I will never forget that the moment I began to see Hinduism as the path I wanted to pursue, I was reading a book by Neil Gaiman called “American Gods.” That being the case, it astounds me that something did not occur to me until last night.
India’s entire landscape is infused with stories of the Devas and Devis actually setting foot in various places and doing various deeds. Every major mountain, every major river, every coast. And every major pilgrimage site in India is sacred because of various stories of the Gods doing this or that depending on the sect, or carrying out certain pastimes within that vicinity.
Certainly Jews and Muslims have their own sacred places that are directly related to the goings and doings of various prophets.
It’s no wonder why the every-day life in India is so closely associated with one’s spiritual life. Surely it goes beyond this, but I am sure the proximity of the gods in all aspects of life plays a significant role. And it is no wonder why for most of the year, life in general in America is fairly secular, aside from a rising minority of Christian Fundamentalists. The closest thing we have here in the states is like…Yankee Stadium and Graceland and the Hollywood Walk of Fame and all such nonsense. Babe Ruth, Elvis, and John Wayne. Those are our American Gods.
Being a Christian nation, the only real contact between the landscape of the United States with divinity is that the Book of Mormon supposedly suggests/says that Jesus came to America. And the only place associated with that, Hill Cumorah, is not a shrine, and it is even theoretical to most Mormons. Most would say that, as a Mormon friend of mine told me, “the general idea is that sacred space is wherever you make it.”
It is theoretical, and yet so are many of the sacred places all around the Indian subcontinent. It is not to be taken literally that Shiva carried his wife Sati all around India while her body fell to pieces, leaving behind for all time the shakta-pithas, various places in India representing body parts of the Goddess. And Hindus certainly believe that “sacred space is wherever you make it,” which I will examine in my next post.