Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Faith or Superstition ??

There is a thin line between faith and superstition. In this land of diverse religions and cultures, one man's faith is likely to be another one's superstition. Most of our religious practices and rituals are purely based on mythology. Most of the mythological stories, which we have learnt from our parents and teachers or from our books about our gods and goddesses, are devoid of all logic and reasoning.

It took a small girl of fifth standard to ask her mother that if King Kansa (the maternal uncle of Lord Krishna) had come to know that he will be killed by the progeny of his sister Devki then why did he put her and her husband Vasudev in the same prison. The mother told her to shut up. But when she repeated the same question to her teacher at the school, she got the reply that "during those days no copulation was required to produce children".

As children, we have lots of questions to ask, but over the years, as we grow, we tread along the beaten track and in turn our thinking gets so conditioned that we ask no more questions. Moreover since those stories, characters and rituals are connected to the faith of many people, we avoid asking questions, lest we may hurt some one's religious feelings.

The characters and incidents mentioned in our epics are so weird that one is forced to believe that their authors must have used a great sense of imagination to make them more interesting and readable. After a few centuries or so, our offspring may be told that an angel walked this earth between 1869 and 1948, in flesh and blood who, without firing or throwing a single projectile, drove away his enemy -- the white demons -- who had deceitfully and forcefully occupied his motherland and ruled over it for more than three hundred years. Well, while that is a reality, most likely in times to come, the story of Mahatma Gandhi may be presented by some author or a film maker by adding such special effects that the readers or the viewers will be forced to believe that he was the reincarnation of God. Already a feature film has been successfully made where the Mahatma appears as a hallucination, whenever the hero remembers him. That is exactly how the gods and goddesses are believed to have appeared before their devotees, whenever the latter were in trouble and prayed for help. Though the makers of 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai' have made a successful attempt to tickle the funny bone of the audience, but somewhere between the lines they have tried to drive home the point that our gods are in our minds. We can get their guidance whenever we desire so from the core of our hearts. The God is in fact our conscience.

While it is a fact that if two persons think, there is bound to be some difference of opinion, because if everybody thinks alike then no one thinks enough, but at the same time it also gives rise to controversies which some how, we Indians love. The moment some controversy -- religious, political or social one -- surfaces, the whole country erupts into war of words. One contentious song or a dialogue in a movie, a statement in a book, a painting by some artist, or an action by the Government, different groups pounce on the occasion to extract different derivatives as per their selfish interests i.e., the vote banks for the politicians, rioting and communal disharmony for the disruptive forces, loot and arson for the hooligans and above all the viewership for the Television Channels.

One such dispute doing the rounds these days is about the Ram Setu or the Adam's Bridge. The bridge is an extension of the two mainlands of India and Sri Lanka in form of small narrow strip of land stretching across Palk Straits in the Indian Ocean. Government of India wants to create a passage through the said strip to make way for the ships which, while travelling between east and west coasts, have to skirt around Sri Lanka due to want of such passage at present, spending much more fuel as well as time. However, a group of people are vehemently resisting such efforts because they feel that this extension is not a natural phenomena, but is a religious monument, which was built by Lord Ram with the help of 'Vanar Sena' (the monkey force) to cross over to Sri Lanka. They feel that the Government's action would destroy this monument and in turn, would hurt the sentiments of some people.

In my opinion, if Lord Ram was to resolve this dispute today, given the sense of sacrifice and justice that he exhibited in his every action, he would have ordered the same 'vanar sena' who built the bridge, to create the passage through the Setu for the Ships to pass, because that is the need of the hour. Lord Ram's purpose of building the bridge was served, the moment he crossed over to Sri Lanka and freed his wife from Ravan's captivity.

Let us give due respect to each other's faith, but let us also be careful that the maintenance of such faith does not harm others or it does not come in the way of doing something good for the mankind.

Notice the thin line under the water, joining the two mainlands of India on the right and Sri Lanka on the left. That is Adam's Bridge or the Ram Setu, stretching across 30 kilometers. The picture was taken by NASA satellite


Capt N.S.Bisht said...

Nice writeup Balli !! Rightly said "one man's faith is another man's superstition". The side bar on your blog is distracting man. You need to remove "perfspot.com" asap.

Balvinder Singh said...

Thanks Bisht, in fact i wanted to write much more on the subject but the fear of hurting some one's religious feelings held me back. This is a highly inflammable subject, so i had to take utmost care while dealing with the topic.

I looked in the sidebar,the ad you refered to is no more there. They must have changed it. I was given to understand that the ads are contents specific.

Indian Home Maker said...

This is a brilliant post!!! I totally agree about the Ram Setu, I was never satisfied with the fuss that was being made.

Blogrolling you :)

Inexplicably said...

Brave post and well articulated :)

And a great point about the way gandhi may go in the next generations ! you never know he may become one of the incarnations of Krishna since he had Gopis to boot :)))))

Anonymous said...

@ Inexplicably - My mother's explanation about all avatar's was the same, that some people are loved and respected so much they become gods for people of that generation. She said centuries later people might think Gandhi's bold ideas of women getting out of their homes, and non violence and dalits being equal to other Hindus might make him seem like God to future generations.