THE KOLLAM QUESTIONS

THE QUESTIONS

Are we religious or are we ‘religious zealots’, the fanatics, who don’t care even for other lives?

Was it a man-made accident or a massacre? When a ‘man-made common sense’ said bursting firecrackers was dangerous when there were thousands of people around, what made those so-called custodians of Hinduism go ahead with the recipe of disaster?

Are temples failing to fulfill the very purpose they are built for – bringing your soul nearer to God?

The supposed journey of faith in life – from the ritualistic worship practices to the higher spiritual connects – are temples snapping the cord here by putting more emphasis on pomp and show, on materialism?

Shouldn’t temples be the places inspiring you to see that next step in your life when you don’t need a temple to be with God?

Over 30 crore deities are a way of life in Hinduism – giving easy access to faith – and the chance to transcend to that higher spiritual realm – but what about manipulations of faith like this – something that happened at Kollam’s Puttingal temple in Kerala?

If grand buildings and premises wouldn’t be there, would it deter devotees from visiting a temple? Suppose, if we had the ‘Dwarkamai’ as Sai Baba had left – preserved in its pristine form – would it make any difference? After all, that doesn’t prevent you from developing the dependent infrastructure with changing times.

High and mighty temples, aren’t they fundamentally flawed then – with practices like VIP queues, gender discrimination and multi-crore buildings – where you can find all but spirituality that a drenched soul desperately seeks?

This tendency to shower your power in any possible way – from gunshots in wedding processions – to sacrificing animals in temples – to displaying fireworks in weddings and in temples – isn’t it a social malaise?

And how deeply ingrained is this? Kerala chief minister Oomen Chandy said the government could not ban the practice of firecrackers exhibition in temples. Even after this massive tragedy, no strict action like putting a blanket ban on firecrackers/fireworks is expected from the all powerful Travancore Devaswom Board that manages over 1200 temples of kerala.

But the biggest, the most important question is, can state allows people like the temple priests or the people accountable for managing larger gathering that we see at religious events, to continue with their charade, with their whims and fancies of their perceived versions of ‘social might’?

PS: An annual ritual of firecrackers exhibition associated with the Puttingal Temple in Kerala’s Kollam district went horribly wrong after the huge stock of firecrackers stored in near vicinity of the temple and a densely populated area caught fire. The accident took 105 lives and the toll is expected to rise as many wounded are critically injured. Though the district administration didn’t allow the display of firecrackers, it is clear the government machinery didn’t take the matter seriously, something that allowed such a huge stockpile of dangerously inflammable material at a place where thousands were expected to gather. The government’s reluctance, at a time when Kerala is scheduled to elects its next government on May 16, would certainly have emboldened the Kollam temple administration to go ahead with its plan on firecrackers display.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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DIVISIVE RHETORIC ON SAI BABA AND HINDU DEITIES: UNFORTUNATE, DEPLORABLE

Well, it’s sad, it’s unfortunate, and it’s deplorable.
We all haven’t heard or seen Gods.

And we have more than enough and valid reasons to believe that no one, including those who claim, has heard or seen any God – ‘any’ God because we are routinely told there are many Gods – because we are also told that all Gods lead to the One – everyone, in fact, most, cannot and never reach to that spiritual high to realize the ‘oneness’ of this ‘many identities’.

Anyway, that is not the concern here. The concern is – we all haven’t seen or heard Gods and yet, we, so shamelessly, keep on claiming Him (or Her) or claim in His name (or Her name).

It is saddening and maddening to hear the divisive rhetoric on ‘Sai Baba with Hindu Deities in temples’ these days that has gone well beyond the words to mobilize the religious factions, followers and fanatics on the ground – and the line between a follower and a fanatic is in imminent danger of losing its relevance.

On one side is a godman, claiming to represent the religious tradition of Shankaracharya, central to the Hinduism of the day in many aspects – who, in spite of his advancing age, has not been able to collect the spiritual essence of Hinduism (or of Vedas or of Shankaracharya’s teachings, who was just 12, when he did it all) and is targeting a saint, who has come to be treated as a God by his followers – a saint who never claimed he was a God – an ascetic who spent his life for others – a Messenger who never wanted to be worshipped as a God, as the literature says – and all the big temples and the growing religious infrastructure in his name are not serving his cause, are not spreading the message of his life – his Godliness was in his simplicity and access to all.

