All his life, Brij Bihari had only one dream to cherish, become the mahant (chief priest) of Maharajganj’s Jagannath temple. He lived a life of celibacy, remained a staunch vegetarian, observed all disciplines and prayed every day. In 1987, at the age of 82, his intention was almost about to manifest and it was then that in disguise of an objection from devotees, his appointment was reversed. On the fatal day of June 15, 1987, together with 15 others, he pounced upon the one whom he suspected to be plotting against him. As the attack ended, four people lay dead. In June 2011, Brij Bihari (108) came out of the Lucknow jail, setting a new record on his name - the oldest prisoner in Indian Jail.
How could such a pious person have committed so heinous a crime? Bihari, it seems, has been after the social charm and glamour of being a mahant; God was nowhere in his search and nobody told him that too. Leo Tolstoy (Three Questions) tells that a king wished if he always knew the right time to begin everything; the right people to listen to and the most important thing to do at a time, because he believed that if he answers all these three questions, he would never fail in anything he might undertake. Tolstoy has been asking us to live in absolute awareness of the present, only where we are likely to get the right answers for the three questions. If Bihari was genuinely in pursuit of moksha (heaven), he could have easily won over the humiliation.
Bihari remains an icon of modern spirituality. Today, the world seeks God in the pleasures of the market. It is certainly a very dangerous shift that has occurred to spirituality in most religions. The Buddhist Scripture ‘Dhammapada’ says, “You are your own master and you make your own future.” It specifies the relevance of being individually responsible to oneself and the universe. A moment of lose awareness is enough for a fall. Years of training, sacrifices and suffering are no guarantee for an escape. Judas thought that 30 silver coins will remain in his pocket while Jesus finds His own way out as He used to do before. Things did not move the way Judas thought. Our fall also is sure, unless we also care to be aware of the precepts we follow - religious white collars are no exceptions.