Sanctity, the 'power'-ful excuse

I have gone into a little introspective mode these days. So the few posts from hereon, that appear profoundly philosophical to me might actually show you how much drab and crap a bored soul can actually produce.

Well, disclaimer done! So here I go:

I must give you a little background behind this thought. The first time I had thought about this was when I was in Class 5 or 6 I think. It was someone's marriage or some occasion of a get-together... and like all other kids, I was generally running around with the others. After some time, seeing us unruly kids around, someone asked us to carry baskets of fruits, brass utensils, etc. --- in general things that were going to be needed for the puja, from the house to the place where the ceremony was being held (mandap, if you know what I mean). When we reached there, we came across this aunty who was perennially angry with the world. The only way she could speak was by shouting, and always seemed flared up over the slightest excuse. Anyway, once we were there, she went bow-wow-wow about why we were carrying the sacred objects, who asked us to, etc. After being suitably answered, she pointed to a spot, and we were asked to stand outside that demarcation. I was the first one in the queue. I think she had asked us to hand over whatever we were carrying to one of the priests inside that line, and then leave. I had missed this part. So as soon as she seemed to give a nod, I walked right in with my basket, and handed it over to the man. And all hell broke loose.

The priest who was to perform the puja was smiling and was ok with this. But this lady was not. I had caused the entire sanctity of the place to go for a toss, I was told... and was also suitably informed that I was no good. After being chastised to the end of the earth, I left the mandap in tears. And all the indignation of a ten-year-old kept swelling up in my chest... and had me thinking about what exactly had I done wrong. And all I had in my heart was pure hatred for the lady.

But a funnier thing happened when I was in Class 10. At the Ramakrishna Mission, as you might already know, there is a daily prayer and bhajan scheduled every evening. Inside the sanctum sanctorium where the idols are kept, a lamp needs to be lighted every evening about 10-15 before the actual prayer started. I tried very hard to go in before everyone else and light the lamp everyday, because I liked to do it. For a few days, I noticed, one guy used to come just before I came in and went in and lighted the lamp. No matter how hard I tried, I was always late. So one evening, when I had reached the temple and saw this friend coming out of the "Garvamandir", I paused and said in a very officious tone, "It is better that only one person should light that lamp everyday", hoping to seal the job for myself. But others simply shot back, "Why?". And I had no answer.

Things did not change much when I was in Class 11-12 as well. We were to get some microphones and amplifiers, etc from one of the store rooms in our school, and I was doing this job with a couple of other guys. After we were halfway inside the room, I told them, "Wait here", and went further on myself to bring the instruments out. It was funny, really, because they could have as easily done the job themselves, and I had asked them to stand just beside a cupboard, as though an invisible boundary of sanctity . It was perhaps my way of showing that I was privileged and that they had to move up the ladder of superiority to be able to step into that part of the room.

Thus, sanctity becomes the excuse for asking somebody not to do something. It soemhow becomes a tool to exercise power, and to show how important you are. And the lines we draw to make these differences are really funny --- a spot, a cupboard, anything that stands out and can be used as a boundary is good enough. It is always a game of holier-than-thou, to be able to prove to the other person that he/she is inferior, and thereby to assert one's own superiority. Which is just like the child who is bullied at school who comes home and bullies his own siblings.

Thankfully, I have grown out of this now. "Grown out" is actually a good term to use, because as I have become maturer, I have introspected and have understood myself and my emotions better. So this blog also comes handy -- to be able to articulate what I think.

Ok, now in as officious a tone as possible, I ask you, the reader who read this but did not comment, "You should write a comment!!".


  1. Very well said indeed! I have myself been both the victim and the executor in situations involving sancity.

    I have also landed in bizzare situations where angry gods/godesses would get into humans and start yelling about disturbing sancity of the place. I dont know if this really happens, or that person who gets these godly avatars really gets it hehehehe :D

    But yes, there have been times (and even now...), when I look at things from a particular perspective - and perhaps we could call it sancity - and I hate it when someone else disturbs it.

    Great post!


  2. Hehe! :) As a girl and someone who loves discipline I know what it feels like to pull the sancity trick ;) SOmetimes its just your private space you want to protect and sometimes its the sheer nasha that even such a little bit of power gives you that makes you do it. All of us are victims and prepetuaters, and probably will continue to be so till the end of the world.

