Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Childhood Memories :)

Sharing memories of the past...
Ancestral home in Pune
My grandfather was a staunch follower of Jainism, with all the rigidities it entails. We had a temple, a separate room on the second floor of our ancestral house in Pune, full of very old antique Jain idols, some more than 2500 years old, made from panchdhatu (five metals). The day would begin with all temple rituals, bathing and anointing the idols with sandalwood paste, silver vark and roses, chanting, pooja, aarti etc.. My grandpa would spend almost 2-2.5 hours in the mandir and all of us (grandkids:)) would hang around him, wanting to share the duties, very enthusiastically. The room would be full of the fragrance of chandan, roses and incense sticks and a very peaceful and divine atmosphere permeated the room. This was my schedule for summer holidays each year till my grandfather passed away. Now the idols are in a temple my grandfather got built near Pune.

Plus he had an extensive library at home, full of religious and spiritual books, and huge paintings of our Tirthankaras (five kids of my size at that time would fit each of those paintings ;) Being very young I always enjoyed seeing all the pictures of the various Gods and Goddesses and our Tirthankaras, those who are said to have attained Nirvana (the word rings a bell, doesn’t it!!:) Stories with grandpa were always about religion, gods and associated things. To add, he had studied law in England and had been actively associated with the freedom movement. He made my grandma study after they got married and encouraged that all the children in the family studied well at a time when Marwari families were just involved with grain, money lending, jewellery and oil businesses, and children, especially girls, were hardly encouraged to study :)

Hell and Moksha
As a kid (the 5-10 years old period) the most interesting book for me from my grandpa’s collection was a small book which had pictures of hell.. :))) In that you could see people being boiled in oil, made to lie on beds of thorns and nails, throats being slit, and lots of well..... The memories have dimmed now but I wondered whether it was true and would ask my grandfather, 'Where is this place and why are people sent here'? And he would point out that if we did wrong actions (he would list a few things) we would be sent there. Don’t know why, but I was never scared of the pictures or the fact that I would have to see hell, maybe I was too confident that I never did or would do anything wrong. :)

Jainism has typical concepts about heaven, hell, paap, punya, moksha, nirvana and a lot more…I would ask him what 'Moksha' was – “It’s a place from where we don't come back again to this world,” he would say.(freedom from birth n death). And my innocent questions would continue - How do we go there? Can we see the place? Is it on some other planet? He passed away before I was mature enough to really understand and learn what he had studied and learnt in so much of detail for the most part of the 84 odd years that he lived. Maybe today he would have given me his experiential perspective, which I was too young to understand then.

My Learnings
I feel the things I was exposed to at a very young age, have been instrumental in shaping my attitude towards religion and spirituality. I am neither in favour nor against idol worship, because now I look at it from another angle. I feel the very process of idol worship, decorations, and chanting combined together is simply a way of being in the ‘present.’ The idols are made so beautiful and attractive (like in Durga Puja), that your mind doesn’t wander. The absence of any other thoughts! How many of those doing idol worship are able to do it, that’s the key. One can do away with all the ritualistic aspects and still explore the divinity in the present moment…
Not to say that I have met people, who are extremely ritualistic but the deep moral values of forgiveness, compassion and love are not at all reflected in the way they conduct themselves in society. Maybe it’s just about our capacity of learning..

Faith and Doubt
The level of doubting and skepticism about spirituality, spiritual people, personal beliefs and a higher power guiding our actions has always been very low with me…. :) I am able to easily accept the fact that people can have faith in a guru, a particular place of worship and even a piece of stone and have seen numerous miracles simply based on faith. However, I also feel the strength of our faith depends on how strongly our inner voice guides us and how much of it we are able to hear. Dependent on the intensity of our quest for the truth!

I also believe that "If one has a pure heart, one is sure to attract the best, wherever one is! And people with negative or evil tendencies will not even be able to come near" :)


  1. Such a big post! That's a treat!!! :)

    I just heard Guruji saying, "The company of free makes you free". You must be lucky to have such a grandfather.

    Nice to know about your childhood and thoughts. :)

  2. :) It's such a delight to know you read what I write with so much interest.. It's a great feeling. Thanks:)
    Big one, coz am travelling this month, so nothing coming up till I am back...

  3. I rememeber one more thing that Guruji says: When we meditate, our past and future generations both benefit.. I feel blessed to have had Bade papa, my grandpa, and feel I am reaping the benfits of his efforts...:) JGD

  4. " nothing coming up till.."
    I was afraid of that!

    "I am reaping the benefits of his efforts"
    And so will your grandchildren! :)

  5. Christmas.....:) Am sure wil be writing a NEW YEAR post...
    Grandchildren - lol :)))

  6. This post was super cool...

    N ya...
    the comments about Grand-Children hahahaha

  7. took me to the memory lane.
    we are into a society where fortifications of dos and donts are prevalent. they stay the rest of the life. very hard to change.