PAPA’S PRAYERS

The magnificent bronze bell hangs high. The night has fallen and the light of a hundreds of diyas is shimmering on it. The aarti starts. The temple echoes with the sound of a thousand prayers. The bells are resonating. They create a medley of tones, some high and some feeble. The whiff of burning ghee is filling the air. It is enveloping me all around. Soon, my mind wanders to another place, one I hadn’t visited in a long time.

Its 1999, and the sun is pouring in through the windows, turning the room a shade of yellow. The fan is ferociously running at full speed, fighting against the summer air. I am lying on my bed, awake but in no hurry to get up. Now, the fan is slowing down. Like every other day, my Mamma has switched it off in a last attempt to wake me up on a Monday morning. “It’s time!” she screams from the kitchen. I force myself to sleep again, trying to ignore the heat which the sun is forcing in, but all my attempts fail. It is a hot Monday morning with no fan, and that means that I have to get up.

I walk into the small living room, where the bright red radio sits proudly on the arm rest of my Papa’s favorite sofa. It is turned on at full volume. A loud bhajan is streaming from its small speakers, the one they play every morning. I do not like it. Why does he have to play it early in the morning?! Its already so hard getting up. I find him in the kitchen, where a small cabinet has been converted into a mandir for him. He is in his blue towel and is chanting the Hanuman Chalisa. There are fresh bananas kept at Ganesha’s feet and an agarbatti is glowing fiery red at a corner. The kitchen is smoky with the sweet fragrance of jasmine, which the exhaust fan is trying to throw out. Papa turns and he has a solemn look on his face. Without a word, he hands me a piece of the banana. The banana smells of the agarbatti too. I eat it greedily nevertheless. I wonder why he is so silent when he prays. There are no words, no expression, just a blank look. He doesn’t tell me why. I think I will never understand.

After my bath, I see him on his favorite sofa, humming along to the radio bhajans. He is skimming through the newspaper and sipping chai. He looks happy. “Come, have breakfast!” he says.

The pandits of the temple are marching round the temple. They each hold a bronze platter with a big diya on it. Round and round they go. At the end of the aarti, we are all handed the Prasad. With my hands full of sliced sweet bananas, I look up and see the starry night. And a smile spreads across my face. Life is good, I think to myself. I thank Papa. He knew that someday, I would understand it all.

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A Chicken Story: The connotation: 1

A dramatic story where a brave and curious chicken questions the blind faith of society and hence saves it from ignorance and exploitation. True, that certainly would be the summary of the articles formerly presented. But within lies an analysis of what we call in modern years, religion. Here I dismantle the story down to its essence.

The creation of religion by beings developing an understanding of their surroundings: Just as the ‘prophet’ came up with an explanation for not stopping when you’re crossing the street, once upon a time people, human beings, did not understand their surroundings. When lightning flashed or thunder sounded, they did not know the cause, a virtue called ignorance. When people murdered,pillaged or raped, they knew instinctively deep inside that something was wrong, but not why. Again, the cause is ignorance, since people did not understand psychology, that morals are written into our genes. Not so much that  we hold others before our needs, but not so less that we completely disregard them.

One more factor was laws. At the time, countries were small and unstable. The laws of one ruler today may not be the same tomorrow. If people were told to stop fighting, they saw no cause. This was the same case with countries: Peace would be an impossibility in such unstable times.Rulers and advisers knew this. They needed something to hold the people together, something that no one would question. They needed something similar to discipline in the military: Something that would prevent the thought of mutiny from even forming in their minds.

The first two factors can be made into one: Ignorance, or better put, cognital dissonance. People cannot easily handle uncertainty. If a doubt forms in their minds, it must be cleared soon or forgotten. The latter would not be possible in most cases like in science and morals, and security. One had to know who one’s tribe was, and who was his enemy. It was vital to survival.

So, when science lacked the answers, the people had to find a new source: Religion. The idea of an almighty who judges you based on your behavior, holds you fast to your moral code, defines tribe hierarchy, and ALSO affects the universe through the mediums we were yet to understand proved quite convenient. People would now obey laws, have a social hierarchy, and have an ‘understanding’ of the universe, logically flawed though it may be. Often, the fundamental laws of a religion, and its ‘explanation’ of the universe would be based on the state of society during the time of its birth. Examples, you ask?

Consider these three properties of proper, undiluted Christianity.

The idea of requiring biblical study to be eligible for marriage.

The idea that children must be raised to never question their parents.

The idea that marriage should stay within the subgroup.

What is common between them? They ensure that Christianity would be passed on generation to generation, and would never be questioned. The hierarchy of royalty above land lords above peasants and so on would be maintained This was important to the Roman empire, because spread of Christianity would ensure their hold on conquered people.

Move on to Islam. Consider these:

The rule that a husband may have up to five wives as long as they consent. This rule came up during the Arab wars. It was a time when men went off to war, and women were widowed in the thousands. Since women had few (Or no) avenues of employment at the time (Again due to religion), men were required to consent to looking after more than one woman, leading to polygamy.

Another rule forbids Islamic women from marrying men of other religions, while permitting Islamic men to do so. The underlying logic being that, in that day and age, male dominance would ensure the man’s views would guide the family.

These are political traits, meant to ensure survival of a religion. Now move on to preventing cognital dissonance.

The view that the world is the centre of the universe, or rather the solar system since that was the extent of the known universe at the time, is a good example.

