Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Source of Atheism

"Yaar, I think extending the holiday to Monday will be an issue. I have a saawan ending fast that day. Where will I get fresh fruits?"
"Why don't you just postpone the fast? Works out for all us", I suggested.
She gave an astounding dirty look - the kind I receive for saying really dumb things, not the usual banter like the comment above.
"I guess you are not religious", she said....

I'd like to state at the onset that we have received a balanced perspective at home when it comes to religion. Mom has been neutral about it, believing in some rituals but letting us decide what we want to pursue. But its my dad's disposition which appealed more to me. And I would not merely call it atheism. It went a step beyond that.

This happened around a decade ago. As we were passing by a crossing in Delhi, we (my sister and I) habitually sniggered at some signboard. "Kya naam hai jagah ka!" my sister giggled, "Jhandewalan!"

Dad interrupted our funny moment, "Do you know about the famous Jhandelwalan Temple?"

"No."

"Really? You don't know the story of Jhande-waali mata?"

"No. What's it about?", I asked.

"Jhande-Wali mata is an avatar of Maa Durga. The lord of all Asuras did penance and tapasya for a long time. Seeing his unwavering faith, the devas came down to earth to talk to him. This king asked for a mega-wish."

"What wish?", I asked

"The king said my death should be caused neither by a weapon nor by bare hands, neither be on ground or in the air, neither caused by man or a woman. After this wish was granted, he was being very evil to the kingdom. To counter this, Maa Durga appeared on earth as Jhandewali mata. She went to the palace with her red flag. The king was lying on the bed snoring. She stuck the flag through his heart. The flag was technically not a weapon. And he was lying on the bed, which is neither ground or sky. So the king died."

"But isn't Jhandewali mata a woman?"

"Yes. But she wasn't attractive."

"But doesn't that still count?"

At this point he laughed out loud and said, "I am just kidding. They all have similar stories. I just made this one up!"

And thus were sown the strong healthy seeds of atheism. I have walked this path successfully for the last ten years - happy, hassle-free and without ever voluntarily having skipped a meal. Its wonderful.

But if you dig deep into these stories (if you consider my shallow googling as any source of research), these mythological tales follow a standard meta-template for driving home moral lessons. Some devilish powerful king/rishi does enough penance to perturb the Devas. These men, bound by the legislative laws of the three worlds are forced to grant a wish to him. The evil man asks for a complicated wish which exudes wickedness. Instead of enjoying these days having fun, he decides to wreck havoc on the kingdom - doing cliche' stuff like oppressing the devas and imposing taxes. The devas are scared of skipping these annual payments. Helpless, they all run to the appropriate god (usually Vishnu) who at that point of time is always found relaxing in his Lazyboy 2000.

the la-z-boy recliner

Somehow these gods are always free of appointments and amiable to desperate requests of half clad wimp devas.. I assumed that if you are the protector of the universe you'd have your platter full. But it turns out Gods are good at time management too.

Then God creates an avatar which intelligently exploits loopholes in the wish granted to the devilish earthling. At the appropriate moment, while the peaceful residents of the kingdom watch in suspense, the villain is slain by god. The evil supporters are stumped at this point - 'How could he? I thought we had the perfect wish! I will you get you next time Scooby Doo'

As blood drips from god's bare hands, he smiles- packing in emotions of peace, righteousness and virtue.

(Camera fades away. God removes fake jewelry from his chest - "Man that was heavy!")

Real mythological stories:
Dashavatar of Lord Vishnu

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Oye Hoe Dilli
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5 comments:

  1. jeez! but then I found myself laughin like hell.

    I just hope that you dont recieve comments from those fanatic trolls.

    loved the lazyboy 2000 and time management jibe!

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  2. Nice One :)

    In fact reminds me of a time in not too recent past when I used to explore wikipedia for all religion relatd stuff and then bore the unsuspecting 'L' junta with my discourses related to 'trivia' about these religions and gods.

    In fact during one discussion on age of Lord Krishna, one of the prof from HR department appeared at Guptaji's shop and we started seeking inputs from him ... which was about guessing his age during the Mahabharata war!!!

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  3. har har! I like your dad's perspective, I must say.

    "But isn't Jhandewali mata a woman?"
    "Yes. But she wasn't attractive."

    Brilliant.

    And I also suggest to let your total weirdness ooze into your normal life. It will make your drab days of selling shampoo a lot more interested.

    And yes, not 'slayed'. Slain.

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  4. @maxdavinci: Guess the fanatics aren't much into blogging yet. No curses hurled my way, yet.

    @Nikesh: I am guessing it was Prof HR :)

    @Harish: thanks for the public spelling correction :D

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