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Religion — a conflicting issue

April 19, 2010

I don’t intend to insult any religion or the religious rituals because personally even I am a God fearing person. And I pray daily to God.

I chant Namokar Mantra (most important mantra of Jains) whenever I find myself in digs/ confused/tensed/stressed out/worried or I am in some crisis and looking for some solutions.

Such is my faith in this mantra that I believe that my problems will get over only by chanting this mantra or I will find some solution. Of course there are times when even a continuous recitation of it doesn’t alleviate my sufferings and then I surrender to the wishes of God

It is my faith in God and this mantra which gives me the strength to face any obstacles

I generally don’t like to attend and sit in various pujas but as luck would have it, last week I was forced to not only attend one such puja but also participate in it and follow all the procedures.

While performing various steps involved in the puja many thoughts crossed my mind

  1. Why do we do Puja. Will doing a Shanti Puja ( puja done for peace) Or Graha shanti Puja ( to please the 9 planets) or puja done for prosperity really resolves all the problems and the persons doing it really finds him in a better condition? And if it is so then why aren’t all the pundits rolling in money, why do they go door to door for some measly amount of money and spend hours in it? ( reminds me of the scene from Lage raho Munnabhai). 🙂
  2. If performing pujas, or reciting some mantras or observing fast is really fruitful and it ensures that the wishes of the  person doing will be fulfilled then why don’t our players, our politicians do it to get victory or enhance the status of our country and make it the most developed country? Why work towards nuclear power or various peace treaties? Why not just perform some Puja and pray that Pakistan will surrender before us or the terrorist will not attack us or such other desires?
  3. The pundit who was doing the puja which I attended assured us that what ever we will wish during the puja will come true and believing him I performed all the rituals with full faith and reverence hoping that I will be a contented person once the Puja is over but till now nothing fruitful seems to be in pipeline.
  4. Most of the shlokas and mantras were in Sanskrit. Memorizing them without understanding them and even how to say them because of language barrier, why do we blindly recite them?
  5. Will going to temple, doing some puja or reciting some mantras is the only way to reach out to God? Will the wishes of the person who doesn’t follow all these stereotyped rituals not get fulfilled? Will he always remain unhappy and discontented person?
  6. What is the use of spending hours together in the temples if our mind wonders at all the places while doing the prayer ( the way mine was wandering)?
  7. While reciting the mantras I was wondering over the super natural effect of them. The mantras are nothing but some alphabets arranged in a particular order. And also all the mantras actually mean the same—I bow down to you the all mighty, please help me, take care of me and the world, you are the supreme power etc etc.

I suppose it is our faith and our belief in the mantras and shlokas that even these normal alphabets and commonly used words become powerful.. It is like praying to idols of God—they can be considered as mere stone statue or the God himself.

I suppose It is all question of our perception and our trust in God which helps us deal with various situations. We use all these pujas, mantras, visits to temple just to derive strength and to lean on some strong back.

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2010 8:48 pm

    Well, there is only one God… and with over 6 billion people (and counting) plus all the flora and fauna, etc… God finds it hard to take sides 🙂

    “God fearing person”

    Till date I have not understood the meaning of that…

    • April 20, 2010 4:19 pm

      God fearing — i belive in the powers of God, i will not like to do any thing which will put me in bad books of God and he punishes me 🙂

  2. April 19, 2010 9:29 pm

    How about realizing that our conscience is a better choice than religion or God?

    How about getting rid of the fact that God is an abstract concept and hence religion *is* not perfect? Why do we believe that religion is perfect? 🙂

    Please excuse me if it was a bit too blunt 🙂

    • April 20, 2010 4:21 pm

      who says religion is perfect?
      we take support of God because we need some one to lean on. in my last post Ashish had replied tht children take the support of parents, wife of husband and every one takes the support of God.
      we need some one to lean on. Just the belief that Gos is there to take care of us gives us strength. whether he takes care or not is totally different issue

  3. April 19, 2010 10:02 pm

    I guess the conflict is within and the answers found are also within.

    • April 20, 2010 4:22 pm

      how to get answers for confusing questions from more confused inner self?

