A Blog written on Mehndipur Balaji Pilgrimage

With a 1000 apologies, I am writing this blog to be dedicated to the feet of Mehndipur Balaji


 


Mehndipur Balaji is a temple in Rajasthan which is famous throughout the country and even the world for controlling the evil spirits that ruin the lives of the people who became their victims. We are living in an age when ISRO has launched more than 100 satellites in the space in one go. Also the science has unfolded the mysteries of almost everything in the world. In such a situation, talking about the miracles of Mehndipur Balaji temple may seem to be silly for the so called progressive minds.


Looking at the mystery of Bermuda triangle and 100s of such facts across the globe, we realize that there is something that is beyond the reach of science or scientific analysis.


The miracles of Mehndipur Balaji are also like that, impossible to understand the logic but prove to be very effective in actual or real life.


Carrying too many queries in my mind, I also visited the place on February 16, 2017, Thursday morning. Thanks to the director of a multi-national software company Dr Rajesh Lekhi that he took me with him in his car to this revered temple. I was on a trip to Udaipur and was to return to Indore on 15th evening but Dr Lekhi asked me to come to Chittaurgarh from Udaipur as he was on the way from Indore to Mehndipur Balaji.


I believe that Balaji was calling me and without thinking even for a second, I left the idea of catching the train for Indore from Udaipur and told Dr Lekhi that I will join him at Chittaurgarh. After the event held at Hotel Valley View in Udaipur, I came to the bus stand and boarded a bus of Rajasthan Roadways which was ready to leave for Chittaurgarh. The bus was in a dilapidated condition but I didn’t mind it and sacrificing my whole comfort, I boarded that bus. Everything in the bus including its horn was making peculiar sounds and every speed breaker or a bump on the road made me jump from the seat.


By the way, overcoming all odds and problems of the way, I reached Chittaurgarh and Dr Lekhi along with his managerial team picked me up from there. Lekhi, a staunch follower of Balaji played Hanuman Chalisa in the car’s music system to greet me and told me that I was lucky that Balaji was calling me to Mehndipur and it was he who had sent him to take me there.


I was in deep thoughts on the statement regarding Balaji’s call to me and there was a clash of thoughts going on inside my mind on whether it could be true or just an assumption of Dr Lekhi. Fighting was on while our car was heading towards Jaipur via Bhilwara. Amidst all this, we reached the guest house near Mehndipur Balaji at 3 AM. Our rooms were already booked and I went to the bed as soon as we entered the room.


The morning aarti starts at 6 AM and Dr Lekhi came to me at 5 AM to take me to aarti. But I refused saying that I will go there after my sleep is over. I was ready by 8.30 and I asked Dr Lekhi to come with me for Balaji darshan. We hired an auto rickshaw and our final journey of one kilometer towards the temple started.


Dr Sahb was talking on the problems faced by the pilgrims at this sacred place and was indicating towards the encroachment, dirt, mess everywhere but I felt that the signals of my transmitter (mind) were in full resonance with that of Balaji. Due to this, I was listening everything only passively while was engaged in a virtual dialogue with the almighty actively.


After the rickshaw dropped us near the temple, we reached a Prasad shop and after keeping our shoes at the shop, we proceeded to the temple. To our surprise or we can say good luck, the queue was very short and we reached the Sanctum Santorum in almost no time. Darshan was fantastic and we offered the Prasad and the security guard present there asked us to proceed. We came out to visit the Bhairav Baba and then the place where evil spirits and ghosts are nabbed and people facing them are freed. It was the temple of Pretraj Sarkar where the scenes were horrific. People from about 20 year old girl to men and women in their 70s and 80s were performing actions that could frighten anybody who has not seen such things before. Many of them were tied with iron chains and a middle aged woman while lying on the floor was constantly chanting, “Baba mujhe chod do, maine kuch nahi kiya hai”. As I looked into her eyes, though by mistake, I got shivered off due to fear. There were signs of revenge in her eyes and I felt that her vision had pierced into me, deep inside. Without thinking anything, I started looking at her relatives who were with her and controlling her.


Then I saw a young and beautiful girl wearing a black and red salwar suit was tossing her open hair continuously in all directions. The scene was horrifying because nobody was able to see her face and her long hair were continuously moving in the air and she was shouting something.


Now the priest there who was well known to Dr Lekhi took us to the entrance to a place called Bhangiwada. It was a black stone hillock on the rear side of Pretraj Sarkar where we saw a large number of used clothes hanging off the rocks of hillock. By the way, we were there to perform some rituals. The priest chanted some mantras and then we threw the Prasad in our hands on our back side. As per the ritual, without looking back we descended the staircase on the other side and we were coming out from the temple while having a view of Bhangiwada where the people infected with evil spirits were sitting, standing, lying, walking, running and even doing abnormal acts. Seeing all this with fear and curiosity, I came down the stairs and thus the religious yatra of Mehndipur Balaji concluded. I thanked Baba for giving me a chance and permission to get his darshan and prayed that I should be allowed to come here again and again. By now the journalist, scientist, socialist and a reformist inside me had woken up and all of them were in full senses.


