I am starting this blog to be able to write to my heart's content. I dont want to advertise this blog but I would want people to chance on it and give their comments. This is the first of many contradictions that will make up this blog

Location: India

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

About God

I have spent much of my life in Thrissur. There is a temple on its outskirts. I don't know the deity there because I have never noticed deities. Somehow, it never mattered to who I was praying. I usually pray in English. So I have always started off my prayers with 'Dear God' instead of "Krishna', 'Narayana' etc. The temple is on the bank of a river with a beautiful 'ambala aal' in front. Its a small, cozy little temple. The smells of sandal and the temple stones, the images of the 'chuttuvilaaku' (when lamps are lit in each of the stone diyas engraved on the outside walls of the temple) are stored within me. Everytime I go there, I have an inner peace I have never found in bigger temples like Guruvayoor or Thirupathi.

I come from a family of believers. My father prayed daily in the morning before going to office. We had a Krishna statue at home (which me and my brother broke once playing indoor cricket, but that's for another post). So for me the image of God is Krishna though I never addressed my prayers to him. As children, we were expected to do a 'naamam chollal' every evening. My mother was not too strict about it. So we bunked the sessions on some days. But on most evenings, we gathered in front of that Krishna statue, closed our eyes and prayed. We sang whatever songs we knew, some devotional, some patriotic; some in Malayalam some in Hindi. We were staying in Ahmedabad and our knowledge of Malayalam (my brother's and mine) was passable but not great. So, we never tried mastering the really difficult devotional songs - the ones that you should ideally be singing at the 'naamam chollal' sessions.

As a child I used to talk to God and God answered back. I don't know what the conversations were about or whether I was talking to myself and thinking that I was talking to God. But I genuinely believed at the age of 7 that me and God talked. I even remember a vague sense of arrogance that I was actually talking to God - something I found unusual and cool and proud about. Preening, I told my brother about this once. Surprisingly, he was not surprised. He said he used to talk too and that most people did it. My brother was 12 then and my expert on everything. It was the proverbial pin in a hot air balloon. I don't remember me and God having a conversation after that.

We shifted to Kerala when I was 12. From then on, till I got my first job, Kerala was my home. I learnt Malayalam by reading the names of movies from the posters on the walls and all the '25 days', '50 days' completed advertisements in the local newspapers. I became a movie lover in Kerala and a total Mohanlal fan. So I would know the movie being advertised even before I read the poster. Then, it was all about aligning the letters to the name. Through many trials and many more errors, I became proficient in reading my mother tongue. I felt I had started to belong to my home state.

I started going to Sabarimala annually and Guruvayur frequently. Whenever an occasion came up, I went to my small temple and prayed. My mother taught me to pray for everyone, not just for me. So, I prayed for my family, for my relatives and my friends. On certain exam days, I prayed for myself. God was a given and I was content. I never questioned generations of belief and I was at peace.

I have been following the weather reports here in the US and have been pleasantly surprised with their unerring accuracy at times. It tells me whether it will be sunny tomorrow or whether it will snow. Life here revolves around the weather reports. That set me thinking.

Before these sophisticated weather guaging instruments were developed, wouldn't we just have prayed for a sunny day tomorrow if I was planning to go out?
Is it that all that is unknown (unknown as of today that is) is attributed to God?
Does that mean that God's sphere of influence gets decreased as man's knowledge increases?
Will there ever come a time when man is so knowledgeable that everything can be predicted?
Will there be the need for a God then?

Simply put,I have started doubting whether there is a God. I haven't reached a stage where I am brave enough to proclaim that I don't believe in God. That there is no such thing as God. I am at that same stage as when I said I don't believe in ghosts. I was 11 at that time and I was popular among my friends in school. I believed I had to be a hero at all times. So, once a friend told me
"If you say that you don't believe in Ghosts, then the ghosts will come after you"
I immediately replied, "I don't believe in Ghosts".After all, image meant a lot in school.
But within me I told myself and all the Ghosts who would be in earshot distance that I believed in them completely and so...Please don't come after me.

I went to the Aurora temple in Chicago for this Diwali and for the first time in my life I didn't know what to pray or whether I wanted to pray at all or whether any of this made any sense.

Its not a happy feeling. In fact its gut-wrenching. Its like losing a part of me. I wish I could return to my unquestioning belief - to the contentment I have always taken for granted. But I know it is not possible anymore until I find answers and decide for myself.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

An ode to a kindred spirit

I haven't been following other blogs for some time now. So thought I will start with Jiby's blog. Found something extremely heartening there. He has set himself a challenge of writing a novel in 30 days. You will find the declaration of his intent here and the process of culmination here. I have always admired his blog for his seemingly effortless reminiscences of his school life and totally enjoyed reading the escapades of his band-of-brothers in sporadic posts. Writing under a deadline (externally imposed or self imposed) is frightening. Its a tremendous challenge associated with a high probability of failure. But he has taken it up and it is gratifying. I won't fault him if he fails. But I hope that he does not. I know he has taken up a subject that he can do full justice to. My good wishes are with him. I sincerely wish he makes it. For him and for me.


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