I had a bit of time on my hands before dinner, so I switched on the television to waste the time. I caught the beginning of a show on NDTV which fascinated me, and got me thinking. Needless to say, the show had 4 or 5 participants with diametrically opposite views, approaches, ideologies and beliefs that is so typical of Indian television. You can have a look at the programme here. Having such people on a show ensures a continual shouting match as well as absolutely no reconciliation on the matter in issue.
Here is the nub of the matter. Rains have failed or are failing or are desperately short, depending on whom you ask. Many states are experiencing problems consequent to the rains being inadequate. Karnataka, BJP ruled, is one such state. The BJP, or Bharatiya Janata Party, is supposed to be a Hindu Nationalist party. The BJP Government in Karnataka has apparently directed that (i) all temples near water bodies and near rivers have to perform `parjanya japa’ (special prayer for rain God) on 27th July and 2nd August and (ii) all other temples will have to perform `jalabhisheka puja’ (showering holy water on idol). This is at an estimated cost of Rs 17 crores, which the Minister insisted is not being paid for by the State but is being met out of the respective temple treasuries. This was the subject of an almost 30 minute brawl on national television. The questions being raised were whether the State should be making such directives; would such directives not result in a rise in peoples beliefs in superstition, mumbo jumbo etc.; should not the 17 crores be spent on fodder and drinking water; and other such ridiculous questions? By the end of the programme the participants had worked up a substantial froth.
Here is why I was left scratching my head.
Personally, I have very little belief or faith in `God’, however, that is my view. I do wish that people read Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion before making up their minds. Anyway, I am in the minority here. How many of us perform myriad Poojas, whether it is on buying a house, getting married, buying a new car, Poojas on deaths, Poojas for ancestors, praying before an exam or the simple all purpose Satyanarayana Pooja? I am not even including those who pray every day. Many, if not most of us. I am referring to Poojas that are more than the daily prayer. How many of us have plastic and wooden `Gods’ in our car dashboard? For some reason a `God’ on the dashboard has to have, nestling alongside, a deodorant. Be that as it may, why do we who do pray and have `God’ in our car, look at the diktaat for rain with amusement, or, something bordering on ridicule? If you do believe in praying and asking `God’ to give you something, you should, logically, have no truck with the BJP government in Karnataka directing temples to perform the special Poojas.
You may well say, “Look here Stonethrower, I don’t understand how the State can order, direct or get involved in such matters”? I assume that `such’ means matters relating to performing Poojas? Well, I ask you, what about the State, India, giving you a subsidy for going on Haj? What about the State, India along with Jammu & Kashmir, organising or facilitating the Amarnath Yatra? How is either of these any different? What I am trying to get at is that if are a believer in `God’ then honestly and logically how can you say that asking for Poojas for rain is any different.
I am still scratching my head.