Sunday, August 31, 2008

A glimpse of something new on the Delhi-Agra highway

As you near Mathura on the Delhi-Agra highway, you'll see this impressive looking building on your right. We were there on a rainy day, and the white marble looked beautiful against a somewhat stormy sky.

"I wonder what it is", I said to my friend Pooja, when we spotted this building from afar. "Maybe it's a mosque or a tomb?"
When we drew closer, there was a little surprise in store for us. Although the structure looked Islamic, it had a non-Islamic Jai Gurudeo inscribed on the arch at the gate.

"Maybe it's some kind of sect", said Pooja. "Let's ask someone."

She asked some men standing at a tea-shop nearby, and they told us it was an ashram, a place of prayer and meditation, and that many of the residents there were old people who did not have family to look after them.

We clicked a couple of photos, and then I noticed a rather prominent signboard. "No fee for entrance", it said. "No donations. Photography allowed." I thought it was very interesting that someone would choose to put up a board like that!

So when I came back home, I decided to look up the Jai Gurudeo sect on the internet. Here's their website. They preach a simple spirituality, and while their beliefs have a lot in common with Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism, they do not follow any specific religious tradition.

Their spiritual leader, Baba Jai Gurudeo, believes the human body is on a journey towards bliss, and by living a simple life (no meat, no alcohol, sorry!) and focusing the mind on prayer, we can achieve our true potential. Anyone can join the sect and attend the meetings and discourses - there is no discrimination based on gender, caste or religion. Nor do you have to forsake your current religion to listen to the teachings of Gurudeo. I can see why he's so popular in that area!

I'm constantly amazed at how new spiritual leaders emerge from the grassroots in almost all parts of India. Each of them has his or her own message and philosophy. Many of them draw ideas from the major religions of India, but interpret them in new ways to create new philosophies and ways of living. When I come across something new like this, it gives me hope that India's great tradition of philosophical enquiry is still very much alive.


Neo said...

Hi I made a blog on delhi it's
Please give me some suggestions on how to make it a good blog I will really appreciate it.

mellow said...

Hello from San Francisco,

I came across your blog and an earlier comment about American women wearing a sare. You elegantly portrayed the experience of mingling with the fabric, color and sounds of the outfits.

What are Indian women wearing that is authentic? How does that make them feel? What are the important issues among women in India?

I thought the story about the guru was also interesting. Are there women gurus? I think everyone is a guru, rather than everyone needs a guru.

Best wishes


Anonymous said...

very good post.
and it sounds like a very open,secular sect-which liberated God from caste and creed

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Anonymous said...

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