Mangaluru: The ritual of prayers being offered to deities has been in vogue for centuries. However, there has been a feeling in some quarters that, in the modern world, it often borders on making a deal with the Almighty.
There are many rationalists who insist that religion, indiscriminate of denominations, has been turned into a money-making industry these days.
They also say that the heaviest of the donations, in most cases, are made of ill-gotten wealth or profits earned from exploiting others.
They opine that such wealth is donated to places of worship by the affluent in order to walk out of the premises with the feeling of a much lighter conscience and a self-perceived pardon for one’s ill-deeds and sins.
Even the most devout of the lot admit that instead of being eternally grateful for the gift of life, the modern-day humans try to strike a barter with the One Above, like ‘if-you-grant-me-this-I-will-do-that’ kind of a contract.
More often than not, as the good old Kannada saying goes, the divine entity is remembered only when a crisis strikes. Once it is tided over, it is back to square one, reverting to the same status quo of materialism.
Despair can lead some devotees to resort to strange demands like seeking destruction of those who have wronged them or who can potentially do a one-up on them anytime.
Whether the all-powerful, all-knowing entity is capable of causing harm to anyone on demand is a different question.
Here is the case of a poor woman from Koppal district in northern Karnataka who poured all her woes out in the form of a formal appeal to her deity in black and white this week.
Her letter was found in the alms box of the well-known Kanakachala temple in Kanakagiri. It stood out by itself amidst the pile of cash dropped in by other devotees.
Kavita – the real name is safely mentioned because all the rest of her details like domicile have remained anonymous – has, by her own admission, apparently been going through a bad patch.
She has a spate of domestic problems lined up – a husband addicted to alcohol, heavy borrowings, all her gold pledged in the pawn-shops and the like.
She has stated that she has run from pillar to post, shifting from one deity to the other. But none of them has come to her rescue.
She frantically says, ‘You are my father and mother. You are aware of my woes. And you are capable of alleviating them. The prestige of my husband and the household is at stake. Since I cannot sustain my children anymore, I no longer have any wish to live.”
It is also her wish that her husband give up his bad habits and rid himself of his debts. On the other hand, she wants him to reform himself and be in a position to give money to those in need.
But her appeal is no laughing matter. She ends the letter with the prospect of a grim scenario. Should the deity fail to hear her prayer, she would sacrifice her children at his feet and then also lay down her life.
It was an irony that with all the power at their command and money at their disposal, the temple management could do nothing to identify the woman and help her out as it was beyond their jurisdiction.
On the face of it, the letter may have sounded like a blackmail tactic. But it is only hoped that, wherever she is, her prayers will be heard soon and she will desist from doing the ultimate which she has threatened to.