Last Sunday I was uniquely disposed with the urge to explore – not the usual book stores but some place new. I ended taking a long drive right across the city to the ISKCON temple in the ECR road. The minute I entered Thiruvanmiyur, I was filled with a sharp tinge of regret for having moved away from my routine week end book store haunt. The traffic was almost bumper to bumper. However the day to my delight and surprise turned out worth the drive.
The temple was serene and within minutes of stepping in you are touched by a sense of devotion. The premise is clean and the loud silence takes you slowly in its fold. The mild bhajan sung not so much in chord by devotees, creates an effect where without your knowledge your mind seeks the large Krishna Idol.
As I was taking the rounds, I was accosted by a gentle volunteer who took upon himself the job of helping me around the visit. Normally what could have become intrusive turned to a pleasant conversation. What I observed was while he was giving me reasons to make certain purchases care was always exhibited to respect my desires and opinions. Boundary line was clear between pushy salesmanship and friendly help.
As I was completing my rounds, I was asked if I would like to participate in a collective chant that was taking place. As the chant was just 108 times the name of the LORD, it was neither demanding on my time nor was it too difficult to execute. As I found myself joining the chant – I did feel the warmth of being enveloped not only by my voice but of the many others who were already chanting to the tempo.
As I came out of the temple for a long time I was thinking of how in every aspect of my visit care had been taken by someone to ensure even simple interaction becomes an experience. I learnt three key aspects that had helped in achieving this:
- An organized and well constructed conducive environment. There was no doubt in any visitors mind what the place stood for. In its layout, decor, architecture, and other inanimate and all animate aspects – the temple stood as a place for devotion. There was neither conflict nor contrast amongst its many individual elements
- For everyone who was entering the temple – there was someone inside the temple extending the helping hand. However while they considered it as their duty to offer help – they respected the choice of the other person to accept or reject it. This was done with such grace that even when you declined help you felt they had somehow helped you in the process.
- The understanding of the importance of engaging people. Care that was so visibly exhibited, to ensure that every possible interaction was converted into an experience for the persons coming into the temple. Because transactions are quickly forgotten but it is the experience that are remembered
Very often it is said, if you are aware of what happens to you even a simple act can give you a lot of learning. My trip undertaken without any expectation or prejudice – left me quite enriched in terms of some thoughts which I know is very essential not only in the spiritual journey but in the living of the worldly life too!