CHAPTER – 7 VINAYAKA WORSHIP
I had started learning English, as part of my plan to be rid of poverty. Well and good, What about the ambition to have a vision of God?
Worship, as a means to that end, occupied my thoughts next.
I had heard that worship of Vinayaka is the royal road to victory in every field. There was no statue of Lord Vinayaka in our house. One reason was, there was no suitable space available there. A more compelling reason was that a statue with its pedestal cost two and a half rupees.
This problem I solved in my own way. I shall, I said, worship Vinayaka where He was, in the temple! The temple at Guduvancheri was small in size. I asked for and got the keys. From 4.30 a.m. to 5.00 a.m. I poured water, and the towels that were there were used by me alternately. While the statue was wearing one, the other was washed and dried by me. While bathing the statue one day, I noticed flakes of dirt on it.
Would not this cause discomfort to Vinayaka? So I closed the door, picked up a piece of coconut shell, and scrubbed it hard. Someone who happened to stand outside heard the noise of scrubbing knocked the door, and made me open it.
“What are you doing?”, he asked. I admitted the truth.
“What an idiot you are” he snarled, “to use the coconut shell for scrubbing Vinayaka!”
His anger did not upset me. My immature heart grieved only at the sacrilege of which I had been guilty. In the month of Margazhi (mid-December to mid-January) I offered worship at four o’ clock. I couldn’t bear the cold myself when I bathed in the tank. I was moved to pity at the thought that Vinayaka also would be similarly affected by the cold.
So I went to my Father that day and asked. “Father! Why not bathe Vinayaka in warm water during Margazhi?” He smiled as he explained, “We should not do like that, child, Vinayaka won’t feel the cold in the way you seem to think He would”.
I used to ask a number of questions on which I would reflect long. It did not somehow occur to me that a stone, as such is immune to cold!
People living in the villages used to go once a year to some pilgrim center nearby, stop there for two or three days, finding pleasure in preparing their food themselves, and watching the festivals celebrated there. My parents used to go to both Porur and Mahabalipuram like this.
When that year they started for Porur they took me and my brother with them. After staying for two days there, we proceeded to Mahabalipuram.
We in our family used to take meat. From early days I had felt a little aversion to it but did not give it up outright.
There was a bookstall at Mahabalipuram in view of the festival. My attention was especially drawn to a booklet displayed there The little was. “The Evil Effects of Meat taking,”. I bought it for an Anna and a quarter and started reading it at once. There were certain verses in it which I found most moving. One of these was as follows:-
“The animal slaughtered yells in terror and in pain. The men who eat it feel happy, proud and vain. If the wise who hear the cry, but heed not, go to hell. About the lot of those who eat it, who can tell?”
The sense it conveys is that however holy a man might be, if the cry of pain uttered by an animal at the moment it is, butchered falls on his ears, and he does nothing about it, and Leaves the creature to its fate, the direst of punishments await him in hell. If that is so, what torments would overtake those who actually eat the meat?
I was perturbed on reading this. I thought of God, and in contrition begged to be forgiven for having thoughtlessly taken meat. I shed bitter tears. I vowed that I would be a strict vegetarian from that day onwards. This change of heart had the full support of my parents too.