Adventures in India

This is an open journal of some of the things I see and think about while trying to find a place to live in India. It may or may not be interesting. I make no promises.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Welcoming God

I am now in Chennai, having made good my escape from the pleasure realm of Mamallipuram.

Kumar came to my room this morning to make sure I got my ass on that bus. I was packed and waiting. My fisherman friend, Arnee, also showed up to say goodbye. He is a big, strong guy with the sweetest, gentlest face. He always came by my room just to look at me, and make sure I was O.K. Sometimes we would sleep the hot of the afternoon away under the fan, the sound of the waves in the background, his muscular arm thrown over me protectively. Murugan's two young nephews also came by to see me off. They speak very little English, but find my antics amusing. I send them off to buy some idly for breakfast, but I am too anxious to eat, so they and Arnee eat it all.

Murugan is in Kodicanal for "business", but I suspect it has more to do with Sai Baba coming there in the next few days to offer his darshan to devotees. He is the famous guru with the huge afro. I had a book of his sayings in high school, but never really felt a strong connection. Maybe it was because he doesn't have a beard. If you are a guru, you should have the long beard. Its a rule. Most people know him as the guru who creates things out of the air with his spiritual power. Usually it is sacred ash or sweets. But I like the story of him answering the challenge of a skeptic by placing his hand on a table and raising it with a monkey under his palm. Apparently the poor primate was spooked (suddenly coming into existence must be a bit disorienting) went crazy, running around the room making a nuisance of himself, until Sai Baba clapped his hand over his hand and forced him back into the void. I would have liked to see that. Still, I am not overly anxious to see guru tricks.

Greater miracles occur every morning all over India. Every day, before others are up and moving about, the women of every household sweep the area before their front door clean and sprinkle water on the area to keep the dust down. Then, taking a handful of white powder, they allow a tiny stream to escape their hand, and create the most intricate and beautiful designs on the damp earth. It is easy to take such things for granted after being here a while. Walking to the bus stop this morning with Kumar and the others, I mentioned them to him. "Oh yes", he said, "they are welcoming God." Many of them are huge, elaborate, geometric mandalas, and it is difficult imagining how the women created them by dribbling powder between their fingers. They are very pleasing to the eye and mind. Everyone walks on them, but the designs are surprisingly tenacious, maintaining their integrity all day. Some of them are simple stars of David with a dot in the center, and I imagine the woman of that house to be busy that day, or distracted in some way. Some are so rich in detail one has to stop and just take it in. I want to find out if the designs are handed down from mother to daughter, or does each woman create her own trademark design?

I like the idea of temporary people making temporary works of beauty on their temporary doorsteps every morning to welcome God. Walking through the fishermen's village this morning, each fresh, white design seemed so hopeful, so full of life and vitality. You are welcome in this place God, tsunami or no. We will continue lovingly making beauty in the dust as long as we can, until we ourselves become dust.

Let's see Sai Baba beat that.


  • At 10:22 PM, Blogger Ruby Wolfe said…

    I like this post. It is very beautiful. I would like to live in a place where we make designs in the morning to welcome God into our Lives for the Day. This is one of the jobs of Women ---
    to bring God into the home and the lives of her People every day.
    --Eileen from Alaska

  • At 5:03 AM, Blogger answer-man said…

Post a Comment

<< Home