Friday, December 28, 2007

Only one God

There is only one god and his name is Krishna.

This might border on conceit or narcissism, given that people from other religions, or even other Hindus may find this very offending. But this is my opinion and this is my blog. And this is not an attempt to offend others, their gods or other gods. My point is simple, all religions speak the same message, that, ‘there is only one god’.

Some of them even name him or her in their scriptures. While there are a lot of references to this in the Hindu scriptures too, they don’t always point to the same name or icon. Krishna, has always declared himself as god, also acknowledges the presence of others in the Hindu pantheon. In this blog, i am not going to into details about why Krishna, but i hope to blog about that too. The character itself is of special meaning to me, and hence the choice becomes easier to make.

We call him or her by many names. Even Hinduism and related offshoots, allows the acceptance of pretty much anything and everything as god or an icon for god, specifies that these are mere substitutes for the bigger and all containing ‘Brahman’. Newer religions have attempted to reduce this level of confusion by mandating that there be only one god. But even they have failed to enforce these strictures.

People find it difficult to associate the philosophy of religion and the meaning of scriptures to their daily lives. To many, if not all, scriptures and philosophy are of profound meaning, to be contemplated about, but when it comes to practice, any and all straws that will help keep them afloat, can and will be treated as god.

While i am not very different, i have been able to exercise some prudence. I try to clutch at straws, but i call them all the same, Krishna. I look up on at all the same, but then what i see is only one image, and that of Krishna. This is not something romantic or idealistic, but more an issue of practicality. It is easier to call out to one person, than to reach out to the rain, sun, earth, wind, money and love gods.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Who is God ? Who are you ?

It appears easy to answer on the face of it. Who is God? We can conjure up images, names, deeds, boons and punishments too, to describe a God we know. Each one of us, have different images or idea of who this person or being is. Or do we ?

Let me try a different take here. Who are you ? I would attempt to answer this by "i am CK".

Are you the name ? Because when you introduce yourself, you say "my name is CK", implying your name is CK, you are not ? While sometime i do pronounce "I am CK". But even as you say this you realize the power of 'ego' that is conveyed through that pronouncement. Again indicating that there is more to it, than just pure truth. Or simply put, that might be false.

Are you the face ? Are you the hands, the body or the legs ? Are you the heart or the mind ? Each of these part of the body is considered yours. That means, these are things you possess but they dont make you. It is my face, my legs, my hand, my heart and my mind, but not me.

Could you, then be the thoughts? The dreams, the emotions, the pain, the love that you have. Because to many people it is the thoughts and words stated that defines them. Here again, these are your thoughts. And the same conclusions can be drawn, as they are yours, but not you. They are mine, but do not define me.

Who is this 'you' or 'i' ? If you try to determine that i am all of these things indicated earlier, all of them put together. Then what happens after you or i die. Well when you die, or i die. We still tend to remain. But then its mostly an imagination in someone's mind. Whereas the i that was used associate myself with, is a dead body that needs to be cremated or buried. Like old clothes, we leave the body we used behind.

So, finally then. Who am i ? Who are you ? Who is God?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Karma - the act of god

karmaNye vaadhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadaachana|
maa karma phalaheturbhuu maate saNgotsvakarmaNi||

These two lines define my entire belief in religion. A short quick meaning is that 'do your duty, and fret not about the rewards'. There is more to it, but thats not what this short blog is about. Its more about that one word 'Karma'.

I was at a Health Summit and Conference recently in New Delhi, where i had the honor of seeing, listening and finally touching the Dalai Lama. His visit was not disclosed before (because of security reasons), and so it was a special surprise to an otherwise dull and boring work session. He spoke a bit about care, compassion and things related to the medical field, and then opened up the floor for questions.

The first question came from a person, who wanted to know, 'in this fast paced life, we dont have time to pray and think about god everytime'. He wanted the Dalai Lama to 'help us quickly remember god everyday, some mantra or special prayer that we could quickly offer everyday'. I was thinking 'hmm, interesting question, but then what could someone say to this kind of question'. While everything he says is true, what he is asking for is impossible. The very fact that someone asks such a question means lack of faith and time. Was he asking for the secret mantra that Dalai Lama had to reach god.

Then the Dalai Lama spoke (i am paraphrasing here, so please dont quote this literally) 'you dont have to pray to god everyday. Karma Yoga - that is the best way to reach god. do your best to help others. reach and remember god, by your actions'. I was flabbergasted, because that statement he made, perfectly mirrored my belief in my religion.

The Hindu Dharma has many means or paths (yoga) to reach god, Jnana, Bhakti and Karma yoga. Jnana yoga takes you to the ultimate truth, using the path of knowledge. Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion. Karma yoga is the path, through your actions. In the Bhagavad Gita, these paths are clearly defined. And while i have given very simplistic definitions and outlook to each of these paths, there is more to it than just the meaning of the words jnana (knowledge), bhakti (devotion) and karma (duty/action). But to me, us simplistic mortal, who are looking for the easy way out, the karma yoga is the really the easy way out. But action towards whom ?

