Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Rings of Saturn

“So what happened to Hanuman Jee, Shiv Jee and all those deities that we used to worship” I asked out of curiousity. 

“Arre they are still here and are worshipped but Shani Dev is the one who is worshipped the most” The Auto wallah replied.
“Strange..! Anyways drop me here. I’ll call up someone to pick me up” I replied.
“Sure Sir” He said and the Auto came to a halt in no time. I paid the bill and he turned around with a sheepish grin.
I was relatively new to this place, Gurgaon - The Heart of Information Technology in North India. And it was a Saturday. I saw people pouring in the Shani Dev temples on the way with their Audis and BMWs and Beetles parked outside the temples. I also saw beggars, mostly kids roaming around near the red lights with a bucket in hand. Buckets full of oil and inside the buckets there were statues of Shani Dev half submerged in the oil. Being born and brought up in a religious Brahmin family, I have a natural inclination towards religion and spirituality so I was more than happy to drop a coin or two in the buckets but then they were everywhere. The Air-conditioned sedans and SUVs opened their panes and every time a hand came out, a hand with an expensive wrist watch sometimes or sometimes with a gold bracelet or sometimes the hands were bare but the lushness of the hairs on them or just the muscular roundness suggested those belonged to rich men and those rested in pockets which were very deep. Those hands kept on dropping the coins into one bucket and then another on one red light and then another to one beggar and then to another.

I was curious; does this bucket full of oil haunt the possessors of these rich hands? All I knew about Shani dev was that he was the god of planet Saturn, represented the seventh day of a week “Saturday”, and was son of Lord Surya (Sun God) as per the Hindu Mythology. So what’s this Shani obsession with Gurgaon people? No online article could answer my query. I tried asking people, pundits, beggars but they were clueless; all they knew was that people here were obsessed with Shani. Begging in the name of Shani was already a thriving business and the entrepreneurs didn’t care to find the root cause for it.
The answer lied in the behavior of Shani. Shani is the imparter of justice; unlike other gods Shani doesn’t give you health, wealth, success and love. The best Shani can do is to leave you at your current state. If Shani is at his merriest best, he wouldn’t harm you. In smaller towns and villages and places we pray for love, luck, money and sanity and in places like Gurgaon why do we have to pray for staying safe and unharmed?
This answer lied in the richness of Gurgaon. As our wallets get deeper, our hearts become shallower and thoughts narrower. In the quest of money (can be read as power, position, and status) we end up being “Beings”; the “Human” part is a small fee that we have to pay to achieve that being. We conspire at people’s back and don’t hesitate in sticking a dagger right inside the chest of our opponents whenever need be. We call this competition, we call this professional rivalry. Everyone want their silver credit cards to transform into transform into Platinums and Titaniums. Everyone want their passports to get thicker, everyone want their Bikes to convert into Cars, their Shimla vacations to Las Vegas vacations. And we work, sweat, run, type, speak, bitch, fight, conspire, plan and plot to achieve all this. And there is nothing wrong in thinking big or taking a path to achieve the same. But then why does guilt occupy a major part of our thought processes? Why does every beggar in the street with a bucket full of oil and a statue of a deity inside it resemble the messengers of the imparter of justice himself? Why do we embody guilty conscience? Well, this question is still unanswered.

Maybe dropping the coin in the bucket relaxes us momentarily till the time the next bucket marks it arrival and guilt starts knocking our heart chambers again and the process keeps repeating itself. Now when I see oil in the bucket, it looks like the mirror that shows nothing but our face. Shani is not a deity but a mirror that shows us our ugly face and the coin is the effort needed to get that mirror away from us.