I sometimes wonder about to the role a God’s presence in our life. I grew up believing that there is someone up there who is watching us and we need to account for our actions when we finally get to meet Him. It was this accountability that perhaps made me what I am today. Little things like “annalakshmi will cry” or “Saami (God) will poke one’s eyes if one cheated etc. went a long way in training me to be fair minded and to appreciate that we had enough to eat while there were many others who went to bed hungry. It also helped me feel compassionate towards those in need.
Unlike my Christian friends we, in our family, were under no compulsion to pray on a regular basis or go to the temple on a particular day. But we were expected to leave all work and assemble in the room marked out for prayers when the puja was over and camphor was lit. Whenever it rained and thundered we’d close our eyes and pray saying “Arjuna abhayam” meaning that like Arjun of the Mahabharat we were also seeking the blessings of Lord Krishna who was saying ‘why fear when I am here?’ So albeit in a very subtle way, we were being inculcated into believing that our life was being monitored by God.
On growing up and having developed a logical mind I have often wondered whether those who do not believe in God have missed something and also whether the belief actually sustains those who do. I remember a conversation I had with a friend and colleague who had just lost a sister.
“God balances everything.” I had said. “When HE tries your faith by giving you cause to grieve, HE also rewards you by granting you something to rejoice over.”
“How do you say this didi?” she asked. “My mother lost her mother at the age of five and was raised by a step mother. She had a bad marriage and she divorced my father. She went through the trouble of educating us and getting us married. Just when she began to relax, my sister, an air hostess with a great future, was brutally murdered for dowry. The court lets her husband roam free due to lack of evidence and a girl, related to us, marries the man despite knowing the whole story. Where is the divine justice that you talk about?”
Her mother died two years later and I am still looking for answers.
A friend of mine lost her husband two years back and is yet to come to terms with it and accept the fact that death is the only sure thing about life and it can happen in any manner. She and her younger son who claim to be agnostics take medication for depression but the older son, who is a practicing Christian, firmly believes that his father is in heaven and is watching over him. His attitude is positive.
I do not reject the existence of God outright. I believe that there is god in each of us. The God within us is the voice of our conscience that keeps warning us when we go wrong. The Hindu philosophy, that our actions alone count and that one is accountable for bad karma, has been propounded after a lot of deep thinking. The welfare of society is maintained by this belief and people learn to deal with life’s blows thinking that the perpetrators of misery will have to answer for their misdeeds. They get on with their lives believing that God will take care of things. The same goes with Christian teachings that advices man to ‘do unto others what you would have others do unto you’. It helps one control negative vibes and refrain from deliberately harming others.I am sure that the Koran, Gurugranth and other religious books also say something similar.
But then all this applies to those of us who lead ordinary lives. The politician who siphons off millions and millions of public money seems to think that taxpayers are actually paying for him to invest in appropriate shady deals to an extent that he wouldn’t even remember the number of investments actually made by him. His PA would be entitled to own a dozen houses in posh localities and perhaps his gatekeeper would be a millionaire. The God within them is conveniently drugged and goes off to sleep like Rip Van Winkle.
I have not actually seen God. But I do meet his representatives from time to time. My maternal grandfather and uncle are personifications of God in my life. Thanks to them we grew up like other children without missing the presence of a father in our lives. My husband is being helped by a seventy year old man completely unknown to him till a few years back. This man is not a practicing advocate or a qualified lawyer yet he spends his time giving free legal advice to those who come to him. That he does not charge any fees for his services is one thing, he also arranges for lawyers, who like him are selfless and fight cases in the lower as well as high courts for a nominal fee. My husband’s was case filed in Jharkhand High court and the verdict was given in his favor. All this happened in 2006. We left for America soon after the case was filed and the lawyer took care of everything. My husband returned from America in about 5 months and came to know that the case had been disposed of in his favor. Can you believe that the entire process cost him only Rs. 3000/- ? We have not even met the lawyer in person. We are asked to see God in everything. I am not such a great soul to put this advice to practice. But I do see God in such people who can mint money if they choose to but refrain from doing so.
The God factor is important in that it helps one get past trying times. It enables us to accept unhappy and shattering experiences with equanimity and accept them as God’s will. Very often a shattering experience results in something better at a later stage and the bitterness felt earlier is forgotten. It does not matter which God or mentor one chooses to trust. What matters is that faith strengthens the mind and energizes the spirit. Agnostics and atheists place their faith in themselves which again is like trusting God because the scriptures say there is god in all things and before anything else, one is accountable to one’s own conscience. Life is but a chain of trust and the first link in the chain is the trust one places on him/herself.