Deeply religious. Aren’t we?
By Biraj Dixit:
RELIGIOUS festivals - those meeting points of superlative enthusiasm, ritualistic precisions and co-existential chaos in divine presence - had kept me engaged for many days now. I have been utterly religious these past few days. Religion has this propensity to bring the deepest within you out in the open and I am so delighted to meet myself. “Deeply religious,” they have called me, and I am pleased to no end. Yet something deep is somehow still wondering! Of course, as is the usual practice with me, I leave no stone unturned to show zeal when it comes to religion. Why, it holds my deepest faith! And faith is the basis of all beliefs, all values, all morality and disbeliefs too. Faith is the foundation upon which the entire edifice of this huge thing called ‘ME’ stands.
Then why should I not be zealous with demonstration of my faith. I like it, people approve of it and they adore me for it. Needless to say, I like public adoration. Who does not? “Deeply religious!” Wonderful echo to that sound, hasn’t it? Religion gives us perspective, a certain discipline and brings us so close to the divine. It gives life a new meaning, a system, an ease that helps us sail through. The long business of living becomes easy if one finds within certain assurance that he/she is in the right of the right. It feels so good when you know you have been right all through. Yet, sometimes doubts fill mind leaving me wondering. Is right enough? I love my religion, I love being religious. I love the love that people bestow on the ‘religious’.
I have gone great lengths to prove my utter devotion and have created more and more complex procedures to prove my ardency and have thus bestowed certain exclusivity on my devotion and my religion. I love the superlative sense of purpose that I have gained through this exclusivity and yet close to divine, am I? Yet, whenever I seek a conversation with God, it hardly requires much fanfare. It’s just a look skyward, or closed eyes or folded hands or I do nothing just put my case to Him without a bit of ado. As If my God to the world and my God to myself are two different entities! Are they? May be! For, while I perform most elaborate rituals to invoke him, I summon His help at any given time without any elaboration.
While I have ornated words to show my devotion at temples and places of worship, I have found myself truly seeking Him in monosyllables at strange places like examination hall, operation theatre, in unknown places, before facing my very angry father or boss or in many other horrendous situations where I find myself or rather I put myself into. From my early childhood I carried forward the decision handed down to me – of being extremely religious-minded. During a prayer meeting, I remember closing my eyes shut in perfect posture of prayer. A while later, (which seemed like an eternity), I slightly opened my one eye just to check whether I was and hoping that I wasn’t the first one to open my eyes. And guess what, I found the kid standing right opposite me, trying to look with a slightly-open one eye. No sooner did we see each other, we closed our eyes shut.
Our lapses, as they were from both the ends, passed without mention. I was as God-fearing as my fellow devotee. And that has been the case till today. As God-fearing as my fellow devotee! Years of devotion should have made me grounded to certain value systems, Isn’t it? My father used to say confession is the easiest way to save oneself from trouble. Admit your shortcomings, your follies, your intentions and the God in someone else’s heart will always forgive, he used to say. So, confession (admitting) became a value and yet, this long cultivated value takes so much time to figure in contemplation. I have tried it on many occasions and always with success.
My mother, my father, my teachers, my friends, my boss – to each of them whenever I said, “Sorry, my mistake,” I received an easy pardon. ‘Be careful next time,’ was all these little ‘Gods’ had to say to me. Spared! Always! And yet I still find it really hard to admit I was wrong. There is another something within. I pray daily in front of my Lord in my little temple with my eyes shut tight. Yet the profoundest of all my prayers have come rather, in the waiting rooms outside a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. I have seen devout people respecting the Lord’s most precious gift -- their life -- only on their deathbed. I have seen the most saintly, still looking for perspective. ‘Deeply religious,’ and yet; great believer and yet; close to Divine and yet? I do not like the sound of “…and yet.” And yet it tells my story. But I am as devoted as my fellow devotee. I am sorted for now. “And yet…?” l