FAITH

Why faith is so deep
That it is never complete
Yet it is so reassuring
That it never gets obsolete
But then what it should be
And what it would be
If it wouldn’t be so
If we believe in a God
It should be beyond
The questions of logic
Yet it is never illogical
Your God never says
That don’t question His ways
Doing so is human
And if we all are His creation
It is His wish for us to do so
There is a God
Who lives in all of us
Only if we care to listen to him
When you question Him, His ways
You are being logical
And your faith is evolving
God comes to you
Naturally, subtly
That you don’t realize it
But it happens
That you find your answers
Or questions become irrelevant
God is then being logical with you
By letting your faith evolve
Whenever it happens
Your faith goes even deeper
There comes times
When we feel disoriented
But the connect is always there
That keeps us rooted
And shows us the way ahead finally
It becomes stronger every time
Our faith is so deep
That it is always a part of us
Only if we care enough to listen to it
And when we question, we do that
Doing so helps us to see beyond
The questions of logic
That is faith, His faith, ours faith

©SantoshChaubey

DOES GOD PLAY DICE?

One of the greatest scientists, nature’s laws and human civilization have ever seen, Albert Einstein, had once said that ‘God does not play dice’. Einstein was not a religious person and his observation was about the laws of nature.

One of the best minds of our times, Stephen Hawking, wrote an elaborate piece titled ‘Does God Play Dice?’ on similar lines.

Both of them were opining about scientific determinism, about how laws of nature play out in the universe, and how chaos is a certain part of it.

Mathematician Ian Stewart wrote a book ‘Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos’ that was published in 1989. The book is about chaos theory, about a pattern in randomness that no one sees or senses, that science cannot explain. But simple to complex, events happen. What seems unrelated may very well effect a change where it was never expected. Things are governed by chaos and chaos is governed by quantum mechanics. But what quantum mechanics is governed by?

By uncertainty? By scientific determinism of chaos? By a pattern in uncertainty and chaos that no one can see?

Or in the words of Stephen Hawking, who writes in his ageless classic, that “God doesn’t intervene, to break the laws of Science”.

That is about the philosophy of science. But even the philosophy of life, or your existence here, follows a similar path.

That “God doesn’t intervene, to break the laws of life”.

‘Does God play dice’ is a question that we all come across in our lives. When we ask such questions and when we look for answers, we tend to move to the philosophical realms, questioning our existence, questioning the way life has been, and sometimes questioning even God.

The philosophy of life which every life develops to deal with chaos in his or her life!

Here I am not talking about philosophy as a discourse or discipline but it has more to do with the philosophical underpinnings of existence and identity where philosophy becomes an ironical necessity, a necessity as we interpret and we become so habituated with it – to the extent that it becomes an inherent part of us – motivating us, or propelling us, or forcing us to move ahead or along with life.

If we turn to the ‘philosophy of Puritanism, the ‘dicing’ proposition loses its relevance. If we turn to the philosophy incarnation of the day as preached by the so-called intellectuals and self-made God-reincarnations or even by the academicians, it becomes misleading enough to veer us to the brink of a conscience crisis.

When we are asked to ‘accept everything as it comes’ and ‘whatever that happens is for good’ and when we start believing in such propositions, not debating what good it brings to us and if there was any good at all in whatever that happened, we start losing our individuality, slipping into the conscience crisis. We don’t realize it or we are forced not to realize it – in the name of being practical. Chaos starts dismantling us.

We all follow some values in life which we justify anyhow and we are right in doing so but to go beyond, we need to turn to pragmatism of conscience and that only can lead us to a fine blend of ‘the ways we go across to deal with the ‘prompts and hurdles’ of life’ and the ‘optimized scale of conscience, the philosophical element’, so as to fix the ‘dice’ in a poise on the scale of thinking in a way that can achieve a swing state tending to get back to the root of one’s existence whenever it gets disturbed.

And this balance, this ‘philosophy of necessity’ cannot be defined, cannot be measured, and cannot be practiced uniformly. It is subjective and can only be attained and attuned by individual life preferences and circumstances, if one tends to balance the moments in the line of practical and philosophical inputs and practical outcomes.

If philosophy is essentially a way to look back at and understand life gone so far, the ‘philosophy of necessity’ leads us to question us and take decisions that not only support the material-self of our present day lives, our daily lives, destabilized by chaos, but also gives us the much needed spiritual base. Chaos tries to set a pattern in our lives and tries to make us accustomed to that.