  3. Supremus, LOL about the gods/goddesses possessing the humans! You had me really cracked up! But you put the terms very well --- we've been both the victim as well as the executor of these power-sessions.

    Manasi, hey! Loooong time no see. So you are very disciplined, eh? Yep, probably the nasha thingy sums up a lot of the feeling.

  4. Can u please explain how the sanctity is restored just by sprinkling a little "gonga jol".....:-)..ha ha..that is perhaps theee weapon/purifier...though it is no longer fit for drinking!!!

  5. Bristi, I wish I understood! But well, it must be more of a mental thing. If a little Ganga-jal would purify whatever sins you have committed, all the fish in the river mist have attained nirvana 10 times over.

  6. I could SO identify with this one...especially after being yelled at for having sat on a moorti of God we were carrying in our car!

    Your post tells me that you don't mind the fact that I commented!

    BTW, me Jayanth from NIT Surat, read your article about accenture in Renesa...

  7. ya sure!!!:-)..n bengalis r the most sinful coz they consume so much of it!!
    so ur back to scotland?How was ur trip to india?Did u visit Durgapur?

  8. Jayant, yeah, well, that is blasphemy! :)

    And I never mind anyone commenting on my blog. You are welcome anytime! So how did you like the article in Renesa? Feel like joining Accenture?

    Bristi, sinful?? Nope. We are the holiest of the lot! :)

    Yup, I'm back in Scotland. Did not go to Durgapur this time. Where are you from?

  9. I'm from cal..but did my engg frm DGP....I know a lot of ur frnds i guess...there were a whole lot in my batch frm Bidhan..

  10. somehow, the whole story has a tinge of familiarity to it...
    not necessarily spanning over my whole life, but over 4 yrs in SVR, i have been there and done that!

    asides, how are things going man? football fever in england?

  11. Your posts always FORCE me to THINK. Good one.

  12. Bristi, Okkk... that explains a lot. Good old Bidhan -- a tradition in quality! ;)

    Tweaky, I lnow... it does happen, more so at the college fests. Yeah we aer all geared up for the games... but I'm in Scotland, and so the last team I am supposed to support here is England. But the atmosphere in pubs is awesome right now! :)

    Sajid, hmm.... aap to soch mein pad gaye! Thanks for the compliment, though! Enjoy.

  13. Well almost all of us have experienced such situations at some point in our lives and you've articulated the dilemma in a very nice way!

  14. Hey Sudipta...

    I agree that it is way of showing superiority. But I believe Sanctity would come at best when it comes within u voluntarily!

  15. Vivekanand, thanks! :)

    Vinod, hey man! That was something very important that you put forth -- the feeling of sanctity should come from within, it should not be forced from outside

  16. Well, I guess lots of people dont understand that sanctity cannot be imposed or faked... And, far too many have bloated egos to accept this!
    A really good post!

  17. Arundhati Chatterjee12:25 AM, June 28, 2006

    Chanu, It is wonderful to learn yr introspection,your preoccupation with yr limitation and how you've purged out of it. Unless you burn and suffer and feel remorse, there can be no apocalypse.I must say a strong will was required to get out of that kind of false superiority for it is so subtle and remains entwined within our personality so subtly that most of us are hardly aware of. It is this self-introspection and critical self analysis that is going to pave an enlightened path for you to tread and stride forward. Keep your spiits high! All the best!

  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  19. now that u ordered in a offcious tone to comment on ur article i must do the same.
    well, yet searching for a suitable word to describe the article "Sanctity, the powerful exercise".. as i fear the word "outstanding" would fail to ornate the article. the style, the rhythm and thoughts behind made it a perfect harmony.
    also has gone through kakima's comment. may we have a favour? can we get some article from kakima (ur mom) in blog as otherwise we would miss the opportunity to enjoy works of some literary genius.

  20. Maa, I told you on the phone what my reply to your comment was... just want to show you Swarvanu's comment below and want to convince you to write.

    Swarbhanu, Welcome onboard, sire! And I am flattered by your comment! Let me see if I can get my mother to write some day. If you liked it so much, maybe you can read this as well. I'm sure you'll like it.


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