Don’t fear God and be ritualistic trying to escape ‘sin’

Love the Higher Energy that powers the Universe. If you want to call this Energy God, please do. But please be God-loving, not God-fearing!

A story on Vaani and me broke on the popular media platform for entrepreneurship YourStory earlier this week. We have since been inundated with messages from people seeking perspective on dealing with their Life situations. One gentleman shared how his already struggling small enterprise got burdened with debt. His father passed away last year while visiting his pregnant daughter in the US. Traumatized by her father’s demise, the man’s sister developed serious complications with her delivery. The man said he had to travel to the US and stay on there to assist his sister. So the last rites of his father had to be performed in the US. The family decided to also do the elaborate rituals that follow a person’s demise. The man had to borrow from his family and friends and ended up spending Rs.20 Lakh on performing the rituals! One thing led to another – his business folded up, his income stream dried up and to keep his creditors at bay, the man started borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. His debt stands at Rs.1 crore now and he doesn’t have money to buy groceries!

I can completely empathize with the man’s plight. I have been there and I often end up being in a penniless state every once in a while – even now!

With due respect to the gentleman’s belief systems, I would like to question the validity of rituals and religion in Life. I wonder why we want to perform rituals for a deceased person at such high costs? I have nothing against the economic model of priests and all those who call themselves representatives of God or religion. To me, it’s a business model that must thrive like any other. So, the model’s mandarins will market rituals as a must-do and the way they convince their customers – people like you and me – is that they play up the “fear-God” angle. Especially when it comes to rituals related to someone’s death. I have heard that carefully crafted and articulated pitch: “You have to do these rituals to keep the deceased’s soul at peace, to do your duty as a blood relative of the deceased and for the welfare of the generations that will follow you in your clan. If you don’t do these rituals you will be sinning and God will punish you and your family.” The moment God’s dark – vicious – side played up, the ignorant, unawakened, gullible fellow voyager capitulates. And so rituals get done and that’s how the religion-ritual economy thrives!

love-and-fearAt this point, let’s step back to understand Life better. Obviously there’s a Higher Energy that has created all of us. That Energy, without doubt, is inscrutable. Yet there’s something definitive and visible about this Energy: it promises nothing and demands nothing. So why fear this Energy? Think about it. You have been created without your asking for it. You will live as long as you will and then you will die. Death is a certainty that you are born with. And have to live with. So why fear death? And why fear an after-Life that no one has ever come back to talk about? Similarly, when someone dies, why brood over their death or mourn endlessly? Why perform rituals fearing incurring the wrath of this Higher Energy? Why not just celebrate the Life of the deceased by doing what the person loved doing a lot? Ask yourself, if you would still do the rituals you do – or are made to do – if you were implicitly convinced that the Higher Energy, that you call God, need not be feared? If you would still do it, then go on, stay ritualistic. But if you would rather not do it, then I rest my case.

Simply, any form of fear must be dropped. You and I have been created to live a full Life and enjoy it. You are not here to fear anything – not even your impending death. So love your God, the Higher Energy that has created you, than be God-fearing! Anything that holds you hostage and makes you cower in fear must be abandoned – and that includes religion and rituals.

A lesson in ‘trusting Life’ from an inspiring mother

Trust Life! Know that if you have been created, you will be cared for, looked after and provided for!
Malvika Iyer (L) and Hema Malini Krishnan (R)
Last evening we heard Malvika Iyer speak for the first time! Malvika – remember, I had written (some weeks back) about this young lady with an unbeatable spirit who is also a bilateral amputee – touched our hearts with her story. She left everyone in the audience with the strong message, personifying it in every sense, that the only disability anyone can have is a bad attitude. She attributed all her strength to her mother Hema Malini Krishnan, who, she says, has never made her feel deprived or disabled in any manner. “At home, I was never treated as if there was something missing in my Life, although I don’t have both my hands. I was raised as any other teenager would be in any other home. My mother always told me that I must pursue whatever I believe in and never once did she say, ‘but you can’t do this because you don’t have hands’,” says Malvika. So, naturally, the audience was in awe of Malvika for sure, but they were even more keen to hear Hema speak.
Hema finally obliged. She epitomizes trusting the Universe, the ‘Creator’ as she says, trusting Life, implicitly. “When the bomb blast happened in 2002 that took away Malvika’s hands and changed our lives completely, indeed, we were gripped with fear of the unknown. But I was sure that we will make it. Malvika was just 13 then. But I believed that she would lead a normal Life. Though at that time, her legs were also badly injured. People ask me where my courage and conviction came from. Simple – my point is that if we have been placed in a challenging situation by Life, we will also be given the means – physical, financial, spiritual – to deal with it. I simply trusted the Creator. And I went with the flow. People often ask me what will happen of Malvika after me. And I again answer that I am only an instrument to help Malvika. I am here for a fixed tenure. When my turn is over, Life will arrange another instrument. I know this will happen. I trust the Creator. I have learned to accept what I have been given.”
Everyone in the audience was moved by Hema’s perspective. Her faith is unwavering. And this must be our learning too. 
Most of our worries and anxieties come from wondering how things will turn out in our lives. We survey our own limitations – which are anyway imagined and never logically proven – and conclude that something or the other is impossible. Our perceived impossibilities dictate our attitude. Which is why we are sulking, brooding, complaining and grieving about our lives. Even for a moment, we don’t wish to acknowledge that there’s a higher intelligence that powers the Universe. Our education makes us believe that we are intelligent and creation is dumb. So we ignore the biggest miracle that we are born human, without our ever asking to be created or born, we ignore the fact that the whole, magnificent, inscrutable Universe has been created, by this higher intelligence, ahead of us and we ignore this lifetime’s blessing to explore and experience creation’s myriad miracles. All we are obsessed with is our view of our problems and our view again of our inability to solve those problems. Nothing can be deemed as more foolish an approach to living.
Every time you feel despondent over mundane, or lesser challenging, situations, think of Hema’s trust in the Universe, in her ‘Creator’, that makes us accept her child’s special condition and yet encourages her to inspire Malvika to live a full, complete Life with no limits. Every time you are complaining that you don’t have this or that, think of your attitude as your biggest limitation, your disability. Think of Malvika, who doesn’t have hands but has the zest, the will and spirit in her to live a Life without limitations! Fundamentally, we must learn, despite all our education, not to intellectualize Life. We simply can’t. Life has a mind of its own. And we must simply trust it. There are only two ways to approach Life. If there’s a problem that your education, logic or science can solve, stop worrying about the problem – because it can be solved. And if you are dealing with a problem that your education, logic and science cannot solve, stop worrying about the problem again – because you cannot solve it! Simple. What you cannot solve, trust Life to solve it. And trust Life to give you the strength to deal with the problem if it can’t be solved.
If we pause a moment and look around we will find that our lives are blessed compared to all that people are facing and enduring around us. When you appreciate and value the blessing called this lifetime, you will start living – and you too will start trusting Life.