Saturday, January 05, 2013

Old tales - The rishi and the cat

I am startng a new topic series, the name of which just came to my mind after a conversation with my mama (amma's brother) during the wait at the hospital. The topic  of discussion was "rituals in religion" and we both were arguing despite agreeing with each other(you think that is not possible, come see us arguing). so here goes the first tale in this series of old tales and stories. 

DISCLAIMER: I am not taking lessons in moral science or decrying any religion or faith or beliefs, so please just ensure that you drink a a good quantity of sense of humor before starting to read

Long long ago, very long ago, so long ago, nobody knows how long ago,  a very well versed rishi went from village to village along with his travelling students. The rishi  worshipped the fire god thrice a day and would spend time lovingly preparing the agnihotram(altar/fire pit), pouring ghee(clarified butter) and other offerings into the sacrificial fires. After his "personal" devotion he would impart wisdom to his students and also the villages who had gathered to have his darshan. Thus ran his routine, until they came to this village. Unfortunately the village's name is lost in history and poor translation. As was his wont, the rishi prepared the agni hotram, decorated it with rice flour and flowers which the villagers had brought and amidst vedic chants, lighted the fire when suddenly a cat bounded across the agni hotram disturbing the floral arrangements. He kept his patience and rearranged the agni hotram, when the cat bounded across again. This kept repeating a few times when the rishi paused his worship badly distracted and sought his disciples. The whole gathering was waiting some distance away not wanting to disturb his communion with the LORD of the GODS. The rishi called out to one of his disciples - Ananda! Ananda!  please tie up this cat some where far away from here, but release it after my puja. The villagers noticed Ananda tying  the cat behind the hut to a heavy stone mortar. Tis was the monsoons and the rishi would wait in the village for some time for the monsoon to end and everyday the villages would notice Ananda dutifully tie the cat to the stone mortar before the rishi began the puja. The villagers simple folks as they were did not understand the significance of the cat, the stone mortar and the ritual of tying the two together. Now stone mortars were a dozen for an anna (old Indian coin) where as cats were.... thats another story in economics. The demand for cats went up, people bought cats for the ritual of tying it up before the rishi started his puja. They would tie the cat at the mortars in their home and gather under the banyan tree near the rishi's ashram. Ananda dutifully ensured that his guru(preceptor's) communion with GOD was not disturbed. Through out the monsoon the villagers tied up cats and the rishi went about his business with GOD. The rains stopped, the rishi blessed the villagers and left on his further travels. Nobody knew what happend to him after that since he never passed by again. Nevertheless, the villagers learning by what they saw continued the ritual of "tie the cat before the puja". Soon enough, the actual purpose of the puja was lost, but "RELIGIOUSLY" cats were tied up to stone mortars. Then marketing and sales took over. Portable mortars and puja-only cats flooded the market.

1 comment:

  1. :) I was not aware of such a ritual before. Is it still in practice anywhere?