July 30, 2012

Is Bhakti relative?

           It would be a lie if I say I am a devotional person. I am not an atheist either. I lie somewhere in between being religious and not being devotional on a day to day basis. 
          When we were kids, mom had her own tailoring shop and she would work through out the nights especially during the festivals and sleep during the day. So, most of the times, it was our neighbours who send us all the delicious dishes. Many thanks to them..:) Mom is like me too, rather I am like her. She wouldn't do much prayers and stuff. Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali were the two festivals we celebrated with a bang. We still do. I was a complete atheist when I was in school and college. God knows why, this sudden surge of devotion sprung in me when I was in my masters. 
          It's this time of the year that makes me nervous. When the Sravana masam starts and all the women are piously celebrating the varalakshmi vratam. I have been doing it on and off after I got married. Sometimes out of bhakti (devotion) and sometimes out of bhayam (fear) and sometimes out of both. 
    This year, I didn't have both. May be because god has given me more than I need and I have been relcutantly neglecting him. As the day was approaching, I thought, okay even if I don't do the vratam, let me atleast do a regular pooja and I ended up not doing both. When friends asked me, I gave them my irrational logic like this: "We do Vratams of all kinds that the husband should long live, family should be blessed with wealth, peace etc.. But, is there one day in the whole year when the husband prays,Oh God! please grant my wife the best of health and give her the energy to take care of all our needs or fulfill all her (never ending) wish lists??" NO. right? 
      Having given this preposterous reason, I felt gratified for not doing anything. On friday night, hubby and me were having this general talk about health and doc checkup and he says slowly: "you know, I am having this slight pain in the chest and sometimes it goes back to my neck through my hands". All he is of 40. However, his parents have a history of cardiac problems. Startled, I almost froze and turned on the laptop immediately to book an appointment. As I wasn't successful, we called the advise nurse, who after her never ending questionnaire gave a ph appointment with a doctor the next day. He who hasn't seen a doctor in 5 years, exercises regularly and eats miserly. Then he revelas the truth that he had it for 3-4 months, then says an year, then says, I think 4-5 years. Hmm..He's going to the doctor this week. I know there's nothing to worry, but that moment just gave me a chill.
       The reason hubby's story came in between is, I started contemplating, see, I didn't do the pooja and this is what happens to me. I deserve it. And immediately decided, I am going to do it this friday. 
   Is bhakti relational? Isn't it human tendency to remember god only when they are in trouble? or Is it his duty to remind us that we are ignoring him in this incessant process of our survival for existence?
Whatever is the reason, moral of the story: Don't mess with god.

40 comments:

  1. Hope the doctor's visit allays all the fears.
    Yes, we do tend to remember God when we need something or something goes wrong in our lives. However, being just ritualistic without an iota of feeling in what is being done is worse than not following any ritual. As they say, bhakti is in the minds and not in any naivedyam. If we remember to remain grateful, I think we have offered our prayers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right Uma. That's what I believe in too, but you know there is this fear which dominates everything else. I donno how to put it..if it's fear or god that things will go wrong if I don't pray or is it devotion that causes the fear to pray?

      Delete
  2. OH MY you scared me :( I have completely messed up with GOD already, Being very agnostic and sort of following no tradition, rituals. And devotion tho total zero.

    But what you have told is true when there is no one to look forward to then its god we res-aught
    So I accept Bhakti is relational!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha...so are you following all the rituals and doing everything like a good girl? :P

      Delete
  3. Hey Latha, God never gives us any 'lessons', it is only our innate guilt that makes us feel so. Vrathams and special poojas were devised by our forebears for other reasons than to make us feel guilty for neglecting them. Do it by all means, but not out of any fear that God is punishing you. Hinduism gives us the freedom to worship God in any way we like. It is perhaps the only religion that even has something called 'nindhastuti' where one can actually abuse God and it is still taken by Him as prayer!

