On June 14th this year, severe rainfall and cloud burst created devastating flash floods. As per official records, over a thousand have lost their lives. Places like Gaurikund and the market town of Ram Bada, the base for trek upto Kedarnath have been completely annihilated. Sonaprayag, and the CHar Dham areas of Gangotri, Yamnotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath have been heavily damaged, apart from Roopkund, Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers.
The ecological rape of the mountain ranges by greedy builders and investors had made the whole area very precariously balanced. Erosion of the soil, the deforestation and the receding of the glaciers is unprecedented!
Cause and Effect: Not Punishment from an Overzealous “Old Man up there”
Michael Jackson’s music was a gift to him. When he earned megabucks from his music, his focus was on money and not his music. His obsession with his money made him get into a rut that ultimately became the reason for his demise.
Karma is cause and effect, it is not a punishment. When you focus on that which you cannot be in harmony with and is elusive, then you do end up in a disastrous place. Not because, some “God” up there is hell-bent on punishing you, but you have entered an area where disaster is but inevitable.
In 2011, as I came back from my journey of Kedar, Badri, Gangotri and the adjoining areas, in a moment of reflection on the rot in the area, I happened to remark to my sister – “A big disaster is waiting to happen there”. Not because I wanted it. Not because I wanted retribution for all the rot that was being unleashed by the so-called devotees, but because the state of the place had been taken to a point, where ecologically it was very precariously balanced. One specter of imbalance would unleash a horror untold.
The Cloud burst on June 14th was that moment.
Dharmic Spirituality does not use “method” of Devotion as a way. Either devotion – helpless and self-annihilating – happens to one, or doesn’t. You cannot fake it. At least, not in the existential sense. Machinations of devotions – complete deceptions that they are – may work for your friends and followers and hapless audience, but existentially all that is inconsequential. In fact, completely useless. You might be better off registering yourself in an acting school and make it into movies. One will be better off that way.
Spiritual paths have used tools which have used primordial Spiritual energy in a way that can enhance the way a being functions. Devotion is triggered indirectly, for once a being is receptive, humility to the wonder of existence is a must. Any path that emphasizes on Devotion as the starting point is a road to deception right away. It is steeped in pretense. For love without sensitivity and Devotion without receptivity are a complete impossibility.
Kedarnath, Badrinath, and other places on that route are works of very accomplished Yogis. Not the ones you see the Yoga studios churning out. They are jokers with a benign smile. But those, who lit the existence with the intensity of their life energies. Such, that it still reverbrates. I have been in that space, and at every step, I was humbled by the Grace of where I was. These spaces should be tread very carefully. You may trample the face of your first born, you may still be fine, but stomping in such spaces without your being completely humbled, is an existential crime. Such places are that sacred in terms of work that has been done there. Again, the Sacred has absolutely nothing to do with “Godliness”. One should tread the room where Einstein worked on his science with equal humility. For, here, in such places, the peak of human work has occured. Where human existence has found the greatest expression!
So, when Kedarnath becomes a tourist spot. Or Badrinath is a great photography opportunity or Hemkund Sahib a great Spa cum relaxation center, we are walking a slippery slope. The mind which is not attuned to nature and existence when walking this path, will invariably trample and stomp. And, devastation is a natural result of that attitude and consciousness of trampling and stomping. Not a punishment for any sin.
Everything around Kedarnath is in shambles. The shops, the guest houses, the hotels etc. Only Kedar’s sanctum sanctorum survives. Getting there will be tough. Very tough. And that is how it should be. Many so-called Sadhus – who are beggars dressed as Sadhus and Yogis – have beaten a retreat. As have many so-called tourists masquerading as pilgrims. They are so fearful, that they can’t think of going back again. And, that is how it should be. There are Cinema Halls for peope seeking entertainment, Hawaii or Thailand for tourists and Delhi’s traffic lights for begging. Let us leave spaces like Kedar alone, just because they are in the mountains.
There were a few narrations by eye witnesses – survivors – that drove home the above point to me even more forcefully.
- A lot of elderly were found stranded at these places. Why? Because their families who had taken their parents to pilgrimage had abandoned them there and saved themselves. One wonders, as disgusting as it is, how will these elderly, even when rescued and sent back, would have the courage or love to go back to those kids and kith?
- Some people were roaming around with large blades to cut off limbs – hands and fingers – with Gold and other expensive jewelry – from the dead. Worse, in some cases, they did not even leave those who were alive but unconscious – basically bleeding them to death.
- An ATM in the Kedar area with Rs 2.5 crores was swept away. The money was looted. One man, who boarded the rescue chopper was found with over Rs 73 lakhs in his bag.
Its the mentality and Deception
The shabby lines of houses in Delhi. The unauthorized construction of the hundreds and thousands of towns of India. The lack of sewers and open drains of the best of cities of India. The stinking rivers. The poverty of the most horrendous kind amidst ostentatious affluence and plunder of the country. The cutting of hands and limbs for few pieces of gold. The looting of someone’s money from the broken ATM. The abandoning of the elderly.
It is the same disease with different manifestations.
And this disease is on display in every nook and corner of India. Every religious person is afflicted with it. Deceptive religious practice passing off as Devotion is the worst contribution of the last few generations to the Spiritual landscape of India.
And, contrary to the general belief and refrain – Pilgrimage is NOT a duty of everyone; but a privilege. Such sojourns have to be so tough, that only those who seek them for their spiritual advancement can get there. Only them the scourge of Tourism in the pilgrimage centers will end!