We all have this spiritual base, to deal with chaos, but we lack the practicality of getting along with it, limiting us to mostly rituals and temples and shrine visits, and so excluding it out of our daily lives. If spirituality is akin to exploring the deeper of ‘you’, connecting you to your ‘self’ and hence to the ‘light’, it has to be a part of your everyday moments.

We need to realize the ‘necessity of philosophy’ to base our decisions on pragmatism and conscience. And no one can teach it. We are the teachers and we are the learners and so either we make it or we don’t. We are in life’s playground. We are in chaos’ playground. Balancing ‘philosophy’ and ‘necessity’ is a difficult proposition. But it does happen.

And how? No one knows. Laws of life play along. Laws of science play along. Where Gods don’t need to play dice.

©SantoshChaubey

UNPREDICTABLE! BIZARRE!

Life is unpredictable. Life behaves in bizarre ways.

Routine experiences in life – yet disturbingly new in their shock value – that make our thought processes so sick that we feel like resigning to our fates.

You never know what is going to happen the next moment yet you plan for it. That is human nature. Building you future on your perceived permutations and combinations is human nature. We all do that.

We pass. We fail. We feel stuck.

Sometimes, life walks along with us. Sometimes, it chokes our vision. Sometimes, it simply goes blank.

Routine experiences in life – that make us question our existence – or simply co-opt us to get along with the flow.

But come what may – a life we all have got – to live.

It is unpredictable. It is bizarre. Yet it is the only life that we have got – that we will get.

At times, it shocks you and it is true that no one else can do anything for you. It is only you who can find a way. It doesn’t matter how sick you are feeling, you have to find a way out of it.

You have to live them as routine experiences – being always conscious that they are not going to dictate your thought process – that they are not going to be the person for you.

Yes, that is always unpredictable – a shock’s shock-value – yet you have to find the threshold of it.

It’s bizarre – yet imperative to live your life here.

©SantoshChaubey

DEATH IS A WAY OF LIFE IN VARANASI

What is it about dying in Varanasi (or Banaras or Kashi – the other names this eternal city is known as)?

Death is an event in life that though sums up everything for a life, leaves a lifetime of thoughts and afterthoughts for others who are associated with the departed. It leaves a void that remains there, throughout. The pain, that is unbearable initially, becomes a way of life with time.

That is what happens with death in every normal human life – even for people of this eternal city – one of the oldest living places – a living mix of spirituality, religion and a living weaved around that.

But for people from this eternal city who care to go beyond their routine to know what Varanasi stands for, what Kashi means and why it pulls everyone from across the globe who look for ‘questions into life and death’, death brings more meanings about it than they already know.

For me, it has always been a captivating mystery. Apart from my roots in Varanasi, the city’s mysticism weaved around death is another major reason that pulls me to this city.

It is said a life threatening horrible experience changes fundamentally your outlook towards it. That also holds true for a life-defining liberating experience – an experience that you have while sitting at the steps of its round the clock burning ghats – of life’s realities and illusions – of life’s purpose and a retrospective into that – something that has been a regular event in my life while I was growing up – and now whenever I go there. While sitting there, it is an observational learning that you spontaneously internalize.

For many, death is a way of life in Varanasi. It supports many families. The business of death sustains lives here. And it has continued for generations.

For many, it is the spiritual realisation that shows them the way ahead – clearing the clouds of ambiguities and dichotomies.

Death is something that makes one free of all bonds, a point where materialism goes into oblivion, even for a moment. It evokes spiritual vibes naturally then.

Varanasi has seen generations built around this tradition. The city has been flowing the way history has been written but has been able to sustain the course of spiritual discourse that pertains to the questions of life, ways of living and ethos of existentialism.

For all Banarasis and many outside the city, dying here, in this city of Lord Shiva, is the ultimate nirvana, a freedom from the cycle of rebirth, the Moksha, the core of Hinduism/Vedanta philosophy.

For Banarasi folks like me and visitors/tourists/pilgrims, the Lord Shiva, Ganga and death association (The Holy Trinity of Hinduism) with the city and its addresses, especially the Varanasi ghats, including its two eternal cremation ghats, Manikarnika and Harishchandra, are a must visit. Many visitors of the city, in fact, make it a point to spend quality time at these two places while the ordinary Banarasi has countless strolls of them in his lifetime.

For thinking folks, it leaves an indelible impression.

And that imprints an equally indelible reality of death – the only certain event of life.

Sitting at these two ghats makes you feel ‘not low’ but poignant about life’s uncertainty and its only defined fate – death. One can see through layers of illusions. The introspection and retrospection here, in those moments, are most objective that one can have.

