Sunday, April 30, 2006

Table tennis and making of gods

Yesterday was a busy day and in the evening, to unwind, I and Charles decided to have a game of table tennis. I lost 15-3 to my friend from Gujarat. Anyway let me not talk about my embarrassment. Here I would like to recollect some very curious things I got to hear. Both of us were talking about our respective states. He told me that in Gujarat, an interesting phenomenon is seen. In that part of the country if you render service to the public, do good to the masses, you are not just remembered as a good, generous man. Within a generation you are deified. In the popular imagination you would become a kind of god. Even temples would come up commemorating the apotheosis. He mentioned about a man called Jala Ram, who, it is believed would generously give to whoever came to him for monetory help. He would put his hand in the pocket of his ganji (a kind of handspun vest, the one you can see Paresh Rawal wearing in Hungama or few other movies) and empty it for the person asking for help. Now in the popular imagination he has achieved a status of a demi-god. Another man Bhathi ji who was skilled in sucking poison from someone suffering a snake bite has a temple built in his name. And it is believed that if leaves from a tree near that temple are rubbed on to the victim's wound he would be all right.

Charles asked me if this was true of Punjab. If it was as easy for people here to appoint and accept someone a god. Thankfully that doesn't happen here because if that were true of Punjab, there would be more gods here then men to pay obeisance to them. The sardars of Punjab are generally very generous in that sense. Anyway, the reason I felt that it is not such a prominent phenomenon here is because of a general religious atmosphere created by specific teachings of the Sikh gurus, who forbade apotheosis of men and designated the scriptures as the last and the true Guru.

I wonder if my assessment is correct.

By the way Charles next time we have a game be sure of a tougher resistance! This Punjabi would not so easily let a Gujarati become a local table-tennis god.


लाल्टू said...

Hey good man!
Just read you mail and your blog!
You English walahs! Its so easy to type in English! I spend hours typing in Hindi (and that's why I haven't for a while).
Good job man! Good stories - liked them a lot. Especially on reservation.
Well, Hindostan! as ususal!

Anonymous said...

I just read the article of many, so interesting, you are good at table tennis..?I didn't know :-)
I will often come to read your story.