Tuesday, February 19, 2008


It seems like there are countless tracks and platforms in the venerable old Victorian train station. Gratefully, all I have to do is follow the leader rather than try to figure out which platform is mine! Heyer Paul is racing ahead, keeping an eye on the eight bags. Perhaps he thinks the red shirts might run off with them?

I’ve noticed some men dressed in black, all black. Most have some kind of colorfully fringed black lungi (the men’s wraparound garment) with a long black shirt. Some just wear black pants with the black shirt. Some wear no shirt but are wrapped in black shawls. All are barefoot. All wear three or four horizontal white stripes across their foreheads. It is obviously some Hindu thing but I have never seen anything quite like it before.

Suddenly my ears are assaulted by that typically Indian form of communication, the portable loudspeaker. Someone up ahead has actually set up a sound system on the rail platform. As we draw closer I can see that it is a very large group of the men in black. They are seated cross-legged on the concrete surrounding one who must be a guru of some kind. They are rapt in their attention, almost ecstatic. It sounds, by its tone, like some kind of challenge or encouragement. I pull out my camera and snap a couple of quick pictures before a slight sense of unease sneaks over me. I slip the camera into its case and I step onto the train.

Dee tells me they are on a pilgrimage. They are heading down to a jungle in Kerala. When they get a little closer to Kerala they will abandon the train and walk the rest of the way, many miles. There are many rules governing their pilgrimage. Obviously, their clothing. But also diet rules and sexual abstinence rules. Dee says there are many, many more. They travel into the jungle and camp there for awhile. Then, on the appointed day, they all hike deep into the jungle seeking the light. If they have faithfully executed their pilgrimage they will see the light. They believe there will be a manifestation in the form of a little pinpoint of white light that blinks in the darkness of the jungle. If they see the light then their sins are forgiven.

“So, Dee, how many of them ever see the light?”

“All of them! Everyone know there is a man in the heart of the jungle with a very bright flashlight!”

It’s really not funny. People going through all the motions of religion pursuing something they know is phony while maintaining some charade of significance. I had two thoughts. One, that’s why I’m here in India. Two, it’s not all that different from the quackery back home!
Thanks for stopping by!


At 7:36 PM, Blogger Doulos Christou said...

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At 7:38 PM, Blogger Doulos Christou said...

"...People going through all the motions of religion pursuing something they know is phony while maintaining some charade of significance."

Brother: Sadly, you're describing the state of modern evangelicalism! I know there are happy exceptions, but not many here in the land of Tysonia. What a foolish, foolish thing to settle for - and thank the Lord for pastors like you who are willing to pursue reality even if it doesn't fit in the plan of a contemporary church growth model!


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