And it all happens wrapped in the fundamental tenet of living – what lies beyond and what goes with you. One doesn’t need to be a sage to ponder over these aspects. The atmosphere there begins the thought process in you.

Visiting Varanasi looking for questions of life or spending time at its round the clock working crematoria doesn’t change the way you live but its changes fundamentally the way you think – that how to sift reality from the countless illusions your soul is trapped into.

That is what the city has taught me so far.

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT IS IT ABOUT DYING IN VARANASI?

What is it about dying in Varanasi (or Banaras or Kashi)?

Death is an event in life that though sums up everything for a life, leaves a lifetime of thoughts and afterthoughts for others who are associated with the departed. It leaves a void that remains there, throughout. The pain, that is unbearable initially, becomes a way of life with time.

That is what happens with death in every normal human life – even for people of this eternal city – one of the oldest living places – a living mix of spirituality, religion and a living weaved around them.

But for people from this eternal city who care to go beyond their routines to know what Varanasi stands for, what Kashi means and why it pulls everyone from across the globe who look for ‘questions into life and death’, death brings more meanings about it than they already know.

For many, death is a way of life in Varanasi. It supports many families. The business of death sustains lives here. And it has continued for generations.

For many, it is the spiritual realization that shows them the way ahead – clearing the clouds of ambiguities and dichotomies. For all Banarasis and many outside the city, dying here, in this city of Lord Shiva, is the ultimate nirvana, a freedom from the cycle of rebirth, the Moksha, the core of Hinduism/Vedanta philosophy.

For Banarasi folks and visitors/tourists/pilgrims, the Lord Shiva, Ganga and death association (The Holy Trinity of Hinduism) with the city and its addresses, especially the Varanasi ghats, including the two eternal cremation ghats, Manikarnika and Harishchandra, are a must visit. Many visitors of the city, in fact, make it a point to spend quality time at these two places while the ordinary Banarasi has countless strolls of them in his lifetime.

For thinking folks, it leaves an indelible impression.

And that imprints an equally indelible reality of death – the only certain event of life.

Sitting at these two ghats makes you feel ‘not low’ but poignant about a life’s uncertainty and its only defined fate – death. One can see through layers of illusions. The introspection and retrospection here, in those moments, are most objective that one can have.

And it all happens wrapped in the fundamental tenet of living – what lies beyond and what goes with you. One doesn’t need to be a sage to ponder over these aspects. The atmosphere there begins the thought process in you.

Visiting Varanasi looking for questions of life or spending time at its round the clock working crematoria doesn’t change the way you live but its changes fundamentally the way you think – that how to sift reality from countless illusions your soul is trapped into.

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

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/

II HAR HAR MAHADEV II

II The absolute essence of everything II
II The sole conscious of every being II
II The wisdom of every scripture II
II The freedom of every future II
II The creator of all humankinds II
II The destroyer of all that binds II
II I am blessed I come from there II
II O Shiva, a city that you nurture II
II O God of spiritual dance II
II O Father of yoga’s romance II
II O Guide of every existence here II
II O Friend who has always been there II
II Mahadev, forgive me, bless me with virtue II
II Shiva, You are the world and the world is You II

Mahadev

II HAR HAR MAHADEV II

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

JANMASHTAMI IS STILL A COMMUNITY CELEBRATION BUT..

Today, as we know, and as we all must know, is Teachers’ Day – that is on birth anniversary of former President Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan (and former Vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University, my alma mater), and is also the death anniversary of great human-saint Mother Teresa.

Therefore, September 5 is always a special day.

But this year, the day has become even more special because the country is celebrating Janmashtami 2015 on this Saturday.

Time changes things and the way we carry out many activities – even if the perspectives and the concepts behind those perspectives remain the same.

The same holds true about how we celebrate our festivals.

In our childhood, and even in teens, Janmashtami happened to be a community celebration where almost each household participated. Jhankis (tableaus) were created in almost every house in our locality. We would start preparing the day well in advance. Everyone in the family would be given or would take some responsibility.

Krishna is a mystical God but then it takes precedence of spiritual elements over ritual practices of religion to feel so, which the ordinary, worldly people seldom realize. Anyway, Krishna Janmashtami, that is celebrated as Krishna’s birthday is never heavy on ritual and is quite flexible.

Krishna is born in every household at midnight – as our scriptures say. And the rituals that we perform during birth of a child in our house are performed then. This part was for family’s elders, especially my mother and father.

