I am an agnostic atheist and many people don't accept my free thinking characteristic. I was born into a Hindu family but we weren't very religious. We had a praying altar and we'd pray twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, observe vegetarianism on Fridays and celebrate Hindu festivals with Diwali being the most grandly celebrated festival.
My Dad was not at all religious in his heyday; he wouldn't even clasp his hands in prayer let alone enter the prayers room and going to temples.
As old age caught up with my Dad, he began to explore his spirituality and religiously read the Bhagavad Gita, Vedas and Puranas. He also spent ample time praying. All I could see in my Dad was not a devout Hindu but a hypocrite.
In his prime, my Dad used to denounce religions arrogantly; he didn't give two fucks for espousing religion and did a cartwheel once he retired. As far as I am concerned my Dad was buying his way to heaven out of fear should be he be deemed an infidel and spend eternity rotting in hell or take up multiple rebirths. (He had, since, passed on.) I'd say he was afraid of his own shadow; he was fearing the unknown and an entity that is yet to be proved to exist. GOD. This was the first blow that dented my spirituality.
The second blow was when I started reading the Gita and Purans in my preteen age. While I love and wholly accept the science in Vedas, I don't tolerate the shit in Purans and the caste system. When I read about Draupadi having 5 husbands in Mahabharata, my mind voice went, "WTF???" I just couldn't digest it to this day as well as kings having many wives.
To atone the anomaly of such union in marriage, Draupadi is given a kanya status which is an elevated status of her retaining her virginity each morning after shower and remain a virgin all her life. The same applies to four other kanyas, Kunti, Draupadi's mother-in law, Mandodari who is Raavan's wife and two more unpopular ones, Ahalya and Tara. All 5 of them are known as Panchakanyas (Panch = 5, Kanyas = Virgins) and the chanting of their names is claimed to dispel corporeal sins.
Purans have tortuous plots and numerous versions as well as sub stories. Honestly, I am yet to peruse all of em Purans but I like to read with a nonjudgemental mind first, then dissect and judge by the measure of morality and generally proposed virtues which almost always contradicts with wrath over the tiniest of mistakes and the ensuing curses, prurience and violent tendencies. Ahimsa and acceptance and forgiveness are almost non existent in these protracted, multiple exegesis.
The third blow hit me when I was 14. I was deeply traumatised when I saw 3 of my eldest sisters got into trance of Hindu guarding Gods, namely Kaliamma and Muniswarar. I believe that those of you who are reading this, provided that you are a Hindu, these Gods are no strangers for you; temple shrines dedicated to these gods populate house verandahs, under the trees, beside drains and any empty ground at residential areas where Indians make up the majority of dwellers.
The scenes my sisters staged were anything but pure, holy and divine; they were ghastly, grotesque and utterly gruesome. They drank bottles of Guiness Stout, smoked cigars, chewed neem leaves and smeared vibuthi (Hindu holy ash normally streaked on the forehead of a Hindu devout denoting piousness.) vermillion powder, sandalwood and turmeric paste all over their faces and spoke in unearthly, distorted voices. In hindsight, it is hilariously mind boggling, my sisters' ostentatious act ups.
My eldest sister swigged a bottle of Guiness Stout down and nibbled on some neem leaves and began bestowing her blessings on us.
I was rather fearing than believing and I now know the modus operandi of my sisters getting into bouts of godly trances. I also know now that blind faith makes the brain go on a roller coaster of imaginations.
First of all, you convince yourself that there is a Supreme Being is omnipresent (exists everywhere) omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing) and that He is unquestionable. Then, you succumb to dichotomy and branching and give human and bestial forms to God and He is now multiple, contained in diversity and in Hinduism, some 333 million gods are said to be existent. Now, your mind is such convinced that you can 'download' the gods into you at any time of your fancy and you can send god back from where he came from (who knows where) when your propagating, boon bestowing, problem solving, evil withholding and fear mongering endeavours are done. Then, it would be time for the god to malai yereran. (climb the mountain) It is a slang for telling that god is now leaving the earthly being, bringing an end to the mortal and immortal mediating session until god decides to 'haunt' his devotee again. Strangely, no one gets into trance while working, eating and shitting. It is only at an earthly pre-determined time where gods would inhabit and then leave the body. God has no say here; human dictates, god obeys. Yennanggeda ithu? (What the heck is this?)