  4. April 19, 2010 10:40 pm

    I believe in God, I remember him everytime – in happiness, when I’m low. I thank him, I fight with him etc but I don’t visit temples often. And I don’t have a puja discipline too. I at times go to Gurudwara because unlike mandirs where you can easily bride the pandits into being the first one in the queue to God’s idol, Gurudwaras see you as one. They feed you the “langar” irrespective of whether you’re a rickshaw puller or you’ve just landed from your chartered plane. I go to church because I get peace there. I can sit there and be away from all the problems.

    I believe in the power of mantras. They produce some vibration in our body which in turn attracts positive vibrations.
    Prayers do not make the wishes come true. Its a way to thank God for being there. Its a way to pronouce words (mostly in Sanskrit) that will create such vibrations in your body. Chanting “OM” actually helps purify your insides. And it doesn’t help everyone because not everyone’s conscience as clean and a good acceptor of those vibes. 🙂

    Am I sounding like I’m 60? 😉

    • April 20, 2010 4:25 pm

      of course not, you don’t sound like 60. even I belive in the powers of Mantras. and have great faith in them. it is just that I wonder at the effect of some words which we also use in our day to day life, but the very same words when used in a sequence and with faith can turn the world around.

      it is like saying ” maano to words, maano to life saver, maano to pathar ya maano to bhagwan”

      • April 21, 2010 12:14 pm

        a very interesting article. Will come back later and try to give some logical explanations to your logical questions, which i believe everybody should ask….!

        Does the statement “Sound is energy” ring any bells???
        Just imagine urself in a traffic jam for a couple of minutes and the unnecessary stress caused by it. Similarly some sounds,properly made, have a very positive affect on our body and surroundings….

        more later…

        Regards

  5. April 20, 2010 7:02 am

    Everything is within and not without.

  6. Reader permalink
    April 20, 2010 10:28 am

    I think God is a Nature…

  7. April 20, 2010 10:35 am

    Hi Anju,

    I remember a scene from the movie ‘Taree Zameen par’ in which the character of aamir khan is telling the boy’s parents that there is a custom in some African country that if they want to cut down a big tree the people stand around the tree and shout expletives at the tree. He says the tree after a long time withers itself. He says human beings feel the same. Words of discouragement affect us and encouragements stimulate us.

    Now ask any good old farmer who talks to and touches his crops or plants get good results or not. You will be surprised at the answers. What I am driving at is that thoughts are the function of our brain. Thoughts which most often come out as words have energy both positive and negative. An unseen energy just like the unseen pull of moon affects the waves of the seas what if our thoughts sometimes collective thoughts (mass prayers) can cause some ripples in the consciousness of the universe and mold it the way we want.

    I strongly believe that the world exists as it is now because more than 75% of the people in this world whisper or think in their mind ‘every thing is all right the world is a better place’ let’s take Rene Descartes ‘I Think therefore I am’ further ‘we think therefore we are’

    I was brought up in a Christian environment, but I think our masses and your pujas are all an extension of this concept of speaking the good thoughts aloud to the universe. I am not disagreeing that there are some commercialization involved some use it for financial gain and feed on the ignorance of people.

    My mind wanders a lot when I am in church too. But then I found out I am not worth staying in such a place for a long time because I have not mastered the art of concentration and unifying my thoughts unlike some people.

    The mantras maybe some alphabets arranged in order then so is ‘I LOVE YOU’ but it can make a lot of difference right and there is a lot of power in those three words. There is nothing wrong in bowing down to a supreme power or universe when you consider it as admiration and not submission. I believe the supreme power is wise enough to understand our thoughts if he or she or it created us and everything around us.

  8. April 20, 2010 12:58 pm

    I think the purpose of mantras is to focus your concentration and channel you into your interiors…your conscience/soul/god…whatever you wish to call it.

    OM has no religion…in fact mythology has stories to help you understand the concept…but now they have become the religion…the concept went out of the window. People who do not understand need to have customs and traditions that help to find the method and thus the truth…the enlightened have already found the answer and thus need none.

    Just like an excited child needs to be taught to fall asleep, by counting sheep/bedtime stories/a prayer before bed, an untrained human mind too needs the discipline of rituals and customs to lean to concentrate within.

    My philosophy…there is only that thing that is within you…your life, Prana…THAT life is GOD.

