Saturday, April 4, 2009

No Apologies for being Religious

I am the New Minority. I am young and I am deeply religious. I am not God fearing but God loving.
I am a little weary of the ongoing litany, that non religious is the harbinger of peace and religious means trouble. I agree with the seperation of the religion and the state but fail to see the reasoning behind distancing the individual from faith. I need to make a case for myself and people like me.

I was born religious, then I became indifferent and then rediscovered my faith and became religious again. Religious and secular are not two opposing forces. Though this holds good for those alone who understand and practice the tenets of their faith in all honesty.
I am not in a position to write about this journey or my faith in absolute terms because I am still learning. I will touch on some things which change color and content for me as I slowly discover.

My Approach: "Sarvasya Chaham Hridhi Sanni Vishto" Bhagvad Geeta, which translated means: All are equal since He resides in all of us.
I believe in One creator. Hence everyone irrespective of color, race,religion,caste or creed is a creation of that One Supreme Being.Will I hate/kill another human being because they belong to another faith.? Never, because I believe in Divine Brotherhood under the Fatherhood of God. And it is my religion which teaches me that God is within me as well as in others.

My Temple: My Temple is certainly not one for which I stand in line for hours and could, maybe cut that wait short by bribing the priest or making a handsome donation, where they have a separate line for people based on the amount being donated, where one jostles amongst unruly crowds and is afraid of one's modesty and wallet, where the Idol is adorned with gold and diamonds and Rolex watches when there is a line of starved beggar children outside.
My temple or 'Amrutalayam' is Vedic in its concept and character. It is made of local materials and by local resources and is a socio economic center too.A place where all are equal in the eyes of God. It is simple and peaceful enabling a conversation with God and fellow human beings. Its a place where one could study the Geeta/Bible/Koran. Its a temple where the 'Brahman' teaches and simplifies the scriptures for me and not just chants Sanskrit shlokhas which make no sense to me.
It is a place where people donate because they believe the wealth they give is Gods share and that wealth, then is given to those who need it as Prasad, most likely in the dark of the night,anonymously.The concept of this impersonal wealth leaves no room for any feelings of superiority/inferiority between the giver and receiver.

My Caste: 'Brahman/Kshatriya/Vaishya/Shudra'...Caste was not an adjective but an adverb. I am not a Brahman because my father is...I am not born into a caste category , I become one due to my 'work'. I am a Brahman if I selflessly teach, I am a Kshatriya because I am responsible for the socio-political running of the city/state, I am a Vaishya because I am an entrepreneur, and I am a Shudra if I am a service provider...a engg./doctor etc.
When the scriptures talk about the glory of a Brahman, it is not the Brahman they talk of but "Brahmanatva"...a quality...a teacher who selflessly teaches the scriptures, an educationist who moulds the future generations, imparts life skills and not livelihood skills alone. And all this and more is done as a non commercial activity. Hence the Vedic society protected and cared for its Brahmans. Gurudakshina was not a compulsion yet something everybody did. A child would not be refused admission to a particular Gurukul because of a paucity of funds. State interference in the education system was unthinkable. The brahmin was free and independent and hence the best teacher. The society provided for him because he did not ask anything in exchange of what he gave. Our education system is a failure because it is a commercial enterprise, because state interference is the norm of the day. Because as a society we fail to take care of our teachers and as people we confuse education with livelihood training.
All varnas/castes are interdependent and there exists no hierarchy.

