Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Agnostic Atheist or The Deist? A Take On Religion,Faith and God

As I sit writing this article, I’m slightly dazzled. In a matter of mere hours, my convictions, my beliefs and in essence my religious outlooks have been defined and changed. Sometimes, all of us live our lives believing that our perspectives are unique and non contextual for the world. To a great extent, my religious beliefs were similar. Born into a Hindu family with an educated background, I was brought up in a world of atoms, aartis, allah and atheists. I often meet people who were either religious preachers or atheists or agnostic, although the last one were a very few. Yet, I never could relate myself with any of these groups. I always had, always will and always shall believe in God but I always used to find the elaborate hoaxes of religion distributively economical cheating, puzzling and purely insulting.  How could I pass an exam with a black thread tied on my wrist? How can I be free from the supposed influence of a planet just by performing some absurd pooja? Wasn't our creator supposed to be our friend, our guide? Why would he do this to us?

My concept of God had always been in transition. Agnosticism, Atheism, religious devout, detached but religious, non-practicing, the list of my phases goes on. But each phase left me unclear. Agnosticism although sounds cool, is simply an act of arrogance and to a large extent ignorance. It’s deliberate aloofness. “Maybe he exists, maybe he doesn't”. Yet, you can conveniently blame it on God when everything goes wrong. How does that even make sense? Then there are buffs that take up religion seriously and abide by fictitious but spiritually enhancing books as the “Word of God”. Many such nuts denounce science, logic and analysis. Little do they realize that reasoning, analyzing etc form the crux of human civilization. As SOMEONE said, “Religion is the greatest invention of man.” Created to rein in civilization into order from chaos, religion is simply expounded by a bunch of idiots who just wish to commercialize the gullible nature of the masses. It’s my personal opinion that our God is not a punishment-giving strict care giver who will help us only if we do some particular things. Take the Hajj for instance. What about a person who can barely afford food or shelter in say, India? Do you really think that our God is so cruel and so full of himself that he will ask the said person to sacrifice his stomach’s need and make him spend a fortune to journey to a religious spot as an obligation? Another example.  In Hinduism, it’s a wide held belief that anyone who continually recites certain mantras for some years shall be absolved of all crimes and shall be guaranteed a spot in heaven. Rather convenient for rapists and murders isn't it? Christianity has a similar concept with regard to rosary. All religions preach that God is righteous and treats everyone as equals. Then why do temples have special, short lines where some money gives your quicker divine access?


Bringing in atheism, I simply call them “unbending geniuses with a special corner for idiotic behavior ” Mostly comprising supposedly elevated individuals like scientists, atheists are adamant that God doesn't exist. They hide behind numbers, equations, theories etc to prove this. Even the most respected Scientists now agree that the universe was created when a lot of energy was focused on to a single micro point, later exploding into sub-nuclear particles. They also agree that somehow, the conditions were just right and a delay of even a micro second would have caused the “Big Bang” to not take place. Still scientists say, “Where is God’s hand in this?” Quoting Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, “Is it really easier to deny the existence of God than to believe that somehow out of a deck of a billion cards, we simply picked the right one?”
Today, using equipment like the Large Hadron Collider and ultra microscopes along with sophisticated mathematical formula and techniques, Science has uncovered the so called “Time Zero + .00001 Second” activities of our universe, but has failed miserably to even remotely theorize the Time Zero or Pre-Time Zero events which religion heralds as proof of God’s existence. 

George Carlin somehow answers the question, “What about prayer?” He said, “People treat God rather rudely, asking trillions and trillions of wishes, begging for wishes on SUNDAY, his day off! Suppose your prayers are not answered. What do you say?  “Ah! its God’s will” If it’s God’s will and he will do what he wants, why bother praying in the first place?”
Still, I don’t place all my trust in science. For all the supposed unraveling of the universe, all it has done is flummox us and impress us with unproved assertions. When people ask scientists who created energy (the supposed source of the Big Bang), they answer with an arrogant assertion; “Energy can neither be created nor be destroyed. It just exists”. WOW Genius! It is appalling to know that people would rather place trust in a paradoxical statement and blindly assert that energy just existed rather than acknowledging the presence of a creator.


