Bhadra Maruti Temple: Sufism In A Hindu Temple?

Meena and PhenoMenon and their little nephew!
Meena and PhenoMenon and their little nephew!

I first ‘met’ Meena Menon and her husband Pravin (aka PhenoMenon) via the Blogging From A to Z Challenge 2013 . Perhaps it’s the Hyderabadi connection, but Meena and I hit it off like a house on fire.  We were lucky to meet in person when they visited Mumbai late last year. They were on a trip across parts of Maharashtra – and Meena shares one of the stories of her trip here. Meena is one of the most generous and thoughtful souls I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with and I’m so happy to have her over here today.

Do visit Meena’s Space and follow her on Twitter @miamenon


When Cory asked me to do a guest post for her, I literally had butterflies in my stomach – imagine doing a guest post for Cory of all the people! Anyway you cannot deny the chief – can you!

This was during the road trip we did across Maharashtra in December last year. That reminds me, I haven’t even blogged about that trip!

Anyway, off we go on a visit to the Bhadra Maruti Temple (Aurangabad District).

It had been  a long day and we were headed towards the Ellora Caves. The last item on the ‘to-do’ list for the day – the visit to the Bhadra Maruti temple. Honestly a temple visit at the fag end of the day didn’t appeal much to either of us. But I am glad we did it.

When we reached the temple – there was hardly any crowd owing to it being the thirteenth hour. Just as we stepped into the temple courtyard, we were greeted with soothing local folk music created by the gent in the picture below.


The music had us so enthralled that maybe for the first time I was literally ‘lost in the music”. The tiredness was forgotten and a strange calm crept in….. the moon-lit night and the cool breeze added to the magic!

Watch the performance. Please excuse the poor quality and sound interference. This was shot on our phone camera and the conditions were far from ideal!

Did you enjoy the video?  Did you feel their music was heavily influenced by Sufism? Well, I for one did.

Surprisingly, the prayer-style of devotees here is very reminiscent of Islam (kneeling down, prayer cap on the head and hands raised towards heaven!). As you  see in this image, that the idol is positioned horizontally on the floor and not vertically as in a typical Hindu temple.

Bhadra_ Maruti_deity

It goes without saying, we stepped out of this place with a light-heart. Even today, when I recall this place, the feeling I have is one of peace.

This is the beauty of road trips –  discovering many a hidden gem like this.

~ Meena

PS: A quick Google search tells me that the place surrounding the temple is also called “Valley of Sufis” which is purported to contain the graves of 1500 Sufi saints.


I first came across Vaisakh Venugopal when I read his entry for a contest in June 2013. Soon after I read this post of his. I was taken up with his creative style and language. When I got to know him better and read more of his work, I was even more impressed. Quiet and unassuming, he is a man of many talents – writing, music and painting  are just some I’ve discovered. With Vaisakh, I always think there’s more talent to be revealed. I’m waiting. My one grouse is that he doesn’t write enough – or at least doesn’t post enough on his blog. Today I’m happy to showcase his work on our blog. Thank you, Vaisakh for your fantastic post!


Here’s how Vaisakh describes himself:  Compulsive thinker ¤ Aquarian ¤ Bibliophile ¤ Curious by nature ¤ Perseverant by choice ¤ Smitten by Music & Life ¤Occasional shutterbug ¤ Sporadic blogger
Connect with him on his blog The Museum Piece and follow him on Facebook , Twitter and Google +


Calmness of mind is a virtue that many people seek. The incessant emotions that churn around in one’s mind can easily push it into a state of turmoil, which is not a pleasant one. People want their minds to be calm, serene, and blissful. But an agitated mind is not one of utmost discomfort. I would give that distinction to an empty mind. A mind in which no action takes place. A mind populated by no ideas – banal or otherwise. A mind so full of void that one begins to feel suffocated. A mind like mine.

It is to escape from this perpetual nothingness that I decided to consciously bring in chaos into my mind. And no better a place to observe randomness than in nature itself. The rough sea, in fact. From my vantage point, I can clearly see the roaring waves crashing against the gigantic rocks and disappearing in a frothy mist. The turbulent motion of the waves helped me keep my mind busy. This outer disorder was the crutch which my paralysed mind used to push itself around. Without this, my mind will look for the turmoil inside – it will bring back memories. I am not yet strong enough to handle those.


Far ahead, I could see a small boat swaying in the waves. It was not out on the open sea, rather secured to a pole on the shore. It was just that the waves were quite strong and rough today. The motion of the boat was interesting and held my attention for quite some time.

Raghu has been quiet for a while now. Engrossed in some book perhaps. I know he is keeping mum deliberately so as not to break the thread of my thoughts. I am blessed to have someone like him as my aide.

“Do you see that boat over there, Raghu?” I asked.

“Yes, it was there the last time we visited too.” He replied without looking up. Though I couldn’t turn around and see, I could make it out by the way his voice sounded.

“I remember that. But the last time, it was not being punished like this by the sea.”

“Don’t worry, it is secured. Those waves are not going to pull it away.” said Raghu.

“No, no, I am not worried or anything.” I said.

True, I was not worried. But there was an uneasy feeling in my mind. The emptiness that I had in my mind was gone. There seemed to be a lingering uncertainty instead. Only, I couldn’t come to a conclusion why.

“It is a good sign, you see.” said Raghu after a few moments of silence.


“You thinking, and talking. Feels much better. I have your pen and notebook ready, anytime you need it.”