I think it was the order and desire of Mehndipur Balaji that though Dr Lekhi poked me to observe and write something against the irregularities at this most sacred religious place. I don’t know whether it will bring any change in the system or it will take the place towards betterment but I believe that if Balaji wants me to write then I must do it with full sincerity and dutifulness.


Now I was listening to the playback of what Dr Lekhi was telling me when we were going towards the temple. He was right and I felt that it was his pain that there were gross irregularities all over. Despite the fact that it was a religious place of highest order, neither the authorities nor the public representatives were doing anything for doing something for it. In such a situation, how can we blame the pilgrims for not raising their voice against it? They don’t come here as activists and return after darshan at the temple. They visit the temple to give away their worries, their pain and everything which a human being feels difficult to bear.


It is true that the shopkeepers have the right to do business but it is not justified that they have encroached more than half of the road on both the sides. About one lakh persons come here daily and the number increases on special occasions. As per the locals, the municipal committee or the district administration have never took any action against these encroachments that lead to frequent traffic jams and chaos at many times every day.        


There are drains on both sides of the road but the condition of the drains is pathetic. Almost all the drains remain always choked and one can imagine the situation when the garbage stuck in these drains gets rotten as a foul stink always rules the area and I think the people living there have become used to this foul smell. We can imagine the state of mosquitoes, flies and all sorts of microbes in such a situation.


As we come near the premises of the Mehndipur Balaji temple, many cows, oxen, buffaloes, pigs and goats meet us standing on all sides of the temple. It seems that they are there to welcome us and it is not their fault if any of the pilgrims is pushed by these animals or gets injured. These animals concentrate on the hands of the pilgrims who carry various forms of eatables as offerings to Balaji. Often such situations arise when the pilgrims are pushed by these animals but despite knowing everything, the civic body has not done anything to rectify this problem.


When one enters the area from where the queue starts, one can see that the ceiling fans fitted above the iron guarded queues to manage large influx of pilgrims, the wings of most of the fans have been folded, the reason for the same is best known to the temple management and the security officials that are spread in and around the temple campus. There is an iron cage like arrangement for the pilgrims’ queues which seems as if it has not been cleaned for the last decades. Dirt, cloth pieces and web had engulfed that iron jail, due to which it was stinking also. There is a vent of centrally controlled AC in that portion but the vent is broken at many points and it has never been functional in the last few years. This was not all in that area as when I raised my eyes to see the roof, I saw that there were cemented racks on the walls of all four sides and a variety of garbage, defunct electrical and electronic appliances and much more rubbish were found lying in all these racks.


Our queue marched forward and after passing through a small corridor, it reached the gate of the main building. The plight of the corridor was also the same as plastic and jute sacks filled with coconut shells, empty agarbatti stick packets, empty bottles of Chameli oil etc were lying haphazardly here and there. Some of these sacks were wet due to water poured on them and rotting had started in the contents inside the sacks.


As we know that shoes or any type of footwear are not allowed in any of the temples, the rule is same in this temple too. But the biggest problem regarding this rule in Menhdipur Balaji temple was that the floor of the queue lanes was very rough and there were many abrasions on it leading to severe injuries to the feet of the people who are generally not used to walk on such rough surfaces. Also, there are pointed stone pieces coming out of the floor which also result in deep injuries to the pilgrims. Such a huge amount of money is received by the temple administration as donation and the cost of making a pavement in this area won’t be much but it seems that the responsible persons are not at all concerned with such issues.


While in the queue for darshan, I found dirty water coming in our way and spreading in many parts of the temple causing extremely pathetic condition for the pilgrims. I learned that there is no proper system for disposal of waste water and the water which is released while washing the temple floors.


Another important feature of Mehndipur Balaji temple which I felt was that the beggars were mostly the young and beautiful women and small growing girls. Rarely an old male beggar was found. The way of begging was also very different as those women used to expose themselves a little whenever approaching any male pilgrim with an intention that his eyes follow their body at least once. I think I must not point it out as we are living in an era of offensive marketing management and I studied about its various features while doing my MBA degree, a long back. Also I might have objected to this but many pilgrims were very happy to see what soothes their eyes and ultimately the mind.


