Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Robbed in Gokul

That was supposed to be a quiet and devotional trip to the Gokul-Vrindavan-Mathura circuit with my complete family uniting after a long time. My parents had come over from Muzaffarpur and my elder brother did manage to join. We started early morning from Gurgaon in a cab booked for the whole day. It took us maybe 3 hours to reach the place. But when we were there we had no idea what to do now. The 3 places mentioned were in a radius of around 10-12 kms and even the driver had no idea about the place. So we decided to take some local help. Help was all there waiting for us. Some people who seemed to be like guides hovered around our car. We had no other option other than to ask for directions.

The guides seemed to be nice. They told us about the directions in which the towns were located from that point. After proving that they are not all bad, they asked us to take a guide. In order to avoid them we told them that there wasn't much space in the car with 4+driver already seated. They suggested to take a junior guide who would fit our requirement, i mean car without using much space. The price quoted for the service of whole day was Rs 20. Much to my dismay it was decided that we will take the guide and he will travel with us hence forth practically in my lap.

Anyway he suggested that we move towards Gokul first. After some fifteen minutes of drive on the highway we entered the real Gokul. It was very sad to see that a place which is known to be a witness to all the bal-leelas and raas-leelas of Krishna in such sorry state. When we reached the residence of the Nand's who had adopted Krishna we were showed around their huge house. We were asked to bow to every other object or structure there. After showing us around the guide said took us to the door of what looked like a shrine or a prayer hall. Not much was visible inside from the entrance. He asked us all to sit down and gave us some instructions. That shrine was under government control and a freelancer guide like him wasn't allowed inside those doors while on duty. Once inside were not supposed to have the Darshan standing, our shadow shouldn't fall on the idols. We weren't supposed to throw money on the shrine, we were supposed to pay the Chadhawa and get the receipt for that. It all sounded very authentic. We had to leave the guide at the gate and as we entered the hall. It was a carpeted room which could accommodate around 100 devotees at bhajan time. At one end was something looking like a shrine behind the curtain. Near that was a small Aasan on that a Pujari. As usual a heavy and bearded person. He welcomed us and asked us to sit. He said we had come at a very good time as we were alone and could offer our Puja in peace. He repeated the exact words as said by our guide. As if they have memorized it from a common script, funny. I couldn't understand what attributed to this, strict and clear regulations or a set-up! We sat in an orientation suggested by the Pujari which was Mummy Papa sitting in front row and i sitting with bro behind, thus getting kind of getting a low preference in the process. After that he began with our introduction to the gods. Kind of went through our origins and current names and also told us about the importance of the place. THIS was supposed to be the exact coordinate were Yashoda brought up Krishna. As if it is the same house, could be. How I am supposed to know. We still have n'th generation Bodhi tree in Gaya! What's important is the sanctity of this place. Then he came to the point in a very straight forward manner. Options of Daan you can do to the shrine so that he opens the curtains for you and takes you through the shrine letting you touch the feet of the stone idols which are sitting there and waiting for people like us. The lowest would be 501/- then there were options about 2 grands and 5 grands.

I was shocked. Finally realized what the setup was all about. It wasn't flawless but we were in it. Had it not been for being with family, either I would have taken trouble with the people there, or walked out of the place fearing to get into the darker side of the whole thing. But I was sitting in that very place where Krishna was brought up(?) and with my parents who are quite religious at the same time aware of all the malpractices which go on in the backdrop. What is important to understand here is the paramount sanctitude of the place. It was an awfully uncomfortable situation. Without causing any disrespect to anyone or anything my father asked whether was any other option. That $#@$ smiled and said that you are wealthy and successful by god's grace. The contribution you make will only go to feed N poor people and M cows!!! Its all government fixed rates. Lacking experience in handling such demands shelled out the lowest fees we had to pay to see the god. The moment this happened I could feel the rush of blood in my head. I was feeling tied down on earth and being road-rolled. Awful...

After the payment was made, the Puja and the proceedings continued but the world wasn't the same again. As I was mechanically do the processes to complete the Puja I was only thinking about how we got duped. I could not hear to what people were saying around me. I felt humiliated. I could hear the Pujari laughing at his success within his own. After we were done, we left the place with a box of sweets and i was trying to divide 501 by the no. of sweets to get the how much is each sweet worth! It was expensive.

As directed by the guide we moved towards Mathura next. We had to trace back the road and we soon reached the place where we had found that crook, i mean guide. He said, please proceed to Mathura temple without me as we aren't allowed at all inside the premises of the Janmabhumi stepping down from the car he asked for his fees... 20/- My father put his point that the contract wasn't over as we were yet to see mathura and vrindavan, to which he said, "don't worry, you will find me here when you come back from mathura." And we stuck to our point that "fine, get your money then". And as the taxi moved ahead, he made no attempts to stop us. He was happy letting us go. This was the last bit of proof required of the fact that he had his fat commission in the 501/- we handed over to the fat bas**** in Gokul. No poor people and no poor cows to be fed, :D.

Well that's not the end of the story! After mathura we reached Vrindavan where we got another guide for 20/-. He took us to show a lot of places before taking us to a temple and gave us similar instructions. Well not similar, EXACTLY the same instructions! This time I was like, "oh, no, not again". Again creating a similar ambiance when Papa was asked for the option he choses to, he simply and politely said, "we have made a similar contribution already. I can't pay that much again, but will like to donate a smaller amount at my own will" :P Nice. Simply meant, we have been fooled once, not again. Just want to pay the fees which I think this temple deserves. The priest asked where we did that and then completed the rites in a haste and accepted whatever Papa offered. Obviously he didn't have to fake a receipt and note our names and address in his book as was done earlier. As soon as we walked out, he called out for our guide and in words we couldn't hear, expressed his anger. After being scolded by the priest for bringing low value customers the guide asked us, "you have already been to Gokul?" and his expression added "why didn't you tell me." We were taken to another place and his enthusiasm showed a remarkable decline. Soon we had to part, and this time the guide did make a point to collect his fees :)


Voice said...

har religious sthan ki yahi kahani hai

waise when i accused some of these pandas i got some replies which i liked

~yaha thagane ke liye hi log ate hai.

~bhaiya, kitne kanjus hai. (some 4 5 year old girl selling mala told me in very cute way)

the point is woh log jo log (jaise ki humare mummy papa) waha jate hai unhe pata rehta hai panda/pandit thagenge fir bhi jaate hai kyu?? i asked this question many a times to myself... i got no reply.
probably this is called being blinded by faith.. shraddha

possessive aunt:) said...

u know what? sometimes ur stories are riddled with grammatical errors;) but u know what? reading ur stories is like reading tinkle heavily doused in panchatantra. i really enjoyed reading all of them, trust me! so simple, yet so profound. the message is unmistakably there, Mr. didactic. and how! u tell your tales with remarkable simplicity and honesty. enough praise?;)