Religion and Spirituality
People are shy of using the word ‘religion’, hence the new word spirituality. It has become a fashion statement, if u r going to AOL classes. So, we use words like spirituality, culture, tradition, customs, way of life, faith, belief, but not religion. Even I have started using these words so as not to be branded as a saffron brigade.
They say there is no atheist in the battle-field.
Faith is something that u r born into. Rarely can one develop sraddhä. Nevertheless, I deeply admire people who go along with their life searching for the truth, with their reasoning alone. I also admire people who go by their own understanding of value system of right and wrong, without resorting to scriptures.
For me, I was fortunate to have been born into an ästika family, which put in a surrounding where I could practice my religion/practice/culture. Much later in life I started studying the scriptures (still do), and am overwhelmed at the genius, foresight and infalliability of the Rshis who wrote the Upanishads, and the dharmasastrakaras who wrote the Dharmasästras. Our Dharmasästra/s are dynamic based on time and space/place, subject to interpretation.
I see lot of research work being done on Hinduism, Vedas, Temple Architecture, Buddhism, Jainism, our way of life. May be and for sure, these scholars have made in-depth studies, have followed the universal research methodology, and have reference for all their statements and conclusions. However, why do I feel better? Because, nobody knows my religion better than me. I live this life. How can any foreigner ever know what Satyajit Ray is trying to convey when Sharmilä’ face is alternated with Durgä’s face in Devi. Why in our Bollywood films the wronged female protagonist is seen killing the villain with a trisula (like Durga). Why even some of Aurobindo’s disciples could not accept/digest when he declared Mirra Alfassa as the mother (an incarnation of Sakti). Why do we do namaskär to a one-rupee note, even it is full of amoebas and fifty times namaskärs f it a $ bill. Why do we thank God when something good happens in our lives, and blame our karma when something undesirable happens. It is taking responsibility for whatever is happening in our life.
Spirituality is self-introspection, and striving to grow. There is no perfect person. A perfect person is only in the scripture, say Naciketä (in Kathopanishad). Even Svetaketu (in Chändogya) had to listen to the teaching nine times. U and I are average people, continuously striving.
Here I must tell about self-acceptance. Many gurus criticize and denounce, so that the victim becomes emotionally dependent on the guru. It is very important to validate oneself. Otherwise, one cannot survive; learning sästra is bahu-duram - far off. I am a product of my family’s parvarish, surrounding community, society, peer-group, teachers; I am trying to grow, u wait.
Not getting deep into the scripture, I feel if somebody is looking after the family, dependent parents, children, neighbours, friends, community; it is enough. This by itself is enormous. Who told u that life is easy? To have my daily meal, it is work, and work, and work, even when I don’t have to think about earning money. Think of those who have to earn money. If everybody did only what is expected of him or her, there would be less issues. If everybody did a little more than what s/he can do, the community would be a little better place.
Someone asked me, ‘If today is my last day, what should I do?’ I have been harping on this. If today is my last day, what should I do? Shall I read another book, or arrange the library? Shall I pray, or clean up the Puja room? Cook a meal or spring-clean the kitchen?
Naturally I have been reading a book, praying, cooking, and my life has become LOC. Thinking that today is my last day, I have been able to upload most of my Vedic/Sanskrit chanting in UTube, and write about Temple-architecture in my blog. Prioritising one’s priority is also a big thing.
Did you read about Sahar Gul of Afghanistan? A child-bride of 15 years. How did she put up with the physical torture and did not break up? Her photo is heart-wrenching. There is so much violence against, women, especially children. And the perpetrator is another female! Whom to blame? The religion? Her in-laws? Her parents who sold her? Or poverty, which could have forced her in-laws?
Shirin Ebadi, during her visit to Kolkata/Mumbai’s RLA in December 2009 remarked, ‘It is poverty that forces the women into ------.’ I was amazed (a dropped word now) then at her understanding the root problem. I understand better now, and empathise with the victims.
You may care to read these, in case you have missed on what atrocities are is happening around us -