I saw that the prasad which the pilgrims were offering at Balaji temple below was collected in big utensils but it was being subjected to the flames of the small havankund at the temple of Pretraj Sarkar. Rest was of was thrown at the hillock. I am not well versed with the nuances of Godly issues but it was my personal feeling that the prasad could have been distributed among the poor in place of putting it in the fire and burning it. On one hand, it was being wasted while on the other hand, it was creating carbon dioxide and other green house gases.


There is some power in the temple which is evident not only from the huge mob coming here for darshan but also from the fact that several people offer Sawamani (50 kilograms of Laddus) as prasad daily and then distribute it among the devotees and beggars outside the temple. People who got their wishes fulfilled or we can say that they are blessed by Balaji, offer Sawamani at the temple and come with their families for these offerings. I feel very bad in telling that the laddoos were coming under our feet while we were descending down the stairs after our puja was completed.


In the same way, many devotees were distributing halwa-poori to the passersby just outside the temple. Halwa made with desi ghee was looking exotic in taste and appearance but the people who were distributing it had kept its containers at very dirty place which was full of dirt and mud. More disgusting was the scene which came before my eyes when we were in the queue waiting for our turn for darshan. A teenager girl came with a paper plate in her hand which was filled with halwa-poori and dumped it in the dustbin that was kept just outside the queue fence.


A scene was worse than this one when we reached the rear side of the temple. We saw that a tractor trolley was parked in the street in which the devotees were emptying their utensils that were filled with boiled rice and urad daal. I was curious to know the reason and when I asked the devotees, they told that they had taken a pledge during their earlier visit to offer a bhog of rice and urad. They also told that as per the rituals, the daal and rice which are semi cooked are to be thrown at the back side of the temple. On this, I talked to a priest there about such a ritual which leads to huge wastage of the food grains in the name of religious rituals. The priest told me that the rice and daal are first dumped in the trolley stationed there all the time and then it is taken to a gaushala run by temple trust. The idea sounded good but one more question arose in my curious mind. I showed the priest the condition of the rice which was stinking due to fermentation and there were very high possibilities of development of harmful bacteria, viruses, algae and fungi in this semi cooked rice and daal. If the cows in the gaushala will eat this quality of food, what would be the effect of it on their health and quality of the milk they produce?               


Here I feel that in a country like India and many other countries of Asia and Africa where millions of people are compelled to sleep with empty stomach, such sheer wastage of food should be done in the name of God or not?


Mehndipur Balaji or God never asks us to offer anything during worship as he is the originator of everything what we see. We are very small creatures in his mighty universe and we forget that when we are the beggars in front of that almighty, how can we think of offering something to him? I don’t comment on the sense of bhakti in the devotees or the pilgrims who come to this or any other temple but we will have to remember the famous saying of Swami Vivekanand, “I worship that God who is called man by ordinary people”. By this Swamiji meant that if we take care of the men and women, the best creations of God, then it means that we are actually worshipping God.


It is a highly revered shrine for the people of Hindu faith and people even from others faiths come here to get blessed or to get rid of the evil spirits after they fail in getting relieved at all other such places in the country. I tried to find the reason for ignoring or overlooking of all issues related to Balaji temple by government organizations and I got a very interesting reason for that. Actually, the Balaji temple and its sub- temples are spread in a big area and the jurisdiction of that area falls under two districts, two tehsils and five village panchayats.


Parts of this pilgrimage fall under Dausa district while some parts fall in Karauli district, though both the districts are of Rajasthan state. In the same way, the area falls under the jurisdiction of two different tehsils i.e. Sikray and Todabheem. More interesting is the fact that the same area falls under the jurisdiction of five different village panchayats i.e. Meenaseemla, Udaipura, Mehndipur, Sankarwada and Gairoli.


So, we have seen that due to the overlapping of the jurisdictions of the districts, tehsils and panchayats, the pilgrimage and at the end, the pilgrims are the sufferers. The government departments are best known for passing the ball of duty to the other’s court as they are the best players of this game. In my study, I have found that same thing is happening with this pilgrimage of Balaji temple. I’m here not just to raise a question but with the blessings of Balaji Maharaj, I’m giving a unique solution to all the issues pertaining to this temple. When there are provisions for re-alignment of the boundaries of states, then there must me the same provisions for re-alignment of the boundaries of districts, tehsils and panchayats also. If the public representatives of the area and the government realize the issues and takes initiative in this regard, I think all the issues could well looked after. But again I would like to say that it depends on the political will of the leaders and the government.


I’ve resolved to do something for this and Dr Lekhi also wants that something concrete must be done in this regard. Only the time will tell whether I and Dr Lekhi will be able to do anything or not but the first thing we are going to do is to spread awareness through various media sources.


Balaji will keep guiding us and we will be following his directions. The movement won’t only be focused on Mehndipur Balaji temple only but we will do the same at other religious places also.


I apologize for writing anything which hurts the sentiments of any person organisation    


Jai Balaji