Crack’d Pindi Walking

A nice black shivaling lay just outside the door of my neighbor Atul’s 4th floor apartment. As I walked past his door on my way to the office one morning, I couldn’t help noticing the two-inch tall shivaling right next to the ten-inch garbage pail.

black shivaling

black shivaling

“Odd,” I thought to myself, “they seem to have thrown away a perfectly good pindi”, and then continued down the stairs to my car (a shivaling is also called a pindi).

Next morning, the shivaling was no longer there, although the garbage pail was, as usual. The garbage man must have taken the shivalinga away yesterday. I continued down the stairs. But just one floor below, there was the black shivalinga, placed on a ledge in the stairwell. I looked carefully at it. It looked quite sound, and clean, and I had a fleeting thought of rescuing it. But perhaps somebody had placed it there, to take it away later. So I continued my descent.

On the third day, the shivalinga was still there on the ledge, but a big piece had fallen off from the tip.

“Aha,” I said to myself, “It was broken, and that’s why they put it out. But I wonder what it’s doing on the ledge”.

A few days later, the shivalinga was gone from the ledge too. I walked down the stairs and reached the parking lot. Strangely enough, now it was by the wall, next to my car. The shivalinga seemed to be following me. I remembered the horror story about a set of bloody footprints following the victim, coming closer day by day, and a little shiver ran down my spine. After a few days, the bloody footprints were trailing the guy by just one step. Next morning, the victim was found dead.

“What is going on here with this pindi?” I wondered. “I better get to the bottom of this on the weekend,” I promised myself.

Well, it turns out to have been an interesting case of a collision of ‘sanskar’ (mores, upbringing, tradition) with modern living.

The shivalinga used to be kept in Atul’s pooja room. A few days back, when washing it, it slipped from Atul’s wife’s hands and a piece got chipped off. Although she stuck the piece back on, she was in a quandary – one is not supposed to keep a broken idol at home. At the same time, it cannot just be thrown away in the garbage – it has to be immersed in a river with the proper incantations. And that is precisely where the situation collided with modern living. They did not have the religious training to dispose off the idol in the proper way, neither did they want to go to the trouble of calling in a priest to do the immersion. So they put it out, hoping somebody else would take care of it. Unfortunately, the garbage boy was too religious to dump it in the garbage too. So he just moved it to the ledge on the lower floor. Next, Atul noticed the pindi wasn’t going away peacefully, so he put it in the parking lot, hoping that somebody would then take it away. And that is how the pindi appeared to have ‘walked’ down all the way from fourth floor to my car.