    • April 20, 2010 4:30 pm

      i have noting against the rituals but as Satish said in the folowing comment if Gos is omnipresent, he is the creator, he is responsbile for our being for our welfare then what is the use of praying. even if we don’t pray then also he should take care of us.
      or does he needs continous reminders that we exist. May be through prayers we alert the God that please don’t forget us, take out time from your busy schedule and take care of us. 🙂

      • April 21, 2010 6:17 am

        Hi Anju. My comment is in tune with Nalini. As for why should we pray? We should not confuse god with a shop keeper. Hand change in return for goods :). The reason we pray is to channel and focus your mind on one focal point..the encompasser of all beings. Regular practice of this will slowly , very slowly elevate our mental planes . At higer levels of understanding, one will have a different notion of what is really in this world and what is worth happiness or sorrow. When one has risen above this level, and in the process of reaching this level, one would not tend to engage in bad karma. God rewards karma, not every individual prayer. The better person one can be and fewer vile pleasures of the world one likes, their good karma count will improve. All the good karma has to negate the infinite bad karma, to start seeing the results.
        And we only have to perform our duty, not wait and watch to count all the results, that will not bring anything, least of all happiness.
        Mantras chanted correctly in the right tune and with correct pronunciation will create sound waves of positive energy in our vicinity. Dont differen kinds of music have different effects on us? It is similar to that.
        And ya, I am not 60 either….

  9. Satish permalink
    April 20, 2010 1:37 pm

    I’m a full-blown atheist…but for the purpose of this discussion, let us assume that an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient god does, in fact, exist…from our perspective, it might make sense for us to pray to such a powerful god or perform pujas and hope that god will help us out in resolving our difficulties…but let us take a step back and look at this whole thing from god’s perspective…how would it matter in the slightest to god whether we pray or not? how would it benefit god if we do pujas or how would it affect god if we do not do pujas? I suppose what I’m trying to say is that instead of asking “why doesn’t god respond to our mantras or shlokas?”, should we ask “why should our pujas or prayers make any difference to god’s actions or decisions?”…god’s “omniscient”, god’s supposed to know what we are thinking anyway…so why do we pray? is it because it provides some measure of psychological comfort to ourselves? that’s the way i see it. But does prayer help in any other meaningful way in resolving problems? When we have an headache, no amount of prayers or “powerful” mantras will make the headache go away…only taking the appropriate medication helps…it is the same with life…praying might give us some internal comfort and might make us calmer, but the only way problems are going to get resolved (to the extent possible) is by our own hands (with appropriate help from other people)…so you are right…I feel all these pujas, mantras are just for us to derive strength…

  10. April 20, 2010 4:34 pm

    Satish I am a strong believer of destiny. for me every thing is as per God’s will. so if I work hard to achieve someting that is because God wanted me to work hard and succeed.
    and if I fail it is because he wanted me to fail
    if u have time do read
    https://anjugandhi.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/destiny-yes-or-no/

  11. April 21, 2010 8:37 am

    I agree with you totally. Those last lines are absolutely true Anju.

  12. sachinarya permalink
    April 21, 2010 9:29 am

    Hi Anju,

    I echo your thoughts and believe in the existence of God, but, at the same time find it hard to follow a line drawn by religion. I absolutely disagree with customs, rituals and doing something just for the heck of it, without understanding why we do it?

    However, I have been a part of all the pujas, rituals etc. that happen at home just to please my parents. I find it difficult to argue with them on utility of these rituals, but to no avail. That made me learn a lesson, that is, religion is one contentious topic which is a very personal matter and should be left at that only. If you try to convince someone on pros and cons of some ritual that we do, my guess is, the discussion will take a different route and you would be termed as atheist. Point is, if someone feels happy doing all that, let them be. You feel happiness in belief, so let it be.

    But frankly, Personally, I don’t see a point in following rituals at all.

    Cheers,
    Sachin

  13. April 21, 2010 11:04 am

    I used to be an atheist but then I found out I can’t prove that god doesn’t exist just like theists cannot prove that god exist. So I decided like many before me to find my own version of the truth. I am glad that I did so.

    @ Satish,
    Have you ever stood in the middle of a railway track and looked at the rails stretching before your eyes. What you see in the distance? Your eyes tell you that the two parallel lines on either side of you are merging at the end. It’s impossible! But your eyes (an integral part of your body) just betrayed you.