But every step leading to celebration of the day was my favourite, topped by creation of different jhankis – depicting Krishna’s birth, Vasudev taking him to Yashoda’s house, various stages in life of Krishna with Kansa and his demons and various other tableaus to depict what my childhood would think about then.

I loved making mountain from black stones that I collected from factories in Varanasi’s industrial area. Krishna’s idol is placed inside a large-sized cucumber and after his birth at midnight and the ritual bath; he is placed in a cradle, adorned with new jewellery and clothes. Then, when we used to spend at least a week preparing to celebrate the birth, we would place branches of Carissa (Karonda), with plenty of leaves and fruits all around then mountain (created from stones) and around the cradle.

We would also run from this saw mill to that saw mill to collect sawdust and wood filings. We would then colour the same in different shades and use them in different tableaus – as the base (or the ground). Normally, one tableau would be separated from the next with small wooden blocks and colour of the sawdust. Sometimes, in some homes, coloured sand was also used, though I never used it.

Many small tableaus of different colours and with different themes together formed the grand ‘jhanki’ of every family. Sometimes, it took two days to start and complete the final decoration with all tableaus conceived and created.

On the day of Janmashtami, in the evening, we would go to every house to see how the other fellow has done – that how his jhanki was better or dull than ours – that what he had done that we also could have done – that what was his scale relative to ours – a childhood mind primarily thinks in these terms after all.

But we would always come back in time for Krishna’s birth – that was the main attraction – with all the rituals in place and with all the ‘prasads’ that would follow. Krishna’s birth, like any child’s birth, has celebrations with lavish food preparations.

The ‘ritual part’ and ‘prasads’ that follow are still there but the part (or the parts) and took many days of preparation, in creating many tableaus for a grand ‘jhanki’, slowly and gradually went out of individual families. I don’t remember when we stopped doing it, but I know that probably no house in my locality does it so. I have heard similar echoes while conversing with people on similar lines.

Janmashtami is still a community celebration and is still worshipped individually in almost every Hindu house, but the community nature of its celebration through individual houses, through jhankis, slowly and gradually, stopped being there.

Janmashtami 2015-6

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

DICHOTOMY OF THOUGHTS (ON FAITH)

Without God’s will, nothing moves. Without God’s sanction, nothing happens. Whatever happens – happens because it is God’s wish.

Therefore – whatever happens – happens for good.

But what good can we see in others’ suffering? But what good can we find in a world that is forced to suffer by the bad deeds of human – corruption, crime, terrorism, religious wars, civil wars, imperialism and so on? But what good can we feel on demise of someone close? But what good can be if we fail to find reasons within us for hostile happenings inflicted on us?

Nowhere is it more visible than at a temple, especially famous at temple attracting large number of devotees.

Faith brings us there – to a temple – to a place of worship. We go there for majority of reasons – with hope in mind that there is Someone to listen to us.

But when we see the system in the temple and around it (or at the place of worship), something that happened again with me, when I visited the Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place in Delhi, these questions spontaneously come to us.

There are people waiting for alms – for many, it forms an important, inseparable part of daily chores.

But then, there are other people as well – suffering – living sub-human lives.

The scenes at such God’s abodes can distract any conscious soul – forcing the rational mind to raise questions.

And the one answer that comes to mind is – atonement. Probably, that’s the God’s way to seek repentance.

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

THEY EVEN COMPROMISE THEIR IMMEDIATE TOMORROW..

COLORES INFINITUM

This is being human, this is being natural.

Most of us all are like that.

And in any lifetime, there cannot be a uniform way to go along than this.

This is the most pragmatic way to look at human life in today’s context – the context that is not solely self-defined for most.

Yes, people define it so – in the name of living in present, not going too deep in the future – a future that cannot be assessed – and in order to do so, they even compromise their immediate tomorrow – that is eventually to become their next ‘today’.

And they are not wrong in the ‘worldly sense’. Yes, majority is thrown into the throes of a calculation of ‘then’ that they don’t have any mean to look at. And yes, majority tries to come out of it by correcting ‘today’.

And that is natural. And that is pragmatic.

What is not pragmatic is ‘not thinking about your immediate tomorrow’.

A ‘today’ draws its sanctity from your yesterdays (and past experience) and your immediate tomorrow. Your immediate tomorrow gives you the reason to make your today ‘as better as you can’. And your yesterday adds learned experiences to that.

We are what we feel about us today but the feeling has its construct drawn from yesterday and is reasoned on needs of your immediate tomorrow.

The past is always about learning and the immediate future is always about wisdom of that learning as interpreted in your today.

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