Jogging and the Sermons from the Post
My itinerary for November, 2010 has two dates marked in the calendar. One is my nephew’s marriage and another is retirement of my husband K. S. Though I never plan for any function but this time I decided to wear a chiffon sequined saree for this wedding in the family and for the retirement day of K S my daughter bought for me, an exquisite Kurti from Fab India as a gift. She wanted me to put on that Kurti on her dear Papa’s big day. The stylish Kurti is quite shapely and perhaps is meant for some young female having hourglass figure. But the Kurti was so tempting that I tried to squeeze in my bulging tyres in it. And when I was, finally, able to somehow fit in the Kurti, it seemed like a big jute bag filled with more than its capacity with some ungainly mass. To call it a human body, from any angle, seemed sacrilegious. Now I had to choose between two options before me. Either to gift the exquisite Kurti to someone who could grace it or to shed few kilos from my un-shapely body! I made a choice and decided to shed few kilograms and reduce the bulging tyres. November has thirty days, I thought, and I could easily get in some shape if I jog a little vigorously in the morning and keep a strict check on my diet.
I decided to give an early start to my plan of shedding weight and kept it as an well-hidden secret from KS. I had decided to go for jogging early in the morning at 6 a.m. To have a full night’s sleep, I went to bed quite early after setting the alarm in my cell. I had kept my jogging shoes ready by my bedside. Suddenly at about 5-30 a.m. I heard the faint sound of someone reciting Hanuman Chalisa. Now we are so conditioned to pray to God whenever we hear anyone chanting His name that unconsciously I, too, said, “Jai Hanuman Ji” and looked at the time. It was 5-30 a.m., not the time for me to get set and go! Wishing to steal a few more moments of sleep, I covered my head and ears under the quilt but the sound of someone chanting Hanuman Chaleesa would just not go off! Exasperated, I got up and putting my shoes on, came out in the open. It was pleasant outside. I looked around to find the person in the neighbourhood who had been chanting Hanuman Ji’s name but found, to my dismay, all lights off in the neighbourhood. Who was this devotee, I wondered. I, once again, prayed to Hanuman Ji to give some of his strength to me so that my resolution to shed a few kilograms is attained in the stipulated time. Off I went with a mission.
I had barely reached the road when a voice in English caught me unawares. Someone from somewhere was now reciting Kabir Bani! And it was in English language! Mesmerized and perplexed, I stood still and watched around. There was no one in sight. Could it be some ghost? I shivered involuntarily. I watched here, there and everywhere. Right, left, forward, backward , but there was none in sight. I tried to gauze the source of the sound. Lo! It was coming from upwards! I looked up and saw a speaker, a sophisticated one, emitting Kabir Bani, the message of soul. It was ironic but true that the moment I looked up the words came from the speaker:
“PANI KERA BUDBUDA AS MANUS KI JAAT
DEKHAT HE CHHUP JAEYEGA JO SAARA PARBHAT.”
I stopped still in my jogging shoes. What a futility this life is! Why am I trying to shed a few Kilograms to fit myself in that Kurti if my very existence in this world is so short lived, I mused. My rational mind reprimanded me for being so fickle minded and somehow I dragged myself away from the source of such de-inspiring Bani! I started to jog but had developed a dead footed gait! A little away from this point, I tried to gain a little momentum and started to briskly jog. But another voice came from above and said, “What had you brought with you that you plan to take with you…” and I thought of my Kurta. I had not brought it with me, I was born, neither had bought it myself! Why had Ibecome so possessive of it a d was I trying so hard to fit into it when in the words of Kabir:
“lakri jal koyla bhai kaoyla jal bhayo raakh”!
As if on a cue the speaker delivered the message to me and me alone. I was about to faint and looked around. Ah, “they” had [put so many green iron benches on the roadside. How very thoughtful of them. My spiritual quotient was so aroused that I needed to sit to contemplate and these benches were so handy and comfy. Thank you, whosoever thought of this visionary planning.What could my poor sould had done without a direction from you who set the goal for my life, a life that was focused on Roti, Kapda aur Makaan?
In nutshell, I got enlightenment under the speakers’ post on the campus. I was an enlightened woman though when I started from home I was deeply immersed in ignorance. All cheers to the speaker posts erected throughout the campus and the religious sermons that they broadcast early in the morning and in the evening from 5-30 to 8-30 a.m/p.m. everyday! By 8-30 a.m. when the Institute begins its routine work, all the “Sadhus and Sadhvis”, courtesy, the sermons from the posts, do their assigned work in a non-attached manner, a la the message of Geeta!
But as I am a stubborn and foolish person and despite having been enlightened under the Posts, I still had some nagging questions at the back of my mind. I wanted to shed them away but they would return with extra vigour.
If as per the Constitution of India, we have right to liberty, expression and life among others how could “they” force me to listen to what I may not be interested at that point of time and place?
I have a right to choose the religious sermons that interest me and no one can force or decide the kind of sermons that I HAVE to listen whether I desire or not.
I may have to exercise, meditate or to write some serious scholarly work when this sermon from the post is broadcast, over which I have no choice to even switch it off.
And above all it is the tax payers money that has gone into creating such infrastructure on the campus and thereby it is MY hard earned money being utilized or misutilized to force down my ears that I have no option but to listen to.
And lastly what about the Preamble to the Constitution according to which we promise to make our country a SECULAR country?
If you have any answers to my nagging questions, please post your replies.
The Roving Eye