What do you with parents who save up every little trip to cousins, the uncles’ house-you hate, temples and other random places? Well, you being an MBA will bucket things, look into the return of visit and then decide whether to melt or throw a tantrum?
This morning at 4 am when Ma tried to tear apart my eyelids, with greater intensity than the referee at WWE matches, I debated between melting and throwing a tantrum! Right then a scene flashed before my eyes, a huge wide tiled space, a young me in a frock – two ponies tied up – white socks and ballerina shoes! Pants and runs across the courtyard to scare away pigeons and then getting bored running to an old lady engrossed in her bhajans. She then quietly rebuking me and making me sit still, and then opening up to me the fascinating world of stories. I learnt sitting there a story about Krishna and Radha and two trees (Krishnachura and Radhachura) – a story that shall definitely go into the book for kids that I am planning.
I learnt sitting there about architecture more than at school – Garbhagriha, Natya-mandir* and the fascinating histories that they store. How could I not melt thus today morning.
Those who know me would twitch up their eyebrows on my take on faith. Yes, I never pray but I am the same girl who can tell you exactly which ritual is to be done how during a 5 day Durga puja.
I have been taught a very different take on faith – GM taught me the logical approach. She taught me to converse with God. She had a different take altogether – a humane approach towards even the deity that was put to worship. Thus while MA scolded me for being more left hand friendly than right, GM rebuked her saying anything natural should not be curbed. So at our ancestral house while she made those long puja preparations, I sat beside her listening to stories of Krishna as a little boy, learning his favorite colors, picking out dresses for Radha and forever asking her questions and meanings.
As a result I grew up to be adept at all rituals but then I redefined my faith. As a result before I graduated from law school I had mastered all religious books, and thus decided to respect only those who stuck by the ethics and principles I lived by.
This Ram Navami, I put up a status message wherein I vented out my age old rage on Ram being considered as maryada purshottam** when he questioned the dignity of the woman he married (based on hear-say)! There was a rage, debate, citing of Ramayana and ultimately when there was nothing to be put on logical terms people asked me to put it down in fear of hurting others. Why I asked? I have my own faith and they have their’s – why can’t we co-exist in two different bubbles in such a wide universe?
Yesterday as I walked those stairs of Dakshineshwar again, from where the faith journey had begun with my old lady, I could only recall a few snippets. The eyes were moist and the heart was heavy – revisiting childhood with imperfections now lining your life is never easy. Guess Baba what I was missing and slowly led me to the room where Ramkrishna stayed. We started talking about Vivekananda – exchanging notes and smiling at each other for yet another common point of admiration. He was amazed that I still remember the lessons of home schooling and I was amazed at his patience to hear my logical take on many a topic. Then suddenly we turned to a topic where Ma refused to comment and tried to hush me thinking that I would offend the bye standers. Baba however, decided to probe what lay within my mind. I said that in my opinion I would rather follow a man who has questioned faith, discovered it in his own way and then in the end turned to the Guru and said “you were right” , than someone who merely gives in quoting trust. I would hold such Guru (who gives the option of discovering faith in own way) too in much higher regard.
Baba smiled and before we left asked me to pray, for we do not know if we will be back there soon. I did pray, but as usual never for myself – I haven’t done that for ages. I don’t like asking for things – if I did the Mistah would have had an easy life I tell you. Thus, when it comes to me I just mumble “whatever you deem fit” to the one that guards my faith.
Baba asked me why? I smiled and asked him if he had ever during a pradakshina mumbled prayers for himself and then during other for others? He smiled and asked me to go on. I continued that it amazes me how when it comes to us (everything of our universe) the list spills over the temple rounds but for others we have bullet points that are measured by steps? Why are we wary of asking for others with the same intensity? The belief that faith only works for us or the fear that prayers for them would eat up our wishful thinking?
Faith is a very confusing thing – just like love. There are no rules we play by, yet just like everyone around you will act like a relationship expert, you will have a religious instructor when you speak of religion or agnostic beliefs. Faith is a funny thing, for the divide it brings, for the heated discussions that joins hearts and then again for the lull during a car drive. Faith is a mirror for a father to know what his daughter brings on board and then hours later tell her that ‘You know I have never thought of it that way, but now that you force me to – all I can say is that baaton mein dum hai’!***
I define my own faith, who defines yours?
*- Dance Courtyard
** – The Finest Specimen of a disciplined Human Being
*** – There is indeed some power and substance in what you speak