Kolkata: The Hare Krishna sect has found an able champion in India’s cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, who says Westerners have often taken a skewed view of Indian religious practices.
Revealing a side of his personality that was hitherto little known, Ganguly wrote a special article for the order’s souvenir on the occasion of the famous chariot festival of Hindu god Jagannath, considered another form of Lord Krishna.
Lord Jagannath’s chariot festival was on June 19 and the festivities took place in Puri in Orissa where over a million people congregated to pull three huge chariots.
“Lord Jagannath looked to them (British colonial rulers) like a demon with bloody lips and their newspapers described him as the ‘Moloch of Hindustan’, in other words, ‘the devil of India’,” Ganguly wrote.
Ganguly, who is known to be deeply religious and even a little superstitious when it comes to his cricket, wrote: “They (the newspapers) reported that Indians still bow down to wood and stone and they are not civilised people. Standing on the threshold of the 21st century, we can realise that these are misinformed conclusions.”
A copy of the article was made available to IANS.
The two-page signed article describes in detail the genesis of the chariot festival and also the greatness and relevance of the philosophies of the Hare Krishna order or the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon).
Iskcon, a sect of Hinduism that worships Lord Krishna – the god hailed in Hindu texts as the quintessential lover, friend and philosopher – is headquartered in West Bengal’s Mayapur town, about 100 km north of here.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, better known as Srila Prabhupada, established Iskcon in 1966. The Hare Krishna movement has since developed into a worldwide confederation of 10,000 temple devotees and 250,000 congregational devotees.
Iskcon has attracted celebrity devotees from around the world, including a scion of the Ford family who married his wife according to Hindu rites in Detroit, as also former Beatle George Harrison.
The sect has 350 branches across the world.
It was not be known if Ganguly is a member of Iskcon, but the cricket superstar did seem to have studied the order’s philosophies.
“The British Raj is long gone. And Lord Jagannath continues to ride his chariot not only in Puri but on all the continents of the world.
“He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, and for the Absolute Truth, there is absolute victory,” Ganguly wrote.
He concluded: “So confirms the Bhagavad Gita, which says wherever and whenever there is Krishna, or Jagannath, the master of universe, and his devotee, victory is inevitable.”
Every year, hundreds of thousands of devotees pull the huge chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra in Puri to the sounds of cymbals and conch shells.
Many pilgrims, anxious to achieve spiritual immortality or nirvana, throw themselves under the giant wheels of the chariots, and death from such acts is not uncommon.
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