Maintaining the Forest Environment (57)

12/01/2012 History of Lord Ayyappa

What inspires millions to go on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala is the spiritual refinement and satisfaction it provides through a temporary break in the ordinary patterns of life and attuning the mind to the divine dimensions of life. This was certainly the reason of a dominant section undertaking the pilgrimage till a quarter of a century ago. Although the same spirit prompts innumerable pilgrims even today, there are people who go there with a disposition of outing and tourism, not well imbibing the spiritual solace and grace the pilgrimage provides.

As the oft repeated saying reminds us, man does not live by bread alone. Unless the means are provided to help man to be in communion with the higher resources within, through the cultivation of the spiritual values, the material developments will serve only to increase the suffering of humanity. While evolving plans to make the pilgrimage more comfortable, it should be kept in mind that the very aim of the pilgrimage is to gain access to the all-embracing spiritual realm within.

People go to Sabarimala seeking spiritual solace and reassurance beyond the field of physical comforts. They should be given the basic amenities in such a way that they can maintain the spirit of their austerities and contemplate on spiritual Truth in a reasonably congenial environment. The purpose of such an arduous pilgrimage will be defeated if it is made ‘very comfortable’. The ancient sages designed the pilgrimage in such a way as to make it a little ‘uncomfortable’, which is a necessity to activate the spiritual potential. They wanted to equip the pilgrim for a spiritual breakthrough facing circumstances that do not lull his physical senses in situations of ordinary comforts. If we make a study of the biological evolution of life, it would be very clear that the life stream received its impetus to express its higher potentials by facing very challenging situations. The strict discipline and exertion involved in this pilgrimage are meant to reinforce the pilgrim physically, mentally and spiritually.

Several fields of human quest are today turning their searchlight to greater facts of life for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of man. The serious thinkers and scientists the world over are of late recognizing the basic influence of the mind for ensuring the wellbeing of the body and to bringing harmony in life, a fact which was pointed out for generations by the sages of India. The special disciplines of the Sabarimala pilgrimage and the environment of Sabarimala are so intelligently designed by the sages of yore to help to make human life more meaningful and we should not commit the folly of turning this pilgrimage into a picnic and this great seat of spirituality into a centre of market culture in the name of ‘development’.

It is often said that wealth is required for development and development will bring more wealth. The world has witnessed enough how dangerous wealth deprived of spiritual values would be. Material development coupled with the cultivation of spiritual values would lead to the evolution of a superior civilization and all the developmental activities, especially of such places as Sabarimala, should be oriented towards this necessity. The spiritual concept and the importance of maintaining the pristine charm of nature should not be ignored.

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