A walk in a Bangalore park is different from a walk in any other part of the world. I missed it for six months and the day after my return to Bangalore, was back in the nearby park for the usual morning walk. Bangalore is now full of parks, many of them quite small, and there is at least one for every locality. Most of the parks are well maintained and have trails for walking and jogging. There are laughing clubs, exercise clubs, pranayama clubs and women’s clubs. People have become more health conscious and walking in the park is the easiest of methods to keep fit, whatever fitness may mean. Increased traffic on the roads does not permit a walk on them and hence parks are preferred for morning walks. Parks are also a nice place to meet one’s buddies and old friends. If you keep your ears open and mouth shut, you can find out what is cooking for breakfast in at least half a dozen houses in the locality. In one corner you can hear a Mother-in-law telling her friends how she put her Daughter-in-law in her place while on the other corner you can learn how a Daughter-in-law had her own way despite the strict instructions of her Mother-in-law. Tuition schedules of the kids and tour plans of husbands are also agenda items for discussion. Everybody owns the park and they can make use of it the way they like, subject to some reasonable restrictions. There is piped music in some of them and good lighting in every park. With the music of the park caretaker’s choice and mild breeze to go with it, the cement benches provide good harbor for relaxation as well as discussion about politics and sports. You can hear a number of experts giving their unsolicited advice on how things should be handled and how the whole world can be improved, if you listen to and implement only their suggestions.
For most people, morning is reserved for the Gods. Start the day with a prayer or listen to some devotional music and get on with the day’s work, if there is any. Those in service and younger lot have their days earmarked for work, but there is no such restriction for the tired and retired ones. For the retired ones this is the time for compensating for having ignored the God due to paucity of time when they were busy with their work and earning for livelihood. They can devote extra time and even full time now and make up for the earlier deficit so that they can stand up with confidence before the Lord when the hearing takes place in the next world. The time reserved for the Lord or Lords, for many have many Gods to attend to each day, is also spent in many different ways. Some people reserve a day of the week for each God so that there is no conflict among the Gods and each God is assured of his turn and can wait without anxiety. Some believe in visiting temples and some parks also have their own temples with a committee to work for the Lord’s development. Some others believe in listening to some devotional songs while walking and jogging. This provides for best of both worlds; good health on the earth and a good log of time spent for the Lord which is extremely useful when one enters the next world. It is always better to have some insurance for the next world, what with all the sins we commit most of the times knowingly and sometimes unknowingly. Some have their mobiles or players wired with ear plugs so that the devotion is exclusively for them. There are a few who believe in sharing the prayer with others, irrespective of whether others need it or not. They go with full volume on their devices so that even if some God is deaf, he can hear the prayer and will be constrained to acknowledge later on during the hearing in the next world. There was one such gentleman and his music player was blaring out the most popular Suprabhatam (morning song)…..
कमलायत लोचन लोकपते विजयीभव वेन्कतशैलपते
Kamalaa kucha choochuka kunkumato niyataarunita tulaneela tanoo……..!
Kamalaayata lochana lokapate Vijayeebhava Venkatashailapate….
The supreme Lord, Mahavishnu or his incarnations including Balaji of Tirupati, is believed to have a Blue body. Not any other Blue like Dark Blue or Navy Blue, but blue of the cloud. Of course, clouds too have their own different colours; those with little water are white, those with high water level are often black. Mahakavi Bhasa describes Ghatotkaja in his “Madhyma Vyayoga" as "सजलजलदगात्रः" (Sajala jalada gaatraha…), the one having a body with the colour of a cloud with maximum water content, meaning black. But the Lord has the pleasing blue of the cloud and hence called "नीलमेघष्याम" (Neela Meghashyama), the one with that specific blue colour which is mild and yet pleasing to the eye. Bhasa also makes another subtle difference – the Lord is “Kamalaayata lochana or Kamalanayana”; the one with lotus eyes. But Ghatotkaja is “Padmapatrayatakshaha”- the one with Lotusleaf eyes. The lord is just being woken up after a comfortable night and his blue body is embellished with red dots! The red dots that were made by the pressing of her bosom against the lord’s chest when he embraced his consort Kamala tightly (or were it the other way around?).
In the orthodox way of the morning puja, the devotee gets ready after his bath and morning rituals and stands at the door of the “Pooja Room” and makes a request to Mother Lakshmi:
रमादेवी नमस्तुभ्यं स्वभर्तासहशायिनि, मुञ्च बहुलता पाशात् स्वमिनम् भक्तवत्सलं
“Ramadevi namastubhyam swabhartasahashaayini, Muncha bahulatapashat swaminam Bhaktavatsalam”
Mother Lakshmi, the one sleeping with your husband, I salute you. Please release the Lord from the bondage of your delicate arms (so that I can proceed with my worship of the Lord). Then he proceeds to say "Uttishtothista Govinda Uttishta Garudadhwaja….." and awaken the Lord. Awaken a Lord who never sleeps and does not require any sleep! It is only proper; it is her right to hold her husband in her arms for as long as she likes. Unless she releases the Lord, there is no pooja.
My chain of thought was broken when the music system in the park suddenly came to life and started the relaying of devotional songs allover the park. There was nothing wrong with it; earlier a single person was sharing his own system with the whole park but now it was the common system for common use. The only problem was with the song. The first song was
ತೂಗಿರೇ ರಾಯರ ತೂಗಿರೇ ಗುರುಗಳ ತೂಗಿರೇ ಯತಿಕುಲ ತಿಲಕಾರ
ತೂಗಿರೇ ಯೋಗೀಂದ್ರ ಕರಕಮಲ ಪೂಜ್ಯರ ತೂಗಿರೇ ಗುರು ರಾಘವೇಂದ್ರರ
Toogire Raayara toogire Gurugala toogire yatikula tilakaara
Toogire yogeendra karakamala poojyara toogire Guru Raghavendrara
This is a lullaby sung at the end of the day, around 8 PM in the night in the Mutts. This was being played at 7 AM! May be the person playing the system was on night shift and it was the time for him to go to bed after night long work. Or it was the right time for the song in Chicago.
Here I was, on a morning walk, stuck between a devotee awakening the Lord with Red Dots on a Blue Body on the one side and another devotee putting Guruji to sleep on the other!