“God did not come in the world to start a religion; He came to show us a way to live with love for one another”
Children are always curious about everything around them, from trees, leaves, toys, bibs, cars, water, air, anything and everything under the sun. And one fine day they POP the question “Who is GOD”?? I want to be prepared for this question before my little munchkin asks me. But I wonder what I will tell her. She is growing up in India, the country of so many faiths and religions. We follow Hinduism at home, but I was schooled in a Catholic school and hence I have my inclination towards Christianity, I visit a “Dargah” in New Delhi once a month (A Dargah is a Sufi Islamic Shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure, often a Sufi saint or Dervish), I also visit the Gurudwara at times (Place of Worship for Sikhs). So as many would put it in India I am of mixed or confused faith. But I like it this way!!
A few months ago my brother asked me if I would teach my daughter to fold her hands and pray, I said “Why not”, and he said “Wouldn’t it be nice if she chose her own way to pray, probably she would like some other way to pray rather than folding her hands”. And it intrigued me; I could understand what he was implying. There was no way I was going to force any faith on my daughter; she could choose what she liked. This is how I have been and I intend to raise my daughter that way too.
So exactly what God do I believe in? Hinduism has 320 million gods, that’s a massive number, and each god comes with his own sets of rules. Well let me put it this way, the rules god made were simple, it is the people who confused and complicated them. From the very beginning I shared a very a personal relationship with god, I used to talk to him in solitude, at nights, share my problems, ask for solutions, share my days, make confessions of my guilt. And he listened patiently, he would even talk to me, direct me to the right path, but he never forced me. This was and still is my relationship with God.
I don’t want the society to decide the way I pray, or indulge in my Faith. There is so much suffering in the world, and time and again many question the mere existence of God among all this. Why the rich gets richer and poor gets poorer, why are there floods, earthquakes, tornado, accidents, rapes, robbery, murders?? Doesn’t god exist for all, the religious one would say all this happens as God is planning something big, and the atheist would simply say there is no GOD. Life is a package of disappointment, suffering and Doubt. But these are planted by him, he wants us to grow stronger, search for answers, and end the suffering. God has conditioned us to understand the difference between wrong or right. We go on industrializing the world paving way for natural calamities; we lose our conscience paving way for sinful deeds. Then surely we can’t put the blame on GOD.
There is nothing wrong in questioning faith; doubts are a sign of healthy faith. What is wrong is accepting without questioning, I don’t believe that chanting mantras or donating to Hindu priest or giving donations to the already very rich religious institutions brings me any closer to GOD. I am not ready to accept every ritual of my religion. I need to know the significance of them first. Telling me that not bowing in front of every temple I cross, or not praying every morning, or not donating on my birthday, or not reading the religious scriptures, or touching idols of god during my monthly cycle, or not visiting temple regularly blemishes my relationship with god, or will make me rot in hell, angers me. Because I know that god would not mind in the least.
When I was younger and was threatened of the god being angry if I was being naughty, I acted being scared but deep inside I knew that I would explain everything to my God when I talk to him in solitude. I was never a conventional believer in faith, God is my friend, my companion, my partner in crime, he is not an intimidating but a beautiful source of love and compassion, perhaps not above in the sky, but near my heart. He loves me for who I am, wrong or right is for him to decide. There is nothing that is hidden from him. He gives me sorrow and happiness both. But he never leaves me. I always wondered how god managed to take care of such a huge world, it surprised me, and I always imagined him to be present with this massive computer monitoring everything. But soon I realized this was not the case, but nevertheless he takes care of all. He takes care of me; he is always there when I need him.
I share a very intimate relationship with my god, I love him as a father, and he loves me as his child. God wants us to make mistakes and learn from them. No one is born perfect; no one is without a sin. It’s not the way god has made this world. He has given us brains to differentiate between good and evil. If God wanted a perfect world, he would have made one, with no disparities of rich and poor, wrong or right, but he decided not to. God is my conscience, which should at all times be pure.
I still have my conversations with god, those are times of absolute serenity, there are still times when I feel so close to him that it brings tears to my eyes. I love those moments when I feel close to him. But these are not necessarily in a temple or church I can experience them anywhere. So I have learnt to question my faith, for me god exists in me, in every other human around me. Being humane, compassionate, helpful to fellow human beings is being religious to me. There is no where I could be without him; I need him in my happiness and my moments of despair. But he exists in the way I want him to. I am closer to him than I am to anyone else, and I don’t want anyone’s approval to trust him. So I may be atheist to many, but I have my faith which is strong as a rock. I don’t question those who have ways different than mine to believe in the existence of GOD and hence don’t want them to question me, To each, its own. Let it be this way.
And as far as my daughter goes, she will decide for herself what faith and in which way she wants to follow it.