It is sad that Swaroopanand Saraswati’s rants on ‘unGodliness’ and religion of Sai Baba have found takers from both the spectrums – the believers of the Sai Baba tradition speaking against and mounting their protests – and the people ready to take Swaroopanand Saraswati’s agenda ahead.

Being religious and following a God is a private affair but the fear psychosis on God’s ways to control or run the lives of His followers, as proposed and spread by the men (the cults of godmen, the tradition of religious opinion leaders) has distorted and is distorting the real purpose of religion and God – making man a better man – making society a social amalgamation – making humanity more humane – making civilization more civilized.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FOLLOWING A RELIGION

These are my personal views based on my life experiences on how I perceive Religion and my religious obligations. This is not to hurt anyone. It is just a logical attempt to present my viewpoint.

  1. Your Religion has to be the evolved one and so it has to be logical. One must not accept because one was asked or advised to accept.
  2. There should be a harmony between your conscious and your Religion. When it comes to choosing one of the two, and when you believe in the universal tenets of Humanity, you should go for your consciousness.
  3. One should practice a Religion accordingly, and not just observe it as a body of norms inherited to be followed.
  4. For your Religion to be evolved and so to be logical you must seriously question its tenets and you must vehemently seek answers. Faith has to be logical. It must not be blind.
  5. It is true no one can claim to see God, the basis of any Religion, and so Faith is about your preferences, it is about your believing in God without seeing him, it is, basically, about feeling Him. So it can be argued how to correlate Faith with Logic then? Okay, no one is saying to question God, and so the religious tenets, for the sake of questioning only. But do question the tenets when your conscious says a God cannot allow certain events to happen, events that are ungodly in nature.
  6. If you don’t find answers it means you don’t understand your Religion or probably the questions where your Religion is silent are the questions to be explored in the next phase of its journey to evolve.
  7. Doing so leads one to the Spiritual quotient of God, the essence of Religion. You must understand that Spirituality and Religion are not different but are mutually interdependent concepts on the path leading to the manifestation of God, or to say His feeling in our conscious.
  8. Spirituality is not about some big concepts and sacrifices. It has to be, basically, feeling your God inside you while following the universal norms of Humanity that tell you need to take care of the other human beings the way you take care of your family. It has to be the quest within. Be honest to your God within you and you are well on the way to gain the Spiritual wisdom.
  9. Your Religion should tell you to respect other Religions the way you respect yours. If it pushes you to treat other Religions as inferior, you are fundamentally flawed then. It says either your Religion has problems or you have indoctrinated it without understanding its essence. Fundamentally, all Religions promote equality and peace – you need to ‘come’ to believe this.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

GOD, SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION: AN INTERDEPENDENCE WE FAIL TO UNDERSTAND

What Religion should be for us?
Why should we follow a Religion?
What Religion should we follow?

These are the different questions that, many of us, ask, from time to time, without caring for what we know of and how we know the Religion we practice.

The reason that pushes us for this sort of questioning, a process of reasoning in tougher circumstances of life, comes to our thinking whenever we face hopeless situations in life, where we are not able to reconcile with God for the events happening around us, whether with us or with anyone else where we see the events in motion, events that directly affect our way of thinking.

It is true we ask these questions regularly but we seldom realise what this regular frequency says to us for, we seldom think that our faith and so the Religion we follow should be the evolved one.

We ask questions but we don’t seek answers.

God, Spirituality and Religion – the mess that we have created around the meanings and the symbolisms of these three fundamental words of any human life and so any civilization is responsible for it.

These three words, their meanings and their symbolisms are mutual, interdependent and related. They cannot be practiced in isolation.

Those of us who ask questions but don’t seek answers don’t understand or don’t want to understand the dynamics of these basic principles of organizing a life.

Basic principles, because even if one doesn’t follow a God, a Religion or doesn’t believe in Spirituality, the person needs to know why he is not following when the majority is doing the contrary.

His alternative thinking should also be the evolved one.

When we see or start to see these three fundamental entities, God, Spirituality and Religion, in isolated blocks or when we compromise one at the cost of the other, or when we begin to make combinations without knowing the dynamics of the interdependence, we fail to understand any of these three fundamental principles of life.

And that is what most of us do.

That takes us away from the logical path where we don’t know, we don’t understand, so we never realise, but we follow. So we question but don’t seek answers because even those questions are not the evolved ones, because we become opportunist in seeking God.

But to know God, one must understand the Religion.

