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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Religious Sculptures

Figurines are beautiful and religious sculptures even more so, as they are crafted with special care to exude a kind of divinity that you relate to the gods or goddesses. For instance, Buddha statues normally have him in the meditative position with calmness on his face that is unparalleled to any other. Buddha’s teachings have reached far corners of the world today. Many non-Buddhists also have his sculptures at homes or offices for the kind of emotions and peace they evoke in those who see it. These statues are used as decorative centre pieces or even to enhance the beauty of landscaped gardens. While, there is no doubt that this enlightened master has made a difference in millions of lives through his teachings, many stories about him are still unknown. Read on for two of his subtle teachings that can be implementing in our day to day lives.

The Master mostly walked barefoot, and in his long journeys passed many dwellings. Once he was passing through a village. A man approached him and offered some water to drink. Buddha sat under a tree nearby and as he drank the cool water in the summer heat, the village man saw that there were many thorn wounds on the Master’s feet. He asked why he is walking barefoot. The master kept silent with a smile on his face. He then asked Buddha, “Doesn’t it hurt? The wounds do give you pain when you walk, don’t they?” Buddha replied in affirmative, but added, “But even though they do hurt sometimes, I do not suffer. While the hurt is inevitable sometimes, the suffering is by choice.” Upon hearing these deep words the man realized that he was dealing with an enlightened being.

Another story that can be relevant in today’s world is that of Buddha and a hater. It goes something like this:
Buddha was once passing through a village and a man came in front of him and started abusing him. He claimed that the Master’s teachings were useless and that he should stop all this ideas he has about changing the world because he can’t. He told Buddha that he was not welcome and said many other cruel things. All throughout this episode the Master didn’t say anything but intently listened to every word with a serene smile on his face. This irritated the hater even more so, and after saying a lot more he finally stopped talking. Once he was silent Buddha simply asked him if he was finished and whether he could leave and be on his way. The man was taken by surprise. He was stunned and said, “Didn’t you feel bad about all that I said? How can you be so cool and want to just carry on without so much as a word in anger?” To this the Master replied, “In the last village I visited, many people from the village came to meet me with flowers, garlands and other offerings. I simply did not accept them, so they just had to take them back.” The man quickly realized what the Master meant and fell to his feet in remorse.

Religious sculptures like that of Buddha can be quite enriching, if you remember the various teachings when you lay eyes on them.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Religious Statues

What is the difference between religious statues and any other? Well, every religious statue is about a deity or saint and is symbolic of the teachings. In the sometimes fickle world we live in today, such statues remind us of virtues like righteousness, honesty, wisdom, justice, and many more. One of the recent saints, whose teachings have spread in all corners of the world today, is Saibaba of Shirdi. Revered as one of the greatest saints of all time and worshipped by millions as a God incarnate, Saibaba was a mysterious Fakir who enriched the lives of each person he met in his lifetime. Regardless of religion or creed the enlightened saint blessed all who came to him in myriad ways and preached that there is just one god (Sabka Malik Ek).

Often saying, “my miracles are inscrutable”, Saibaba had demonstrated many miracles in his lifetime. Some of these stories are carried by devotees far and wide. For instance, Saibaba was very fond of burning lamps in the Masjid where he often stayed and other temples in Shirdi and needed oil for the little earthenware lamps he lit. Being a Fakir, he depended on the generosity of the grocers to donate it from time to time, as he lit those lamps every night. There came a time when all the village grocers felt it was unprofitable to give free oil to the saint and one day all of them refused to oblige him saying they were out of fresh stock.

The Fakir returned to his Masjid empty handed, but without a word of protest. He simply poured water into the earthen lamps and lit the wicks. To everyone’s disbelief, the wicks were lit and the lamps burned deep into the night. The news of this miracle seen by many soon reached the grocers’ ears and they all felt profusely sorry about refusing the divine saint. They rushed to his feet and apologized. Saibaba pardoned them but warned them never to lie again. He told them that they could have plainly refused without the untrue excuse that they all made. But, of course by then they all knew that he didn’t need their charity for his task.

The fascinating thing about Saibaba and many of his stories that you can find online or in books, is that they talk of him telling things to particular people and many of these people’s families still reside in Shirdi. His many other wonderous stories have been carried forward through generations. Like that of Babu Kirwandikar’s daughter who often told people she was Saibaba’s sister. Even the godly saint was extremely fond of the child. Once she fell in a well. The villagers rushed to help her and found her suspended mid-air as if some invisible hand was holding her up. The people quickly pulled her out and praised Saibaba for her extended life. Hence, religious statues of Saibaba can be found in every house in Shirdi.