As usual, a book I was reading led me to think about this post. 🙂
I have mentioned about how one goes about learning about God earlier. There are four phases in everyone’s life (as I feel); and I have written an article about the different phases and their details in one of my earlier posts, which can be found here. Now I wish to continue in somewhat a similar direction.
In this post I wish to write about being a ‘devotee’, don’t worry, it is only food for thought and equally meant for atheists (who I never forget :)). Living in a country like India, you find around you an abundance of ‘Gods’ and idol/picture worshippers. India is a land which I am sure, almost all know to be the land of multiple Lords (and not snake-charmers anymore :)). Hinduism is the prominent religion here, though I would be happy to mention that several, if not all, other religions are also present here in abundance. The unique property of Hinduism is the presence of numerous Gods, which is quite different from the other religions that I know of. Christianity has Jesus Christ, Buddhism has Lord Buddha, Islam has Allah, but Hinduism has Krishna, Rama, Ganesha, Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, Indra, and probably a million others. [I have never delved on what might be the source of so many Gods, maybe I should sometime.]
So these Gods are prevalent throughout the length and breadth of the country, however, not all of them are of equal ‘Importance’ everywhere. What I mean by this is, some Gods are worshipped exclusively or primarily in some areas, whereas, the same are just a part of the ‘flock’ in other regions of the country. Let me illustrate with some examples; Goddess ‘Durga’ is the prominent deity in Kolkata region, Ganesha being the prominent deity in most of South and West India, Shiva finds a lot of worshippers in central and north India, Rama and Krishna are very popular in the central India, etc. I have no idea about North East India (I am sorry guys).
So almost everyone has one or the other god they pray to. This makes India a land of theists and believers. The atheists and the ‘questioners’ make a very small minority in this huge nation of ours. The worst part is that the atheists and the neutral people are not only disliked but considered evil in this Great (?) country of mine 🙂 . A shopkeeper, who displays a picture of Rama in his shop, would be taken to be honest and loyal by the followers of Rama; they would immediately recognize him as one of ‘them’. Similarly a person who has a 4 feet poster of a deity in his shop right behind his cash counter is blindly trusted and believed by the customers. They exclaim ‘Oh look at the huge poster, he must be a stout devotee and would not sell sub-standard material, would also charge nominally’. This ensures good and loyal customer flow to the shopkeeper, who may not even believe in the deity.
An entrepreneur who donated a million rupees to charity or spent the amount to get a temple (or Mosque, or Church, or Gurudwara) made is talked about in the society and an honest, good, and noble man. I do not claim this to be untrue all the times, but something which appeals to me, is what my father usually claims, ‘Only the most evil of men, do the most noble of gestures. Often, to appeal to the masses or to wash off their sins’. This has often set me thinking, made me analyze these generous acts, for I do see the same people earning their monies selling sub-standard liquor, and are usually businessmen with little or no conscience of their own. But by doing these acts, they guarantee the approval and support of the masses who unaware of their ‘other’ acts, takes them to be the noblest of men. The same goes with a lot of ‘Babas’ and ‘Gurus’ who make preaching a very lucrative and profitable business.
So how do we know who is a real devotee of the Almighty and who is just a ‘faker’?
Someone once exclaimed, ‘Do not think those who worship a picture or an image with pompous paraphernalia are devotees. Whoever speaks and speaks as he has seen, whoever melts at another’s woe and exults at another’s joy… is a devotee, a true devotee.’
Actually it’s just the previous line which, I was very much impressed by and wanted to share. The rest of the article was just a foreground. 🙂