Drifting Spirits

Whether it is Amarnath Yatra or Haj or any other pilgrimage, a few concerns have always bothered some of us !!

It is a fact that at some point in life, even some atheists among us tend to become extremely religious or try to take a spiritual discourse. This is a natural thing. Therefore, I am not at all opposed to such sentiments or pilgrimages. But linked to it, there are some concerns regarding Safety of the public and strength or mobilization of the Forces which must be primarily addressed.

Nothing should gain priority or significance to these two aspects.

Religion or such holy belief is only a way to realize or connect to God- whatever be the name. It is not universal. There may be some religions in the world still unknown to us. When compared to other religions or beliefs, some seem so simple or have such less followers that it may cast a doubt on its spiritual pursuit or existence even; these also tend to be forcibly preached in all possible ways.

Yet, religious fervour cannot be more than the awareness of public safety and a sense of national security. Because in its very essence, no successful religion has ever ignored such concerns of humanity and patriotism, and still claimed spiritual connection with the Almighty- that’s just not possible. Every page of history also proves this fact.

Let us consider the major pilgrimages of Uttarakhand- Amarnath, Badrinath, Kedarnath.

It is a treacherous terrain, and the rainy season further adds to its woes and makes it terribly unfriendly. First of all- the people, then the religious leaders, and the government should be very careful about such pilgrimages. The meteorological department may advise against a bad weather but no doubt, the initiative and go-ahead of pilgrimages always comes from the three classes I just mentioned. Such programs must be strictly limited to the summer months, however less counts of pilgrims turn up. Because a huge disaster like the recent one, causes not only loss of lives but also lot many inconveniences across societies. Some are not that candid.

The foremost of them being the burden on our already drained Forces. They are as such deficient in personnel with respect to the number, variety and quality of tasks they have to shoulder- foiling infiltration bids, counter-terrorism activities, watching the borders 24/7 right from Siachen to Kanya Kumari, serving as Commandos, building infrastructure in harsh terrains, some civilian utility jobs requiring military expertise, etc., etc. Even if a kid falls into a bore-well pit, the Army is called. Internally, they too deal with Maoism and other criminal activities daily. It has been gnawing at our roots since long. Our men, women, kids and environment- nothing is safe now.

Unfortunately, we also do not have enough of Police forces and the much needed infrastructure to address the ongoing issues. The state has failed to empower the Forces both in terms of number and might for various reasons, notably among it are huge corruption and red-tapeism. The Forces undergo a hard training and notwithstanding facilities or allowances, take home less salary than the white-collared jobs. During any crisis, they are the ones to first bear the bullets and their families are also awfully affected. Well, some may argue on the very selfless nature of their jobs.

But… when it is possible, why can we not avoid such unnecessary burden on our Forces and call for priceless sacrifices ?

In my opinion, spiritual realization or any similar enlightenment can be attained in other ways also. For example, helping the poor is a service to mankind and hence, a service or reverence to the Almighty. Howsoever ardent I might be, I cannot justify myself in unnecessarily straining our Forces (or unduely risking other people’s lives) because I have to be at Amarnath to “see” God or fulfil the final religious mission of my life. This especially, when my society needs their assistance much more than I do…when my country’s porous borders need to be guarded by them day and night, without the blinking of an eye…when and where I know I cannot practically help them in any way irrespective of nature’s whims.

This becomes crucial to consider that till date, we do not have a robust national defence strategy whether or not under a single command. How do we then quickly mobilize our Forces (on massive civilian duty) if there is an urgent demand on the borders ?

Therefore, it is my sincere request to aamjunta to consider such issues while opting for a pilgrimage. In this ultra-modern era, we are supposed to be aware of the climate, the routes, the political situation at a place, the possibility of such a journey, the probability of a disaster, the repercussions, etc. In a comparatively good situation, there may not be constraints. The pilgrimages shall be smooth. But thinking about the boiling situations in which we are caught, then at least, let us re-instate our Forces in an indirect way by choosing a safer path. It may be a charitable work or a visit to a holy shrine nearby.

Let us – keep it simple; focus on the Almighty and our spiritual quest; serve the society; strengthen our Motherland.

What are your views aamjunta ?

15 Responses

  1. No one is bothered about the nation, every one is busy on their own life and in a selfish way. Safety measure – forgotten in India at least.

    Comprehensive post. Good one, liked it.

  2. I agree for the most part. But pilgrimage destinations also boost the economy of distant mountain towns which would have had to migrate to cities otherwise, and most pilgrimage places also are located in beautiful touristy locations.
    Also, having been on many pilgrimages myself, and to Kedarnath as well, I should say that a lot of safety measures have been taken. Vaishnodevi is the most organized, protected and structurally reinforced temple I’ve been to so far. Sometimes the weather, erosion and other ‘acts of god’ may cause trouble, but that is not restrained to pilgrimage destinations alone.
    To continue… your emphasis on checking the weather and political conditions is a must for any traveler, and I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Good analytical and thoughtful post again. I agree to a large extent. What is happening now is a blame game in the media and twiter. Can’t we stop this and grow up?