My Feminism: The Royal Guru Vashishtha saying that Sita is the most able to rule Ayodhya, in the absence of Ram, is my idea of feminism. Sita choosing to follow her husband into the forest is love. I did the same I left my work, my life to follow my husband across the globe. Does that make me a weak woman? Is my worth measured only by the amount of money I bring in at the end of the month? I do nothing, if I do not have a pay slip/fancy designation to show for it? Do I need to abuse my body by drinking ,smoking, showing my cleavage to prove that I am emancipated? Must I leave my 6 month old baby with hired help/day care to prove that I got an excellent education.Those are choices and definitely not a show of my freedom.
"Stree Shakti/woman power has been recognized and worshipped in my faith. I am an 'Ardhangini' or an equal half in the partnership of marriage.The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world is amply visible in the stories of so many great women...Aditi, Anusuya,Jija Bai etc.
Vedic theology conceives God as bipolar, having both male and female aspects.Vedic religion treats man and woman as equal.
P.S do not waste time reading the countless and completely wrong translations (sanskrit is a language in which 1 sentence could be understood in 3 different ways) and interpretations (there have been both conscious and un conscious efforts to malign vedic philosophy and literature). I can only suggest,get a Teacher who is well versed in Sanskrit and is a Vedic Scholar.

My Environmentalism: The Tenth Adhyaya of Geeta talks about the presence of God in the mountains, rivers, trees, land, air, water. If we only understood this without just casually brushing it off as nature worship/pagan religion, we would not be wracking our brains to reverse global warming and climate change. We need to look at the deeper thought than getting put off by the idea of watering a Tulsi and doing circles around a tree or worshipping a cow. Doing it mindlessly of course, also serves no purpose.
My religion teaches me to take nothing for granted and certainly not abuse what is a precious gift.

My Self Worth: Ishavasya Upanishad warns of becoming a victim to "vishay". Subjective happiness versus objective happiness.I am not incomplete because I do not have a fancy job title. I am not incomplete because I do not earn a jaw dropping salary. I am not incomplete if I do not own a fancy apartment or car. I do not become less if I am not vacationing in Europe. Should I wallow in self pity or spend thousands for plastic surgery if I do not meet the ever changing societal standards of beauty. List is endless and from the society's perspective I cannot please all and never will...and since the society at large is misdirected, should I care?
I am complete and I strive for subjective happiness ( easier said than done, but I am practicing...and God, is it tough or what Phew!!!).

My Fasts: The many fasts where people eat more than on reguar days are senseless. My fast is a way to detoxify and to not waste time on cooking. That time is to be used for doing God's work which of course does not mean bhajan keertan and prayer beads. It could mean amongst other things going out and meeting someone for no reason at all. Connecting with another human being, where no 'len'den'/ transaction is involved.To develop a relationship with another human being and to do something for them selflessly. Try it out... I was surprised by what doing for others,did for me.

There are many more things...........but I am still learning and loving every step of it. I am religious and deeply so and I am not sorry for it. Do I seem like a threat? And yes years and years of contortion and corruption will not stop me from researching and re-learning. I have a brain and I can distinguish between ritualism and religion. Thank God for an excellent teacher. For how do I learn my religion if not from a teacher, a true Brahman. My parents could not teach me all. I saw rituals and no religion around me...everywhere. Thats was and still is very unattractive.
My religion teaches me reverence for everyone and everything. This reverential attitude towards the world is a direct and natural result of acceptance of God who resides in one and all. Some fools who do not understand and practice my faith in its true essence, cannot stop me from doing so.

True Bhakti for me is a powerful positive social force which inspires me to pray everyday for universal peace and happiness.

"Sarvetra Sukhinah Santo Sarve Santo Niramaya
Sarve Bhadrane Pashyantu Ma Kvashchit Dukhmapunyaat"


Meaning :
"Everybody here should be happy. All should be free of pain and problems. All should see only good. No human being should suffer."

38 comments:

Kislay said...

I bow before thee , out of respect . Wonderful post . I am young , and I am religious as well . But I lean more towards Hindu Philosophy rather than the ritualistic religion-like entity .

Kislay said...

I really loved this post of yours . I have read it twice , so far . What does this shloka mean -
"Sarvetra Sukhinah Santo Sarve Santo Niramaya
Sarve Bhadrane Pashyantu Ma Kvashchit Dukhmapunyaat"

Chrysalis said...

Kislay

Thank you so much. This is a post very close to my heart and I am glad it made sense to you.

Anyways the shlokha means :

"Everybody here should be happy. All should be free of pain and problems. All should see only good. No human being should suffer."

manju said...