“I know, Raghu. I will get back to writing. I just need some more time. I need to set my mind in motion. Fill it with chaos and then let everything settle down to order. It is empty as of now.” I said.

“That’s impressive! You should really get on with your writing, you know.” said Raghu.

“Soon, but not now. I am getting my mind ready. You can’t drive a car without starting the engine, can you?”

“You can push it.”

“That’s exactly what I am doing now.”

“I see the ideas are coming along fine.” replied Raghu with a smile.

“That boat, Raghu. The way it is holding on. Something is in my mind, but I can’t put a finger on it.”

“What about the boat?” he asked.

“I don’t know. “ There was a pause as we both ran out of ideas to drive the conversation forward. The initial phase of silence came back. But my mind was busy. A couple of minutes passed by like this. Then I asked him, ”Raghu, tell me, how important is for one to have belief?”

“Belief in what?”

“In something. In someone. In some cause. Anything.”

“Well it depends, doesn’t it? It is all upto the person whether or not to believe in something.”

“Maybe. But in this world – if you allow me to be trite, in this relentless, unforgiving world – it does help to have a belief. To have something to hold on to, don’t you think? At times when everything else fails, to have that one iota of hope, even if not real, just to help you keep your head above the water?” I asked.

“That is an interesting perspective. At times when all is lost, having something to hold on to would be a big relief.” Raghu concurred.

“Indeed.” I said, having got the confirmation that my line of thought was agreeable. Up above, the clouds were forming some strange shapes. The clouds, combined with the purplish-yellow color in the backdrop, made the the sky look like something out of a surrealistic painting.

“See the sky, Raghu. The twilight playing on that bizarre cloud. Beautiful. It looks so serrated. There is beauty in disorder, don’t you think? Chaos in the skies, chaos in the seas. Perfect!”

Raghu turned around in his position and craned his neck to see where I was looking.

“Well that, is a Cumulonimbus.” he said. “The night is going to be rough out there. Tell you what, I think we should go in now. The light is dropping quickly, and by the looks of it, a storm is on its way.”

“Right then. I guess my mind has taken in enough for the day. Now I can just sleep over it and probably will have some ideas to jot down tomorrow. Could you please pass me my crutches?”

Raghu helped me get up from my chair and gave me the crutches. I slowly made my way back into my room. Raghu started clearing up the place outside and bringing in the chairs. On reaching the threshold of the room, I turned back to take a last look at the waves. I saw the boat, bobbing up and down, holding its ground inspite of the roaring waves thrashing against it.

The rest of the evening and the night was all a blur. I only remember getting into the bed with a book in hand. Sometime in the morning I woke up. I had imagined that the uneasy feeling would go away if I sleep over it. But somehow, my mind was still searching for answers. I took my crutches and slowly made my way out of the room to the sea-facing French window. I found that Raghu was already out there, sipping a cup of coffee.

He turned as he heard me coming, and said, “Good morning! Had a great sleep, I assume.”

“Not really. It was a sound sleep of course; but not the kind that answers one’s questions.”

“Sleeps that answer questions?” asked Raghu, a tinge of incredulity in his voice.

“Sometimes they do, yes.”

“Ah okay, I take it that you had a dreamless sleep.. Which is good at times.” said Raghu.

I ran my gaze along the length of the shoreline ahead. Something seemed amiss. The boat. It was missing. I could make out the outline of the pole that it was secured to last night. But the boat was not to be seen anywhere. Where is it?

“Looking for the boat?” asked Raghu. His voice suddenly brought me back from my trance.

“Huh?! Ah, yes. The boat. Where is it?” I asked.

“Bad news buddy. The storm was pretty strong last night. You see those planks over that rock near the pole? That is all what’s left of the boat.”

“Oh my! Looks like the boat was smashed on to the rock by the waves.” I exclaimed.

“Yes,” said Raghu, “looks like it would have been safer out in the sea.”

“Queer, isn’t it? The pole was supposed to secure the boat from floating away. But somehow, it spelt doom for the boat.”

I stood there, contemplating. Raghu reached over, took the coffee pot and poured some coffee into a mug. He then offered it to me. “Here, have some coffee. You will need something to wash down your thoughts.”

“Right,” I said as I absent-mindedly took the mug from him.

We sat there in silence, once again observing the raw power of nature; the chaos.

“Raghu, we were talking about belief yesterday.” I said after about five minutes of listless observing.

“Yes, we did. What of it?” he asked.

“I just thought of another perspective of it. And guess what? This probably answers the confusion in my mind.”

“And that is..?” asked Raghu, with an expectant look on his face.

“..that we should probably have belief, as we said yesterday, but then, we should know when to let go. You know, clutching on to stale beliefs and memories might do more harm than good. Memories and beliefs are good to survive when you are drowning, but once you are up and floating, you should move on. Isn’t that so?” I asked.

“Yes, that makes sense. And all the better, since you are saying that with a lot of conviction, which was not there yesterday.” replied Raghu.

After a pause of few seconds, he asked, “You want your notebook and pen?”

“Yes, I might as well start writing. And please refill my coffee, mate. The engine is up and running. It needs the fuel now.” I found myself grinning as I said this.

“My pleasure,” said Raghu as he took the empty mug from me.

As I made myself comfortable in my chair, I again shifted my focus towards the sea. To draw in its chaos. Far ahead, I could vaguely make out a few planks of wood floating away. The ones that broke the shackles, I mused.

Pic credit