It is actually the work of brain in a dimension called belief. The person believes that god inhabits him or her and believes that every word they utter to the masses comes from god. The mind becomes imbibed with supernaturality mumbo jumbo until one can condition oneself both physically and mentally to attain masochism. This rings true during Thaipusam where men pierce themselves and dance around deliriously. Even David Blaine does that but it has no connection whatsoever to religion. Having tatoos being done also falls in this category. We will ooh and aah at people like David Blaine but when religion becomes a subject for debate, it would hit lots of raw nerves and allegations of being infidels will be thrown at those who question the preset sacrosanct pillars. Believing and truth are two different things and when it comes to god, the line is always blurred between the both.
My second sister is a very argumentative, obnoxious woman and she is not at good and talking terms with our extended family. Joining our eldest sister's act up, she swayed in trance, sporting and shaking bunches of neem leaves as pom poms like a cheerleader and called up our Grandma on the phone (God is tech savvy and I bet he is having iPhone 5 with Him) and told the aged lady that Kalliamma is on her right now and unless one of our uncle with whom she is having a vendetta prostrates at her feet and apologize, he will vomit blood and die.
The uncle of mine who is not religous is still alive and well until today; the fate my second sister cursed him with didn't even ruffle his hair. See how god is used to fulfil human agendas and vested interests? That is why we have so many religious denominations and sects. It is all contained in selfishness.
Now, my second sister is the one who is having life hard. Her 2 kindergartens are running in the red, her husband is an alcoholic and looks like a vagrant and is having a skin disease and her only daughter always falls ill. This sister of mine suffers from habitual cursing and denunciation. She even calls our father bloody bastard. Now I believe you readers are aware of the magnitude of my sister's odium and indecency. Law of attraction. You get what you give boomerang style and if the boomerang doesn't reach you, it will reach your posterity.
My 3rd sister granted me a boon that I'll get 5 As in PMR. I was hesitantly like, "Oh, okay Akka" and my heart literally jumped out of my ribcage when my sister in trance bellowed,"I am not your sister! I am Kaliamma!!" I just stood there like a lamp post, mouth, hung open.
I defied the vaaku (word) of Kaliama by scoring straight As in PMR and upon hearing the news, my 3rd sister enthused that Kaliamma had shown her amazing grace by granting me extra 2 As. I was wondering how on earth my sister had know what she had said when Kaliamma was professedly inhabiting her body. See, I had observed that as soon as the gods leave the body of my sisters, they'd get stuporous and feebly disclose that they do not know what they said while in trance but voila, there was my third sister, remembering what she said when she was supposedly to be under the influence of Kaliama. Contradicting no? If I had blind faith, this point would absolutely elude me but mine is a critical mind. I weigh things mathematically, scientifically and bloody logically.
At that time, I almost called all of the so-called otherworldy, ethereal and celestial stunts as dubakoor. (a big fat lie) But, of course, I didn't have the balls to do it because of the attachment I have to my family and the fear of being labelled as 'The Family Misfit. I was trying to fit in; I was too young and I was confused about my spirituality or the lack of it.When my peers were busy with their crushes and puppy love, my mind was abuzz with agnostic thoughts and there was a fear in me. The fear of sinning by having such generally unacceptable and blasphemous thoughts. A fear no human being should be subjected to.
Now, my family is having a newfound faith. They worship a Guru from India and He is touted to be God on Earth by my family and the members of this bordering cult religious group, making me wonder whether He is the Kalki avatar, the 10th avatar that is said will come to destroy the world, (note Nostradamus, Mayan calendar and 2012) so that we can get back to square one by exhumation.
This Guru's worship centers around meditation and the chanting of mantras glorifying the Guru.The group meets once every two weeks where they meditate together, organize activities and share personal experiences pertinent to the miracle maker contained within the Guru in the form of speech.
I attended several of the meetings and the first thing I was told to do is have unwavering faith in the Guru. It is the same with all religons, have faith and don't question. Not wanting to be defiant, I went with the flow. I knew after all that my connection to this Guru is contained in brevity.
Now, my immediate family renounced worshipping Hindu deities and now worship the Guru in the form of meditation and chanting mantras associated with the Guru who appears to be a tattered, haggard old man living in a rural area in South India.
Three of my aforementioned sisters and my brother found a new lease of spirituality in this new branch of religious thingy, their getting into trance days long gone and forgotten and since has become a subject of broach. They speak of seeing visions and geckos making noise during meditation and whatnot. I don't really buy their outlandish stories. They only come across as puerille and conjured up by an hyperactive brain.
If the Guru is that powerful, why don't he use his powers to liberate the world from suffering? Ok, let's shrink the issue; why don't He eradicate India from all of her crippling troubles? So many questions I have to ask..
See, I didn't become an agnostic atheist in one day; it was a gradual journey of many years of questioning, comparing, thinking, listening, reading, doubting and soul searching. I still need to know more and I will continue to explore my spirituality until I discover myself.