After all this, I arrived to this conclusion. I believe in God. A kind God. A merciful God. A God who loves me. A God who created this universe. A God who laid down the rules of science we worship. But my God will never ask me to partake in meaningless commercialization of his name. He also won’t promote the killing and hurting of my fellow human being due to fanaticism over absurd inventions of man. In steps Deism.
I won’t propound or advocate Deism but just tell you what it means. A Deist is a person who believes in the existence of God, has faith that in him or her but does not believe in religion or its rituals. Rather a deist trusts in reasoning and logic over blind faith in biased interpretation of ancient texts.

To sum it up, I end with some questions. 

To religious bigots: “If God is kind and ever powerful ( as the holy books of every religion claim), why does he demand worship? Why does he ordain a way out of every sin via money?

To all atheists: “If God doesn't exist, who created the universe? Don’t say the Big Bang because a follow up is who created the energy? And please, no “Law of Conservation of Energy’ crap.

To all agnostics: “If you don’t believe in God’s existence, answer the atheist question. If you’re partly religious answer the one for the bigots.”

I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein)
I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings. (Albert Einstein)


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Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Krishna Key By Ashwin Sanghi- A Review






In an era when India and in its essence, India’s youth is losing touch with Indian mythology,  The Krishna Key and in a broader sense, Ashwin Sanghi’s own distinctive genre is a game changer. Combining mysterious mythology, excellent research and some enthralling fiction, the book can simply not be put down. The book slowly lures you into a seemingly simple waltz which suddenly turns into a spicy tango as each page leaves you yearning for more.

This 464 paged novel is unique because of several factors; the so called “Indian” style of writing, a simple yet deep character embodiment combined with a Dan Brown like narration and plot makes for a brilliant read. Being a consistent Sanghi reader, the tone and pace of the book was nothing new to me although to first time readers it may seem slightly odd but you catch on within the first 100 pages.


Moving on to the core X-factor of the book that is the blunt and simple expression of history in combination with myth.  Ingeniously Sanghi uses logic and seemingly simple connect-the-dots narration to solidly bring credential to seemingly absurd mythological claims. Simply put, if a book can convince me that a Shiv Lingam is an ancient representation or a model of a nuclear reactor in just about two pages, the book is meticulously researched and the author has a super power to cut the crap when it comes to information. Interestingly, the Krishna Key also shows the other side of Sanghi which is of an excellent fiction creator. Dramatization, suspense and elaborate scene setting are a part of his style which beautifully fits in with the obviously exhaustive research.

Zeroing on to the rare down trends of the book, I personally felt that the climax was well rather anti-climax. Quite similar to Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and most of Ashwin’s past books themselves, the ending had a spiritual as well as philosophical edge to which the build up was rather lacking. The transition from finding something substantial to finding something metaphorical and cryptically spiritual is rather quick and surprisingly, but not in the good sense. Apart from that, the novel did not lag anywhere. Although there were clearly some issues at the editorial (For example, on  Page number 301 of my paperback edition, the character Radhika is referred to as Priya who is an another character), these issues are ignorable and can be easily fixed in future editions.



Overall, this book is a wonderful read for all fans of the thriller or historical fiction genre. For kids and teenagers, it is  an opportunity to learn the logic and history behind many of our existing beliefs while for the analytical adult( or young adult), the book, like the previous ones by Ashwin, present a wonderful and fresh new look on the concept, evolvement and emergence of religion which admirably plays a huge role in all our lives.

The Standing Coin Rating: 7/10

Like: Style of narration, Brilliant mixing of fiction, myth, history and logic

Dislike: Anti climax end, Editorial mistakes


 Click here to buy from Amazon or Flipkart

 




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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Mother Claps The Loudest

A poem dedicated to my mother(Sandhya Gupta), my inspiration, my everything. Whatever we may think of them, we always love them and can not live without them.


