Thursday, April 21, 2011

Whose God ?

I have always wondered at the arrogance of the religious. A hotline with the supreme should by rights have imbued the earthling with nothing but humility. But far from being gracious over the human state as it were, the “dharma” minded are supercilious if not outright condescending and contemptuous of lesser mortals who do not visit God’s home regularly, as though He needed a roof over His head !

By virtue of having been born an Indian, I get my daily dose of religion, thank you. Bharat, the birthplace of four of the world's major religious traditions, one of them, Hinduism, being the oldest living religion ever. I also witness firsthand the tremendous power the religious wield over their families and their surroundings. More often than not, this influence stems from two assumptions; one that God belongs to them in a very private way and two, they are morally superior for taking His name regularly and therefore justified in indulging in a bit of emotional blackmail within their units.

Hear the note of propriety in their voices when they declare without so much as batting one pious eyelid, “Mera Nanak, “ or “Mere Baba,” or “My Lord”.....there is a social sanction of their presumed piety and goodness by a logical extension of their ritualistic lifestyle, very often carried to ludicrous lengths. When they should be large hearted and accepting by virtue of their closeness to God, I find them tight fisted, mealy mouthed and malevolent, full of disdain for those who do not heed religion related symbolism.

Time to state the obvious.

I am not a regular at holy places.

In my defence, I have a metaphysical bone to pick with any religion that calls itself different and therefore superior to the rest. This self centeredness reeks of disrespect for God’s creatures. And what can be a greater religion than regard for what God gave us...laying a healthy store by life and the living.

Age should have taught me some fear but to move on........

What is a visit to one of God’s homes supposed to accomplish, I have often mused? What are the thoughts going through the bowing, scraping devotee heads? They may be there to express gratitude, a form of thanksgiving; or they may simply be praying for strength; perhaps they are asking for a miracle. Yes, it is true that there is a sense of peace and anchor and calmness in holy spots. But it is also an open secret that God meant man to be strong and unafraid and optimistic and forward looking. Imagine what that would do to the human hierarchy on earth. What basis would the family seniors or the religious heads have to exercise any power over their respective jurisdictions? Oh no, religion is not just opium of the masses, it is the taming of each and every man, keeping him in line and out of trouble and of some use to the wielder of morals. It also serves to keep our sanity, making possible our unquestioning acceptance of an unfair world. What if some poor sod got wise to the fact that life is iniquitous and he deserved better. This kismet connection and the doctrine of Karma are good for everyone’s piece of mind.

There is an emotion however that leaves me choked in the throat, sitting inside the gurudwara. The notion that here, inside the high domed, ornate hall, on the holy seat resides an amalgamation of man's highest values, ideas accepted and revered by many. And there is absolute honour in bowing to one's beliefs, personally held convictions that one is willing to die for.

Of course, I want our girls to be religious in the sense that I want them to be pro life. I want them to make life affirming choices. I want them to be benevolent, large hearted, generous, accepting and appreciative. I want them to expect life to be beautiful and have the faith that there will be light at the end of any tunnel, God forbid that they may have to enter briefly, if at all.

My father once told me that he thought it was a matter of great privilege and pride to have been born a Sikh. I respect his view because he is fair and quick to condemn the outrageous in every faith, including his own.

More than anything, I want to come away from God’s home feeling empowered and hopeful and light and forward looking. I want to come away on wings, not dragging chains because I did not rub my nose hard enough

Another confession!

I do not have a Puja room in my house but try to remind myself constantly to keep the front door wide and open.

No comments: