Friday, February 20, 2004
On a serious note
Last night, I met up with an old friend - but the conversation turned out to be not quite as I had imagined it. We started talking about God, and I realized that my friend had been redoctrinated, as it were, into the precepts of his native Christianity.
I should not have said 'redoctrinated' - that sounds negative - and, in spite of my sarcastic vein, I would not want to poke fun at anybody's fundamental beliefs or religion.
But I was surprised, nonetheless, and we had a long conversation that lasted through the entire night - and carried on till 11 o'clock this morning. He urged me to read the bible and understand what it meant for. He urged me to give myself completely to God and be moral. He said he'd done the same. The difference between him and myself was that he believed - and I... well, he said he thought that I was empty.
May be I am.
There, I said it. My concession to morality. Maybe I have forgotten to believe. May be I'm sad that way. When I looked at my friend and saw the eager way that he thumbed through the pages of the bible and showed me para after para that he had carefully marked in green highlighter, I wondered why on earth I had never believed that intensely in any thing. Not in religion, at least.
When he asked me about my ideas about religion and god, I answered something silly about God being some sort of a Grand Support System designed by the suffering masses of humanity... my friend looked at me with a wry grin on his face and asked me to try again - this time, something that made sense.
Do I believe wholeheartedly in the pantheon of Hindu gods and goddesses? I don't think so. Yet every year, we have Saraswati and Lakshmi Puja at home. Each year, come Durga Puja, I bow my head and pray to God for success. That is like a mantra to me - success. I want it - I am insecure enought to lust after it. And I pray to God that he would deliver it.
There are other times, when my grandfather was undergoing blood transfusions to combat his leukemia that I prayed fervently that God should save him, times when I was lying in bed and praying that my Mother would have the happiest birthday of her life the next day, times when I prayed that no accident would befall my brother as he flew down from Mumbai. Those were heartfelt, genuine. Even as those other prayers were, when I prayed before Saraswati that I should excell in my exams.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I like to think that in some way, I do believe. May be not in the gospel truth of the bible or the vedas or the koran, but certainly neither in that ridiculous Support Mechanism theory. It seems silly - not to mention, terribly egotistic - to have even come up with such a stupid reply.
What my friend emphasised again and again last night was that I should think about all this more often in my life. Life is not all that short, he told me - despite what the hedonistic ads say - you can't choose when or how you're going to die, only how you'll live. There's plenty of time left to grow old in - and if I really want to say 'no regrets', as I continually affirm I do, then success must be replaced by something else on the top of my priorities list.
Even though that sounds maudlin it's probably the truth.
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