Sep 1, 2007

Of believing and discerning

A sudden bout of spiritualism forced me to go to the temple yesterday and it coincided with Sankatahara Chathurthi. The very thought of going to the temple on this day filled me with a sense of fulfillment that I had done something good after a long time, though I had no idea of what the occasion means. An effort at 'googling' for the explanation did not make me any the wiser except for the fact that its a monthly event. So I stuck to the ritualistic praying for well-being.

I was wondering about the meaning of some mantras and it set me off on a tangent that eventually ended with me questioning about the rationality in believing the existence of God. All the slokams and mantras I know unequivocally praise the God. If God does exist, does He wish to us to spend a considerable part of our time praising Him? (or Her, lest I am branded as a male chauvinist) I mean if He really is God what is the point in Him expecting us to praise Him.

If the above line of thought is considered blasphemy, then one would succumb to the ideas of living in Kali Yuga wherein the human race is supposed to be most distanced from God. Atleast the scriptures say so! But then how much veracity can one attach to the scriptures. To be fair, its difficult to believe in miracles. And to believe something that has been written and passed over generations, describing incidents that happened hundreds of years ago as to the deeds of the Gods is tough. After all truth distorts over time and historians were not in much abundance in the earlier days so as to give an accurate recounting of things that happen. For example, what if they all started off as eulogistic narrations of the deeds of Kings and then got modified over generations, with the subsequent additions of unearthly powers to the deities. It is possible.

When one goes to some places that have spiritual connections it makes us feel exhilarated. Is that because one truly feels the divine power or is it the subconscious mind that tells us we are in a place that has some spiritual significance and makes us feel something inexplicable? I visited many South Indian temples last year and I started off by thinking that it should be interesting as I would see new places. But when I went to places like the Thanjavur Kovil, the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Kovil or the Chidambaram Kovil, I felt a heaviness which overwhelmed my senses. They mad(k)e me believe that there is an aura about these places that have reasons beyond plain architecture and massiveness. I suppose same should be the case with Kailash and places like Badrinath, Kasi etc.,

But, sometimes I tend to believe that the concept of Religions were created to bring about a sense of orderliness in man's life. Being the only creature endowed with the power to think, we have spent a lot of our time in trying to find out the reason for our existence. Some people answer that spiritually and attribute man's existence to God and some answer that scientifically citing evolution, the primordial soup, etc., I suppose our ancestors predominantly would have belonged to the former group. The fact that misdoings and improper conduct would invoke the wrath of some supernatural power would serve as a deterrent to many people from straying in their lives. And over a period of years, these would have coalesced into a coherent set of stories that gave way to the myths (or the epics as we would have it). One need not be astute to perceive the regional based differences in the stories of Gods. Even epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana have parts that are narrated in different ways in different places. And same is the case with the Old and the New Testaments. When someone like Mother Teresa who has been an embodiment of devout worshipers, says that her life has been devoid of the influence of God, then 'lesser' beings are bound to relapse into self doubts.

Having said all this, it leaves me in a confused state of mind. To believe in the existence of God and devote a part of my time to prayers or to be a heretic. As the questions remain unanswered, I guess I have no other option but to tread the path of several skeptic-believers and continue to believe in God with the occasional doubts rearing its head. After all as many people say, it is better to err on the side of safety.

7 comments:

Naveen September 4, 2007 at 11:12:00 AM EDT  

I do appreciate the time u have spent on such a topic. But one thing which I totally disagree is your claim about the purpose of these mantras. Its not He who wants us to chant the slokas and mantras, rather its us who are praising Him for all the things He has given!! Moreover I am very sure that all the mantras are not supposed to be eulogistic. Its just that the most common ones you hear in temples tend to be like that since people with all kinds of problems visit and the specific mantras cannot be chanted.
Again, your claims about the scriptures is a good one although I guess it needs some more thinking before it can be made a valid claim. But as you said its always better to follow the path taken by many others atleast till we are mature enough to make such huge claims!

Filarial September 4, 2007 at 4:26:00 PM EDT  

Me and a few friends have diccussed this for hours sometimes through the night.. some opinions that I have formed over the years and have been strengthened by these dicusiions-

1) religion is obviously a concept brought about to bring orderliness initially. but with hinduism it has gone many steps furthur unlike christianity or islam which with no abhorrane of any kind in my mind I would say are just a list of rules and is extreml;y young a that when compared to hinduism..

2) The staunch views of hinduism that you might come across as being thrust upon you rather than you realising it for yourself is a fact that stemmed from a 1000 year rule under first the slave kings then the certainly inferior British

3) The way I was exposed to hinduism was through a large number of stories but never was there a clear cut moral as this is right and this is wrong.. most of them were left to my own interpretation which I constantly revise as I build on new expreiences each day..

4) I am constantly under the thought of something that was told me " Hinduism is a way of life" which is extremly true once you think about it..

Santhosh C September 4, 2007 at 7:13:00 PM EDT  

@ Naveen:Naa kadavul nambikai ilainu solala..naa kadavula nambaren..yaenaa naanum kadavuldhaan :D

@ Prash: Yes,but like I said the concept is so overwhelming, that it is difficult to overlook the concept of God for practical purposes.
More than the guidelines which Hinduism might stand for, its the concept of praying to an entity called God that is occupying my thoughts. Even if I convince myself that its all myths, the first thing I do when going for exam is pray to God. I guess its ingrained in us and I (we) will forever be alternating between the two thoughts.

Naveen September 5, 2007 at 9:03:00 AM EDT  

when did I ever mention u dont have belief in god?

Anonymous,  September 21, 2007 at 4:08:00 PM EDT  

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Sriram R July 31, 2009 at 4:24:00 PM EDT  

அவரவர் தமதமது* அறிவறி வகைவகை*

அவரவர் இறையவர்* என அடி அடைவர்கள்*

அவரவர் இறையவர்* குறைவிலர் இறையவர்*

அவரவர் விதிவழி* அடைய நின்றனரே

(திருவாய்மொழி 1-1-5)

Asmitha,  August 26, 2009 at 6:34:00 AM EDT  

Mantras do not praise God.. Not all of them. It is definitely not God who asked for the mortals to keep singing His praise in the form of Mantras..

God Does Exist!!

Miracles do happen. Many of us experience this.

Simply go to a temple, concentrate on the Lord and sit for a few minutes.. Get back if you dint feel anything at all.

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