My Spiritual Journey- How It All Started !
Divinity of SUNDARAKANDAM
Prior to June 2001, my knowledge of our scriptures was limited only to the Gayathri Mantra (and I am not sure whether my swaras were correct !). My mother tried to teach me Vishnu Sahasranamam when I was a teenager and gave up her efforts as I could not chant in the least in spite of her best efforts. This, in spite of my topping in Hindi in all grades and being able to read and speak Hindi quite fluently, which should have helped in reading Sanskrit texts easily! Maybe the time had not come. Probably the required sincerity, efforts and keenness were missing on my part.
Now, consider the following facts !
1) I had lived in Kolkata for 22 years but had visited the Kali temple only once as a child where I witnessed a "bali" or sacrifice of a goat, which remains strongly etched in my memory. (I have visited Kali temple recently and also Dakshineshwar Temple and chanted Devi Mahatmyam there in 2009).
2) I had lived in Varanasi/Benares for more than 2 years and had not visited the Vishwanath Temple or bathed in the holy Ganga !!
3) I had lived in New Delhi for a year and did not visit the Vaishnavi Devi Temple.
4) I had lived in Cochin for more than 3 years and did not visit the Chottanikkara temple (I did visit Guruvayur a couple of times. My mother is known as "Narayaneeyam Mami" and has taught the Narayanayeem in Kolkata and in Cochin).
In short, I used to shy away from any spiritual pursuits including even visiting temples. I used to lock myself inside a room and watch cricket as my mother and friends used to chant Narayaneeyam the whole day which I found extremely irritating ! Not that I was an atheist. But I had no attraction for scriptural texts, pujas etc.
After our marriage in 1995, we went to Tanzania, East Africa, seeking greener pastures as expatriates. There was a very active Hindu community and the Tamil group was especially very active in spiritual activities. They used to hold an annual chanting of Sundarakandam during Ram Navami and I do not remember attending the same any time. They also had a weekly chanting of Vishnu Sahasranamam and I used to steer clear of such events. My interest was only in playing cricket and which I did successfully at the B-division.