Friday, October 01, 2010

"Mandir wahin banegaa"

The hard-line Hindus are thrilled. The Muslims involved want a re-match - just for kicks although they don't have any deep spiritual relevance at stake there. The media is visibly disappointed at the silent heaves of relief especially after sending crews to every corner of the country to catch live footage action of predicted violence. The politicians had a day off from work - I bet not one worked today. Most people are happy that the issue is finally put to rest.  That is the advantage of rendering judgment on a post-lunch session on a working day of the week. Most people are too heavy in stomach and too sleepy in their mind to bother about religion. The Young India, self-interested in it's own development and in a show of valorous defiance against teachers of the pesky subject called 'History & Civics', wants to move on because they are "not even born in 1992" (CNN-IBN).

"I think the young generation was not even born in 1992 so they don’t even care… right now everyone wants to live in peace and harmony and everybody is looking for development"
And I… am a little confused.

OK. I don't know much about law, but I certainly know something about Mathematics from my Engineering PhD. 3 parties were involved. 60 years later, the land is asked to be divided by 3. By "3" - the exact number of parties involved !!! Three parties => Three equal parts. Is it just me or did the judges take 60 years for arithmetic division and decide an exact 1/3 ratio? At least, they could have divided it  34.6%-32.9%-32.5% for pretense of some real work and my satisfaction !!! Hey, don't blame my logic. I am the mango man (aam-admi). I just see who all went into the court and how much did each of them get at the end !

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.  Enough of trivializing.  I know the case had a whole bunch of other resolved issues like if Babar constructed it or if he destroyed a temple to do so and so on.


First of all, the way I look at all this is symbols. God is a symbol - a metaphor for the mystery that we all experience and cannot find answers to. A temple, all the more is a physical manifestation of this symbolic God. And in religious parlance, symbols mean everything. At this point, you'd find these arrogant atheists jump at our throat for respecting a symbol. I just tell all those atheists to look at Algebra - the whole damn thing is full of symbols - x, y ,z etc. And algebra works. Doesn't it? Can't be all bad if symbols work with something abstract like math !!! Something that has always fascinated me is how symbols are more valuable in our lives and how life, largely is lived on emotional contexts that these symbols provide. People have always devoted their lives for symbols - representing family, caste or tribe, religion, nation, justice, democracy, equality,  moral values, humanity, empathy towards animals and so on. I am not judging anyone. I include myself in this reverence for symbols.

As much as symbols are powerful for the individual experience, the gross molestation and politicization of these symbols by a few high-priests in the hierarchy of every religion is well-documented in human history and one of its proud moments. We saw the same drama unravel during the recent New York's  "ground zero mosque" controversy - where a proposed Islamic cultural center (NOT A MOSQUE), five blocks away (NOT AT GROUND ZERO) from 9/11 WTC tower site has been blown out of proportion by the media and the politicians. A Florida church pastor even threatened to burn the Koran and destroy Islam's highest symbol.  The funny part here was that a bunch of Muslims set fire on a Christian school in Kashmir thinking that the Koran was actually burnt. Symbols and emotional attachment to them can get tricky especially if people forget that they are symbols. We always hear about hurting the "sensitivities of people". Why? Why would people be so sensitive? Did you ever think why people are such wussies? Because the high-jackers of every religion never want us to know the deeper truth - that it is just a symbol.

Anyway, I am happy that Ram Janma Bhoomi is a reality. Hindus won a rightful (???) place for them to build a symbol at the birth place of one of the important Gods in it's mythology. It is a significant moment for the history of religion (Is it?).


But, how did we do it?

Have we okay-ed the fact that we can avenge even after centuries and centuries and judge history through today's moral lens of justice? Are we allowed to vindicate a treacherous act committed 500 years ago in a pre-democratic, pre-industrial, pre-political era when wars and destruction are 'fair' and a cruder way of "mergers and acquisitions (M&A)".  If so, what are the implications? Will we start settling other scores committed centuries ago? Will someone bomb Iran for Mohammad Ghazni now? I hope this was an isolated special case ... 

They are asking me to be euphoric about the success  that my symbol of the divine now has a registration certificate. They are telling me it's all worth it. Upon building a temple there, Hinduism will have its own holy land now - Just like the Israel, Mecca or the Vatican.  They put my religion in the rat-race against others nowWe are playing their game now? For a long time, I was proud of the fact that Hinduism couldn't be defined or limited by human expression. Hinduism's transcendental  approach and fierce honesty of its philosophical premises sweeps me away. I am bedazzled by Hinduism's stunning insights and the creativity of the colorful symbolism that explain and unify the experience of being alive and being human (Please refer to "Myths of Light" by Joseph Campbell or the works of Dr. Radha Krishnan).  I learnt that only a Hindu could choose to experience the divine glory and mystery of life in any manner he chooses and need not be limited by idol worship or chanting or rituals ("Whatever Works").

The key thing is to be in awe of the mystery. Hinduism is the world's first open-source project.  This is the thing that pains me most. Why is no one grasping this? Why is it that only a certain narrative is ruling the roost? Is this hard and clear crystallization for the good? Will we get back to concentrate on solving the algebra and experiencing the unknown?

My problem is not the victory, but what are we winning? Help me out here. Isn't decision making easier sometimes if we understand less ?
(Special Thanks to Medhajananam)


Alok K. said...

"Because the high-jackers of every religion never want us to know the deeper truth - that it is just a symbol."

That says everything man. Nice read.

Sash! said...

@Alok: Thanks for the comment , but I am now thinking that I might have misrepresented a little.

The high-jackers probably soaked in their own self-interest and ambition may not even know it's a symbol !!! The more we look around, the more we see of people who actually believe what they are doing. We are indeed in interesting times :)

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