I was asked what I thought of the Kumbh Mela in general and would like to write in detail about this in the next days, just as I started yesterday. I think I should also explain a little bit what I think of the festival idea in general.
Hinduism tells its believers that you should go at the time of the Kumbh Mela and take a bath at that holy place. All your sins will be washed away and you can thus go to heaven once you die. You will not spend your time until the next life in hell but in heaven. How practical – no matter how many sins you do, you can wash them all off! So people won’t hesitate doing sins anymore, they can anyway wash it off! You won’t have sins anymore but all your virtues will show. These virtues, your good Karma, will bring you to heaven.
Religion thus tells you that virtues is like fictional money with which you can buy an entry ticket for heaven, just as you buy a ticket to see a movie in the cinema. The more money you have, the better your place will be. There are also those who sell the tickets and advertise the movies – and of course religion wants to have the house full and show only full shows! So these advertisers have been doing their best to get visitors and after many years, visitors are coming nearly on their own!
If you have a look at these advertisers – the gurus, the religious leaders, the sadhus and babas, the holy people, they all do their best to get you into that cinema hall and follow the show. If you have your eyes open however, you would notice that it is only an illusion, only fiction and only drama. On the Kumbh Mela, one can watch them all very nicely.
Those holy men are the main attraction at the Kumbh Mela and they walk around everywhere, give their lectures, perform ceremonies against money and of course make new followers. In a newspaper I saw a picture of a big crowd of these spiritual people, all dressed in saffron-coloured and orange robes and wearing arms, as if they were soldiers. And not only swords or weapons of old times, which could be explained that they are written about in the scriptures but also guns! Holding their firearms, they were shooting into the air, celebrating the beginning of the Kumbh Mela! Doesn’t that make you see another face of religion?
These gurus and sadhus, the advertisers, try everything to get you into their cinema, their show of illusion and fiction. For the next three years, until the next Kumbh Mela in another place, they will extract money in some way or another from their followers in that area, so they want as many people surrounding them as possible. The amount of people who go there does not change the fact however that it is only fiction.
So no, if you ask me, I don’t have any intention of going to Allahabad to join the show. I don’t believe in the concept of cleaning one’s sins in a polluted river and I can see that religion, the cinema, is only there for making money and maybe entertaining people. I thus don’t see any sense for anybody who is not caught in the illusion of religion to take part in this festival.