactly the same spot and stare at this temple, wondering about our impermanence in this universe. The old stone, the beaten path ways, this immortal tree, the silent sculptures were all a testimony to a larger truth about the universe we live in. I am not permanent. I have been lucky to have come here, and I will be gone soon.
We soaked in the place, we soaked in the ambiance, we soaked in the history, we soaked in the peace. Lord Jagannath had a different attire on this day. Unlike last time, where he was draped in silks that flowed over his hands, and he wore a dashing mukut of tulsi leaves, this time he was more crisply dressed, in white. His drapes were pulled back, and beautiful strips of yellow splashed across him sparsely, bringing out the nath that hung down from his nose. Yes, Jagannath wears a nose ring, or Nath. And he looks really handsome with it. It was an incredible moment to be with him again, as the spiritual energies rose. He is big, life size and vibrant giving us all the energy we need to go back and face the world but the truth is, do I really want to go back? I could live here, with him, serve him, be by his side. I soaked in the sacred fire, the silent Dhuni that dances graciously within these walls.
"Oh sweet fire, oh sacred flames of purity that stays unaffected through all the din around you...bless me and help me purify myself."
Goddess Mahalakshmi smiled back, a brilliant smile on this Friday, what a lovely moment it was. It was just another day for anyone else, but for me it as special, simply special. I connected with my divine family again, I spent few very good moments with them. I felt good. The desire to seek them is so high and yet the path is so unknown. The Lord knows what he is doing, he will take care of me. I looked back at the sacred dhuni, the flames danced into the air before they disappeared. Made me wonder, what is this fire, what is its nature, why is it so distant and unfamiliar and yet so warm and self-luminous.
With a heavy heart my darshan came to an end. Kala was acting up, I had to go back into samsara. We stepped out of the great temple. My friends took pictures at the main gate, group snaps and selfies. They were surprised to see me not inclined to a selfie of my own. I just smiled back and told them...
"My Selfie moment was inside, when I silently touched the Lord. The self has not come out from the temple. My heart stays with him. This selfie... enjoy your moment. I have gone way past that. :)"
Photo courtesy: http://images.jagran.com/images/