Lovely thoughts! And very logically presented.

Smitha said...

Chrysalis, I just hopped over from Manju's blog and am so glad I did! This was such a wonderful post! Please do post more on these lines.. There is so much to learn.. i am impressed your the clarity of your thoughts! Will keep coming for more!

Chrysalis said...

Manju ,Smitha: Thank you so much for dropping by and really appreciate your feedback.

Dr. Ranu Sinha said...

Wonderful post. I think the bottom line is "discovering the real self" or the "God within".

Self gratification is important in leading a happy life. People can achieve it by understanding the purpose of their lives. It is the happiness derived from small pleasures, helping/motivating others and trying to be oneself (not just what others want). Your article touched me.

Chrysalis said...

Ranu

And I must say your appreciation touched me Ma'am Super Senior :).
Thank you so much for visiting and even more for your feedback.

Vinod_Sharma said...

How refreshing to read such a profoundly honest, spritiual, philosophical post from someone who has seen it all and yet not got uprooted like almost all of us have.

One would never have suspected that this Chrysalis was indeed preparing to emerge as the perfect "butterfly"! You really are something else...and this comes, in all likelihood, from memories and attainments of past lives...

Smitha said...

Chrysalis, Just drop me an email on wordzndreamz@googlemail.com - and I will send you all the info that I have about differences between WP and blogger:)

Anrosh said...

here for the first time -- in one of your posts below you said that you were reading two books -- i thought you were writing two books at the same time.

came over from chirag's ( i guess ) reading your comment

I can only say I am speechless reading you !

I do not know the hindu scriptures -- but this one is a good start for me

Chrysalis said...

Smitha: Will drop you a mail. Thanks :)

Vinod ji: I am so honored by your generous comment. I am delighted you paid a visit to my blog space. And I cannot take any credit for this flow of thought. I have God, my Teacher, my Parents to thank for,for whatever understanding I have today. BUT I am still a work in a progress. I have far, far way to go.

Chrysalis said...

Anrosh

Welcome to my space. Writimg even one book would be a dream come true.:) Nothing of that sorts happening anytime soon.
And yes I am also learning about Vedic culture/literature/religion etc. I am astounded by all the misinformation, malpratcice and apathy going around about it. Its a tragedy and such a loss.

milestogo said...

Am glad i dropped by and read your article... you have so rightly and simply put forward the truth which we fail to see and even when we do see fail to understand. I for one identify with religion vs ritualism and have been practicing this for sometime now-- including fasting as a mode of complete detoxification- mental , spiritual and physical... keep it up manu, love reading ur blog..

Pangala Nagendra Rao said...

Eko devaha vipaaha bahudha vadanti
Every living being on this earth is moving towards the perfection. A journey towards light.
We are all on the same path but because we have been obsessed by society, in our mind about the faith we have divided ourself.
It is the selfish and narrow mindness of some people who manipulated the meanings of Veda, Upanishads, Aranyaka, Bhahmanas in their own written books called Smruti or Shartras which lead the real truth to hide and the Hinduism
is paying for this.
It is people like Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Vivekananda who reached the dig into the Vedas and once again shown to us the enlighten path.
Many people will pass the wall of this MAYA but only some will give the hand to others to aid them to pass it. Heartful thanks to you.
Vande Mataram

Chrysalis said...

Thanks Jennifer for the generous comments. I am glad you enjoy my blogs.

Pangala Nagendra Rao: I so agree with you. Thank you so much for reading and liking this particular post. I feel so passionately about this issue that I am prone to rambling :)

chiragchamoli said...

Chrysalis you are indeed a new Minority ;) Wonderful post . for me the case is I was born then I became indifferent :) . the Brilliance about the your article is not the religiousness in it but the sense.

I am just repeating what i have put on my blog!
Religion has 3 parts Symbols (gods, goddesses, texts, idols, animals, stars etc), rituals and spirituality. Our problem is that we r stuck in the first 2 and forgotten about the 3 aspect. This is what guruji calls Sticking on to the banana skin n forgetting abt the banana.