Her eyes would shine brighter than the sun
When the one on the dais is her son
Even when a bird builds her nest,
A mother always claps the loudest

Her eyes shed tears of joy unbound
When her daughter helps an injured hound
Even when you ace the tough test,
A mother always claps the loudest

Her loving touch takes away the scathing pain
When she chides you for slipping in the rain
Even when you're not able to give your best,
A mother always claps the loudest

Nothing beats the huge smile on her face when you win a trophy in the race
Even when you finish last, don't you ever fret
Because, come what may,
A mother always claps the loudest

If all the world's a play, and you're a player
It was for your well being that even an atheist sent up a prayer
Whenever you're alone or to many a guest
Remember your mother because,
A mother always claps the loudest





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Friday, September 14, 2012

The Black and White Rainbow

A Poem About A Person Who Reaches The Zenith Of Life But At Huge Costs
Drizzling across the gray sky,
Each drop resembles a person shy,
But from far below, All I see is
The Black and White Rainbow

Damp, wet and dry at the same time,
I regret crossing the line
Crimson tears are now all that flow,
All I see is The Black and White Rainbow

In my zeal for the peak, I never saw,
the last cries of family and friends, hurt by my own paw.
Desolate, pathetic and low,
All I see is The Black and White Rainbow

Maybe I'll have another chance
And colours will perhaps again dance.
Possibly I'll see the beautiful one again,
But this I know, All I see is The Black and White Rainbow


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The Wind Urges Me To Go On

A Poem About A Person Who Is About To Quit But Finds Solace Instead
As the night descends and the sun transcends,
The horizon seems to never end.
Rays of light wash over the freshly mown lawn
Somehow, the wind urges me to go on.

Dew drops sparkle or perhaps the grass cries
Confusion abounds as I’m befuddled by the lies.
But still when I gaze on to the dawn,
Somehow, the wind urges me to go on.

Life has reached lower than the low,
Joy has completely ceased its flow.
As I sit by the ledge, distraught and torn,
Somehow, the wind urges me to go on.

Everything will be fine, it promises.
Give it some time, it says.
One day you will know why you were born,
Until then, let me urge you on.

Seconds turn into minutes
And slowly the will to quite diminishes.
With a smile, I see the dew, all gone,
Because, come what may,
Somehow, the wind urges me to go on.



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Let My Fire Burn

A Poem About A Kid Who Asks The World To Let Him Chase His Passions
I don’t need your wood,
It is all but sarcastically crude.
All I ask from you Mum,
Please let my fire burn

The oil may spill for all I care
My passion is a fuel far more rare.
All I hope from the next turn,
Please let my fire burn

The embers may seem to die,
But the flames shall one day soar high.
Till the day I douse the sun,
Please let my fire burn

A bit of love and some advice,
My heart aches for something that nice.
But if that’s something I’ll have to earn,
Please let my fire burn

My feet may burn on this path of burning coals,
But perhaps, it’s time you let go of your foal.
Halt me if you must, but don’t stop me at a turn,
All I ask for is,
Please let my fire burn

Let My Fire Burn- A Poem About A Kid Who Asks The World To Let Him Chase His Passions

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Monday, September 10, 2012

From Pakistan, With Love

NOTE: This article was written by me for the newspaper Education Times (http://www.myeducationtimes.com/article/79/201209102012091011592217627a4cd78/From-Pakistan-with-love.html)while I Interned there. Here is the link to the PDF of the actual newspaper article(http://www.4shared.com/office/eyiy0Tub/TOIM_2012_9_10_32.html) 

