Time and again we have acknowledged A Supreme Power that we call God. How many of us have actually seen God? Then we say God is formless and we all have accepted this as a fact. Going a step further we worship this formless, unseen by most(I say most as some claim to have seen God) by various names, Incarnations, forms,idols, beliefs etc.
The various preachers, sages, Gurus teach us that God is not somewhere above sitting on the skies. Yet we use the term ऊपर वाले meaning , “the one above us”. We are made to believe that God is within us. Around us and omnipresent. Logically why don’t we worship ourselves and all other living creatures the same way as we worship “God” at places of worship ? After all it is the same God in us all, in equal measure I believe. Which implies the Godliness of all beings should be identical if not same. But then, we have several contrasts among us: heroes / failures, terrorists / peacemakers, rapists/ saviors, healthy / unhealthy, pretty / ugly, and the list could be an extremely long and debatable one. Equal God then is not equal to equal Godliness.
Another curiosity I nurture is about making offerings and oblations while praying. Though I don’t claim to know about all the cultures but as per my understanding most East Asian cultures do a lot of offerings in the form of fruits, flowers, various cooked foods, incense, candles, lamps while praying. Nearly all religions have some form of Holy Water too. I wonder if those offerings, chanting, slogans, loud music etc actually please God in His/ Her formless form. For logic suggests someone without form cannot smell, taste or hear. But again, that must be the big difference between God and his creations. He feels, smells, tastes, hears all that is there in the world. So then, what are we trying to offer to him? I tend to think that these rituals were just created at sometime by some people and now what we offer as prayers are what we fancy to be the best to our liking. Whether it is the best to God’s liking is another question.
Certain faiths indulge in slaughtering and sacrifice of animals. It is very debatable whether those slaughters for rituals are necessary. While one faith teaches not to slaughter, yet indulges in it, there is another one preaching differently. Human minds have become nothing but a gather of confused thoughts. Hinduism propagates Ahimsa yet there is a popular Hindu festival where an effigy is burnt publicly in celebration. Audacity is that, that we call it a victory of Good over Evil. So we claim to know the difference between Good and Evil? Great! That makes us supreme, but, day and day we do indulge in not so Good acts. I would give it a thought, what if my effigy is burnt?
There is this School of thought as well which suggests that we should not slaughter or kill animals. We must not consume these creatures of God as it is a sin to snatch life from a creature. I wonder, are the plants, the vegetation, the grains without life when we remove them for consumption. The Stone Age man survived on hunting for hunger. Did He earn the wrath by killing? All those beautiful flowers which we not only place as offerings during prayers, but also use them very talentedly at various arrangements in churches, temples, offices, homes, events as well as times of death are they lifeless? Why then we are supposedly allowed to end life of some beings guilt free yet we are condemned for the others?
Amongst most Asian cultures, the idols of Gods are bathed in various fluids varying from milk/ water/ saffron/ honey/ clarified butter etc. I once happened to witness one such session at a temple belonging to an International Chain of temple group in Bangalore, India. The idols of Radha and Krishna were bathed in approximately over 100 liters of liquids, as buckets filled with milk were being poured over one after the other. Though a detailed memory has failed me, I now guess maybe each bucket ( approx 10 liters) was sponsored by a devotee and I too am guilty of being one of the sponsors who partook this ritual to pray for my son Manik who was quite young then and had recovered from a series of surgical episodes medically.
I now reflect back and amaze at the things I too did under influence. Was I sane then or am I Sensible now? At least I could have used that milk for feeding the children who did not have access to milk. It would have made no difference to Radha and Krishna if one less bucket of milk was used to shower them. For Krishna is the provider of all to us, he would have been happier if more of his earthly hungry were fed. Secondly, I fail to understand the famous Cowherd God who tended the cows, milked them and loved them dearly actually would enjoy their milk being used so ruthlessly to be poured over his idols.
With great pride we repeat the same practice over the Shiv Lingham in temples. Agreed, the priests could be saving and using the milk in same way, but there is obvious wastage and dilution in the process . I would rather than do such a practice, provide at least one needy being of God with milk or meal or both for a year instead of celebrating at the time of festival. Thus ensuring my life to be a festivity throughout the year.
Am I sounding like an atheist? I hereby clarify, I am a big believer of the Supreme Power and do worship God. That does not guarantee my belief in all the religious practices. Being an Indian Hindu I happen to believe in the theory of नर नारायण / दरिद्र नारायण (which implies that God Is found in the hearts of the poor man) and by providing at least for one being I am getting a fraction of an inch closer to God. This is my offering to God in simple terms. They say God is happier to see his creations become Godlike just as a Teacher is happy to see the students become efficient at teaching others. That is the status we must target if we must please our Supreme Beholder for in that process, we get refined as humans.