The view that the universe was created by ‘God’ Shiva through his celestial dance in Hinduism is another example.

Both of these claims have been refuted by science so far, but their purpose is evident. For a man to believe and follow laws made by another may be difficult. But what if the laws were said to be created by a supreme all-knowing, kind but vengeful, loving but torturous being who could reduce all you stand for to nothing?

Obvious, really.

The chickens made their God for hierarchy, a farce of knowledge and to justify morals. Well, so did we.

 

 

 

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A chicken Story II

Going back to doodles, we find he’s in a difficult situation. He knows what’s happening is wrong, that the holy egg wouldn’t want to harm poor coodles, who’s never hurt anyone. But he looks around, and he sees everyone else who believes, and he decides all of them can’t be wrong. Right before his eyes, they burn coodles to death.

As years pass, more and more chickens believe in the holy egg and his love, and how he taught his followers to follow the one path across the street. In the mean time, roodles has become a leader among the chickens, and goes place to place preaching, and living in luxury because he’s the chosen voice of the holy egg. He tells people that if someone doesn’t believe in the holy egg, they were created by the evil cat Beelzebub to destroy Egg’s goodness. He also tells them that the Cat’s favourite pastime is stewing his own followers, and that the sins of believers will be forgotten no matter how heinous, if they pray hard enough.

While they cross this large street, sometimes a car would run over a chicken, or a chicken would find a bag of feed lying on the ground. Roodles tells them that it’s the will of God, that anyone who angers Him will get run over, and those who love him will get bags of feed or other goodies.

Doodles doesn’t like this either. Why would Egg run over the poor chickens when they hadn’t crossed the street yet? What if a good chicken got run over? Why did Egg not let him cross the street? So one day, he gets on with his pals and puts up cameras at different points along the street. When they check the videos, they find that it was humans and some other creatures who put up the feed and killed the chickens. When noodles tried to find out whether humans did work for Egg, he finds that they don’t know about him and really don’t care.

Now doodles is confused. A lot of the stuff roodles said was proved wrong, and he could explain why Egg wasn’t behind the feed or the cars.

The story doesn’t end here. So wait for the sequel, and be ready for it!

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A chicken Story I

Why did the chicken cross the road? to get to the other side.
Now this joke is cliched, but let’s analyse it anyway.From the chicken’s perspective for a change. To Mr doodles, there is no road, or side for that matter. He simply believes that things might be better for him there. So he walks on oblivious of the road around him, its sights and smells or the other chickens. At least for the most part.
Now there’s a rule to this crossing: You can only go in one direction. You can go faster or slower, that’s up to you. You can take a tunnel or fly with a catapult, that’s up to you too.
Now on the way, doodles sees noodles standing on the middle of the crossing. When he asks why, he tells him that its because he can’t understand why they’re walking anyway. They should make a chair that can glide across, or oh! a catapult. Noodles also meets a mr coodles, who’s admiring the beauty of the road,eating the worms and looking at the other chickens.
This confuses him, because no one has done this sort of thing before. He tells his other friend roodles about it. Roodles gets scared as well, so gets some other chickens and tells these two to stop what they’re doing. He tells them that across is a large bowl of boiling water where these ‘strange’ chickens are going to get stewed while the rest of them have a good time at the farm.

 

 

noodles gets scared and walks on, but coodles doesn’t like what roodles is saying. He decides he’s going to stay till he’s happy, and sits down. Roodles, in the mean time notices that all the chickens seem scared after his ‘stew’ talk, and tells them that coodles is going against the laws of the Holy Egg, and tells them to kill him, else they’ll all get stewed. Besides, anyone who helps gets a free entry to the best farm. noodles watches on sadly, and wants to tell them that someone as big as the Holy Egg would want everyone to be happy, but doesn’t because he’s not sure. Now what’s this story about? Well if its not obvious, stay tuned.

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A cross towers.

BOOM. That’s a long story short on the terrorist hijack of the four planes American Airlines flight 11, United Airlines flight 175, American Airlines flight 77, and United Airlines flight 93 and their devastating crash into the WTO and the Pentagon. The incident lead to nearly three thousand deaths and billions of dollars of damage. The Al Qaeda claimed the incident as its work, and the world was outraged. The twin towers incident lead to the Afghan war on terror by the U.S. which ultimately lead to Osama Bin Laden’s death. Security and anti terrorist measures were beefed up across the globe. On the whole, the attack was considered an atrocity by the worst of Islam on the world.
Then they found the World Trade Center cross, a structure made from cross beams used in the basic structure which had proportions similar to that of a christian cross.
It became a symbol of hope, a sign that America would grow from the incident and become stronger than before. Thousands visited the structure, which was specially placed on a pedestal for all to see.
Now what’s wrong with this you ask? Well, technically nothing, philosophically speaking, this one question rises:
Why are the terrorists responsible for the crash and devastation, and God responsible for the ‘symbol of hope and faith’, a permutation of the many shapes possible from the collapse of a building made from t-beams and similar crossbeams? Why was Osama and Al Qaeda vilified while God hero worshiped?
Simply put, why is God not to blame for the incident, and why can’t the terrorists be praised for the new symbol of hope they created?
Now, the author condones the incident and expresses his sympathies for all those affected. He does not mean to infringe on people’s rights, but just their thoughts. Why is God’s Exalted pedestal raised higher for every good thing that happens in the world, but never lowered for events that cause pain and sorrow across the world?
Its just food for thought.

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