Don’t ask me what is the main effect of religion. I simply don’t know. Like many simple minded persons,I have absolutely no clue as to what is meant by ‘moksha’ or ultimate liberation that a religion promises. But as for the side effects , I can tell you there are plenty. I can say with a sense of pride that I love my religion just because of its side effects. Let me elaborate.

I just returned from a visit to Tirupati which is a famous temple town in south India. And I had the privillege of witnessing the great celebrations conducted annually for the Goddess of the temple – very famously known as PADMAVATI TAAYAAR UTSAVAM. The celebrations are extended over 10 days and each day the Goddess is taken in a procession around the main streets of the town in the morning as well as evening. Witnessing and following the deity during the procession is a unique and unforgettable experience. The procession presents a colurful blend of people performing music,dance, bhajans and vedic chanting. Right in front of the procession one can hear the ecstatic beating of drums of Kerala followed by several groups of men & women singing bhajans and dancing to its tune. Another group of colourfully dressed up children can be seen exhibiting skilful play with sticks even as they dance to rhthmic beats(called KOLATTAM). This is followed by delightful music by two groups(one on saxaphone and another on the instrument NADASWARAM). Music & dance are followed by recitation of ‘mantras’ – Vedic chanting by one group & ALWAR PASURAMS in Tamil by another . Then the Goddess seated on an elephant makes a grand appearance. The beauty and grandeur of the Goddess decorated with gold & diamond jewellery and a variety of flowers is simply out of the world. Being part of such an electric atmosphere,one would easily exclaim – If there is VAIKUNT on earth, IT is THIS,IT IS THIS,IT IS THIS.
There is something special about our religious celebrations in our temples. The integration of religion and culture is complete in our temples. The underlying theme is always BHAKTI,BHAKTI & BHAKTI. ‘Jnana’ becomes secondary here as true Bhakti dominates. One can see spontaneous participation in the celebrations by lacs of people just because bhakti is so simple to understand and follow through music,dance etc. Music is a very effective medium to express virtually all human emotions associated with Bhakti.
There are nine different expressions of bhakti as they say( nava vidha bhakti) – each depicting a particular emotion. They are:
Sravana:listening to stories of the divine glory.
Kirtana: singing God’s glories.
Smarana: remembering God all the time.
Padasevana: offering services at His lotus feet.
Archana: offering regular prayers to Him.
Vandana: meaning offering oneself in the duty of God.
Dasya: offering oneself completely to His service.
Sakhya: prayers to God considering Him as a friend.
Atmanivedana: Complete surrender to God.

Indian Classical music is very powerful in expressing each one of the emotions associated with BHAKTI and when presented at the right setting and context in the back drop of a gorgeously decorated Goddess(as in our temples),the experience is simply ecstatic and blissful.

Published in: on December 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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