Thursday, July 26, 2012

A religious spectator


Years ago, an American student had asked me what my religion was. I had said, "I'm Hindu, but I don't believe in God." "How's that even possible?" She shook her head in disbelief. I only smiled. I couldn't tell her that the whole concept of being Hindu was foreign. How else do you expect people to worship over 33 million deities and still be following the same religion? Even the word was coined in Arabia. Since the Arabs couldn't get far beyond the River Sindhu (aka the Indus) on land, because of the mosquitoes, disease and dense forests that covered much of India many hundreds of years ago, they decided that every resident of such a land should be called Hindu and their place of residence, al-Hind (or Hindustan in Persian). So theoretically, not all Hindus need to believe in God. 

I like everything religious except the concept of God. It is so varied that I have not been able to find one to deify. Maybe, I am a little less human than other people, in this regard. What fascinates me is the devotion people have towards God, their belief that He/She will intervene to make all the wrongs in their lives, right. Also, the way God can bind and divide people at the same time, is truly amazing. I watch the parades of traditons, people, music and festivals. I partake the joys of giving and receiving. I like visiting religious places, going through the motions of tradition, meeting religious people, even trying to understand where their devotion comes from, reading religious scriptures and stories and even having conversations with spiritual leaders and godmen. I watch, listen and learn. What I cannot do is believe. Maybe because at some level my belief in science is more than my belief in a super-being. Or probably because I am too thick-brained to understand the very complex idea of God. Or maybe I need a certain kind of faith in my devotion to something supernatural. I just don't know. And till I find that faith, that devotion and that God, I'll just be a humble religious spectator. 

1 comment:

Ramesh Narendrarai Desai said...

I agree with you. My concept of God is nature with all its elements put together. I believe that what happens is a result of all the forces of nature acting together with Time, the fourth dimension also taking part in the process. In my opinion, all religions began as science. What remained fossilized is religion. What progresses with time, with newer discoveries being taken into account, continues to be science. Some religions are dictatorial in nature some are democratic. You are right about the origin of the word Hindu. the Sanatan dharma, colloquially known as Hinduism permits many varied beliefs, some even diametrically opposite. I believe that but for the diehard priests of yore who had a vested interest in perpetuating the rituals compered by them, both Islam and Christianity could have been accepted as sects of Hinduism. Sanatan Dharma is perhaps the nearest to Science as it keeps evolving and permits different paths to reach the truth. Perhaps I sound like a Hindu chauvinist but these are my views. I am not a temple goer. Do not follow any rituals. However I bow my head when I happen to be in a temple and so on.