Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Whodda thunk it!

Let me clarify my position on the God issue. I am an agnostic leaning towards atheism. My childhood has been plagued with screaming fits quite akin to the child in Omen, as my parents asked me to accompany them to the temple. I went through the poonal procedure as a good tam bram, all the while lamenting that there would have been a much better use for the money than spending it on a back-scratcher. (That joke is lost on non brams, so please find the nearest bram and watch them laugh in agreement.)

So when we had sarvajanik festivals, I often complained of the noise pollution, and of the secret vote which clearly granted the responsibility of leading the aarti to the person first to get kicked out of Indian Idol auditions. I hated waking up early for the worships, and reviled being made to sit amidst the purposeful pollution that is so unique to Hindus. I went through childhood and young adulthood hating festivals and anything associated with worship. I know most of you devout ones despise me now, and that I am going to lose a significant portion of the small audience this blog has generated, but I need to get this off my chest. So, before swearing me off as a non-believing infidel, read on.

I have spent a year in the big apple now, where there are enough Indians, but there is no forced festival socializing. I accepted that warmly. As I was going through my roommate's iPod Touch (let the drooling begin) and listening to my new Bose headphones (let the drooling continue), I noticed the Ganesh-aarti on his playlist. The memories flowed as I played it. I played it again. Maybe it was just the sound quality, but I could not get enough of it. I could remember the Ganesh idol in our locality, and the loud songs of worship that blared over the sound system.

I did not believe it possible, but that song is on my playlist now. No, I have not been converted in any way, so all you believers, do not thrust your imaginary friends down my throat. I will say though, that I appreciated the song on a pure artistic level. There is something in the festivals for the non-believers too. That is what makes them so deep and mysterious.

I was told not so long ago, by a person I regard as brilliant, that atheism is a part of Hinduism. I did not see the sense of it on a religious level. I can somehow understand it now on a spiritual level.

So, to the surprise of the people who know me, and to some chagrin of fellow agnostics, Sukhkarta Dukhharta varta vighnachi…

4 comments:

buddy said...

who said it? about atheism...that was brilliant!

sthitapragnya said...

"Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen? Whence this creation has arisen - perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not - the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows - or perhaps he knows not!" - Rig Veda 10.129. These agnostic questions are part of the Hymn of Creation. The Chaarvaaka is a philosophical system based on rationalism and logic propounded in the 7th Century. It is also called Lokaayata school of thought. So there, being agnostic/atheist, you can still subscribe yourself to being part of the Hindu brethren. You are not an alien! That's the beauty of Indian schools of thought! I'm not trying to be socratic here, I'm just agreeing with your friend who said atheism is a part of Hinduism!

@ buddy: The Rig Veda said it! :)

Liberal said...

@sthitapragnya
I see what you mean, and yeah I did google the atheism-Hinduism phrase and found links to Carvaka etc...so I see your point, but need we conform to any school of thought except perhaps thought itself?

rambuna said...

atheist..is too practical that he stands out in a society and is not accepted by the majority who are god-believers..and that is embarrassing! yeah?