Have you ever felt weighed down by certain thought or way of thinking? I did.. for many years I lived with that confusion and internal war. I can’t say if I have actually won the war, but at least I have moved on to a less confusing space.
GOD. As a hindu child, I think I was taught to pray, do namaskara much before I started speaking, and I started speaking at the age of 16 months..
My nap time was also story telling time, and Amma, my mom, came up with many short stories from hindu mythology. Ganapati, Hanumaan, Raama Seeta Laxmana they all became my super heros. It was much before TV could enter our lives and living rooms. The interesting part was, my mom had little or no faith in God even though she came from an orthodox brahmin family.
She did not question her elders and did everything that she was told to, but that was that.. It was a ritual, take bath, pray, light a lamp in front of the God.
As kids, we did pray after taking bath, we learnt it watching our parents. My dad, however was not religious, but had faith in God.. When Baba prayed, he gave his 100% to it.. But again, he wasn’t ritualistic. He didn’t believe in too many do’s and don’ts..Infact, he was rather unconventional, every day in his office, he would pray and keep marie biscuits as offering (naivyedya). He treated God like friend rather than treating like somebody sitting far away and writing your fate..
We didn’t celebrate most festivals, just the major one’s like diwali, dasara and Ganesh Chaturthi. Baba was against vata – savitri and such festivals where only wife is supposed to fast and pray for her husbands’ long life, for him it never made sense.
As a teenager was more confused than ever and my relationship with God and religion was forever changing. Sometimes I would pay for hours and sometimes, hardly a minute.
After I got married, things drastically changed as my husband is from a very conservative, madhwa brahmin family, who had strong belief in religion, rituals and everything related.. He belived in all things that I hardly believed in. He had faith in following Grahana( eclipse) rituals, and I have never ever been forced or come across those rituals in my home.
Now that I am a mom, I think my son is certainly going to get influenced with our relationship with God, the we pray or don’t.
In 2014 July, I lost Baba, my father, to a massive cardiac arrest.. A month prior to that Prasad lost his Dad and I witnessed the amount of confusion caused at his place due to different versions of every ritual. Prasad’s family consulted many priests and each gave a different version of how a ritual is to be followed. To attain maximum purity, they had to fast, sleep on a mat, abstain from most comforts, had to spend time in prayers, bathe in cold water, shave their heads completely, were not allowed to touch anyone, visit temples or public places.. The list goes on.
It made me think that to a grieving person, what’s more important? Someone who can hug him and comfort him, take him out of the surrounding full of grief and try to divert his mind.. Or all these rituals which probably made sense then, when people were diagnosed of cancer or TB too late and died.. Then the people in that family were Isolated just to avoid spreading of the infection / disease.
I am sure they had some reasons, but are those reasons still relevant?
When I lost Baba so unexpectedly, I was very angry with God.. It was totally unfair, Baba was making such big difference in the life of his students, he was into developing a new technology which would have helped lakhs and crores of people, he inspired and helped his colleagues to look beyond their salary hike and degrees.. He was much needed, loved, respected by all those who knew him..
now, I am in a phase that I don’t know if there is a God, and even if there is one, I doubt if he cares enough about me. What is the ultimate power? destiny or God? I have heard many times that praying to God can change the destiny , but I have a logic..I know it might sound a twisted one, but I feel if I am DESTINED to pray to GOD I will..I know its too complicated. But I don’t believe in organised religion any more..makes no sense to me, coz it leaves very little place for improvisation and improvement. The main things that bothers me is that independent thought is curbed, you are not I allowed to arrive at your own conclusion.
This Ganesh Chaturthi, Atharv received a Ganesh Idol from his school, he was very much attached to it.. He was very enthusiastic about the whole thing, joined his Dad for doing Pooja and aarti every eve, and was very unhappy about Visarjan . We had to convince his that if you let Ganapati Bappa will be back next year, if you let him go back to his momma and finally he agreed. After Visarjan we poured the water into the coconut tree in our compound.. Atharv kept asking about his Bappa.. Next afternoon, He asked his Ajji, if he can take some soil of the coconut tree and pray to it? She said, why not, you can make a small Ganapati and keep it in Devara Mane..he thought over and said, Why does that soil need a shape? is it not ok that I keep it in a box and pray?My mom was speechless..
so, to me God can be anything..your parents , your child.. a pen or anything that makes you feel positive. you have to find your own way to connect to your God..and only you know the best way to connect your God.. It can be thru prayers or temple visits, It can be thru fasting or following certain rituals, it can be thru laughing loudly with family friends or it can be thru cooking something delicious for your loved ones..it can be thru playing with your pet or thru reading a book which gives you immense happiness..just remember that its your personal equation and does not apply to everyone..dont expect others to follow the same path..afterall we all have only ourselves to answer..
I want Atharv to have that freedom to find his own path..Anything that brings positivity into his life is his God..