//DEVIL'S ADVOCATE: Man-made Deity

DEVIL'S ADVOCATE: Man-made Deity

Savitri Singh, Times of India

The Amarnath Yatra is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages for a Hindu. But this year, apart from the inclement weather which has affected progress of the yatris, the non-formation of the holy lingam — the primary reason for the yatra — has created quite a storm.

Someone or a bunch of people aware of Lord Shiva's reluctance to appear on his own, it is believed, built their own version of the lingam. Unfavourable weather conditions are said to be the reason for this non-appearance.

For the purists, this man-made lingam is seen to be a travesty of their faith. But look around you in almost every big temple, and the main deity is man-made. And yet pilgrims undertake those pilgrimages without feeling cheated.

Man-made deities are the norm rather than the exception. It's the faith of the believer rather than the origins of the deity that imbues a particular deity with its powers.

That's how a piece of marble is transformed into an omnipresent god. Has anyone debated as to who made a particular murti in a particular temple and whether that is right or wrong?

Should then a true Shiv bhakt really worry too much about who or how the lingam came to be made? It's his faith in that lingam which will determine whether it has the requisite divinity and not the identity of the creator.

By focusing only on the lingam and not the arduous journey that a pilgrim has to undergo to reach it, is to undermine the true essence of the pilgrimage.

The long and unfriendly terrain one has to pass through to reach the deity is a symbol that attaining salvation isn't easy. By being fixated on the identity of who could have created the lingam, there is an attempt to debase the pilgrimage.

For the essence of any pilgrimage or even a simple trip to a neighbourhood temple lies in acceptance of what is put in front of us as God and what is said to be His dwelling.

If the weather gods this year played truant and did not oblige by helping form the lingam, there is really no need to panic. Indians are known to be good at finding solutions for intractable situations. This is just another example of it. Nothing more, nothing less.