Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Fast Food God(s)

India has a wide array of antique literature of Philosophical and metaphysical nature. There is a gambit of Indian philosophy from the origin of the universe (albeit totally non scientific /speculative) to our existence embedded within the broad spectrum of ancient spiritual literature.

Philosophical and metaphysical ideas were not unique to India; the Greeks had a fair share of those too. What is interesting is the fact that such philosophical ides from Europe migrated to become more meaningful scientific ideas. In India, these ideas died -replaced by mindless amount of rituals.

What could be the reason?

Swami Vivekananda blames the Brahmin Priests squarely for this. According to him, the priesthood community stand to loose the most if people moved away from Ritualistic /Superstitious practices to the idea of Supreme Brahman (the eternal fundamental cosmic entity). If everyone started to sit in cross legged position chanting Om and begin their internal realization, the temples and priests will go out of business. He offers no other scientific/archeological proof but the logic seems plausible.

I think the disappearance of the philosophical thoughts from Indian society is more to do with the attitude and life style. (The Brahmin priests might have contributed to this).

Ritualistic practices involve no thinking whatsoever. It is quick and the perceived benefits (from the point of view of the devotees) are huge. Understanding Pathangali’s Yoga Sutras or the Advaita philosophy of Adhi Shankara requires considerable amount of thinking- even to reject some of those to be absurd. Take this for example: "Not the non-existent existed, nor did the existent exist then" (ná ásat āsīt ná u sát āsīt tadânīm)- Nasadiya Sukta (Rig Veda). Whatever this is suppose to mean. My mind goes blank!

Rituals are easy, you pay the priest and he does all the hard work for you. It is all done and over within a mater of few hours and is usually followed by a large feast. On the other hand asking questions such as : “Who am I”, “Where do I come from”, “ What would happen to me after I die”, “ What do I mean by I”, etc. requires considerable amount of thinking. Finding answers to such philosophical questions offers no great benefits. But breaking coconuts to Lord Ganesha guarantees a pass in Math exam!

In the old days, perhaps wandering men had a lot of time to think about such complex ideas. These days the busy software engineers need fast and quick fix to everything. A quick tap in the cheeks, a few half swats before Ganehsa, a quick whiff of the holy fire, and a tiny smother of the holy ash is all the time people have. Paramathama or Para- Brahman (Supreme Soul) has no time and place. Priests will have to work overtime to make up the rest. In a way, Hinduism outsources the spiritual responsibility.

It is therefore not surprising that the only groups that have interest in the philosophical thoughts and can understand complex ideas happen to be the Atheists, Agnostic and the Skeptics! Perhaps these groups have the natural curiosity to browse thorugh these ideas. Or may be  if people start to understand philosophical ideas they move more towards skepticism and loose interest in religion and rituals( as in my case).

99% of the Hindus (although they claim ownership of these ideas) have no idea that such complex philosophic texts exist let alone understand what they mean. In reality rituals will continue to serve the hard boiled devotees. The advent of the internet continues to support this cause. All you have to do is give your credit card number and the priests will take care of everything. No you know why the titile-Fast Food God.

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About Me

I am an Engineer by profession. Spritual and Anit-guru advice is my part time job!