Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Every year, in the month of January, huge colossal crowds of men gather in the dense forested hilltop of Sabarimala, in Kerala. Some have come as far as hundreds of miles to witness a spectacle, that occurs only once a year, when the sun begins its transit into the zodiac of Capricorn (Makara).
On this day, from across the horizon, people witness the flickering of a bright light known as the Makara Jyoti (the light of Capricorn). Now this light emits from within the dense forests of Sabarimala, across the landscape briefly three times, signifying the divine presence of Lord Aiyappa (a popular South Indian deity).
And on this very day, people throng amongst thousands, to witness this divine spectacle.
A spectacle that has occurred year after year, since time immemorial.
Now as all things pertaining to faith, this spectacle too has not escaped the throes of controversy. At least in recent times. Rationalists and atheists have debunked this spectacle as being man made, and not divine, much to the chagrin of the believers across the country.
Of course this is not the first time, where this accusation has been made.
Nevertheless, year after year, the crowds grow and the spectacle continues.
Sometimes I wonder, so as to what the so called rationalists aim to achieve.
I believe that everyone is entitled to his beliefs and doubts.
Its only when people choose to stick their beliefs down others throats, it gets annoying.
India, is a land of a multitude of faiths and beliefs.
Faiths that have grown accustomed to being amongst each other for centuries. And as a consequence, there is a strange, nevertheless chaotic balance that connects every individual in this country.
Every village has a local legend. A local deity, local miracles, a haunting, and the sort.
Everyone has his or her version of the history of creation, mythology and philosophies pertaining to life.
Children are taught tales of mythological heroes of old, and stories of generosity and virtue. Creating a role model for them to look up to in their infant years.
No one has seen the heroes of old. Nor has anyone viewed their exploits. But its the belief, that at one point of time, there might have existed such an individual, known for his daring exploits. A role model to look up to, during the most darkest of our days, during the most trying circumstances.
And that's the purpose a belief serves.
In the current era, the most easiest thing to do is question, to doubt and to be skeptical of everything that goes on about us. To be rational about everything.
And how does being rational help?
It gives you answers.
It tells you fact for what it is. It unravels the truth.
So hypothetically you now do know the truth.
You now know that the heroes of old probably never existed. All the legends and stories are a sham.
There are no miracles. Just accidents and coincidences.
So there you are,
the truth is right before you.
What remains in an existence that is bereft of belief and hope?
Where do you go, in the darkest hour of your need, when you do not have the strength to face whats before you, and your loved ones are stand helpless?
In a world where belief is non existent, and faith is a thing of the past, now that you have everything figured out, all you have left, is to succumb to your fate.
End of story.
People underestimate the power of belief.
The power the human mind holds over sentient life.
One of the best known examples, in medical science is the placebo effect. Where test subjects were administered dummy pills with the belief that it will cure their migraines or cold or other assorted maladies. Though the pills contained nothing in them, the subjects reportedly felt better after their administration. The placebo effect is a small but sure example of how the human mind responds to even the most trivial of beliefs.
Basically, a system of beliefs, creates a feeling of well being. A feeling of purpose and direction in life, which no amount of rational explanation can achieve.
Even if some beliefs might sound ludicrous to a good deal of people, as long as it helps the individual in question, why take it away?
Whether or not a spectacle is divine or man made, whether or not legends and myths are real or fabrications, it is irrelevant, as long as it gives one hope, and feeling of being special to a great multitude of humans.
You cannot take away belief from us, because that is the one core thing that separates us from the other species. Its the one thing that makes us human.
Parents tell their children that they are special. Can you imagine a rational perspective where a child is told, "you are just like everyone else, there's nothing special or different about you".
Then what can the child possibly aspire towards?
Its something tot think about.
Beliefs are necessary.
Personal, spiritual or religious.
I choose to believe.
I believe in a purpose, an ideal and whatever legend or incident, that serves to guide humanity as a beacon of light through the darkest of days.
If there's one thing I do not believe in, its accidents and coincidence.
The world seems a lot more magical that way.
The rationalists can have their world. Mundane and devoid of any hope whatsoever.
I choose to stick to mine.