14 January 2011

My Religion

People say we should not discuss religion & politics during happy occasions like say a party, or a reunion. Because these topics have an uncanny way of making people want to beat each other up. What starts as a harmless personal remark soon ends up being a war of words. Opposing parties up in arms against each other in a desperate bid to prove themselves right.

When & how did religion, any religion, ever become so intolerant, so adamant, & so irrational? All religions speak of ego being a destructive force. Then how is it that the followers are so egoistic? A mere comment or opinion on their religion gets construed as a pagan attack & a blow to their ideology.

I am born Hindu, meaning both my parents were Hindus. My mother was a devout one at that, praying, doing poojas, aartis, vraths etc. She never stepped out of the house or started anything without folding her hands in devotion to Ganesha. ‘Devre kapadappa’ was said in complete faith & trust. My father posed like a religious person but cared two hoots for any God I know. He wasn’t an atheist. He had nothing for or against religion. He just didn’t care. Between these two extremes, I grew up under a predominantly Christian influence. I used to attend Sunday mass. I used to go to Bible Study classes. I even got baptized in a Roman Catholic Church (in Sasthan, Udupi). No one asked me to do any of these. I did it of my own volition. I’ve never regretted it. Today, when I close my eyes in prayer, I visualize & speak to Christ.

So what is my religion? The more important question is, does it matter?

What matters is what I’ve learnt & what I practice in my life. If it wasn’t for the Bible, I couldn’t have lived through life the way I‘ve. My belief in the goodness of people, my trust that if I persevere with honesty, victory will be mine in the end, my knowledge that “jiska koi nahin uska toh khuda hai yaro” is a thing experienced deeply, my faith that ultimately I’ll triumph over everything, my positivity, & enthusiasm is all because of my readings of the Bible. My relationship with the Bible happened in a very positive, structured, systematic fashion. Other religious texts also have the same power. If I had read the Quran, or the Bhagwad Gita, it would’ve influenced me equally & very similarly too. All religions are basically about kindness. They ask us to show compassion toward other men & animals. If only we’d be just a wee bit more considerate towards others. Wouldn’t many of the world’s wounds be healed by this balm?

If I were to describe my religion, I’d say its kindness. It’s a hand-me-down from my mother. Her first reaction to any situation or person was always of kindness. Whether it’s a relative, stranger, child, neighbor, I’ve seen her always responding with a kind word or smile. But I’ve also seen that people don’t appreciate it. They respect those who talk down to them, those who are haughty or those who’ve an air of superiority. And many a time, that has made me rethink if I was doing the right thing. Maybe I’d also treat people badly (especially edgy strangers & pushy salesgirls at posh lifestyle showrooms & condescending salon staff & too-smart-for-their shoes salesmen at footwear stores). But I can’t. It’s a lot more work than just being nice.

I wish all the festivals we celebrate, all the Gods we worship, all the pilgrimages we go on, all the temples/churches/mosques we visit, teach us but one thing: Be kind. That’s what the world needs. That’s what God wants.

38 comments:

  1. Religion is very person specific - it is the way of living. That is why we find all religions almost have same values. Since we made religion as an identity of group/society, we have become more fanatic in the name of religion. That is unfortunate indeed.

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  2. @aativas: true. quite unfortunate considering that all religions have same values

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  3. The race for numbers and superiority is creating conflict. The newest of religions have caught up with conversions, which is causing concern to the existing religious followers. Ultimately all religions leads to one goal of peaceful co-existence.

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  4. @shveta: thank u Shveta :) i must admit here that i quite like ur profile pic for ur long nose :)!!! ya i have a partiality for long noses, hehehe

    @Deguide: it does,doesn't it? and yet we fight, the slightest provocation is enough to send us into a mad frenzy!

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  5. Nice post Sujatha and I totally agree with you. I am a Brahmin by birth, but I hate the condescending attitude that many Brahmins have. I mean, what are they actually proud of? I wonder, if they were born as non-Brahmins, what would they do?. I am neither proud nor do I hide the fact that I am Brahmin. For me the only religion is humanity. It’s more important that we be good human beings first.

