At the outset, it’s necessary to accept Professor Edmund Burke’s pithy observation that superstition is the religion of feeble minds. Sir Carveth Reid wrote in his magnum opus, ‘Man and his superstitions’ that human beings are drawn to all sorts of irrational beliefs and human mind plays myriad tricks to consolidate them.’
The same can be said about Kamakhya (actually ‘Kaamakshya’ temple in Assam which was once upon a time, a part of the undivided Bengal). It’s one of the oldest Shakti Peeths of Hindus and centre of all occult and tantrik activities. Stobden wrote about Kamakshya and Maruteerth Hinglaaj (now in Pakistan) that these two Shakti Peeths have been the centres of occult activities for centuries. Here, one must understand that Tantra of Hinduism is not exactly a dubious cult. It has its followers and immense relevance. Since Tantra’s bases and basics are ostensibly taamsik (that stokes carnal and undesirable thoughts), it earned a bad name when unethical practitioners started practising occultism and relegated it to evil black magic. The perceptive readers may be aware of the fact that the Vajrayaan (along with the Heenyaan and Mahayaan) sect of Buddhism is actually an offshoot of Tantra of Hinduism.
Rationalists and atheists have always questioned these superstitions and irrationalities. The slain Maharashtrian rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar disdainfully pooh-poohed black magic as meaningless mumbo-jumbo. He was killed for his intrepid attacks on the established religious order. The same fate befell Pansare, Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. They dared to challenge certain bizarre practices that have sullied the image of Hinduism.
Readers may be aware that the deity at Kamakshya temple is ‘goddess’ Kali and she’s associated with the Stygian world or all that’s dark. Her complexion is also pitch-dark, symbolising evil (or a believer may say that ‘ the destroyer of evil forces’; it’s how believers and non-believers look at the same object). Kali is the cardinal deity of ogres (aghoris, kapaliks and practitioners of shady activities) and occult practitioners.
Devotees from all parts of India go there to get Kali’s blessings and they also go with a view to getting relief from supposed evil influence of jaadu-tona/Bhanmati or Karni (all synonyms of black magic, prevalent in different parts, provinces and dialects of India).
Years ago, ‘Manohar Kahaniyaan’ in Hindi busted the myth of Kamakhya and even ‘Maya’ (now defunct) revealed that it was a den of superstitious activities.
Agreed, faith cannot and shouldn’t be questioned. But man being rational, must ask the relevance of certain sacred places and their associated divinity. We must dare ask as to do these questionable customs and practices really exist and matter?
There’s no problem if people go with pure shraddha (piety) and seek Kali’s blessings at Kamakhya temple. But when they go there with certain dubious beliefs and their expected solutions, they tarnish the image and sacredness of that place. So anyone who still believes in it or is curious to know about it, can visit the Kamakhya temple. Kamakhya temple darshan timings are from 5:30 AM to 5:30 PM, all days of the week.
The black magic tag has done much harm to Kamakhya Shrine and this tag needs to be removed by thinking people and devotees. But who’ll bell the cat is a million dollar question. Will you?