Temple Dog

I‘d been looking at the on line photos of the temple tour part of the Karunamayi India Retreat. Some of the photos were taken in a temple where the group and Amma were standing in a sort of walkway that appeared to be on one side (or more) of an open courtyard in the temple complex. They were looking at carvings and there were temple priests, Brahmins, talking to them. That night I dreamed that I was on the tour, in the walkway with the tour, listening to the Brahamins speak, when suddenly a dog — thin, looking malnourished, one of the village dogs — wandered in and started to walk across the open courtyard. The Brahmin priest stopped talking and picked up some stones and started throwing them at the dog. I asked him to stop and asked him why he was throwing stones at the dog. He said the dog was impure and was making the temple grounds impure. I told the priest that if that was the case he should also be throwing stones at me because I was as impure as that dog: I was without caste, so I was untouchable, I was harijan; in fact I wasn’t even Indian and the dog was Indian, so in that regard the dog had more going for it than I did. The priest looked at me like I was crazy and then started throwing stones at the dog once again. I grabbed his arm and told him to stop, and then I walked over to the dog and sat down in the dirt in the courtyard. The dog came up to me, laid down, and put his head on my knee. I put my hand on his head and we just sat there.

The Brahmin came storming over, accusing me of defiling the temple grounds by encouraging the dog to stay. I looked up at the priest and told him that that little dog meant more to me than all the Brahmins, all the priests, all the pujaris, in India. “Why?” he asked. “Because,” I replied, “this little dog just wants to be with me. He doesn’t want anything else, just to be with me. You Brahmins and priests want all kinds of things from me, but none of you just want to be with me. You perform all kinds of ceremonies, do all kinds of rituals, to get something from me, but none of you wants to just be with me.” The Brahmin looked at me with the sort of look you’d make if you’d just narrowly missed stepping in a large pile of cow manure, and he walked away.

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