GOD, WHERE ART THOU???

My blog today, like a few earlier, originated from an animated conversation that I had with my school friends a few days back. With the current paroxysm of technology happening all around us, it is not necessary, like we did earlier, to sit across the table and discuss matters. Discussions today, thanks to the omnipotent advent of technology, can be held across countries through different timelines, without having to move out of the comfortable confines of your armchair. But I digress – during my contentious colloquy with my friends, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many of my close friends too believe in what I am about to write about.

The quintessential question that I have been asking over a period of time, and continue to ask myself regularly is, does God (as we know Him) exist? Before I go further, let me clarify that I am not an atheist. As I have posted in one of my earlier blogs, for me there is an Entity who is above all ordinary mortals, and who all of us address differently. So if you ask me whether I believe in God, I would say yes, I believe in that Entity which you call “God”, or any appropriate name you are comfortable with. But I do not believe in visiting places of worship and kneeling before an idol, since I feel God definitely does not exist in such places. I have read that the original idea of a place of worship was for a devotee to go and attain peace of mind – the environs, the silence, the calmness, the sanctity, the cleanliness, the openness, the mesmerizing scent of burning incense and the ubiquitous fragrance of fresh flowers, were meant to put a devotee’s mind at ease and make him or her transcend into a mood of divinity. In stark contrast, what do you witness when you visit a place of worship these days? Noise, cacophony, gossip, impurity and above all corruption!

I have been to many of the “famous” (and rich) temples of India, I have visited a few mosques (wherever permitted) and quite a few churches in India, but I am yet to find that elusive “divinity” that our ancestors told us about. I can personally vouch for a fact that most temples in India now are hotbeds of venality, depravity, immorality and perversion – they are just a well-oiled form of an efficient money-making racket. I have read about irregularities in mosques across the country, and the level of decadence and profligacy in churches, not just in our country but across the globe, is well documented. I assume (and I fervently hope that I am wrong), that such malpractices exist in other religious groups too. If God is omnipresent then where is the need to pay a visit to places of worship to find Him? Why do we visit such places and try to bribe our way to good luck? Why do we pay the priests, most of who are just self-aggrandizing exploiters of the gullible, for that few seconds of extra “darshan”? Is it because we have become so insecure that we do not believe in our own abilities? If God has made us in a reflection of His own self (as all religious books so proudly proclaim), then why can we not trust our own capabilities of succeeding in life? Why do we run exchange offers with God, instead of being positive about our future?

My intention is not to hurt the religious sentiments of any particular community, but to hold a mirror to the blind followers of religion. This post may not endear me to many of my devoted reader, and if in writing this I have inadvertently stepped on toes, it was done with absolutely no malicious intent. Let me reiterate – God made human beings, and we in turn made religion. It is so sad that we as human beings divide ourselves on the basis of religion, and proudly strut around proclaiming the ultimate supremacy of only our religion! Let me ask once again – if all religions promote the same tenets of peace, harmony and tolerance, then why have different religions? Astonishingly we even teach our children to differentiate between fellow human-beings, which is so contemptible. I also find it difficult to understand people who change their religion after marriage. What role can religion play in the sacred and deific institution of marriage? I am convinced that there are only two things that will eventually lead to the decimation of the human race – our inflated ego and the disconcertingly blind faith that we keep in religion.

A few years back, I used to just as insecure as many currently are. Then I watched the movie called “Oh My God!”, which changed my perspective towards the Almighty. I am not a great fan of that movie as such, but some of the points advocated by the protagonist is worth pondering over. He puts across some of the points I have mentioned above, but in a very simple, lucid and effectual manner. Whenever this movie plays on TV, I make it a point to watch the relevant portions of it, just to renew my faith in the fact that God resides not in places of worship, but within me. I have intrinsic measures of good and evil within me, and it is I alone who can destroy the evil and bring forth the good from within. Offering a silent “thank-you” to God when I wake up in the morning, and one before going to bed, is prayer enough for me. Helping a genuinely needy person (not the beggars lounging outside places of worship), is the donation I make to my God.

I am sure God has long abandoned our world by now – a world He created with so much of love and passion. He surely must be finding solace by creating fresh life in some other planet. But as my friend rightly says – we do not leave Him in peace there too, since human-beings are constantly on the lookout for life-forms on other planets that they can take over and destroy!

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