Sometimes, life leads us down a path which figuratively changes us. I recently embarked on such a journey to Hyderabad which left me amazed as it changed some of my dominant preconceived notions that I had been harbouring since childhood. The impact this experience had on me was even more profound simply due to the current relevance of the matter. 
The purpose of my trip to the City of Nawabs was an international conference with students from over 21 countries participating including those from Pakistan. Unfortunately, this conference occurred around the time of the August 11 protests at Azad Maidan which accentuated the communal and anti-Pakistan sentiments already existent amongst many Indians. However, my interactions with students from our neighbouring country gave me an opportunity to view Pakistanis in a different light contrary to public opinion. During the course of a week, I had multiple conversations with my fellow students from Pakistan about a range of topics varying from terrorism to politics and even cricket! 
I distinctly remember an incident at a mall that made me realise that Pakistanis are similar to us in a number of ways. After a great team lunch, all of us were looking to hire an auto rickshaw back to our hotel. Being the typical Indian city it is, we couldn’t get anyone to agree on a fair price for the ride. After a lot of innate Indian haggling, we finally got into one, still not satisfied with the decided fare. However, I saw my friend from Lahore smiling. She turned to me and said, “We have the exact same tendency to haggle in Pakistan!” That was it! The big moment of realisation! 
I realised that despite being at each other’s throats for years, India and Pakistan are truly like fraternal twins with just different perspectives and ideologies. However hate-filled and prejudiced the thoughts of our leaders, or for that matter, our elders may be, we (the youth) have a radically peaceful outlook. Over the years, we have witnessed religious discrimination or fanaticism. Yet, we, the youth, have brought about a silent revolution that runs deep within our mindsets. This effect is that of religious indifference. We understand nationalism but with a cool head. To our minds, not every Pakistani is a terrorist nor do we believe that harmonious existence is a myth. Although our politicians constantly make efforts to mask nation-based hatred, the grim reality is it always resurfaces with biased and illogical anger. Just as we overcame religious borders, it’s time to bond over actual borders. 
I returned home a changed teenager. I’ve returned a person with some great friends across the border and with a vision in my mind, a vision of eternal peace and harmony. Because for the first time in seventeen years, when a Pakistani hugged me I knew that the vision was not Indian nor was it solely mine. It was a shared vision of some youngsters not as citizens of two different nations, but as humans living in a global civilisation.


From Pakistan, With Love in Education Times,Mumbai Edition

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Debugging Life (Rebooted)

NOTE: This Blog Was Written For IndiBlogger's #SoakNoMore Contest . As For The Title, This Post Is A Continuation Of An Earlier Post Titled Debugging Life


Sometimes, all that happens in life is that it comes to a standstill. Call it perfection or a delusional period bordering on mental imbalance, that moment is something which we all have different perceptions about. Some cherish it as a beloved memory which becomes a riveting aspect in their life while some simply embrace or rather disregard it as a dark phase which destroys them completely. I call it a moment when we simply decide to soak no more.
Life is an extraordinary fairy tale with its own twists and turns which may lead us to the beautiful wide windows of happiness or to the gallows of sadness and depression. We may be dipped into the hot scalding oils of anger and invariable revenge but we may also be thrown into the limitless sky of unyielding joy. Still, there are numerous times when we feel ki kaash life was like an iPod; bundled with its own play, pause, fast forward and rewind buttons. Just a small of any of them could control time, where in everything was in our hands and still under control.
As a sane member of the Homo Sapiens species, I have had this weird little observation.  We always tend to ruin our happy moments just by imagining it to be temporary. Funny, isn’t it? We always consider the joyful happy period to be a temporary enigma which shall be broken to bring a sad time. Although we have no concrete reasoning to back this, it’s just that gut feeling all of us have( or as the filmy way goes, “Mera Dil Kehta Hai”). I happened to be discussing this with one of my uncles. Here in, one of my uncles made a brilliant point which is relevant here (Fair bit of warning though, he was from an engineering background so kindly ignore the geekiness behind it). He said that life is like a Sine graph. You go up and then you go down and then up again. However, it is important to realise that when you are at the downward/negative amplitude( i.e. at the worst possible moment), you just have to keep hope that everything is going to be great because from that moment onwards, your life graph is just going to rise. So, at that particular moment, when everything seems down and out, simply put on your headphones, turn up the music and shut out the idiosyncrasies of life. I know this sounds all hunky-dory and presumptuously optimistic. But at the end of the day, all of us have that nifty little way to sort ourselves out. But whatever your method maybe, always keeps in mind the biggest secret of this universe; “Life in itself is a unique gift; but getting to play with your gift in the human form is the ultimate souvenir. Cherish your passions, enjoy your time and of course believe in everything and everything will believe in you.”
 I recently learnt that deciding to shut out life’s nonsense and loving its tiny but pretty little details makes it easy to scale the graph. I don’t say that everything will be worth celebrating in a second, but it definitely won’t be worth being sad also.


Debugging Life (Rebooted)

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