So my pal u r right we dont need a religion what we need is spirituality…

Chrysalis said...

Chirag
Was wondering when you would read this post of mine :). Thanks for your beautifully worded comment. I so agree with you ...Religion with a reason is what we need.

Poonam J said...

Wonderful post dear...had to catch up with you.
I read it and then reread it.....Buddha has rightly said...Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true. ....Religious beliefs are very personal and intimate to me. I guess al religions show the same disparity between practice and belief..but as long as we believe in the rights and liberty of one and all, life will be good.
You have so rightly said..True Bhakti for me is a powerful positive social force which inspires me to pray everyday for universal peace and happiness.
Lovely post dear..will catch up with the others tom. for sure.
.

Chrysalis said...

Poonam Ji

Thanks. I am glad you liked this one. This comes straight from the heart.

J P Joshi said...

This is one post that I enjoyed reading today. I simply can't help but agree with you on all accounts. A very simple BUT powerful line of thought and reasoning. I notice that my wife has been here before me, and I second her views.

D said...

I do not think relgion and secularism need to opposites. But religion must not be brought into the public sphere. It should remain a private affair.

Chrysalis said...

Joshi Sir

Thanks and welcome to my space.

D

I think you contradict yourself. If religion is not unsecular in nature how does it harm anyone if it spills into the public domain. And yes how can we stop that from happening. Aren't what we are in public a reflection and manifestation of what we are in private.
I see no problem with learning about our respective religions in in a public classroom or privately when they all teach the same message of One Creator and universal peace and happiness. The issue is finding such teachers and a socitey who would not contort and convolute or vested interests.
Geeta says that we should accept other religious philosophies because one religion cannot satisfy people of all races or regions. If I understand this basic fundamental principle I am going to aid rather than disturb the social equilibrium. I think we need to be taught our faiths rather than keep them in the closet.

Indyeah said...

awesome post!!
loved it...even though I cant say that I am religious per se

but yes I too am weary of both the religious bashing that seems to be goin on everywhere that one turns these days as well as equally weary of the assumption that non religiousness is the way to go or some such thing...

I am weary of both the things for, they put a subtle pressure on one to conform...to either this or that...

whereas my faith is something that is very loosely defined...it infact has no definition...it simply is..it changes constantly over time..with time...

I too dont believe in rituals...
they seem a waste of time to me not to mention extremely dumb in some respects if not all...

I agree with every point emntioned here..except that maybe I would not like to go back to a vedi#c society...becasue the caste system is something that is abhorrrent...no matter what it was designed for or what purpose it fulfilled...

I loved these words...

they have been a fav of mine ever since I first heard them

"Sarvetra Sukhinah Santo Sarve Santo Niramaya
Sarve Bhadrane Pashyantu Ma Kvashchit Dukhmapunyaat"

thank YOU for leading me to this post!

you have said it all beautifully...

Daneb said...

amazing post....very rationally written...!!! could'nt have agreed more wth u..... i guess thr r very few existing on ths planet in the present "kali" yug who truly understand the notion of "I" and "GOD" ..n u sure r one of them...!!!

i too ws born in a religious family, on occasions over religious...cld nvr grasp the rationality of pomp n meaningless rituals, hence almost turned atheist. bt whatever vedic texts, quantum physics i hv read and blogs like this one drawn me back to the concept of "I" and "God".

would love to read another such post on these lines..plzzzz keep writing..!!!

Chrysalis said...

Indyeah: Thanks so much and love to see you here. I feel the same weariness you mention, but thankfully have found direction for myself. Caste System is something completely misunderstood but that needs another blog.:)

Daneb: Thank you so much and welcome. I am glad you got back into the fold. There can be no religion without reason. And yes I will certainly write more on these lines.

Destination Infinity said...

Very good post. It is indeed heart wrenching to see that we are not able to separate the wheat from the chaff. But at least, all of us have a chance to voice our POV. I am glad about that. And your post was spot on, the direction that you have chosen for yourselves is indeed correct.

