Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Theism to Atheism, Agnosticism to Realism

I generally loathe putting text copied from another page on my blog. But this time I shall make an exception. At the very end of this post you will find an excerpt from Bhagat Singh's diary, written in 1930 and his musings on Atheism.
It has prompted me to write something on "My Faith" - This is certainly one of the toughest subjects to write/speak about. At least, that what I have often felt. Questions about the existence and perception of God, raise a tempest in my mind. When my thoughts tend towards Atheism I feel an urgent need to caution myself, a reminder that my thoughts are driven by the laws of the Universe as I perceive it. Any amount of Free thinking will have an element of bondage to it. My rebel and rational mind never accepts religions, in the form they are today and hence I prefer keeping my debates private. The very fact that I am posting them here causes consternation. This is supposed to be a deeply personal matter. That being the case,I am not going to use valuable bytes to paint my mind here. Instead, let me reminisce.
I recall those rebellious teenage years when I refused to visit temples, how I refused to go out an bow before the deity when the procession from the temple arrived in front of my house, how much these words from Rabindra Nath Tagore's Gitanjali inspired me (It was a poem that we had to study in school) ;

Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads!
Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut?
Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!
He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground
and where the pathmaker is breaking stones.
He is with them in sun and in shower,
and his garment is covered with dust.
Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!
Where is this deliverance to be found?
Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation;
he is bound with us all for ever.
Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense!
What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained?
Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow

I remember singing this aloud when my mother sings her evening prayers, I remember discarding an amulet that was given to me by my father, I remember refusing to fast, I remember studying on Vijayadashami I remember all those arguments with my devout friends. Years passed by and I changed , I became a turncoat,I started to read works of Swami Vivekananda The metamorphosis kicked in and I found myself a Theist. Things never stopped there. The rebel in me was still searching for an identity, I didn't get my answers or consolation in religion. I became doubtful, felt that my actions were nothing but self deception, my faith was another hypocrisy, my mind squirmed when my tongue uttered prayers, the wheels started to move...days and months went by and I called myself a Realist. I didn't care if the glass was half full or half empty...If I was thirsty I just wanted to drink it ! If God existed, good for him. The void in my heart and mind, my bones and flesh coalesced, I was hollow from within. My version of Realism gave me an opportunity to run towards ignorance. I didn't care if there was a soul,I didn't want to know, it never fetched me three square meals a day. It was no more a rebellion, it was the pure bliss of anarchy. Anarchy in my thoughts made be return to non - vegetarianism, I didn't know what I wanted. Anarchy in my life moved me to heavy metal music ( I remember being moved to a trance listening to "Nothing Else Matters" and "Unforgiven" by Metallica). Anarchy in habits led to wasting study hours pondering about who knows what. I used to think extensively lying on my bed, gaping at the stars through my window and I used to think extensively the next day and the next day too, but I don't think I ever got my answers, if so I might now remember what these extensive ruminations were about, but I don't. I wrote poetry, may be the diary still lies in my drawer back home. I don't recollect much of what I wrote, but I could channel a lot of my angst through the tip of my pen. I remember a few lines of one such outbursts,
--------------(some lines I do not recollect)
like a joker at a circus,
I laugh and clap and jump around,
but when all are gone I stand alone,
my shadow is with my under the lights,
but late at night when the lights are gone,
my shadow leaves me all alone,
I sit and think like a forlorn child,
how my days come and go,
then I lock myself in my room,
and then get locked in my world,
where I walk and wander alone,
the sun never sets and the night never falls,
but still I tell my shadow "Please don't go"
coz if at least you are not mine,
who else shall me all that mine,
------------- I forgot the rest. :-)

Sometimes I laugh , but mostly I have sympathy and warmth for that boy who was stuck somewhere in the turbulence of his age. I would like to talk to him someday when all my hairs have turned grey and I clutch on to a stick only to walk with a stagger. May be I can reach to him in ways that no one has or can ever reach and make him be at peace with the world.
I have changed a lot. May be I have not let gone of all my idiosyncrasies but another metamorphosis has moved me through Agnosticism and unnamed, unknown realms. I do not know, for sure whether there is an omnipresent,omniscient and omnipotent force who conjured this Universe up, but I realise that I am just a blip on screen. I have not have seen, heard or felt the Almighty and I have not seen or heard about anything that corroborates its presence. But I think often that if I could "see" a lot more frequencies of the Electromagnetic spectrum my Universe would change for ever. Those Cosmic and radio waves originating in outer space will not simply pass through me, but would evoke something in me and open my mind. I tend to think that people in their beliefs, in their religions, in their practices and in their lives in general are doing nothing but search for that elusive metaphysical place where there will be no turbulence and no further quest. I may not have answers to everything that my mind throws at me. I try hard to rationalise and "now" for me, where rationality ends, Silence begins.
:-) Long post...never thought I would write so much when I started. By the way here is the link to Bhagat Singh's thoughts.


At 11:33 PM, Blogger James said...


a good post about a difficult personal subject; but it made a lot of sense to me.

In contrast to youself I didn't grow up surrounded by religion and its traditions; we were taught our Christianity at school but it was low-key (now the kids get even less, to their detriment I feel)

Yet about age 18 I had a brainstorm similar to what you describe. I read every book I could find on every religion trying to find common themes; as if by distilling it all down I could find the Ultimate Truth or something. Then when that didn't work I spent about a week thinking and worrying until I was almost sick with it all. It seemed so important to me that I must work out ALL the answers and it had to be RIGHT NOW.

I didn't find them then but now many years later I think I have found a few of them. With age comes acceptance.

When I look back on that frantic week of searching I realise that I was trying to work out what sort of person I wanted to be; trying to find a sort of code of conduct for the future. Your post bought that back. Thanks for that. Hope you did not find this reply too boring or irrelevant.


At 12:07 PM, Blogger Sarath said...

Hi James,
Your post is perfectly relevant and i completely agree with you when you say that "I realise that I was trying to work out what sort of person I wanted to be; trying to find a sort of code of conduct for the future".
Religion is just one of the confounding subjects during those tumultuous days. I think every teenager believes that age brings more and more answers with it and there would be a point in life where he will have all the answers. So he is eager to rush past all sorts of dilemmas. That sadly never happens.Dilemmas and mysteries continue to exist and that in a way is the beauty of life. :-)


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