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Commercializing Faith

May 20, 2008

Author : Nikhil

“Give a man a rock,
Tell him its divine.

And he’ll worship it,
Till the end of his time…”

These famous words of Swami Vivekananda, perhaps best describes today’s commercial faith. I call it commercial, because, lets face it – you just can’t go to a temple nowadays, or any place of worship, for that matter, without cold, hard cash in your pocket. Shelling out huge sums of cash is just the first step – they have different terminologies for it like ‘darshan fees’, ‘prasad fees’, ‘archana fees’, and so on. What is this but blatant blasphemy of God and overt exploitation of blind faith of our fellow humans? In laymen terms, its called daylight robbery – only, no one realizes it. Let’s take a case study, shall we?

Iskcon is perhaps a household name by now. A few years back, there were rumors that the so-called sacred institution was a front for drug peddling, prostitution, and work-force abuse. I don’t know how far this is true, but personally I don’t care. What I actually want to convey about Iskcon, is the fact that it does not instill that faith— which is what we surely go to temples for. We see cakes being sold everywhere; milkshakes, pizzas and doughnuts, for crying out loud. It’s more like a bakery than a temple and I know many would disagree, but all I tell them is to think out of the box, think rationally.

I saw a helpless foreigner being cheated out of his money by a purohit, who was speaking to him about how the temple trust found him charitable, and how they would send him prasadam, by post. I saw, also, that the money went into the purohit’s pocket. The people, who are deemed messengers of faith, are themselves corrupt. Later, a woman who was in front of me asked a pujari, where she could get the archana done, for which he replied to enquire at a counter! The whole effect of devotion is lost if you stuff bakeries and reception counters into temples.

It’s the common scene in any temple you visit in Bangalore. People try to make temples more attractive and modern but fail to remember during the endeavor that that is not what we want. What we do want is a calm place where we can enjoy our moments with God under a huge banyan tree, listening to the chirping of birds, rather than getting a scratch card to win prasadams!

PS: I apologize for the delay in posting this article today. It won’t happen again! 🙂

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2008 8:40 pm

    Nice writing style. I will come back to read more posts from you.

    Susan Kishner

  2. May 20, 2008 8:58 pm

    bingo man! you know what even if i go to a temple(which is really rare,i.e. if my parents plan it on the way or for seeing the sculptors and designs) i only try to sense the power.i don’t believe in idol worship.and yes all that money can be used for better things.

    really nice post 🙂

  3. May 21, 2008 1:57 pm

    I’d heard a LOT about ISKON before. Everything that you’ve said is true. I too was surprised when I saw ’em give pastries as prasadam !!

    Its the whole feel of going to a temple and spending a moment with god/spending some spiritual time with one-self.

    Sometimes, even to see the murthy of the god, we need to follow 101 procedures and finally get some 10 seconds of time.

    Foreigners are being cheated everywhere in India ! They don’t realize it themselves.

  4. May 22, 2008 12:13 pm

    @Susan
    Glad you liked it! Keep visiting! 🙂

    @Vishesh
    Thanks! 🙂

    @Priya
    yeah, you kinda took the words out of my mouth… i am really pissed offf with the scenario !!

  5. May 25, 2008 12:53 pm

    did u hear anything abt wtz happening in kerala b4 writing these ?
    Now ,anyone who has a big beard n long hair is in trouble here, the dirty faces of fake saints r coming out 🙂

    And its really true that the more u give ,the more closely u get to see the idol 😀

    “The true worship to god is service to poor n needy ”

    Believe in that n change the world 🙂

  6. May 30, 2008 7:38 pm

    >>I saw a helpless foreigner being cheated out of his money by a purohit,
    These kinda things are really shame for us…

    nice post….

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