To others, your fellow human beings, your family, friends, neighbours, service providers, and last but not least to yourself. I believe that we all live and breath because of the 'soul' or 'atma' in our body. We are born many times, as many living things, because we need to uplift this atma, so that it can reach its ultimate goal, the 'paramatma'. How do you get there ? Well, one lifetime at a time. Each lifetime, we better ourselves by doing better and better things, more help to people, more service to society, selfless service to human and other living things. That is our karma, and we will benefit from all the good karma in this lifetime, and have a better life the next. And so slowly, one lifetime at a life, we move along the path to the paramatma.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Temple rituals

I visit temples often, and when i do, i have a ritual to perform. No one tells me to do this, and nor am i the kind of person who will do things because someone tells me to. Well, i do, it depends on the person tho. Most of my rituals inside the temple is based on what my grandmother told me. And i have been at it, like clockwork, since the days i can remember.

But then increasingly i have been seeing myself do these things and wonder, why, what. And as i stand there inside the temple, i start thinking, is this all real. Who is this being, that i am trying to reach out to? Does it matter if have gone around the idol three times? Whether it achieves any significance in the eyes of others, it sure sets me at peace. I am not then thinking about any non-adherence for the rest of the day. It has a way of working in your inner head. The voice from in there, never really shuts up.

So in a sense i do, what i do, for my own peace. Not because it is a secret ritual to be peformed a million times to open the sacred doors of heaven. Palazhi (milky ocean) and its doors are my visions of heaven, based on the multitude of stories narrated by my ammooma (grandma). So, then is it ok, for others to do their rituals to appease their inner voice. I guess it must be so. What's good for me, must be good for others too.

But, what happens when that ritual and effects of those, cause pain, distress or suffering to others. Or what if it results in wastage of money or other resources in the name of appeasing the lord. I think i both cases, i am against and will not support or participate as best as i can. It is saddening to see milk poured over an idol to cleanse it, when it could be used to feed a few poor. I wonder if that would have appeased the lord more ?

So while, rituals are necessary part of the process of religion and god etc. But i think it is important for us to realize why we are doing these. Are they meant to satisfy your inner voice ? In which case, can it not be toned down, so that it doesnt hurt people or other living beings, or even waste money and other precious resources.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why this Blog?

For sometime, actually for quite sometime, i have been arguing with myself about God, religion and whole purpose of life etc. I oscillate from an atheist to a god loving and fearing being. I have no qualms though, when i argue against the concept of god, while also folding my hands in prayer. It may reek of double standards, but that hardly makes me unique in this world.

I believe in a supreme being. I believe his name is Krishna, for any other name simply doesnt cut it for me. I believe in him, when i see sun rise with a glory of colours, when i see hear a bird sing a tune, when i see the ocean and its powerful waves, when i see the mountains climbing up to touch the sky, when i see the distant star twinkle in the night, or when during a rare night i can see the milkyway (akash ganga), or even when i think how i am alive today, but just a bones and flesh when a small piece of him goes away from me. I am what i am, because of the life in me, and that according to me is the God i worship, because soon after i am dead, i am referred to as a 'body' that needs to be cremated or buried. But not a person who needs to be fed, bathed, clothed or cared for.

Then again, when i think of God as a person who came and stated things, gave us rules in the form of scriptures, created the wonderful heaven we can gain entry into, or the hell we will burn if we dont obey or pray, i can only see him as a creation of men. Men who felt that they must create some form or being that can be looked up to, by mere mortals, for divine direction. And then after creating the God they wanted, they also went about creating the rules. These rules then evolved (much to the displeasure of the proponents of 'creation' theory) to take new forms and sub-clauses because of new thinking and living. God soon became just a tool, to manage human beings. Lessons of management, teaches us that, when you manage a large group of people, it necessary to divide and organize them, and so we then got ourselves different gods to please each smaller group.

This blog is my way of trying to prove or disprove to myself, whether god exists, god created man, man created god, god gave us scriptures, or did the scriptures define a god. More importantly it is also my theory of God, religion and scriptures, how i approach these and how i use these for my everyday life. I believe in the concept of hinduism, which gives me the utmost freedom in choosing my god and my scripture, in choosing my path to attain moksha. While other religion may offer the same salvation, but my understanding, very limited as it is, indicates that i need to subscribe to stricter path.

I hope to write out my thoughts and explanation to things i see in this universe, when i find a link to my God, or when i feel his hand or touch. And also use this to argue against myself and other views which i dont agree with, in terms of religion, scriptures and god itself. This is a search for truth, and so help me god.