The door to the Amter Mata Temple opens noiselessly and I hesitate before stepping into a large courtyard. It is three in the afternoon on a windy day in December last year and the temple, which is in Vadnagar (Gujarat), is officially closed at that time. But the shopkeeper outside the temple urges me to go in saying that nobody would mind.
There is no one to be seen inside; I am not really surprised for it is siesta and relaxation time before the evening worship begins. As I look around, I feel an uneasy prickling sensation at the back of my neck — the kind when you feel that someone’s watching you. I look around but cannot see anyone or detect any movement.
I call out once and then again, but get no response. It appears that I’m alone in the temple. Or am I? The sensation of being watched grows and I feel that the gaze is hostile, angry, even malevolent.
I don’t scare easily, but I must confess that I’m feeling quite spooked. As I wonder if I should leave, I spot a large sculpture placed against the wall behind the main shrine at the far end of the temple. I can’t make out what the sculpture is, but something about it gives me the shivers. I decide to explore further and as I walk towards the sculpture I feel waves of anger wash over me.
The sculpture is unmistakably that of Kali. The trident, the sagging breasts, the garland of skulls, and the angry expression on the mutilated face… all indicate this. The sculpture is an ancient one, and though I can’t pinpoint on the age, I can guess that it must be more than a few centuries old. How it reached this mutilated form is anybody’s guess — the hands are chopped off and the face has been smashed in. In spite of this, the expression of rage on Kali’s face is unmistakable.
In its original form, the sculpture / idol must have been quite a sight, perhaps striking fear in the hearts of Her worshippers. She has certainly spooked me for I’m certain that it was Her gaze that I felt when I entered the temple ! Up close, I can feel Her anger and rage and I keep a ‘safe’ distance. I don’t stay for long and after quick walk around the temple with Kali’s eyes boring into me all along, I leave.
Over the months that have passed since my visit, I can’t help wondering about my experience there. I admit that I do have an active imagination, but what I experienced at the Amter Mata Temple was not a figment of my imagination. Also, during my visits to various religious and spiritual places, I have felt peace, contentment and on occasion been overwhelmed, but this is the first time I have felt hostility and anger. Even as I write this, I have this inexplicable urge to look over my shoulder.
I don’t know why some people ‘feel’ or get vibes about a place and others don’t. I do not seek an explanation here for I know that there isn’t any — at least no rational, scientific explanation for what I experienced. But still …
PS: I would, however, be glad to hear your thoughts on this.