My wife, who was moaning this evening, was sitting next to the driver’s seat, stole her glance away from me and continued staring outside the window. A few potholes later, I realized that she was crying. The sight of her tears that moistened her face was more disturbing than the rainy dampness and the fungusy smell that had inhabited our car since the monsoon began. I stopped the car on the side and asked her
“Where do you want to go?”
She tried to reply, but her sobs kept her from it and I asked again “Do you want to go to your parents”. The last time I had offered such a suggestion was…Well never actually. “Do you want to go to your sister’s?” She still did not respond and continued wiping her inexorable tears. “Alright, do you want to go to the temple?” She pondered for two seconds, and responded with a slow sad sigh “Yes”.
After a noisy U-turn and a few signals later, we reached the ISKCON temple in Juhu. While the teary droplets had stopped pouring from her large eyes, it began raining just as we reached the temple. Hurriedly we submitted our footwear and ran inside the temple. The Bhajans and Hare Rama, Hare Krishna chants were audible till the entrance of the temple. Quickly we took our positions on the aisle and stood there mesmerized with the scene in front of us. The Hare Rama, Hare Krishna devotees, singing, dancing, clapping, chanting were lost in their own divine raasleela. A 12ft long shimmering chandelier hanging from the ceiling spotlighted their sweaty faces, ruffled hair and their soaked white garb. In a state of trance, the disciples danced on the marble floor with utmost vigour and uninhibited flair. Their eyes shut, lips chanting, hearts overwhelmed and their existence…became one with god. Curious devotees like me, kept switching their gaze from the embellished idols of Gods in front and heavenly celebration of the devotees on the side.
I thought we should now pay our respects to the Gods and moved ahead. Now I stood right in front of my God Rama and Sita starring straight into my eyes and asking me what I wanted in life. I stood there, continuously starring back and thinking hard, if I wanted anything else apart from being here in this moment, hands folded in front of my God. I continued to meditate on the idol in front of me, with eyes wide open, when the security personal requested we step behind in the waiting area. We moved behind the ropes where they allowed devotees to halt temporarily. Standing 15 minutes in front of God, lost in a different world where Hare Rama Hare Krishna music played in the background and all worldly sorrows and humane miseries seemed like a thing of past. My wife asked me if we could go behind the other layer of ropes and perhaps sit down on the black-and-white marble floor. I obliged and we sat next to 20 other devotees that had already occupied their seats to an awe inspiring scene.
There were lot of regulars who had joined the ISKCON pandits in their jubilant parade. An old uncle, whose cheeks had grown redder than his red Tshirt, danced in awkward steps trying hard to follow the veterans. Not that the steps were difficult, but the uncle had never shaken a leg in his 50 years of existence. There were Aunties doing Gharba, kids just happily rotating around and a few teens doing phugadi. My wife sat quietly on the floor and was consoled by the divineness of the temple. The godly vibrations hugged her and comforted her like a mother to a sad child. The celebration around drowned out her moaning and she was at peace at last with herself after the troublesome morning.
This morning she had taken a dog, Moshe for a dog trek. Moshe belonged to her colleague’s friend. My wife who is an ardent dog lover decided to accompany the colleague for the trek and soon made friends with Moshe. Moshe was a well behaved and a darling Golden retriever. After sometime, Moshe began to palpitate heavily and they figured something was wrong with him. They immediately rushed him to a vet, who couldn’t do much and recommended the dog to be taken to the veterinary hospital. My wife had returned home in the afternoon and we were supposed to go back to the hospital to see Moshe in the evening. On the way, she received a call that -he had passed away.
She beat her soul with guilt and sobbed till the time we reached the temple. The guilt no-doubt was still there, but the veneration for God made it bearable. During the final Arti, standing in front of Lord Krishna, I saw her stare straight into God’s eyes for minutes, till her pupils dilated and tears began to roll down, as she begged for forgiveness. She wiped her tears off and prayed one last time before we went out. Still grieving she prayed to all the Gods on the right side of the path, on our way to the exit. Inside the temple she had found some strength and was in a position to talk again about casual matters.
On our way out, we bought ‘Srimad Bhagvad Gita’, a book we wanted to buy for years from this temple’s library. I hadn’t met Moshe, but he truly must be a divine soul. For it was the first time that I and my wife had visited ISKCON temple together and bought our Gita. Moshe will be missed by his family but he shall also be remembered by ours, for the holy book will transcend through my generations yet to come and the Gita is dedicated to him.