02 August, 2021

Unsaintly Saint

Unsaintly Saint
Uttarakhand must be the most recited name in India since it starts the mantra that blesses the devotee who reposes trust in the Ganga. Note: in our hills we have not derecognised royalty. At Gangotri, lights are waved in honour of "Ganga Maharani." (Nowhere on earth can you find more beautiful worship than of the raw river elements here.) In the age of the NRI, the "foreign-born" have their panda apportioned – the whole world is divided into districts, and he will (if suitably encouraged by the sight of the evergreen mantra – "In God we trust") come up with your gotra. Contrary to what is put out about the acquisitiveness of the hill priests, I have found them helpful and sincere. Each winter when the shrines are lcked, the pandas descend to renew contacts with the pilgrim bringing 'Ganga Jal' to your doorstep. For years I have been graced with visits from a baba from Gaumukh who demands a flashy diary which I have to superscribe "presented to" in order to impress other less-forthcoming subscribers. I once asked Mauni sadhu in Gangotri his opinion of my saintly visitor and he...

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