As the black, black crow strutted to the earthern urn full of brimming water, I realized the thirst I had in me.
As the golden dome of the sanctum sanatorium of the temple gleamed in late morning glow, I realized that my thirst was as demanding as that of the crow.
As the crow dunked its head into the brimming pot and drank thirstly from it it sprayed a few droplets of water, refreshing itself. Earlier it satiated its hunger on the few grains of cooked rice scattered on the sacrificial stones. The sacrificial stones were called bali kallu. The rite was called bhoota bali meant to propitiate the temple spirits and lesser deities.
The crow drank of the water and pecked the balls of cooked rice and hopped from one stone to another not perturbed either by the priests or the other crows.
I was just a new priest at the small temple near my home. I had gotten married newly.
When I was younger and dipped with the fire of sacrifice, I had sought many great men who told me about temple rituals, sancity and its importance in a society.
That’s how, I a carpenter, sought the sacred and donned a sacred thread, not just to carve wood or create a door but to don the robes of a temple priest.
Even as I was young, my eyes used to glaze and grew dreamy before a lit lamp. The lamp flames used to lead me to worlds I never knew. People thought I was epileptic or diabetic. But it was just hunger.
When my hunger grew and the superstitions of the people grew, I devised an idea to chant spells, utilizing superstitions in people. I then would create incantations on thread to people. A black thread of incantation for the to ward off evil eye on the young belle, against straying eyes; yet another for a fair chubby baby who might be the apple of any mothers eye, another ……so it grew…But the coffers were still not so full and I couldn’t satiate the desires of the people. So the thirsts grew.
Then, I spotted an yellow fair girl plump and chubby. Not quite my taste, but yet, I thought she would do! I asked her to get bronze or brassware from her home! Rich girl and that too shining in the sunlight. She said no firmly. Then I sided a few men who supported me greedily. Let this girl be made a living deity. I tolled the bells whenever she came. Beautifully clad. Pretty girl. Long straight hair too. I can marry her too? With sidelong eyes eyes most old wise women complied. Yes!
I had a long way from where I started from. I never then asked ‘Am I living it right?’
I do now.
People started talking and I seriously thought of marrying the plump girl. But it was only a dream.
It was then my parents intervened and married me to an younger girl. At first, I was sad. So was my bride. Then, I realized what happiness was, being man and wife. My wife surpassed my expectations and we were supremely happy to find that she was carrying! We lived in our own world like two fishes intertwining and playing around in our pond! We cared less about the world.
But soon reality jolted me out from our little world. I realized the hunger in me was gone. But the crows pecking and drinking from the water realized the real hunger in me. It was a hunger to be spiritual and the need to ask whether I am living it right. Whether the ordinary people living around me were living it right.
Then I realized what was being done in my absence. The girl was about to be coronated as a living deity by some business man surrounding and associated with the temple. Who were these people? Just some businessmen and workmen who wanted to make a quick money by making her a godwoman and marrying her to gather more believers to the temple. I was aghast!
I went to my wife and parents rather put off. Then it was my wife who asked the question to me and my parents: Are we living it right? What if I had been in her position? Her thoughts shook us. Yes. We had almost killed a lady’s life in our greed!
We delved deeper. Then we realized that she was not just a girl but a highly educated lady of thirty five who still looked young and innocent and unsullied!
What was more to be done was that she was also affianced to a distinguished gentleman who held power lightly but had drifted apart with time. We delved deeper, my wife, parents, a few trusted men and I. Due to some technological and political hitch they could not reach out to each other. The affianced people were simply not able to reach each other.
My still pregnant wife realized the situation immediately. She was young but educated and wise. She reached out to each person in our neighbourhoods and communities. Then she rallied women around. The lady also tearfully complied. She realized that it was not just her but a great many girls like her who were being victimized and made into godwomen to attract people to temples and so called ashrams (unlike real seats of knowledge). So gurus also kept quiet because there was a need to stave off people from just religion to spirituality. Even ashramities had some limitations.
This was when the people realized that it could be their daughters or fiancées next. They immediately took action calling up and questioning their conscience. My wife, young girl that she was not alone and who had a conscienceand not the only one. Nor I .
We questioned ourselves. Espercially me. What if I myself had not questioned me?!
I realized that education had spread far and wide. People in the community were literate. They mobilized a movement to reach the ears of the her fiancée and also of potential victims like them.
The movement took the shape of a revolution in bringing real bhakti to temples and spreading education.
The lady’s affianced was also able to reach out to her by the simple movement; the revolution in places of worship and homes by the simple question of asking ‘am I living it right” and doing it right despite economic pressures and biowarfare happening in the world.
It was a small step for the lady and her fiancée. It was just a simple wedding amidst a major pandemic.
My wife, my parents, me and other men like me and other older and younger men and boys, girls quiet or not, adolescents and teen agers professional and workmen swept away in what was a people’s revolution! Took off by asking each one to oneself and others a single question “ Am I living it right?”.
My wife birthed. A girl and a boy. That was how Satwati and Yashaswi were born. To love and to be loved, to ask and be asked…one resounding question…. Am I living it right ? !
The revolution took off all around the world!......Am I living it right?
Am I living it right??!!