I am not very religious. But I am deeply spiritual. If you haven’t lost me yet, read on.
Back in college, I had the good fortune of attending a college that encouraged me to reflect, question and analyze. We were once given an assignment on what religion meant to us. My friends and me (some deeply religious and others bordering on atheism) talked, expressed and debated.
All of us were young and more interested in the current movies/ music even books and not really in religion. And yet each of us discovered that we were indeed spiritual. That all of us had our own interpretation of God. Our own faith. It may or may not necessarily be tied to any religion or bound by any religious practices but it existed. The question that intrigued us most. If all of us did believe in a God/ A higher being/ a spiritual power/ a positive force. What did we think of Religion? What role did it play in our lives? Could one exist without the other?
This is what we concluded:
God – is good. Is it merely by chance that the two words are so alike. Every god is the depiction or characterization of what the followers of that religion consider “The ideal” or “Good”. Basically God is the depiction of good values. The good in us is “God”. The good in those around us is “God”. The good in this world is “God”. “God” is everywhere. Because Good is everywhere.
Religion – We decided is a means of reaching “Good”. Thus it is a means of reaching God. It is a method, a way, a path. Thought and created by humans to reach what they perceived as being “Good”/ “God”. It is the way not the destination. Because the destination is the same. To be “Good”. The path one follows is immaterial. Those of us who cling to the path, forget the aim of the journey, lose focus and get lost. As all things man made, religion is prone to becoming “obsolete” and “Corrupt”. The challenge is to remember the aim/ the destination. If one’s religion is preventing one from being a “good” human being. Its time to reflect and review the path. Its time to ask for new directions and “download” a new map.
Rituals & Festivals- This is like the music that plays in our car while we travel to a new holiday spot. It adds to the fun. Makes the journey enjoyable. Ensures that we don’t get bored and keeps the driver awake and focused. Like you would not allow the music to rule your journey, there is no point in letting the rituals take over your existence. God is complete, a giver, whole. God doesn’t need milk from you every Monday morning to remember you exist, or “laddus” every Wednesday, or candles every Sunday. Rituals are for us to remember the purpose of our journey. They are there to remind us of where we are headed. In the hustle bustle of daily life its easy to forget the higher purpose of our existence. Rituals connect us to that. They are like religion the means not the end.
And now to the reason, of my rantings today.. Yesterday was “Shivratri“. I recently read two books about Shiv, by Amish Tripathi. A work of fiction, the book shows God Shiv in a different light. There is much about the books that I admired. The depiction of Shiv, his philosophy, his love for his wife and his “tribe”. But the one line that appealed to me the most was “Har har mahadev”. I am no scholar of history or Sanskrit or religious philosophies. I don’t know what the line actually means. but till now, whenever I heard those words.. I imagined Hindu fanaticism (A legacy of the Bombay riots). This book interprets it as “Every one is Mahadev” “Mahadev” being “The God”. Thus interpreted, it means “Everyone is God”. Or there is a God in each of us. All we need to do is recognize it and bow to it.
P.S. If this is not the actual interpretation of this line. And you know another, more accurate translation. Please don’t enlighten me. Please let me continue to dwell in my ignorance. Please let me believe..I’m currently in a happy dream ..