  4. Agree+++

    At the time of crisis it is our duty to help the affected people and should support the armed forces involved in the rescue operation. Though the show must continue and the pilgrimage should continue, it is also our duty to take care of the safety. No one will deny this.

    Tourism industry should also evolve and grow, but when the entire machinery is overloaded and taxed, I think you are right – may be we should pause this for some time.

  5. Yes, you are absolutely right…
    Religious contentment through pilgrimages and promotion of tourism cannot gain priority over an already burdened system… at least not in today’s scenario !! Such proposals must be thoroughly regulated considering mainly weather and “additional” manpower to tackle any untoward situation or natural disaster.

  6. Though I agree with the intention I don’t agree with the content. Let me clarify certain points. People go to Amaranath Yatra during summer. It opens in March and ends in June. This years rain was not regular one. I don’t want to sound like political, but UKD Govt ignoring MET Dept warning and violating env norms in the name of development caused most causality. There were no natural calamity during maha Kumbh. But government’s mis-management killed a few. Secondly pilgrimage helps people interested about other part of nation and keep people united. Something happening in UKD might not be of interest of average Indian, but something happening at Badrinath is interesting. It keeps Indianness in the blood of Hindus. I salute the architect Sankaracharya who envisioned such idea.

  7. I do see the point you are making about not undertaking religious yatras and becoming a burden on armed personnel during winter. But I feel the government could improve infrastructure not only for our safety but also to boost the economy of all areas including our difficult to reach ones.

    Recently there was a three day storm in NZ with electricity going off and trees falling and everything disrupted. It was so cold it was like hell. Within a week things were almost back to normal and thanks to the proper departments – definitely didn’t see army personnel doing the job but tree fellers, river cleaners, electricity workmen, road workers, hospitals, ambulances etc. Hope and pray things are back to normal in Uttarakhand.

  8. Yes, it should be part of our religious duty to be sensitive about climate and consider everything in benefit of everyone involved.

  9. I was not a pilgrimage there but visiting to the unaffected parts like Dhanachuli (above Bhimtal) which is not seeing tourists due to a mistaken perception that entire Uttarakhand is equally affected.

  10. Nice blog. This is one of the reasons I prefer to be an agnostic. 😀

  11. Thanks readers, for sharing your views.

    @ kayemofnmy :
    Hope things are fine in NZ now… I highly appreciate the way things were handled there.

    @ Chaitanya, Mridula :
    I agree that pilgrimage promotes tourism and generates economy of places. Notwithstanding, what I mean is that we must halt such pilgrimages at places where and when there is a greater responsibility on our already strained Forces. It is quite similar to saying that we can’t afford to engage the entire manpower in the house /office to entertain guests /win some business deals when the house /office itself is about to catch a big fire !! This assumes more significance as in present day India-

    1. plenty of issues have hit us hard and solutions are far away – this is unlike relatively cool yester years !

    2. the Forces are the only ones to come to our rescue when any natural calamity or major untoward situation happens- we yet do not have separate or additional rescue teams especially trained for such contingencies, at least not adequate numbers ! The disaster control teams (formed by government) are already in disaster mode, not doing any thing.

    The Forces are also human beings and not robots- so why burden them when we can well avoid such situations ? True that ‘acts of God’ can occur anywhere but I am imploring to avoid or escape from where it is more likely to happen. This will ensure some window-time for the Forces and also bring down the overall casualties. It is fine to conduct pilgrimages in fair ‘weather’.

    @ Parsuram :
    Yes, inspite of the Met. warnings, sometimes the Govt. gives the go-ahead signal either being indifferent to it or incapable to promptly react to it or just not to upset a particular section of people for vote-banks, etc. Pilgrimages, irrespective of religion, does help to understand other parts of the country, stay united. But then, its not the only way to stay united !

    In addition to all the above points, I would also like to mention that it is the people who ultimately matter- some are extremely religious, even to the exclusion of all other considerations of general welfare of the society or the nation ! No matter what, they are desperate to “see” God in some form in some chosen holy shrines before they die.

    The charm of a divine spell at a pilgrimage spot is definitely untold but does that mean we ignore our priorities to experience it ? At times, can we not seek God also in our service to the society or the nation ? Pilgrimages should never be at the cost of public safety and national vigility ! Because the foremost feature of any religious or spiritual contentment is selflessness and service to the Creation. Let’s have the pilgrimages in a moderated and monitored way only.

    Personally, I would completely support skipping it altogether for some years, as the situation demands.

  12. I am always a bit sceptical about religion. When you say Almighty I quit. But contribution to soceity, awareness… I love those things.

  13. Certainly a thought-provoking post. Not sure, whether all readers have read it fully or just left half-way through!!

    I appreciate that people are concerned about the well being of the armed force in true sense, not by saying wah-wah, tusi great ho.

    The need of the hour is to bring every thing to normal and make things which are already destroyed from the scratch. It is the duty of all Indians to support such activities. Can’t we do this much? If we think of the God and think of their darshan in Kedarnath or Amarnath, I certainly see the God in helping the needy at this moment than putting burden to the over burdened forces and state machinery.

  14. Nice Post. .

  15. I think we should learn a lesson from the recent tragedy. Also, our beliefs are corrupted.

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