Today I tried to visit a place Sita´s Spring (Kund) today, across the river (Phalgu) from Vishnupath Temple. I say tried because I was harassed by panda-s (Brahmin priests) and random people cornering me into paying them money.
Whilst honoring a smaller alcove to dedicated to Saturn, one of them tapped me on the shoulder, interrupting my prayers – just so I would give him money. (Believe me, I am as aware of the way many Indians have turned their own religion into a toilet bowl … as I am in my other critiques).
It is little surprise to me that this happened so vividly here. I had a hunch it was coming.
Sita´s Spring is the location where Sita (from the Ramayana) curses the River Phalgu. Making a long story short, five witnesses (including the River) observe Sita offering food to her deceased father-in-law (Rama´s father). When her husband, Rama returns – she narrates the tale – as Rama´s realizes his father´s soul does not come to collect the offerings he later lays out (as he is satiated). With one exception, none of Sita´s witnesses corroborate her tale – all of whom she then curses: The Phalgu river, a Brahmin, a cow and a tulsi plant.
She blesses the one being who stood witness for her: the Akshaya Vatam (the banyan tree), when all else failed.
You can read a fuller description here –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalgu#Mythology
I didn´t visit the actual spring, having spoken to the land and felt its energy in any case – but mostly because I could feel Her sheer, raw power.
Then … at her sanctum sanctorum, a Brahmin priest had the nerve to demand money from me (for doing nothing at all – no prayer, no ritual, no nothing – they do that a lot …. ). I had already left an offering for the Goddess, but the demands kept coming.
The rain had just started to fall and I stood under a tree in front of a small shrine. A moment of silence. Stillness.
And something happened.
Normally, I´d just ignore them, but something in me Spoke.
WHY ARE YOU USING GOD TO MAKE MONEY?
They didn´t understand English, but I felt the shock wave reverberate.
I walked out. (As I have done in temples that abuse their presence – She seems to give me the thumbs-up when I do) – and on the way silenced a random Brahmin wandering around harassing the visitors for payment with a very, very stony glare. You could see the disgust in people´s faces – as all they wanted to do was to leave. (And no, he wasn´t a madman or anything – just throwing around what he perceived as his ritual status)
It is potent to note that Sita cursed the River that it would never flow full at Gaya (which is true), and that she Cursed the Gaya Brahmins to forever be unsatisfied, constantly craving and wanting more.
Her curse still holds true.
What surprised me the most is that the actual beggar-women sitting on the steps of what would have otherwise been a beautiful, serene spot made virtually no commotion or ruckus at all. We made some offerings to them and left.
It was strange. They didn´t act the way beggars at a temple normally would. In each of their haggard, twisted faces I saw glimpses of the Goddess.