But to know life, one must understand the interdependence between God, Spirituality and Religion.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

KRISHNA

The beauty of the Black that remembering You recalls
The light in the darkness that thinking of You brings

The simplicity of Shyam and the mysticism of Krishna
God, You are we know, and yet, so human You look
Telling us the essence of existence, of human conscience
The Perfect One You are, the voice of universal conscious
Telling us it’s Your creation and we are Your manifestation

O Krishna, You are the epitome of love, of its purest expression
O Krishna, Your ways are mysterious, its divinity transcendental
O Krishna, feeling You is like looking at life joyous with emotion

O Krishna, You show us the way to live, to love, and to be
O Krishna, show me the light to see the life as it has to be
O Krishna, give me the courage to become who I have to be

The revelation of life that the faith in You illuminates
O Krishna, let me have an evolved faith that reverberates

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

‘BEING SPIRITUAL’ AND ‘BEING RELIGIOUS’

I am sharing here my responses on a discussion themed ‘being spiritual and being religious’ on a social media platform. One many find jumps in the content as I have put my responses here to different sub-questions of the discussion subject but reading the whole will give a whole picture of it, I can assure.

Religious and Spiritual people – are they really different?

Do we need to separate Spirituality from Religion?

Haven’t we created a world of ambiguities without realizing that these two terms are essentially complementary to each other?

Yes, it is a political problem. It might be cliché to say, but is universally true that no religious text, if read as a pure text, with objectivity, would allow all that has been happening today, that we call religious wars or civilization clashes.

Evolution began bare and naked and it has been shaped by both, religion and spirituality, and in-turn, religion and spirituality have shaped each other and are shaping each other.

I don’t see it as good or bad religions. Rather, it is good religions and their distorted versions and spiritual quotient is the segregator here.

Yes, partly, it is because, we listen to the fundamentalists and not what the ‘texts’ say. We listen to their interpretations by others and not what they actually say to us.

This distortion of religious views and their preferential interpretations began much early in the evolutionary history of the human civilization and strengthened with ‘people worship’ and ‘cult following’.

In India, the early Vedic period doesn’t speak of the caste system but now, we are a country riddled with thousands of castes and sub-castes.

The Sufi saints, considered the embodiment of Spirituality, read and interpreted the Islam Spiritually and they are followed across the Globe, by people of every following who love the aesthetics of culture and tradition. Rumi is the best known example of it.

That is what I mean when I say ‘distortion’. What about if the text has been distorted as in the case of the Vedic tradition and the caste-system in India? Manipulation of the written text – it’s in a history that no one can go back to validate, but almost every religious text has been distorted to suit the leadership of the time.

And it will go on.

The herd mentality! The need to have a leader to follow! No realization of the quest to know the ‘self’. And so the space for such doctrines and so the push for the fundamentalist bigots!

But, there were always the Souls, in every generation who kept preserved the true essence of the concept of ‘god’ or almighty or whatever we say – the ‘spiritual Connect of a religious symbolism’.

For being religious, one doesn’t need to read the religious text or follow some religious doctrine.

The written literature and so the prevalent notions are juxtapositions of individual viewpoints that find connecting vibes in every generation.

It is up to us, how we want to move ahead. Whether we want to go ahead with the misplaced symbols perpetuating such dichotomies or we opt to strive for the light that could clear our vision.

The world began to see the same Vedic tradition and Vedanta that had seen manipulations for thousands of years, in a new spiritual light when Swami Vivekanand started spreading it beginning with his historical lecture at the Parliament of World’s Religions in 1893 in Chicago. Swami Vivekananda was an atheist initially and his Guru, Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was illiterate.

No one can deny the influence of the great Souls who have prevailed throughout the history, contemporaries of the brutal warlords, tearing and manipulating the religious texts. They have been the ‘healing balance’.

Buddha didn’t create a religion of his own. Instead he filtered out the good from the ‘distorted’, from the existing bad and interpreted it in the universal language of humanity.

And we cannot say Buddha was ‘not religious’ or ‘not spiritual’. He was both.

True. I wrote of Buddha. I wrote of Vivekananda. For me, they and many others like them are the people to go back to. Their legacy makes them qualified. Like in the Indian tradition, there would be many in every other tradition.

A Nazi party worker, Oskar Schindler, could find the good in him and could save over a thousand Jews.

Yes, it’s individual. What I think, other would think and interpret in a different way. But the final goal has to be to ‘see the light’, to find the ‘peace’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/