    So chill and take it easy. His diagnosis will be fine and it won't be because you decided to do the vratham :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dear big mommy, can I agree to you better? umm..more than fear, I think it's the feeling of pain to take the responsibility to wake up early in the morning and do the cooking, pooja and rush to work by 7 am is what scares me the most. And I am hating it. I want to do it with affection, not that I have to do it, but with a feeling 'I want to do it'. That's the reason, I just didn't do it this year. I know, his diagnosis has got nothing to do with my prayers. Even if it doesn't go well, I am not the kind to put the blame or question god, why did you do it to me like this? Thank you so much for your wise opinion..:)

      Delete
  4. It is human nature to turn to god only when there is a crisis.It is not wrong as even Gajendra or Draupadi sought divine intervention only when their efforts proved futile.It is for this reason Kunti mother of Pandavas wanted god to give her problems for her to be always thinking of Him.
    It is not in rituals but in the sincerity of devotion
    What is not acceptable however is to approach God with a shopping list of mundane wishes !!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KP sir, that is a valuable comment. I admire your insight in mythology and spirituality. And why is not acceptable to ask god to fulfill the unending wish lists? It's human nature to have desires and pray god to make them come true, right? I am not arguing here..haha, just was adding some sarcasm to my post..:) Thank you so much.

      Delete
  5. I like the last line " Dont mess with God ! "

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hahah...Ain't it true? Inspired from the line which bava keeps saying all the time, "Don't mess with Texas"..:P

      Delete
  6. Hey Latha,

    You have put down all the thoughts that will go on almost everyone's mind. I accept not to mes with God. Hope Sarath gets everything normal in his doctor appointment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Haritha, nice to hear from you after long time. But I know you had been following the blog regularly..:)I know what you mean..we want to do all the poojas on time and still are afraid of the work..ya, I think he'll be okay. You know how he eats and works out..let us see. thank you though..btw, don't ask him when you meet him..he'll freak out...:)

      Delete
  7. Nice post, Latha but whatever one does including Puja must come from within and not out of fear:) All the best to you and your hubby!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Rahul. True..totally agree..:)

      Delete
  8. Hmm ...I agree,Devotion is driven more by situation these days.... But not always...There do exist folks amongst us who are genuinely devotional no matter what! ..For the rest of us we need that pinch to get our prayers running :D
    Hope all is well with your hubby and all others in your family...My wishes and prayers for that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of us are so self engrossed in our lives that we hardly keep some time to pray god. True, that there are devotional people. My sis is one of them. Thank u so much for your kind words and concern.

      Delete
  9. Latha, I have also floated in the twilight zone for years and I distinctly remember the days when I remained a determined atheist. However, the growing piles of uncertainties and vagaries of life weakened my defenses and the fort of atheism eventually crumbled to a heap of rabble. I guess it makes your life a lot easier when you start believing in a superpower who seemingly is just a prayer away. The audience to your prayer though is his own prerogative and there are times he simply ignores some of them....

    Wishing the best to you and your husband.

    ps: It was an honour to learn about your mother.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. USP, you have summarised it so aptly. Exactly. Though what is supposed to happen always happens, the feeling that prayers will solve problems gives immeasurable strength. My husband is a very disciplined person. So, I bet he is a hard nut to crack..:)The doc said, it might be a muscle pain. And thanks for the kind words about my mother. Hey, btw, you didn't reply to my comment on your latest post? I'm waitingg....:(

      Delete
    2. Forgive me, Latha! Suranga's poem had dazzled me for a few minutes during which I couldn't set sight on the adjacent comments. The slip has been rectified since!

      Delete
    3. Ayyo..you don't have to apoligise...I knew it must have slipped your view and how mesmerising Suranga's poems can be. That's why I am here. To demand and grab your attention...you don't have to worry as long as you have demanding readers like me..hehe...:)

      Delete
  10. expect you to write such a sweet n honest post, Latha! You write from your heart...it is relaxing to read such pieces..
    coming to where I stand on this... i write this as i hold my niece on one of my arms..so forgive the typos...I have actively welcomed trouble in my life, as i consider all pain to be cleansers-to make one more wise, more clear, more focussed, and more deeply devotional. So i have in my life not followed hundreds of customs n beliefs n in fact actively gifted my happiness to others in prayers because i know at the end i will be the winner who takes it all. i have absolute faith in divine mother and i know she is not bound by rituals but the depth of my love for her...so i guess i m deeply devotional without being reverent to traditions...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes..you are. Your answer says it all. How spiritual you are! It shows how strong it has made you over the period of time. I missed you dear. And thx for the warm compliment.

