Amrita considered herself to be fairly religious. That’s because she believed in all religions.
As she adjusted the veil over her head while making an entry into the Golden temple, something inside her stirred. What made the tenth guru declare a separate religion? Was it not further polarization of the society? Who is to be held accountable for the aftermaths of friction between the minor religious group and the parent group? Having grown up in a decade that was recuperating from the consequences of the friction, she had heard enough storied and met several survivors who had hair raising stories to tell. Amrita shook her head and clucked her tongue to wave off the trail of thoughts, lest she be trapped in the vicious circle of Ws and H of circumstances that were and those that are.
The veil kept slipping and she was now getting irritated with the repetitive activity. Just at that moment she saw a boy hardly the age of her elder son, adjust his own handkerchief over his head and tie the ends into a knot to prevent the piece of cloth from flying away. Another thought clouded her mind.
Probably that’s the reason I keep coming back to a Gurudwara. This community has equal rules for all. They do not discriminate between a man and woman by setting different standards. Or that is atleast what I know of. I know for sure that in my religion, so much is imposed as only a woman’s duty that sometimes it feels unfair.
Amrita had often been miffed by the compulsory fasting rules for women in her religion. She observed most of the rituals followed ardently by her mother and mother-in-law, only as a mark of respect for them. But she really did not understand the point of it all. No! She wasn’t an atheist. She firmly believed in THE ONE who worked as the master planner with a blue print of this world. It’s just that she wasn’t sure how religion was connected to god. According to her, religion was the most ancient strategy to divide the mankind for the perpetrators to gain from the division.
“Even if one was to believe that different gods did exist for different religions, I can’t imagine them running a hateful propaganda against each other up in the so called heaven.” Amrita was often spotted thinking out loud her views about God and religion. “More over if all Gods are equals then how does it matter, what practices or rituals I follow or not. Isn’t believing in the fact that a God exists and remaining virtues in my thoughts and actions towards the mankind the most important thing?”, she quipped at anyone who disagreed, which was in plenty.
A lot of Amrita and her sister’s rationale towards religion was unconventional because they came from a town which came into inception only post independence and people from several ethnicities had come together and made the town self sufficient. Though the natives were the Punjabi community, but she grew up in a convent school where her classmates formed a fair percentage of people from all religions and ethnic backgrounds. While they had school organized visits to the church every Christmas, they went to gurudwars with their friends from the sikh community. By the function of the society they grew up in they could never form any extremist view of religion. It was something they enjoyed, but not be defined by. But as she grew up and read about the world around her, Amrita was bewildered by the impact that religion could have on people’s thoughts and actions.
As a child Amrita had been extremely fascinated by mythological stories. “I know I am still guilty of being fascinated by Lord Krishna who is like an epitome of the practical God.’, she had once admitted to Raghav while they were dating. But the very idea of practicing religion did not go down well with her. The rebel in her also impacted her role as a mother. She hated to push her kids too much towards religious ceremoines at home. While she did not dissuade them from learning the virtues of praying and paying obedience to God and elders, she was extremely against them being overtly involved in the prolonged religious rituals or be exposed to any religion related discussions.
Amrita along with her sister had often discussed the dichotomy of the so called religious elders. One day while at their mum’s place, they were sitting with their mom while she watched a mythological program based on a king’s life who in the age of bigamy, decided to marry just once. Amrita sighed as she told Smita how her mother-in-law too was hooked on to this serial.
Once the sisters had had a hearty laugh, their attention turned back to the show. The plot was showing how everyone had failed to pick up Lord Shiva’s arc and the subsequent entry of Ram (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu) with his brother Lakshman and his Guru to the venue of Sita’s Swayamwar. Though hope and anxiety were evident among King Janak’s family members, but Sita looked particularly hopeful and i must say desperate for Ram to succeed in picking up the Dhanush, a condition put down by her father for anyone who wished to get married to Sita.
At this Smita quipped, “Swayamwar and all is just an excuse. It is so evident that Site is already infatuated or attracted towards him.” To this Amrita added that having read the Ramayana, it is quite evident that love had already blossomed between them by the time things came to this Swayamwar.
The discussion then drifted to the realization that all the major pillars of Hindu Mythology are guilty of propagating love relationships.
Getting back to her favorite GOD, Amrita added, “Lord Krishna’s name has almost ceased to exist alone and he is worshiped along with Radha. Love tales of Radha and Krishna are have been subject to enough adoration as well as discussion. And here, Lord Krishna did not even marry Radha. Yet their love is the epitome of commitment and passion for all who consider him as their deity.”
“And di, do not forget, Lord Shiva who despite being a ‘Yogi’ living an austere life on Mt. Kailash is not devoid of love and passion. After a lot of persuasion and cajoling he gave in to Sati’s wish and made her his bride. Sati re-incarnated as Parvati in another life and her love for Shiva also took her to Mount Kailash where she was successful in pleasing Lord Shiva enough so he would agree to marry her. The story of their marriage and re-marriage and their ‘Grahastha’ life is a well-known mythological legend.” Smita added with excitement, as their mom chose to ignore their ranting and focused on her serial.
“If these Gods were not devoid of feelings of love, passion and endearment; then why is it so that the very same devotees of these deities refuse to acknowledge and respect the existence of such emotions among their kids. Why is love marriage such a taboo in most communities in our religion driven country?’ Smita was flabbergast by now.
“It is so ironic that most of the parents in my religion start to plan for their kids wedding almost from the moment they are born, how and why do they not take into account a possibility that their Ram/Krishna/Shiva may find a Seeta/Radha/Sati or vice-versa for themselves without their intervention.”, Amrita pondered.