The God of Smaller Things

Oct 14, 2013 2 Comments by

Faith is a difficult word. Second only perhaps to the concept of human love in matters of incertitude, interpretation, and execution, it is almost a mystery to agnostics on my side of the aisle. Some believe it can move mountains. Some convict it of appalling atrocities. Some reconcile with it under the pretext of sundry magic. And some, like me, struggle all life to tame it into a neat box of finite, comprehendible dimensions. And, most certainly, fail on a daily basis.

Faith is also an expensive word. The 51 inch TV screen in my drawing room stands testimony to that. As does the hypothesis behind democratic governments , advertising, consumerism and global peace treaties. Faith in our times is complex and functional , and more a subject of  manipulation, than of consideration. Faith can buy and sell, shake economies, and wage wars. But for now, amidst all the different verticals and sub-verticals of the intricate concept of human faith, I wish to concentrate on a simpler manifestation. Lets call it GOD.

What exactly is faith in GOD? I have no answers to that, but  have been working relentlessly on the discovery for more than a decade now. My first disquieting tryst with faith dates back to third grade, when I had hoped that my prayers would save my ailing cat. They didn’t of course, and from that day, the cynic in my head never looked back. I have questioned the notion of faith in its discerning entirety ever since, from the pus-laden sores on hundreds of feet travelling to Deoghar every year in the month of Savan, to the mutilated vaginas of a thousand Muslim women in Gujarat in the 2002 riots, to massive animal sacrifice during Ambubachi in Assam, to the circumcision of millions of  Muslim infants across the world ,to the drunken stupor of Naga sadhus in Kumbh Mela. I have scavenged for discrete quanta of truth in the gemstones adorning thousands of hands, in little packets of ash and hibiscus, and in a handful tuft of hair shaved off a little girl’s pink scalp- as an offering to one of the 330 million Hindu gods. Alas, I have found no discerning validation.

So, unlike most days, as I wake up today to loud chants of Vedic mantra in my house and realise that it is time for the all-important  Satyanarayan Pooja, my cynicism takes over my mind and body. For more than a month now, on every auspicious Tuesday morning, my father has been seen going out to buy five different varieties of fruits, five varieties of vegatables, karpur and milk, incense sticks and marigold flowers, bel patra and little diyas. The wonderful miniature wooden temple in the house, housing more than thirty odd varieties of Hindu gods and goddesses , once carved out in precise accordance with my mother’s whims, and adorned with every variety of artificial garland available in the market, would be adorned a little more.The priest will arrive and the elaborate process to please the gods will hence begin.



Now whether or not the gods will be pleased, I do not know. Of all things, the priest will definitely be. Not that I have many reasons to pray for his displeasure, the fine young immaculate-looking man that he seems to be. But for clauses to do with this clan of religious professionals, clauses both tested and verified over decades, I definitely have my reasons to be wary of them. For starters, I know that he has been lying about being this immaculate. As an adolescent, he has watched as much pornographic content that his son does this day. His conscience has as many dark craters from cheating his clients in various ways, as a common man’s: a non-Brahmin’s has. To be honest, I couldn’t care less for either of the reasons. If everyone in the extended hierarchy of the corporate and government machinery of the country can err, so can he. What irks me is that this breed of professionals  (and here I intend to include everyone involved in that intricate web of religious predicaments and activities) intend to market something that either does not exist, or even if it does, should be confined to sterilized jars of faith in the common man’s mind and soul. Marketing God (with a capital G) ,no matter how difficult and/or dangerous  an affair it might be, is foul play.

So, today, as I watch my no-nonsense, matter-of-fact father bow down before the gods, and my asthmatic, always-complaining-of-pollution-and-pollen-grains mother happily breathe in the rich-in-carbon-monoxide air leaving the numerous diyas, I cannot help finding a paradox.. Who exactly is God? And how exactly do you identify him? In a world where countless wars are fought and rivers of blood flow over the battle of identities, how is it so easy to identify that God of our dreams? In a world where millions of refugees are sentenced to dismal lives just because their “identities” are not recorded on pieces of paper, a world where the lack of “identity” denies love and respect to an illegitimate child, how is it that God falls as an easy exception?

Now,even if God does exist, what exactly is the need for religion? Would not it suffice to know that there is an omnipotent, omnipresent power somewhere with a halo over his head, ready to mend things that go wrong? Is not religion just another addition to the countless air-tight compartments we have built in this world, in order to objectively/subjectively “classify” men into the various identities they must portray on their foreheads all life, and fight wars over? Give this a solemn moment’s thought, and you might just end up agreeing with me. Unless of course, you are a man greatly indisposed to logic.

For once, sisters and brothers of the world, think of what your God is, and what you want him/her/it to be. It can be ‘nothing’ of course, in which case, I’ll welcome you to my league with open arms. It can be a faith; if that’s the case, let it make you conquer mountains. It can be the think-tank behind making the Tirupati Temple the ‘richest’ temple in the country, a strange adjective indeed for a place of religious worship. It can also be a black pebble, a clay idol, or a stalactite in the Great Himalayas. Or, it can be your karma, and can pinch your conscience every-time you stare at a beggar’s breasts from behind your Ray-Ban shades and refuse her a penny or two .Or pelt a stone at a street dog. Or bang your Mercedes-Benz into men sleeping on a pavement. Or rape a five year old.

Let God, The merciful, make it to where it matters. For as it is, there are too many by-lanes on that road he treads.


About the author :

Trisha is an engineering pass out from BIT Mesra who runs a blog called Leftovers from a Black Palette. Currently working in IOCL, she is an avid reader, and loves to write. Check out her blog for more details.

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2 Responses to “The God of Smaller Things”

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