Destination Infinity

Chrysalis said...

Destination Infinity,

Thanks and yes God besides giving us everything also gave us 'Free Will' and we choose our own paths nd our own destinies.

indianhomemaker said...

A very passionate and wise post Chrysalis.
I like your interpretation of the caste system - I wish everybody saw it this way.

I think we need more religious thinkers who believe that a place of worship " is simple and peaceful enabling a conversation with God and fellow human beings. Its a place where one could study the Geeta/Bible/Koran."Chrysalis, please do a post on this... "The Royal Guru Vashishtha saying that Sita is the most able to rule Ayodhya, in the absence of Ram, is my idea of feminism."One thing that bothers me is "do not waste time reading the countless and completely wrong translations (sanskrit is a language in which 1 sentence could be understood in 3 different ways) and interpretations". My favorite words in this post, ...True Bhakti for me is a powerful positive social force which inspires me to pray everyday for universal peace and happiness.

Chrysalis said...

IHM:Thanks. But these are not my interpretations. This what my faith says. What you see all around is people misinterpreting and practicing it wrongly.
Will certainly do a post on Sita...
An dyesits true the many easily available translated books on vedic texts are WRONG!! During British rule it was somewhat of a conscious effort to make an entire people ashamed of their culture. And yes we Indians also left no leaf unturned by doing shoddy research and biased mindsets.

Amit said...

That time is to be used for doing God's work which of course does not mean bhajan keertan and prayer beads.

But what if for me, doing bhajan keertan and prayer beads is what gives me joy and a way to connect with god? Bhajan keertan also involves sangat with others, connecting with other human beings, no len-den and music + singing lifts my spirit. We must be careful that as we talk of religion-bashing by others, we ourselves don't indulge in it and become snobs, looking down on certain acts that are harmless and may be positive. :)

Amit said...

By the way, very interesting blog and I enjoyed reading your posts, many of which resonated with me.

Chrysalis said...

Amit you are absolutely right..we cannot look down upon any harmless act and become snobs. Its just that I believe Bhav Bhakti, Gyan and Yog bhakti should translate into Kriti Bhakti. This holds good for me and I have seen what it has done for the society at large too....message of Bhagvad Geeta. I certainly don't look down upon any form of Bhakti.
Thanks for the comment and yes welcome to my space.

KIRAN said...

very rightly said...caste is a an adverb not an adjective.very logical....too gud......

Deven said...

Superb!!! mind blowing!!!
Hats off to u.

Sheel said...

a strong sense of purpose simmeringly evident from your post ..i bet this was written at one go ...the uniqueness and brilliance of Hinduism lies in the implicit bond between the follower and the worshipped alone .....and is the one religion that encourages this to be a personal relationship... that is what makes me proud to be a Hindu unfortunately a vote of majority is being concocted at the expense of making this a group if not a mob relationship

bhakti said...

Strongly agree with Sheel. Hinduism is the only religion that believes that all paths are valid. However -be careful here-before saying all religions are equal...they are not...all other religions believe that their's is the "only" way..the "correct way". Everyone else is on the wrong path and needs to be converted or killed. Even Mother Teresa who helped the poor and destitute CONVERTED them first...or made sure she did it somewhere along the way while providing help. So when other people from other religions become athiests...I totally get it. I, for one am not sure if god exists...I am not religious...but I have a religion -In Hinduism you can believe that god might not exist and still be deeply hindu! Hinduism does not insist I believe in god...that does not determine if I am a good or bad hindu...but bad deeds?!?! THAT's a different story. So everybody could be at a different phase of their relationship with god. And the one you might believe in...might have 10 arms or a trunk...Its personal... and whatever you can imagine it to be... but its important to remember "ahimsa parma dharma"

Deepak Dubey said...

A brilliant post...enjoyed reading every line. Felt as if it was me writing....but could never gather my thoughts and pen them so beautifully as you have done. Keep writing...