    If our eyes can betray us why can’t our brain too, maybe we are using it to understand something which is beyond its comprehension. Will we ever be able to grasp the reality with something which is not equipped to grasp it in the first place?

    To understand that the tracks are indeed parallel lines one needs a view from above maybe only god the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient being has that view point.

    @ everyone who said they hate the rituals,

    How many of you had or have the guts to get married in a government marriage registration office. All of you have used or will use the same religion and its rituals to make your weddings into a grand celebration. To lampoon something in a blog or in a forum where your privacy is guarded is easy. But to defy the same publicly will need great courage and determination which many lack. That’s why Brad pit (as Achilles) tells the boy (who is afraid at the size of his opponent) in the movie ‘Troy’ before he heads into battle “no one will remember your name”

  14. April 21, 2010 4:48 pm

    Hi,
    Interesting post. I empathise with the trouble you had to undergo while sitting in Pujas. I have also felt many a times in my house. I began to explore more about this .. It took me some time to understand this entire thing. The idea of puja is an interesting allegory. The word pu + ja means, something done out of fullness of heart and spirit. Have you seen children playing small childlike games like, where they use small crockery toys and pretend makin foods for the family. They serve the food to mother, out of love, as she lovingly feeds food to the child. In a similar expression of love, humans began to make all these rituals to express their gratitude to the infinite creator who provided with all these, in the first place. I wrote an article about this when a friend of mine had ranted about these stuff some time back… Do check it out..http://incorrigibleoptimistvenky.blogspot.com/2008/02/great-indian-heritage.html

    These are mere expressions of love! I hope this makes you look at pujas from a different perspective..

  15. Ryan Rodrigues permalink
    April 21, 2010 5:02 pm

    Its actually in our head.Sometimes we feel that by praying to so called “god”,our problems will be solved but it depends on how much we work for the cause and try solving it ..

  16. April 21, 2010 7:31 pm

    Do good, be good. God is only within you.

  17. April 22, 2010 10:24 pm

    I feel if there is anything called living peacefully, it should be as spontaneous as anything in nature.

  18. April 23, 2010 7:29 pm

    You have raised very pertinent points and the debate would be unending. All the Politicians and Big wigs do perform poojas not in the interest of the nation but for their own self! I have also raised the issue through my article which can beread at-
    http://srayyangar.blogspot.com/search/label/Thought%20to%20ponder%20over

  19. May 6, 2010 11:03 pm

    Jim Carrey is God 😀

  20. ajay permalink
    August 19, 2015 3:40 pm

    You are realy a confused person or atleast you are trying to show you are.
    Nyways to your questions in vedic times sanskrit language was used all over. Sanskrit is said as gods language. If you have read any mantras you will not understand anything. Cause u shud study sanskrit 1st. And they are not just words arrenged in order. Our vedas have given all the so called science to this world whwhich we indians laugh at. Who invented airplane you will say wright brothers but a man from pune had made design of this 1 St plane invented. He was vedic pandit.pandit But during British time due to poverty he sold it to Wright brothers. There are evidences also so dnt bother debating. Ayurveda the most trusted medicine science. If you follow AYURVEDA u will never get ill. But u should follow complete rules. Is there any sscience mbbs doctor who will give in writing that you will not get ill after having pills?? There are many people around you who are treated for diabetes ayurveda has stopped their injections and medicine.medicine . Have my uncle who has been benifeted.
    Now about pooja in vedas every pooja has its own importance the material that is poured during havan has certified medicinal values.values . The music therapy which many high class people nwadys follow is from vedas nd that are the mantras. Every mantra has a meaning. Also if you love science &hate Hindu rituals what is uuse of fire?? FFire kills everything it touches even smallest partials in air. You must have read about ebola?? African virus does not stand in excessive heat! This wwere the reasons of doing havan to kill all bacterial viral germs. And pooja or havan if you know meanings of wach mantra grants to health and helps you reach divine power god. If you wish to get money you are still way away from Hinduism
    We never said our God gives money. You want everything in life a bunglay, BMW, etc. God never gives such things he only will give you soul satisfaction. So 1st don’t make your needs your greed! God has given evrything it is human who wants more but finally he lands nowhere. Please if you are realy intrested read vedas study sanskrit. And make our Hinduism proud. Because snskrit was diminished by British. So we don’t study it and just blame our religion

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