      Delete
  11. I believe that God doesn't need our prayers - we need them to keep our sanity. Therefore, He would never punish us for not saying them :)
    I do hope your husband's health scare is nothing serious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with all of you wise people...I dont know if god need our prayers, but they're needed to maintain our sanity...ya, looks like it's nothing serious. Welcome here and thx for the comment...:)

      Delete
  12. Honestly, I am confused....still searching for answers. Every crisis gives me a new perspective...confuses me even more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too...when I hear of incidents like that on Zephyr's blog, it makes me very angry on god. But then, when we look at the other aspects, makes me belief in him stronger...

      Delete
  13. Of course bhakti is relational. Marx called religion the opium of the masses. Imagine a world with zero problems. War, diseases, death. Nothing. Who would want a god then?
    We make our own strengths and our own fears, and religion is both. :)
    Your new follower :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hahaha...true, if world was without any troubles, we wouldn't have worried for god as much..:) Thanks for following.

      Delete
  14. I was not very religious at any stage in my life. I never did any fasts or poojas. But, I did pray before exams :). I think religion is built around guilt and also because there are so many things that don't seem to within our control. I can call myself an atheist now. I feel that if prayer gives you strength, and faith heals, by all means go ahead. But, don't get drawn into the superstition that the higher power is testing you or that you will suffer if you don't pray. Do what your heart tells you. Take care. Wish you the best for your hubby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked that sentence, Religion is built around guilt :) Once, I heard someone say in an interview, the three most profitable business in the world are religion, politics, poverty. Thank you for your wise opinion. :) The doctor is going to call him tomorrow morning about test results.

      Delete
    2. You can always count on me for wisdom :). But, seriously how can I believe in a God looking out when I see the good people suffer and the vile and vicious thrive. But, I don't hold it against those who believe. I believe in goodness, in karma!

      Delete
    3. Sure dear. True. that's what my mom tells me all the time. Where is god? see how people are suffering and why is he blind? hmm..

      Delete
  15. don't mess with the god. but tell me honestly, if there is a person who has such conditions that either worship me (for human beings you can change worship to love, respect etc) or i will hurt you, what would you call that person?

    few years ago when my share prices were falling significantly, some of my friends asked me to chant Hanuman Chalisa :D and visit Hanuman temple. and i did that but only for 3 days.

    if someone believes in God, we need to respect his/her sentiments. let everyone be happy :). now i am going to read you poetry :D

    ReplyDelete
  16. Rofl.....omg...i cant stop laughing now....thank you Deb.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am a spiritual person and All I would say is, God has his own way of bringing people to his circle. But he wouldn't disturb someone who doesn't believe in him. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes and no. Yes, he has his own ways of bringing people to his circle. No, because, even you don't believe in him, he would still get you into his circle...:)

      Delete
  18. I am sure the visit to the doctor was overdue and I am also sure that it will lift away all worries. Religion is a very dicey space where many believe that vrats and daily rituals are the essence and for others it is the faith that looms around without any ritualistic obligations. So whichever works for you is the right way to go. But don't get behold by superstitions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for digging deep into my old posts and reading, Jas. Yes, everything was fine after the doctor's appointment. You are right, about religion.

      Delete
  19. I got the notification of this post yesterday :) and I didn't notice the dae but thought how come Sravan Masam is coming now
    Zephy has very rightly answered anything so there is nothing much to add.
    God has much more job than to worry about who is not keeping vrat right. So do if you want to. Today bhakti is about fulfilling demands. God you give me this, If you fulfill my wish I will give you this etc. So it is less bhakti more barter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahah...Srvana masam has to wait for another 5 more months :). I am surprised why the notification went out yesterday. Jas happened to comment and I thought she just dug inside to read some old posts :)Yep, Zephyr gave a very wise reply. And I agree to what you say to..it's just the human nature which makes us think like that.

      Delete