Bhakti Song 78 – Church

I wrote this song when I read American poet Emily Dickinson’s letter to her friend about church. As I have the similar view, I wrote this. My aim is not to criticize or condemn the need and role of church for (traditional) Christians. They need it. But as I never fit into it, I shared my view through this song. My intension is not to hurt anyone.

கீழ்வரும் பாடலை (அமெரிக்கப் பெண்கவி) எமிலிடிக்கன்சன் தன் நண்பருக்குத் திருச்சபையைக் குறித்து எழுதியதைப் படித்த போது, அவரைப்போன்றே என்கருத்தும் இருப்பதை உணர்ந்து எழுதினேன்:


தி(தெ)ருச் சபை

கூடுகின்றார் ஒரு சபையாக

ஒருகொள்கை தன்னை அறிவிக்கவே

கும்பலோடு ஓரு “கோவிந்தா”

கண்டதே அல்லாது பயன் என்ன?

“சபை” என்கின்ற பெயராலே

சடங்காய்ப் போனது “மதமே”

சரியில்லை ஈது என்றால்

சபை எதிரி என்கிறார் என்னை

சட்ட திட்டங்கள் போட்டு

ஓரு கட்டிடத்திற்குள் கூட்டி

நடத்துவதும் சபை அல்ல

நான் அறிந்த உண்மை இது

வாரம் ஒருமுறை கூடியே

வழிபாடு என்ற பெயராலே

நடப்பதும் ஓரு நாடகம்

ஒத்திகை சில பார்த்தபின்

அனுமதி என்றால் இலவசம்

ஆனால் அனைவர்க்கும் அல்ல

“அச்சபை” கொள்கை ஏற்கும்

அங்கத்தினர்க்கு மட்டும்

நல்லவேளை நாம் பிழைத்தோம்

நாடிவந்த இறை அருளால்

காத்திடு எஞ்சும் வாழ்வில்

கடைதேற உன் பக்தனாய்!

16-10-1995-.Mahari, Rewa (M.P.)


English Translation

They gather together as a church

To proclaim a doctrine

Other than shouting along with the crowd

What else is the profit in it?

Religion becomes a ritual in

In the name of church

If I say that this is not correct

They call me an enemy of the church!?

Forming rules and regulations/constitutions

And gathering inside a building

Is not a church

This is the truth that I found!

In the name of worship

Once in a week

They enact a drama

After having some rehearsal

Entry is free

But not for all

It is only for those

Who accepts that particular church’s doctrine!

Fortunately we escaped

Because of the grace which sought us

Protect us in the rest of life

To complete our race as your bhakta.


16-10-1995-. Mahari, Rewa (M.P.)


I don’t want and cannot add any personal comment here. As you all know well my view regarding ‘organized religion’, I have nothing to add. Above all such songs and thoughts came in a particular context. Now I wouldn’t even write such songs or even write such a book like Living Water and Indian Bowl. They served as a safety valve to release the inner pressure within my brain. At the same time I don’t regret writing them. God has a purpose for all our thoughts, action, reaction and inaction. Keeping Him at the centre of our lives, when we do anything only to glorify Him and serve others, then we need not regret it for the bad taste that some of our thoughts, actions (writing) have created for anyone (mainly to us). It is like giving sugar-coated medicine only to cure a patient. God uses His ‘Marakkarunai’ which is part of His grace. ‘Maram + Karunai’. ‘Maram’ is the opposite to ‘aram’. Aram is dharma, but ‘maram’ is a negative form of dharma but not ‘un-dharmic’. As He keeps only the welfare of us in His mind He cannot act against His own nature viz., dharma. Though we cannot claim to show ‘marakkarunai’ towards others, yet God can use even our negative1 approach to serve the need of some—including ours. And this is one such song that served my purpose in that time. This poem is more a critique2 than mere criticism.


  1. Another general observation is that our Lord was not content with making positive statements only; He made negative ones also. He was not content with just stating His doctrine. He also criticized other doctrines. I am emphasizing that again in passing because, as I have pointed out repeatedly in dealing with this Sermon, for some extraordinary reason a peculiar flabbiness–intellectual and moral–seems to have entered into many people, Evangelicals included. Many, alas, seem to object in these days to negative teaching.`Let us have positive teaching’, they say. ‘You need not criticize others views.’ But our Lord definitely did criticize the teaching of the Pharisees and Scribes….—D. Martin Lloyd Jones. Studies In The Sermon On the Mount. Inter-Varsity Press. London. Reprint. Jn. 1966. Ch.17. Christ and The Old Testament. p. 181.It often seems that being critical and producing a critique are being confused and conflated.—Werner F. Menski, Hindu Law, Beyond Tradition and Modernity, Oxford, (2003), Second impression, 2005, notes, 102, p. 524