Since childhood, I have been irreverent, never could get myself to touch feet nor respect anyone – just because that anyone had spent more years on earth. While I was not a freaking rebel, I would at all times challenge preconceived ideas and notions. As someone had written “I do not stand at the end of any tradition, I could be standing at the beginning of one”.
I was crazy about anyone with depth, knowledge and intellect. I remember post- Emergency in 1979, I had written to Arun Shourie ( I was convinced at that time (this view has since been revised) that he was one of the greatest Indian living intellectuals) that if he gives me a word, I will leave my existing life and follow whatever he asks me to do. Fortunately, he did not react to that mail :).
As mentioned in earlier blogs, my family was not too religious. This irreligiosity coupled with my irreverence, made me question all tenets and beliefs. In my earlier avatar, I sneered and mocked all rituals, symbolisms and dismissed all derivatives of a dogmatic religious system like astrology (jyotish), tantra, mantra, sadhus (saints), yantra, bhakti ( prayers) etc. I, foolishly and childishly equated the charlatans and fraud of the practitioners to the knowledge. It is akin to rejecting Hinduism or Christianity or any other religion’s knowledge, depth and truth due to the action of a few fanatics. Or saying that medical science is useless because of some bad doctors.
When I had the kundalini awakening and had started searching for validation of what was happening in my mind and body – I found ALL the answers in the same books, practices and saints that I was mocking. So, started my deep search and research to find the science and the logic of all the above symbols, practices and rituals. And to my everlasting surprise, everything that I used to sneer at, started making perfect sense. The yagna that I used to laugh at, was absolutely sensible. Astrology, Vastu, Prayers, Mantras, Idol worshipping, Temples, touching feet, wearing ornaments, satsangas all these and more that I used to make fun of, was perfectly logical, scientific and sensible.
Looking around – family, friends, media, decision makers, youngsters, nations – all were divided into two broad groups on either sides of the extremities – the religious and the anti-religion group, with a huge amorphous group swinging between one extreme to another.
This group accepts all practices with blind faith, superstition and everything as an act of God. Mostly dwait (dualists), who think that there is a God outside themselves, looking at the welfare of the world and that their goal is to propagate and propitiate Him, his messenger and his teachings. They do not just owe allegiance to their faith in God – but to their version of God, their version of the message book, their messenger and their tenets. On a day-to-day basis, there is tremendous friction and stress due to the differences between various groups and sub groups based on religion, castes and sects. History is replete with the carnage and destruction that this religion driven group has created – some of the major death figure in recorded history (more on http://www.mapsofwar.com/ind/history-of-religion.html )
a) 11.5 million deaths in the Thirty year Religious war from 1618-1648
b) 4 million deaths in the French Religious War from 1562-1598
c) 9 million deaths in the Christian crusades in a hundred years from 1095
d) Millions of deaths in the clash of civilization and religions that started with the Palestine problem and continues to dominate headlines all over the world.
This group has spawned all kinds of fanatics, hate-mongers, frauds and charlatans, as their tool of propagation is faith, belief and blind support, rather than science and logic. Instead of using Religion as a search for Truth, as it set out to do, it has resorted to the most stupid, extreme and unthinking behaviour patterns. Depending on emotions rather than intellect.
Anti – religious Group
On the other extreme is a small minority group, in a way created out of a reaction to the first group. Symbolised by Karl Marx “Religion is the opium of the masses”. This group is far more vocal and visible – using modernism, progress, equality and liberty as its icons. This group is equally stupid, ignorant and simplistic, which feeds on the negative components of the first group, denouncing all practices as superstitions and bullshit.
The middle ground
While these extreme groups would be no more than 5 to 10 % of the populace, the balance mankind would swerve as per events to either sides. Some examples
a. A Babri Masjid Todo mission would get many Hindus to temporarily shift to the Religious group, a reaction to the demolition of the Masjid would get the middle ground Muslims to become religious. While most of the rest of the world would denounce the going ons in India and become an anti-religion group member.
b. Once, the 9/11 attack on New York took place, the middle ground western world would consider it an attack on Christianity and go after the Muslims. And so on and so forth.
c. The extreme right reactions to the increasing Muslim population in Europe or the indignation of America to constructing a mosque near the twin towers is an indication of the same.
Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen this huge population, basing their response on science, intellect, logic and understanding rather than emotional and illogic.
In my own small humble way, some of the key elements that I am trying to consciously inculcate are
1. Avoiding using any religious terms like GOD, DIVINE or GURU.
2. Explaining religion, mysticism and its symbolisms using science, quantum physics, logic and rational thinking.
3. Getting the intellectual, rational thinking and logic to dictate our response to ingrained religious behaviour and symbolism – instead of emotional.
4. For centuries, we have had a division between science and religion, am trying to bridge the same.
5. Pointing out the inadequacies of present science and guiding the future research.
6. Not owing any allegiance to any particular religion or thought process, but searching for the scientific, logical response to my questions across all knowledge that I can access.
7. Most importantly, change the lexicon of the middle ground from an emotional tolerance to an intellectual understanding.