Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Agnostic Front

6 AM

“Kowsalya supraja Rama poorva sandhya pravarthathe
Uthishta narasardoola karthavyam daivamahnikam”

The enchanting voice of MS Subbulakshmi makes its way through the crisp chilly air of my city. I hear birds chirping and temple bells chiming. It isn’t time to wake up yet but there’s no way I’m going to sleep through this setting.

Starting off with the ‘Suryanamaskara’, I begin my then daily routine of yoga.

Refreshing! In fact the word doesn’t do enough justice in describing the state of mind one can achieve through this form of meditation.

After a busy day in school, I make my way back home.

Come 6 PM, I wash my hands and feet. It’s time to check the oil and light the traditional brass lamp in our wall-mounted ‘mantapa’ – an alternative to the luxurious puja room seen in other apartments.

Colorful images of various Hindu Gods and Goddesses adorn the mantapa. Making circular movements with the lit incense stick in hand, I pray silently. Eyes closed; bowing my head I repeat “Bhavatu Sarva Mangalam” thrice and smear holy powder on my forehead.

Fast-forward to today. My profile on Facebook reads: Religious views – Agnostic.

One might wonder if we are talking about the same individual described in earlier paragraphs.

“What happened to the kid who grew up embracing religion?”

Life. Life is what happened to the kid.

Exposure to the media - reading reports on merciless killings, poverty, discrimination, religious intolerance and through my own experiences, the kid in me grew up.

I started wondering what’s gone wrong with the world. Whatever happened to living in harmony? Why is everyone tweaking and distorting what the prophets preached? All for ulterior motives?

Did God betray me? Or was I always living in my own ‘make believe’ world? Or was it culture and society that brought me up with high expectations only to scandalize me with reality?

I don’t know.

I look around at all the troubles which people around me face. I appreciate the lengths they go to in order to speak to their Gods: be it offerings or be it the physical and mental endurance they display in climbing arduous mountains, in crossing dangerous rivers; all the while bearing hostile weather conditions.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if all positive religious zeal had constructive consequences for mankind? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if all religions could appreciate and tolerate others too?

So many questions. Where are the answers?

For all the beauty that exists around us, I believe there exists a supreme power which controls the universe but I disagree that the power has a form, color or religion.

Hence, God and I decided that we need a break from each other. I felt I could take care of myself and that I had to let Him go take care of the needy.

In more ways than one, my relationship with God is like the one with my first love: Special, magical, intense - while it lasted. We moved on. But years later when we meet each other, we will still connect.

“How ‘bout coffee tomorrow evening, God?” :)

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