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  6. @Prasanna: very true. humanity is all that matters.
    when i read ur comment, i remembered the last lines in the kannada movie Cheluvina Chittara - the husband helping the mad lover....
    and a similar one in a Hindi flim (Dus Kahanaiyan i think) where shabana azmi plays this very staunch brahmin n hates others esp Muslims but finally due to circumstances shares her food with a Muslim (played by Naseeruddin Shah) in a hotel

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  7. very good post on a delicate issue of our lives.

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  8. u r right when u say that people respect arrogance more than kindness- but kind people are happier

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  9. @Neeraj: thank u

    @Sandy: yes, kindness does bring happiness with it - sooner or later

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  10. See, all religions might have started with a natural purpose too keep the social cohesion in place and for the upkeep of individual value system.

    But somewhere along the line, religions got played into the hands of those who wanted to establish a kind of power base for them in the society.

    That is why we see two faces for what we call now religion.

    What you say is a big issue People do not know what to believe in and what not.

    My take, is be firm in your values. nothing can beat you there.

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  11. I agree with you...religion is a practice of being kind to others......smile to others....it symbolises positivity

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  12. @prasanna: its sad when religion is misused for power but quite understandable too since its such an emotional issue that its easy to get people worked up

    @Chetan: yes, positivity is an imp aspect

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  13. We need more spiritualism and not religion.

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  14. I Believe in God. Not in Religion. :)

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  15. Well said! I love this verse - Awal allah noor upaya, qudrat ke sab banday
    Ek noor te sab jag upjeya, kaun bhale kaun mande. A prosaic translation - God created light from which all was born, from one seed the universe was born, then how can we discriminate amongst one another.

    I did a recent post on religion and how it leaches women of womanhood. You might enjoy it at http://the-long-walk-home.blogspot.com/2011/08/mother-mary-and-devi-ma-sacred-yes.html

    Cheers!

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  16. @Vikram: yes we surely do

    @Ashwini: :) God is a healer, an all encompassing force.

    @Manreet: Thats a beautiful verse. reminds me of
    "allah tero naam, ishwar tero naam....."

    i will surely read ur post

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  17. This is very beautiful and well written. Like you, I grew up with many influences and I also feel that it makes you a more inspired, cultured and enlightened person to have these experiences. It enriches your life and teaches you things you can never learn or understand if you don't experience such diversity.

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  18. I Have read many of your posts and first time commenting..(don’t ask me why!) :)
    The way you write is very striking, and the thoughts are penned down clearly.. about religion, they are just not so different routes to God and as you said they all preach kindness, that which none of us follow..! Nice post.. keep writing!!

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  19. @White Bhabi: true. it has been an enriching influence in my life. diversity makes us more tolerant and accepting.

    @KP: no, i wont ask about first time commenting :)
    you've more than made up for it by posting these lovely words of appreciation here. thank u

    yes, different routes to one creator

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  20. You are so right about kindness..many of us have forgotten that..

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  21. Once again, splendid words .. beautifully jotted down :-)

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  22. @Ana: Kind people rock :)

    @Shanoj: thank you Shanoj

    @Aakash: aint i glad to read this from you?

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  23. All religions are paths that lead to the same goal. So religion should be a uniting rather than a dividing force. Nice post:)

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  24. @sajeev: thank u Sajeev. yes,you are right, they all lead to the same goal, wish religion could be a unifying force

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  25. All religions are saying the same that every one must go straight and right way,while all they have their on hidden things.
    Work From Home India

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  26. @fark: yes true. welcome to Conversations!

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  27. Wonderful post. I completely agree to you. Religion is nothing else but love to god and man. All religion teach us to be kind and benevolent to the folks.

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  28. @Aakash: thank you Aakash. true, if we are not kind,what use is it anyways

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  29. GOD is one and we call him by many names

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  30. Religion is an innate need of human being..may it be in any form or level of faith, even atheists too follow religion of not beleiving!

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    1. How true Sanjay. Very well said - atheist follow religion of not believing

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  31. I do what my heart says and don't follow any particular religion or custom. Kindness as a religion is a wonderful concept in theory but this cruel world will crush us to the ground if we try to put that concept into practice, unfortunately.

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    1. ayyo Akshay sorry i am seeing your comment now!!! just goes to show i have abandoned my blog :(

      liked what you wrote and agree with your views. and from what little i know of you, i feel you are a kind man even though you say kindness doesn't work in today's times

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