Experience and Explanation

Experience and Explanation

‘Did you go to Jaipur? I heard you tell that to somebody. I did not know, you do not share much with me these days.’ Lulu, my parrot, complained while sitting on my shoulder.

‘I am really sorry Lulu. I have always thought that Indians were so uncommunicative. And I discovered that I am too.’ I said in a reflective mood. ‘Yes, I went to Jaipur. Sulabha wanted a break from the routine, so we travelled there.’

‘Did you go to Ajmer? And Pushkar?’ Lulu asked.

‘Yes, we did. The Pushkar Lake was full of dirty and muddy water. And we went to the Brahma temple too. It was clean, nicely maintained.’

‘But what matters there is the lake.’

‘Hmmm….yes. I always find that many popular places of worship are dirty….with the exception of churches.’ I observed.

‘Guruvayur temple is maintained spotless clean.. I don’t agree with you. What you say may be true of the temples in the North India.’ Lulu said.

‘Well, I think you must have attended a meeting of MNS recently! Your words will be music to Raj and his followers’ I said laughing. ‘We then went to Ajmer Sharif… the durgah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti.’

‘And what was your experience there?’ Lulu asked. ‘I have seen the narrow crowded lanes that lead to the durgah. We birds can find it easily, but I have always wondered how men will be locating the place in that maze.’

‘You said it. Those were my thoughts when my car approached the durgah. The driver said many ‘khadims’ follow a car from a distance. It is wise to stop it at a certain spot and then take an auto-riksha to durgah. We did it.’


‘It was worse than moving in Khotachi wadi in Mumbai. The riksha driver stopped it and then asked us to follow him. He walked through narrow lanes for some time and then we arrived at the durgah; the Khadim who met us near our car was already there.’

‘Did you put a chadar or flowers?’ Lulu asked.

‘We bought some flowers – Rose petals to be precise. I bought a small woven ‘skull cap’ to wear inside the durgah.’

‘Hahahaha … you have a flair for creating drama wherever you go’ Lulu said. ‘They must have mistaken you as a Muslim.’

‘Oh the Khadim thought so, but when told that I am a Hindu Bramhin he smiled. He said persons of all religious beliefs come to the durgah.’

‘Yes, that is true.’ Lulu concurred.

‘We went inside the durgah. The Khadim made sure that we were moving quickly and that we got a good ‘darshan’ if I may use that word. He asked us to come near the railing, he took the Rose petals and showered them on the Kabr….Is that what they call? I hope I am using the right word…I do not want to offend feelings of my Muslim brothers.’ I said. ‘Then he called us there again, held a green chaddar over Sulabha and me, and said a nice prayer.’

‘I had not seen that anytime, there is no place for birds to enter there.’ Lulu said laughing. ‘So I never knew what happened inside the durgah.’

‘What happened inside…… Hmmm….there is more to that story!’ I said.

‘More to the story of ‘what happened inside’? My curiosity has increased by a million times already!’ Lulu said impatiently.

‘You know Sulabha…she is a nice soul, and her religious views are a little orthodox. She comes from a very very orthodox Brahmin family. So I was actually surprised that she was so willing to come to the durgah. I was even more surprised that she not only came there but she also prayed at durgah! Hmmm….She fell silent in the car and did not talk for quite some time!’

‘What really happened?’ Lulu asked.

‘I asked her. She told me that something inside her moved when the Khadim said prayers and so did Sulabha, she was touched by some ‘shakti’ as she expressed it.’ I told Lulu who was by now dancing on my shoulders.

‘Don’t tell me! This happens to orthodox Brahmin lady!! Did anything happen to you?’

‘No. Nothing! I just said my prayers too. I am also perplexed. I would have thought that Sulabha would be the last candidate the Sufi saint would choose for blessings and for some inexplicable experience.’
‘Don’t search answers…just say your prayers. Remember that you are not in competition with anybody for His blessings. You will not be able to understand many things in this world.’ Lulu said thoughtfully and kept rubbing his head on my shoulders.

Vivek Patwardhan

PS: This is a true story.