Monday, June 27, 2016

Chidambaram & Thanjavur, India

I miss India. I think I will always miss it and long for it's intensity, humility, and brilliance. India (and Nepal) really brought home how lucky I am to have been born into the circumstances I was. Each day is a gift in my life because I have drinking water, a toilet to sit on, and a bed to sleep on.

We visited a lot of temples in India, and each one showed a different perspective, beauty, or intrigue. In Thanjavur, we visited the Brahadeeswara Temple, established in 1011 AD. I wish I could let you experience the feeling of walking into the inner sanctums of these temples and receiving pooja (a blessing) from the priest...the dirt floors, the bare feet, the acceptance, the humility, the belief.


At Chidambaram, I witnessed a scene that really helped illustrate India's caste system and culture that still pervades today despite the technically illegal nature of discriminating people by castes. The man you see below was so frail, old, and weak. He dutifully transferred this pile of wood to the inside of the temple, using nothing but a short cloth to wrap them. All the while, a group of stout, young, able-bodied priests sat inside collecting donations and eating sweets. I blame the wood gatherer as much as the priests for this imbalance. He has accepted his life's fate and done nothing to try to change his lot in life, rather waiting till reincarnation for his situation to change. 

{man gathering sticks for fire at Chidambaram}

{Brahadeeswara Temple}

Whenever I feel discomfort in America, I think of an Indian bus station, and then I feel better again.