Recently I posted a para that reflected my thoughts. I got some likes and comments. Well, I don’t usually emote on a social networking site. But, a recent trip to my native got me thinking. And just because I usually curb my spicy reactions from bursting out, I am no saint. And, here is what I wrote:
Why is it that people follow a lot of traditions without questioning the reasons? Why do they impose the same on the others too? Why do they berate people who don’t follow them? Why are some people so intolerant?
I don’t have any hard feelings for people who follow religion and traditions sans questions. I respect them for what they are. But i do have a problem when people demand that the world around them follow it too or else dire consequences await.
And how do these very people who are stickler to religion and culture justify their own karma when they discuss other’s miseries with glee or, feel agitated with other’s success? Seriously, how.
Hypocrisy is best observed in people who tell you about your future and about your life by being oblivious to their own shortcomings in life.
All this world needs is goodwill, tolerance and some smiling faces. Now, that is difficult. Isn’t it?
– Fleeting Thoughts
The above was not a rant of a confused mind, but an outcome of what the mind observed around during a recent trip down south.
For beginners who don’t know me, I am a Tam Brahm brought up in an extremely liberal household where I never had to hide from my parents about what and how I felt about religion, culture, festivals, friends (boys and girls alike) et al. Not that I never had difference of opinion with them ever because, I still have. But at least, my parents never worried about me doing something stupid without their knowledge. On a lighter note, I always made sure that they were in picture when I did do some stupid things (like the trip with a pinch of salt!) And, there are other incidents which are best kept a secret! Now, who hasn’t been stupid in life? Like my father says, “To be born wise is nearly a hypothetical case sans exceptions. You become wise only after you realize you have been stupid for a while!” Ok! Humor laced with sarcasm runs in my family genes. Can’t help it! Anyways, where was I? Yes. My parents although having been raised in conservative families that followed every rule in the book (my maternal side is a bit more wrapped up in traditions), made sure that I was raised with a liberal mindset. In my growing years, my father always told me one thing, “Your mind is your temple. Just guard it fiercely from negativity. That is it!” and my mother reminded me time and again, “If your mind is your temple, your work is God! Just worship your work. That is it!” Which is why, my perception of life has never been influenced by too many beliefs, leave alone the frenzy with which they are followed down south. Putting in simple words, I come from a God loving family and NOT a God fearing family. I was never forced to recite shlokas with threats. I was never forced to visit temples. I was never fed with any superstitions and beliefs that lacked reason. But that does not mean, I don’t follow traditions at all. I say my prayers and shlokas by choice! I visit temples by choice. And, I don’t believe in superstitions that lack reason. But that said, I firmly believe in instincts. In fact, there was this incident about two decades back, when Dad and I had wanted to get out TV repaired. Unfortunately, the shops were closed that day. While driving back, a black cat crossed our path. I had heard from one of my friends about the black cat superstition and told my dad, “Oh God! I don’t think our tv will ever be repaired.”
Dad: “Why do you say so?”
Me: “A black cat just crossed our path, you saw no?”
Dad smiled and said nothing. We returned home and went back to placing our TV. We called up the guy who was to repair the TV and he said, he would personally come home and take a look the next day. Well, the next day he came and switched on the TV and the TV worked just right! Some minor technical fault – a wire mess up, he said. My father stood there smiling and teased me later, “Now, shouldn’t we thank the black cat?” It was later, I learnt that black cats as unholy as they are considered in our country, were auspicious omens in Egyptian Mythology and that, they warded off evil spirits. So, you get the drift.
My family is a firm believer in Karma. So, whenever we go to our native place, we find it difficult to breathe easily as we struggle to understand the countless rules that people live by here. Also, we are not used to acquaintances asking intimate details like, “When is your daughter planning her second child?”, “Or is there is a second child in, for her?”, “Visit this man and know your future.“, “Why did she quit IT? Why, because her husband told her to?” and all. Ironically, my hubby was as surprised as my parents when I quit IT to change my line of career (Yes, I took to writing because I enjoyed it!) Also, the blatant looks of disdain that flow preposterously from people’s faces when they hear that hubby is an army officer, is just too crude to digest. Only IITs and IIMs are supposed to bring a sense of pride and none other eh? Well, to each his own, as a frog in the well knows NOT the seamless horizon that cups the unfathomable ocean.
So, in one of our recent trips down south, I was amused at the fact at how people follow every rule as mentioned by the gurus, to reach heaven (like feeding the crow with fresh rice and ghee in the mornings: now I enjoy this activity not for the ‘reason’ but because the crow enjoys it, that’s all!) and then, curse people they don’t like, with an unpalatable fury. Sometimes, I wonder how thinking bad of other people is going to help you with attaining ‘heaven’. And somewhere in those repetitively fruitless conversations and discussions, I realized that I only love my native place for its rich cultural heritage, splendidly amazing temples exuding their architectural chutzpah, its sprawling green zones and the smell of malliga poo and fresh ground coffee, the long beaches and the royal railway station and NOT for the narrow mindedness that seeps through every crevice I look upon! Even as I was repulsed by the narrow mindsets initially, I felt that the world needs a section of people as these too. How else can you know the gazillion ways to complicate a simple life eh? 😉 Also what I observed is that, love marriages are still a taboo here and that, people find it hard to accept the concept of love especially if one of the two is from a different religion altogether. (There were discussions on a cousin who got married outside the caste and the hoopla cotinues) But then people fail to understand that, there are as many happy inter religion/caste marriages and disastrous arranged marriages as unsuccessful love marriages and successfully arranged ones. OK. I am not advocating for love or arranged here. I am merely against the system that fails to accept any change of sorts. Wrong or right, every decision has a consequence. And I guess, a child once an adult has a right to make a decision that is purely guided by his or her instinct. After all, every life comes with a destiny and a guide – the soul.
There is this book – Laws of the Spirit World which I read at the behest of a very close relative after I healed from myasthenia gravis. This book changed my perception about everything in life. In fact, it is very easy to be good and it is ridiculously difficult to be otherwise. Guarding your mind from anything negative and letting your instincts be your voice always is a tough task only if you believe it is tough. Also, the book mentions why you must not try to know your future. In fact, everyone should read this book. I will leave it at that. Meanwhile, the challenges and rumble strips in between are the pressure tests of life that bring our the formidable side of you in the hour of need.
Enjoy life as it comes. Listen to your inner voice. Trust your instincts. Have faith in destiny. Let your hopes be pumped with optimism. And then, rest what the world says about you is GOOBLEDEGOOK!
P.S: I am not against any traditions as such. I respect them as much as people do. I also follow quite some of them, the ones I understand. But, what I don’t agree with, is the blackmail that tags along. Also, I plan to write a series on the many Indian traditions that we follow. Because, I would love to know the reasons behind each.