Answering questions on Berth no. 64 reserved for Bholenath in Kashi-Mahakkal Express

Answering questions on Berth no. 64 reserved for Bholenath in Kashi-Mahakkal Express

Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the private train Kashi Mahakaal Express on February 16th; that berth no 64 of this private train has been reserved for Lord Shiva, seems to have irked many.

Those who have never objected to roads, parks, platforms taken as prayer grounds every week, dargahs mushrooming on railway’s property, religion specific prayer rooms at airports and other public establishments, are disturbed by the placement of Bhagwan Shiva’s picture on a berth of a private train.

Nishtha Grover, of the India Today has chalked down 10 questions on this.  I thought, I must help her with the little knowledge of the simple Hindu way of life, I have.

1.     Do we treat this like a temple or a train? What are the dos and the don'ts that need to be followed?

Bhagwan Shiva has been seated on Berth no 64. Not the entire train. Why must the entire train have the same do’s and don’ts? Most Hindu homes have a specified place where Murtis are placed, prayers are offered. They don’t treat the entire house like a temple.

2.     Will there be any non-vegetarian food items served in that particular coach of the train, or any other coach for that matter? There are conflicting versions about the lord’s food preferences.

Again, back to Answer 1. There are plentiful non-vegetarian Hindu families that have a pooja-ghar. That doesn’t mean they don’t cook non-veg in the kitchen or eat the same in the dining area. Also, I find the tone you use while mentioning Bhagwan Shiva quite disrespectful. Wonder if you would get away being this insolent talking about the revered figures of any other faith.

3.     Consumption of alcohol and smoking is not permitted in the train but as it is almost a Shiv mandir, will the priests be serving bhole baba ka prasad (bhang)? Benaras has plenty of it!

Let me begin by pointing out the abrasive sarcasm you attempt there, doesn’t look very amusing. Again, wonder if you would try this to any non-Hindu religious figure. Millions of Hindu families pray to Bhagwan Shiva in their homes. They don’t offer bhang to him every day. Shiva is fond of bhaang, but neither is it an absolute necessity for a devotee to offer him bhaang, nor incumbent on the devotee to consume it. Bhagwan Shiv is Ashutosh. He can be pleased with cow’s milk, Bilva leaves, rice, millet.

4.     Will people ban menstruating women from the coach? Because this seems to be the burning topic all the time. Period.

Again, back to answer 1. Hindu women don’t leave their homes during periods. One may choose to steer clear from the place reserved for the deities, there is no enforcement however. I spend hours curled up on this couch when I menstruate, my little bhagwan aasan is placed just 2 meters from it. While we are at the ‘burning topic of all the time. Period’ let’s discuss the famous Kamakhya Temple is Assam. It is dedicated to a bleeding goddess.

5.     One is not allowed to wear footwear inside the temple, are the current commuters supposed to roam around barefoot in the train? That is some serious cleanliness issue.

Please refer to answer 1 above. People who leave slippers or shoes outside their pooja-aasan, don’t walk bare foot through the home. See, your basics are not in place. Hence, so many confusions.

6.     The seat that has been reserved for Bhole Nath is 64, which is the side upper berth and closer to the washrooms. Plus, it is AC 3-Tier. Why would Shiva be allotted a berth in a 3-T coach and not the best on the train? We know he is rough and tough and all, but is this some kind of test?

“…he is rough and tough and all” If only you knew better than this to while talking about a God. We Hindus forgive you. Again, Shiva adorns himself with ashes, he is a Smashaanavaasi; living an ascetic life, he roams around in the cremation ground. Proximity to toilet won’t really bother Him. But, while we are committed to the idea of Swachch Bharat, we are hopeful, Indians will keep the train stench free.

7.     To be close to the god and book a berth in that coach, will people have to pay extra for the seats next to the VIP berth?

You are sounding less than smart here. VIP berth? Bhagwan Shiva is not a Very Important Person. Because, he is not a PERSON. He is God. For the ‘N’th time, get your basics right.

8.     People generally take extra care to keep the house of god squeaky clean. Does that mean establishing a temple inside a train will result in a clean washroom and coaches during the entire journey? We can literally thank god for that.

Most people I know, keep their entire home clean, can’t comment about others though. Again, Mahatma Gandhi had said, Cleanliness is Godliness. We can hope the idea of Swachch Bharat will catch up more after this.

9. The video also shows one of the train officials lighting an incense stick with a match stick on the train. Lighting of any kind of fire is prohibited inside trains, no?

Was the train running on its regular routine at that time? Or was that happening during the inaugural celebrations?

10. Temples also follow a strict dress code. All the visitor’s clothes need to be appropriate: nothing over the knee and pallu on the head at all times. Will the commuters have to follow these dress codes or are they allowed to wear comfortable clothes during their journey?

Looks like you have never been to a temple, have you? Been visiting temples for 3 decades. Never heard of any such hard and fast rule.

Married women often choose to cover their heads with pallu.. but there’s the magic word… CHOOSE. I have tried my best to answer your queries. Will pray to Bholenath that wisdom dawns upon you soon.

PS: Here is some news for you. The IRCTC has confirmed that the photos of Mahakaal (Lord Shiva) were put up temporarily. Hope this news comforts the secular soul.