Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Lie

Over the past few days, in what appears to be a dire attempt at grabbing media attention, two so called ‘powerful’ people have been dragging poor Lord Ram into the dirty world of politics. As if the political moves he was subjected to in his lifetime by his step mother Kaikeyi were not enough! Remember how Kaikeyi quoted an age old promise made unto her by her husband in an attempt to have her own son crowned king instead of Rama?! But now, we have people questioning his very existence, his character, him, as a person.

Someone goes on to say that the Ram Setu, was not built by Lord Ram, although the bridge for some weird reason appears to bear his name! And why was it not built by the said God? Because according to that person, Lord Ram was a figment of a person’s imagination. Wonder how Kamba, and Valmiki imagined the same characters at the same time! Poor Kavya Vishwanathan, a few years ago, innocently ‘internalized’ a few lines from Megan McAfferty’s book, only to face approbation and disapproval from the entire world! And here, a plagiarized character is worshipped!

So Rama does not exist. All that my grandma and all grandmas before her said are all lies, untruths. The very religion is a hoax! The Himalayas are just another range of mountains, not the abode of Lord Shiva. The Ganga is just another river and not the sin purifier that she is perceived to be. In spite of that, millions of dumb people undertake strenuous pilgrimages to Mt. Kailash, Manasarovar, Badri-Kedar, Hrishikesh and Varanasi. I am not saying this, but these are some implied pearls of ‘wisdom’ from some specific prominent people. Apparently one mocking statement goes thus. ‘Who gave Rama a degree in civil engineering that empowered him to build a bridge?’ Well, who gave architecture degrees to Shah Jahan? To the Egyptians who built pyramids?

Hinduism is by nature, a very tolerant religion. Hindus by nature tolerate a lot of injustice done to them without retaliating at the outset. Tolerance is one of the principles taught by the religion itself. But this should not be misconstrued as cowardice or meekness. If the time demands it, we can also come up with an Ashoka or a Chandragupta Maurya! Or maybe they are fictitious too! I don’t know, maybe our non-believer friend can comment on the very frivolity of history itself. Try walking into Mecca and saying Allah is a hoax. Try going to the Vatican and screaming that Jesus is a lie. Why try telling followers of the Republican party of India that Buddha never existed. If you come back alive, it is an achievement. But Hindus will tolerate anything. Questioning the language while living in the birthplace of the religion itself.

Our non-believer friend does not believe in God. His horoscope is under the influence of Jupiter now. So the yellow shawl. But he does not believe in God. Everyday he drives his car a few steps towards a Krishna temple near his house before leaving for work. But he does not believe in God. Tomorrow if something were to happen to him, his family will run to the closest temple. But they do not believe in God. His dearest daughter said that anything that comes in the way of development needs to be questioned, like say the caste system. Now, even a child knows that the caste system was a man-made set of rules unlike…. God. She thought she made a profound statement when she said that no non-believer created a hue and cry if his non-belief was questioned! What exactly did that mean? Guess the abstractness of their so-called modern day literature was creeping into their everyday conversations as well!

If Rama was a lie, then all Gods are lies. Then why is all of Maharashtra and more so Mumbai celebrating Ganeshotsav with such fervor? Why do we celebrate Dashera which is the day our fiction hero killed his enemy Ravan? Now did Ravan exist? I don’t know. Why do we celebrate Diwali which is supposed to mark the homecoming of our fiction hero? If the Mahabharata is also just a story book, poor Ganesha broke a tusk jotting it down from Vedavyasa. On hindsight, poor Ganesha must be regretting it.

I am not trying to preach the presence of God. If you are an atheist, so be it. Just like how believers keep idols and pictures at home to pray, you can keep your non-belief at home as well. India is proud of its cultural heritage. We are a secular country allowing followers to practice Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, all the way up to Kabbalah. You be what you are and let others be what they are. Politics is a dirty place. People and their beliefs are better off staying aloof.


hercules said...

Actually this is a drawback of having a democracy - the fundamental right of free expression. This story had three factions - this leader of fools, the common man and the educated mass. Take the leader first - look at it from his perspective, what did he need - a controversey to bring him back in the limelight. We gave it to him. You know why? Because the layman keeps his faith much above than his ability to think logically and in an unbiased manner. If you target his faith, he won't think rationally, he will simply retaliate. The second character retaliated and the first got his share.
The third faction was the educated
mass, which was divided into two groups. The first discussed it over lunch tables and forgot. The second took it ahead and posted blogs, wrote articles, forwarded e-mails. None of this was enough to heal the hurt caused to our faith by that man.
So what should we have done? Two ways - the first is the extremist one. Bring in a group of merciless mercenaries, grab this man by his face and beat him down to pulp on the road. No one in the next 50 years will ever try to mock the very base of our religion. But then your educated mass will wake up and come down on the road. They will do silent protests with 'don't ban free expression' banners glued to their faces. These very people will then take credit of saving the "free expression" from the hands of religious fanatists. Net result is zip, nothing, nada.

Though I denounce fanaticism in any form, sometimes the hot headed approach is too tempting.

The second way is to ignore this man. Make him a social outcast. Ignore his words as you ignore a madman. Turn your ears deaf to his voice. Don't react to anything that he said. Let everything remain the way it was before he said anything. Nobody gives him any attention and none replies to him. Let him yell at the top of his voice but you don't show any feelings for him. He wants you to react, he wants you to go on a rampage, burn, hit, kill, shout. Don't give it to him. And then you will see that his voice will die within his own throat. You won't show any act of revenge but you will still feel better, you will still feel victorious.

Remember just one thing - religion is not defined by which God you worship, it is defined by the ethical values that it imbibes in a human life. It is the moralistic approach that guides your life. And best of all, every religion is so great in itself that noone can ever make a mockery of it.

guru said...

Superb article