Religion deserves no more importance than the label of the undergarment you wear

Religion ideally must have no place in our lives. And if it must, it definitely cannot be flaunted in public. So, can we cut the crap and simply be human?   
I am not a great fan of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s films but I love him for who he is – as an individual, as a fellow-human. He’s a hard-working, tax-paying, honest, and important, secular, humane, citizen of my country and that for me is enough reason to love him. I am sure many who read this post may agree with me on why they too love SRK – with the exception that several among them may actually, additionally, be fans of his acting and movies!
The insinuation by some dim-witted bigots that SRK’s heart is in Pakistan or that he must be treated on par with Hafeez Saeed is outrageous. Not because they said it. Not because they said it against SRK. Not because they connected the dots to Pakistan and a terror-accused. But because their saying it represents how petty and shallow our already decadent society has become!
Think about it folks. None of us has chosen to be created human. Not SRK. Not me. Not you. Not Yogi Adityanath. Not Kailash Vijayvargiya. We were created without our asking for it. And we came without a name, without religion, without an economic or social standing. When we go we will go empty-handed – definitely without our name, religion, money or social moorings. Then why all this drama? How does it matter to anyone if I am a Palaghattan Iyer or SRK is a Muslim or if a certain so-and-so is a Christian? Does religion make any of us superior? Can we say we have conquered disease or death because we are from a certain religion?
Religion is outright divisive and fear-inducing. And anything – or any one – that divides the human race must be ostracized, expunged. What India is witnessing in the last several months is not a sign of intolerance alone. What’s going on is nothing short of a rape of human values and the principles of co-existence.
But rather than get bitter about all this, let’s work to make things better. And the best way to do that is to stop flaunting religion in public. Religion, honestly, must be given no more importance than the label of the undergarment we wear. Do you go talking about your undergarment brand in public? If at all religion must be pursued, make it a personal choice. There’s no need to wear it on your sleeve. And most definitely, there is no need to talk about the religious preferences of others!
If you pause and reflect on this, you will discover the futility of all religious discourse. All of us has the same color of blood, red; all of us has the same Life source, we breathe the same air; all of us were created without our asking to be born and all of us will surely die one day. Then what is the point in allowing ourselves to be divided in the name of “a” God whom no one has really “seen”? And what kind of a God is it who induces fear and pits one human against another? Truth be told, it is not God who induces fear and promotes hatred among us humans but it is a small bunch of fellow humans, who in the name of God and religion, are dividing our race. These are the real terrorists among us. And they need to be isolated through the rest of us uniting.  

SRK is but a metaphor for me this morning to make a larger point. It is irrelevant to me if he is an actor or if is a Muslim or if he is Indian. What is most important is that he is another fellow human on this planet – breathing the same air as I do, as Yogi Adityanath does, and with the same color of blood as I have, as Kailash Vijayvagriya has. I am no SRK fan but I still love him – just as I love any other human! If we can share this post, and talk about this message in our circle of influence, we would have made a small contribution to making our world a better place!  

Fighting Life is what causes misery

Just surrender to the Universe’s energy, to Life, don’t fight it!
Don’t you agree that if there indeed is a Master of the Universe, who was controlling, coordinating, delivering, granting, blessing and driving whateveris happening in the world, in your Life and mine, then this person is mighty intelligent? So intelligent that zebras have stripes while horses don’t, that when the East has daylight, the West has stars in the sky, that there are four seasons that keep changing as if someone is operating the switches in a Master Control Room, that mangoes are different from oranges and the Himalayas are different from the Rockies! None of these has been or can be controlled by you or me. Yet they happen! And so, we have to admit that the Universe’s energy, which, in my humble opinion, powers our lives, is far more intelligent than all of us put together.
If this energy is so powerful, so intelligent, why are you not able to trust it? When things go per your expectation, you don’t have an issue. When they go against what you wish is when you start fighting Life. Your DVD player doesn’t work when you sit down to watch a movie and you start complaining about Life. Small thing, you will eventually get over that setback! You will fight your DVD player for a while, then chuck it out the window and move on. When you are out of job, or when you are out of cash, or both, you fight, you resist the Life which you currently have to endure. You sulk, you brood! Does that change anything? Or what if your liver malfunctions or your heart suffers an attack? That’s a situation you can’t even mentally fight! That’s when you learn the art of surrendering to Life. Now, if we could consider surrendering to Life in all contexts, how much more simpler and easier to live will our lives be? In Hindu scriptures, they talk of surrender as ‘saranagati’ and to a physical God, an idol. I am suggesting, surrender to Life, the energy that keeps you alive! Think about it!
The truth about Life is, no matter what, what is to happen, will happen! Take Shah Rukh Khan’s Life for instance. The story goes that the TV serial ‘Fauji’that launched him in 1988 as the smart, daring Abhimanyu Rai, was supposed to have had a certain Milin Kapoor play that key role. Kapoor was 6 ft+, handsome and fitted the role perfectly. But because the show’s producers wanted Kapoor, who was well qualified technically too, to focus on the cinematography and editing, the role went to Khan. The rest, as they always say, is history. This is what will happen to you too. Ahead of your time or beyond what is ordained for you, nothing in your Life will ever happen to you. When it’s your turn, the Universe will conspire to deliver whatever you need for your Life’s story to advance. And advance does not always mean ‘meeting your expectations or exceeding them always’. Advance here means to simply (be forced, at times, to) go with the flow on Life’s pre-planned path. The Universe’s design, the Master Plan, is inscrutable. And yet, what I have learnt, is this – the Master Plan has no flaws.

Whatever is happening to you just now is what is ordained to happen. Therefore, intelligence demands that you don’t fight Life. Fighting Life is what causes you misery! You will find bliss instead, when you simply, sensibly, surrender to it!

Of Raavan, Ram and Jannat

The conditions inhibiting our inner peace are, interestingly, within us! Our true, native state is love and peace. But years of conditioning, in the way in which we have been raised and how we lead our lives, have suppressed that true state. Our only task is to undo that conditioning and remove all the layers of anxiety, misery, jealousy, self-doubt, anger, hatred and fear that suppress our true nature__and we too will return to being loving and peaceful!
I watched the Hindi movie Swades (2004, Ashutosh Gowariker, starring Shah Rukh Khan) another time last night. There’s a line in a beautiful song “Pal Pal Hai Bhaari” (Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music by A R Rahman) in the film that goes like this: “…man se Raavan jo nikaale, Ram uske man mein hai…”. It refers to the plight of the devotee who is signing the Lord’s praise but actually nurtures a lot of hatred and evil within. Raavan (the demon) and Ram (the Lord) are metaphors here. That line in the song is a reminder that if you really want to experience the Lord (love and peace) get rid of what’s tormenting you (the evil, whatever’s debilitating, in you)! The real import for all us, mortals, caught in the rat race, is that to be truly peaceful, we need to throw out all the conditions that inhibit our inner peace from our lives.
In Urdu there’s a word called jannat – it means paradise. Jannat is where love, peace, prosperity and all the good things in Life are in abundance. Most people believe jannat is something to be attained after completing our worldly tasks, after fulfilling our responsibilities, perhaps, in an after-Life.  But the truth is that there’s only this one lifetime, as we know it. And whatever has to be attained and experienced has to be done here. Now. By accepting and loving what is.
It is by resisting what is that we are piling on the layers of wasted emotions that restrain our true, native state, of love and peace, from flowering. Look at young children. They just submit themselves to Life, to their environment, to the conditions into which they are born – unquestioningly, without resisting. Which is why they are in complete bliss. We will do well to draw inspiration from children around us! And experience Ram and jannat – here, in the now!