The Shiva temple where I live, has been in a state of disrepair since last few decades, but continues to draw devotees. It was built many centuries ago by a Muslim prince for his favourite nanny, who happened to be a Hindu and an ardent devotee of Shiva. He loved her more than his own mother, and in her honour, got constructed the beautiful structure, along with living quarters for priests, in the outskirts of Lucknow city, in North India.
I myself have no religion. Though my existence is connected to the temple, I know that the God who is in the sanctum sanctorum is also within me. I have stood silently, in a state of meditation, constantly regenerating myself.
With each dawn, I would begin my day with salutations to the Sun, and pay my obeisance as it disappeared from the horizon. In my own small way, I have tried to follow the generosity of the Sun – always giving, always nurturing.
With time, my penance became more severe. Then one dawn in summer time, just before the first rays of the Sun touched the sky, I saw the Golden Light. It shimmered within me and around me. I had myself become Gold – the Light of God.
The young son of the temple priest, who was sleeping outside, looked at me with astonishment. He gave a scream and ran inside his house, calling the family. By the time people had gathered around me, I was no longer bathed in gold, at least not from the outside. It had come to rest in my being.
From that day onwards, they understood that something about me had changed, and started worshipping me, offering flowers and doing rituals to seek my blessings.
If only they had an understanding of their own divinity. They would then discover the Golden Light, like me, whom they call the Old Peepal Tree in the Shiva Temple.