I have been meaning to write this for some time now. But, this is one of those posts that requires serious reflection, analysis and questioning and so I have been postponing this for a few days. But today, I decided it could not wait any longer. Does God exist? If yes, what is he/she? Someone sitting up there in the skies and commanding our every action? If no, why does humankind need the concept? Personally, I believe in God. Call it what you may, God, the Almighty, a creature of the nth dimension, an extra-terrestrial with superior intelligence...whatever it is, I believe. Not because I am stupid or naive, but because I need something to believe in. I am human too. I need to believe that there is a power above mine that makes things happen the way they happen. Existential philosophers believed that there is no such thing as God. That is a scary proposition. Because if there was no God, we would have to take responsibility for every little thing in our lives. An accident, a power failure, an illness...we would be responsible for everything. And that kind of responsibility is too heavy for any individual to bear. There is no doubt in my mind that there is God. That He takes care of everything and makes things happen in my life. I don't mean that I can sit back and relax while He does all the hard work. It means that success is 99% hard work and 1% divine providence.
That brings me to the next question. Must I believe in religion because I believe in God? Can I not worship Him the way I deem fit? Will He not listen to me and solve my problems if I ask Him to? Why is there a single acceptable way of worshipping? I spent two years away from India. I lit a lamp something like 5 times in those two years. I did not visit a single temple in that time. But, He took care of me and ensured my physical and emotional well-being. Will all that change because I am now in India and refuse to go to a temple? Yes, I believe in God, but not in religion. I believe that there is a supreme power that makes things happen, but I refuse to get carried away by ritualism and devote my time to pointless worship. Does that make me an atheist? I will worship when I feel like it. I will go to a temple because I want to. I refuse to be forced into performing such rituals to satisfy others. So, is God going to punish me for that attitude? I doubt it. Because, if God really is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, he will understand and appreciate my faith in Him. Why should I pretend for the sake of other mere humans?
The humans in question masquerade as astrologers. They claim they can read God's mind. They claim you have hurt His sentiments or defiled Him by behaving in a certain manner. They also claim He can only be pacified by begging for forgiveness through some elaborate ritual costing a couple of thousand rupees. Excuse me if I sound like an atheist, but I find the whole thing ridiculous. The Vedas prescribe something called the Kshama Prarthana. It involves asking for forgiveness for mistakes committed, knowingly or unknowingly. And it about two lines long and takes exactly 25 seconds to say. Will God not accept that? Will He not forgive? Why do we need these astrologers and fake pujaaris to act as intermediaries in our business with God? I know my questions are pertinent. But my asking them makes me a heretic. It hurts to see that a religion that was once so inclusive and tolerant is becoming increasingly intolerant and ritualistic. But, who is to say? Who is to fight these self-proclaimed guardians of faith?