Save: A Temple in Ruins

Usually when you think of an administrator, a mousey bespectacled man comes to mind. Short, unassertive, but one with a lot of data and very little opinion. The Minister of Balance, or MoB as he was often referred to, was far from that. He was a tall, really tall. In fact in the assembly that he was standing in, he was probably the tallest. You could say towering, if you had a taste for superlatives. And he had a few strong opinions. If you were one of the many standing in the assembly today, and you had a taste for fiction along with the superlative, you could have said that he was breathing fire; red nostrils and all.

“This was a definite deviation from that plan we had for this year,” the MoB said, containing his displeasure, trying to be as matter-of-fact as he could. He knew the compulsions that prevailed in the court that evening, he had to tread carefully. He glanced emotionless at Rain God for a split second, and looked down, facing Mother God – if you could call it that.

“What was the deviation?” asked Mother God – in her own inimitable way. Any sentence can be a question, if you want it to – all you have to do is change where you stress when you speak the sentence. For that matter, any question can be a sentence, but that needs conviction. She was a master at that. MoB wondered, if this was all just a  show – wasn’t she supposed to know everything? But protocols had to be maintained.

Chota Char-dham wasn’t supposed to receive so much rain this year,” the MoB said, and with as much balance that he could find in his voice, added, “definitely not this kind of devastation.” He consciously kept his head down, avoiding looking at Rain God. I should mention Cardiff, the MoB thought, but let it go. I’ll get my chance, he thought, and I should use it at the right time. Mother God slowly moved her attention from the MoB to Rain God. The Rain God’s mischief was legendary, and it would have been much easier for her to deal with him directly, but now that this matter was raised in court, she could do little about it.

She looked at Rain God, her expression enough to be a question.

“What do you want me to say?” asked Rain God.

“The Men of Earth (MoE) have declared that the sites will be closed for the next three years, before any pilgrims can come back here. The temples are half buried in the silt, that region has been devastated,” the MoB said without waiting to hear from Mother God – addressing Rain God directly. 

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Mother God raised her eyebrows.

Rain God didn’t seem to be affected by that. 

“It doesn’t matter. The Indian tradition has been to save temples. In no time, a few hundred thousand sevaks will be called upon and they will remove the silt in less than a few days. They’ll, of course, not come right now to help the stranded pilgrims – well – they care more about God than humans – but while they are sorting out their petty politics – I assure you there is a very large community that will be mobilised soon by a community – they will all board trains with saffron bandanas and without tickets – and come over to save the temple. They did it twenty years ago.” The Rain God was very clear about the implication of his actions.

“The MoE do not care about that,” the MoB almost screamed, “there is no political implication to saving this temple – moreover – many human lives have been lost in this unauthorised adventure. The MoE use a temple agenda only for political gains.”

“Well, this is a good opportunity for them vindicate themselves,” Rain God said, and Mother God allowed the argument to go on.

“You have no idea, do you? The Ayodhya temple issue, twenty years ago had nothing to do with devotion, spirituality or God. It was all about earthy politics.”

“They are temple saviours – that is what they have declared themselves. They came from far and wide. Should it matter that a temple has been claimed by history or natural calamity? 1/10th of the folks that came to Ayodhya, could clear the silt in a month or two,” the Rain God was now belligerent, “Why go by the MoE’s declaration that the temple will be out-of-bounds for three years. I have done nothing wrong.”

“We were to distribute rain equally across the region. We agreed on this – you have deviated. That is what we are dealing with here, not how the MoE will respond,” the MoB said, standing straight facing the Rain God.

“Get off your high horse, will you? For a long while the MoE have been ignoring what we gave to them. They want to play a game without rules – why should we not participate with the same intent? And if the Moe’s intention was about a particular temple and a particular gain, let the rest of the Men of the Earth see them for who they are. I’d rather flood out Badrinath, Dwarka, Jagannath Puri, and Rameshwaram and see how the MoE respond. If Ayodhya is the only temple that they care about, let them have only one temple.”

The MoB realised that this argument was going against him, he looked pleadingly to Mother God.

Mother God smiled at the MoB, as if to seek more patience while she played her game. The smile was assuring, but the MoB, with his data and statistics saw a picture that he could not relate to.

Perhaps the MotherGod’s smile was about admitting defeat; perhaps Rain God was right. If the MoE didn’t co-operate, the MoB didn’t have a job after all. Perhaps he was striving for a balance made in heaven which did not apply in earth. Maybe he had no role to play or execute – all that was needed was for the MoE to balance it all. Saving temples was fine, but if you didn’t have a faith that forced the human being into action, why did he hold the portfolio at all?

If nothing, than to prove the Rain God wrong, he wished that the humans who fought for Ayodhya, would fight for Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.

As he walked out of the court, he could sense Mother God smiling. She knows more about balance than I do, he thought. Someday she’ll allow me a field assignment, he thought to himself.

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