Children, delightful little creatures at times capable of the worst atrocities solely because they know their innocence shall shield them from the harsh punitive measures. However, this shall not be a rambling about child psychology simply because ideas such as this among many others should be left unattended, unanalyzed and as a result, fascinating. It was a child that caught my attention as I was making my way through the vibrant streets of Mehrauli. He must have been about five or six, standing at a temple gate, eyes shut, palms folded and fervently murmuring to his God. Perfectly oblivious to the world around him, he seemed impervious to the din of the typical rudimentary market. Such displays of pure faith can be as captivating to the passing observer as to the devotee himself. The boy had been duly fed on a steady diet of mythology and morals, he was probably told that the temple was home to God, the personification of the almighty with an inflated ego and with little scope for forgiveness; thus, he must be good and thus he paid his homage to the stone deity. There wasn’t anything special about this boy, he was just like any other child who willingly or unwillingly participates in the idea of worship, and in the larger collective, the only difference that remains is of religion.
Five minutes later, the boy ended his little ritual with a last obeisance; I had meanwhile acquired a set of blank DVDs after much negotiations.
Then there was this another regular day, the ‘Sermon on the Road’ episode. I was in an auto, the fellow upfront ripped me off as expected but I wasn’t all that agitated thanks to the interesting conversation I had had with him. It started out with him announcing that he was unique in this entire world, I told him I agreed and that everyone in this world is in fact unique. However, our man wasn’t satisfied with that, he proceeded to give me vivid details of his life and experiences which somehow seemed to make him believe that he was a cut above the rest, an opinion most of us are guilty of harbouring as well. In my usual jocular manner, I relented; his eagerness and constant demands of approval should take some credit of course. The conversation ambled on just like our little three-wheeled carriage. He decided to tell me about God and spirituality, adequately sprinkled with aphorisms from Tulsidas and Kabir. His dogmatic disposition continued to hunt for my agreement; I couldn’t do much so I complied, albeit with a belying smile on my face. He tried his best to convince me about the existence of God; that was when it was my turn to go on the offensive. It was quite a success too, as he finally accepted to an extent that God is just an idea, and that true spirituality exists in benevolence and good deeds. I further decided to pose him the mother of all questions, “Why do we exist?” His take was simple, to worship and praise God and he was adamant that I agree. I did, again with the sardonic smile in place, which for some reason seemed to have no effect on the man. Meanwhile, we had almost reached our destination; it was then that the ulterior motive was finally unveiled. He invited me to attend some Guru’s procession claiming that he was the only person who could put me on the path to enlightenment. I politely declined which only served to further heighten his persistence; he continued to cajole me until I gave him a blunt refusal.
We finally reached the destination and I fished out the only hundred rupees note I had. He returned it to me saying it was a bit torn on the side. I looked around, something had to be done. As for the supercilious philosopher with whom I had just shared a metaphysical discourse, he had transformed into the average auto driver by now, nagging me about the long distance, the meagre fare, the bad roads, the lack of passengers, and so on. I finally managed to get rid of the slighted note at a cigarette shop.
Hmm, I don’t know if it’s just me but all these notions and ideas about God seem terribly confusing. Hundreds of religions, hundreds of Gods, a fair number of discrepancies and an equal share of parallels, and then of course, all the scoffers. What should a young, confused and self-obsessed lad believe anyway? It is confusing, isn’t it? For these are the few grey areas that empiricists and logicians cannot endeavour to comprehend without leaving some scope for faith, which then defeats the entire purpose of analysis anyway. Fine, there was this big bang and yeah, things started to grow and then they kept growing, we all know that stuff. But then, how did it all just come together? What about that first spark which brought everything about? What about that first blue-green algae or whatever it was supposed to be; what about it, where did that come from? As if the world wasn’t enough, what about space, and stars, and constellations? How about reproduction as a miracle (even though the idea might have been incessantly mocked about in sitcoms and movies)? Just look at yourselves, your bodies and minds. Digestion, sentience, thought, your entire selves; it seems a bit unfair to attribute it all to coincidence and then that one dull definitive word, evolution. It took millions of years and practise for us to evolve into such complex organisms, or at least that’s what they tell us for now. That’s just one of my grouches with science and technology, it is all never-ending; and of course another being that it is all too frigging tough. As the old preachy joke goes; “Get your own dirt”, or something to that effect was God’s riposte to the scientist’s challenge. Then of course, how could one forget that immortal line, “Let there be light”; one thing’s for sure, God sure has an amazing wit and sense of humour if he’s there. Take the movies for instance, especially the new-age ones. God always seems to be this chilled out dude with lots of funny quips.
That’s where I start getting a bit queasy, why do we feel the need to personify the idea of God anyway? Why can’t we settle on it being a form of great energy or whatever, that sparked the whole world into existence and then just as suddenly vanished? Why do we feel the need to weave elaborate and clearly exaggerated tales to support our whims and fancies (Although, I must commend the imaginative skills of the people who wrote all those scriptures)? Is it because it makes the whole concept more relatable and as a result more marketable to the average ignorant man? God exists, tell that to the beggar tapping on your car window or the guy who sweeps the road below your house everyday at 4am and even they would probably smile in agreement, that’s the astounding thing about religion. Definitely, one of man’s greatest inventions, right up there alongwith money and the wheel. The very thought that this simple word controls a majority of this entire world is both amazing and ominous. Fact is if we were all true educated rationalists, we would have safely reached a unanimous conclusion, that there is no God, or at least the general idea associated with that particular word. Yes, I do not believe in Heaven and Hell unless you happen to be talking about trips. I believe that you are born, you live and then you die; it all just happens, and once you die, ZAP! That’s the end of existence, it’s all over then, baby blue! As for all those amazing stories about souls, ghosts and reincarnations, I tend to remain cynical. I’m like one of those sexagenarian rednecks, “I won’t believe’em till I see’em goddamn flying saucers myself, for crissake!”
And yes, I know that if all of this turns out to be false, I’m going straight to hell but that’s alright, I could do with some good company. Besides, there’s hopefully a lot of time for that, and until then there’s no way to find out so I might as well take it easy. On the flipside, maybe such means of mass brainwash are necessary for the workings of our carefully structured world. As I might have stressed before, everyone has a role to play (even that Dreamworks kid sitting up there on the moon). Besides, we would all like to pin our hopes on something, and then blame that same something when these hopes are dashed. So yes, I believe God too has a purpose because hey, someone’s got to take the blame right? Furthermore, no religion does mean no fundamentalists but it also means that a large chunk of the mango men (there, I just used that idiotic but tempting expression) would turn to crime since they would have no underlying fear of an omniscient and omnipotent overseer.
So yeah, in the end the moral remains the same as always: the status quo is just fine as long as people would stop killing each other and forcing their views on others. And as a parting thought for the spiritually inclined, if ever in doubt, turn to nature. There is no particular reason as to how it manages to drown out all the blasphemies of science, but then that’s the beauty of it, really. Of the birds that whizz past as you stand mesmerized, or of the vivid colours of sweet smelling flowers, of beaches and of mountains; that’s one grey or rather green area which truly humbles me. I guess there is a power or something of the sort, but I sure won’t get to know about it in this world so I believe it’s all cool. As for cleanliness, it is definitely not close to Godliness! That ridiculous statement is absolutely exclusivist, inconsiderate, fallacious and therefore, intolerable! Oh and I almost forgot, hail Gonzo!