During my first research project on Laughter Yoga in November 2006, I was staying at a guesthouse of Vivekananda Yoga University in Bangalore. Every evening, as I went for my customary after dinner stroll, I was very often told by the locals to visit the beautiful cave temple, Gavipuram, which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful examples of rock cut architecture.
Well, finally, one afternoon, I decided to see the rock marvel along with my friend from the laughter club. We walked along the street and as we entered the temple complex, the first thing that struck us was a winding line of beggars sitting outside the temple gate hoping for a bighearted soul to pass them by.
Now, if ever there was a place for prime earnings, it is an Indian temple!! People’s generosity knows no bounds as they shower their blessings on the deprived and the poor in sheer expectation of receiving their share of blessings from the Almighty. What’s with parting of a few pennies, if it makes a great bargain!!
As I smiled in silence at the on goings, I suddenly found myself being chased by two women and a young man, begging for alms. Perhaps they mistook me to be a foreigner—even better for business!! I stopped. My friend and I exchanged some knowing glances and then we slowly began to play and laugh with the group. They were completely befuddled. Hoping for a few pennies, they instead found themselves gradually warming up and laughing with us. Unable to fathom the situation, they burst out laughing at our antics and gestures. Having established a humane bonding, I asked them to wait for me as I proceeded towards the temple.
Once inside, I was again confronted with another huge line of people holding flowers, garlands, coconuts and other offerings. Their hands full, this was a complete antithesis of the line outside that stood with empty hands. We waited patiently and as we entered the big cave we saw nearly 100 to 150 people sitting with folded hands, heads bowed, and eyes closed in hushed prayer. Suddenly it struck me there are some people begging outside the temple while we are here also begging inside the temple.
As I stood on one side, it soon dawned upon me that almost everyone present inside had a list of desires, which they hoped would be fulfilled, by the blessings of Lord Shiva. Hope writ large on their faces, they unabashedly continued their barter with God. In that moment of reckoning, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own motives. I asked myself, ‘Why am I here? What do I want? I became conscious of my desires. I too had something to ask for, like the thousands of devotees who thronged the temples each day.
According to my own understanding, Why people turn to God, I categorized these people into three kinds:
Shopping List: These had a list of simple needs and desires, similar to a shopping list. They begged for these to be fulfilled—I wondered, what was the difference between them and the beggars? Both were constantly asking for something or the other. Well, I was no different. The beggars begged outside, while I begged inside.
Charge sheeting God: Then there were those who were going through a crisis, praying consistently and cribbing, ‘Why me?’ ‘I prayed each day, made all the offerings, remembered you and yet I suffer, please help me through my troubles’; they seemed to be telling God. This was like charge sheeting God himself!!! The Almighty is left with no choice but to do lend a keen ear to his devotees and fulfill some of their needs in order escape the charges!!
Security concerns: This group of people is most scared of troubles creeping up and is anxious to keep their peace intact. They pray hard to ensure that everything remains fine. With every prayer, they remind God to keep them safe and protected from all evil.
Well, after much give and take inside the temple, it was time to get back to the group that was waiting for us outside. As they saw us, there was a big grin on their face and we decided to spend some time playing and laughing with them.
I did some laughter exercises with them, which they thought was funny and they started laughing too. Within minutes there was a deep connection and I felt very close to them. Though I did not know their language, we were communicating through laughter and play. Soon, the story reversed itself. Instead of asking me for money, they started putting some coins in my hand. Before long, they had given me all the money they had!! It was a complete experience of spirituality and Godliness.
Before leaving, I hugged them and gave them some money. As we walked away, they continued to laugh and wave their hands happily. I felt so much at peace with myself.
Back in my room, I remembered the words of my spiritual teacher, Swami Sukhbodhananda who said that if you can raise your spirits by yourself and if you can raise someone else’s spirits, you are a spiritual. You don’t have to meditate for years or sit for hours in the temples, chanting mantras. Laughter is a great act of spirituality as it helps to raise your spirits as well as spread cheer to those around you.
I pray every morning and I don’t have a particular God. For me God has no form and shape, it is a higher intelligence and I am a part of it.
I have thrown away my shopping list for God and have even stopped charge sheeting him. All I do is acknowledge all the gifts that He has given me. I visualize and express my gratitude to all the people who have made a difference in my life. I ask my lord to make me worthy of helping others and give me the inner strength to get over my problems. I ask for strength to accept what I cannot change.
I ask and pray God for world peace.
Your comments please.
This article is from Dr Kataria's Book "Inner Spirit of Laughter" . You can download the E Book for just USD 8.95. To Buy Click Here.