I saw this Hindi movie the other day, “Oh! My God”. Not, to give away the plot but it’s about an atheist who loses his shop to an earthquake and his claim is rejected by the insurance company as the incident is an ‘act of god’. So, he decides to sue ‘God’ for his loss. He summons all religious institutions to the court saying they represent God in this world. What happens next is to be seen in the movie. Some lines I loved from the movie:
- When God rescues Kanji (the protagonist played wonderfully by Paresh Rawal) from goons and gives him lift on his bike, Kanji asks him to drop him at his house, but, God stops nearby to his house and tells him, “My work is to show you the way, reaching the destination is your work”.
- When Kanji asks him, why he can’t stop crime, he replies, “I could’ve finished the Kurukshetra war in a second. But, it was not my war. Similarly, this is your war, go fight”.
- God disappears in the end, leaving behind only a key-chain which he used. Kanji is about to put it in his pocket when he hears God’s voice from the sky, “What are you doing, Kanji? Don’t save the key-chain as a souvenir and wear it like a talisman. I’m everywhere. Even in you. You don’t need things & talismans to feel close to me”.
This is a movie to be watched and recommended to others. Organized religion is hanged high and dry by this atheist. The movie resonated with me, and brought about few questions which I’ve been successful in evading for sometime. Faith is a gift I’m yet to receive, but, that does not mean I’m not a believer of God. I do believe in his existence but Kanji Lal’s logic pricked me to acknowledge the truth. However, whether I believe in religion and rituals is completely a different matter. So, I couldn’t stop myself from asking a few hypothetical questions to myself, answers to which I don’t have.
- If India & Pakistan is playing against each other, a situation where passion runs high, and both pray to God for success. Who does God decide should win? Both are equally devoted, and equally fervent in their prayer. Or, does it depend on their karma/horoscope/luck? And, if it is, where does God come-in here?
- There’s a dialogue in the movie where Akshay Kumar who plays God tells Kanji that people come to him with various exchange offers. Give me this, I’ll walk around your temple 108 times. Give me that, I’ll light 11 candles in your church. How many of us go to pilgrimages with an offer that once our wish comes true, we’ll shave our head and offer our hair to God? Almost all of us. Including myself. But, why do we not shave our head even before our wish comes true? Do we not believe in God?
- Another similar story I read in a book: once a village runs dry due to drought and the head of the village decides to do a yagna (sacrifice) for the benefit of the village. While they are praying a small child rushes to them with an umbrella. The priests scoff at her asking why she’s carrying an umbrella when it’s not raining. She replies, “I’m sure God will answer to my prayer and it will rain, so I brought one”. Why did only the girl carry an umbrella and not all? Where they skeptical? If so, why pray in the first place? If even the priests didn’t believe their prayers would be answered to whom are they preaching to?
- When people on the roads are dying of hunger and diseases why do religious institutions spend so much in building/expanding their own infrastructure than feeding them? Even when God incarnations themselves have asked to feed the hungry and needy? Why do most of us offer money to religious institutions to do charity than a volunteer organization? Only trust issues?
- Kanji Lal says religion either makes one needy & dependent or a terrorist. Wars have been fought for centuries in the name of God. More, blood has been spilled on his name than the peace it brought-in. Starting from the crusades, to the latest Al-Qaeda violence, from ’90s Mumbai blasts to latest Muzaffarnagar riots, religion has only cultivated a strong sense of community and an out right rejection of others. A classic stand of “you are either with us or against us”. What peace can we achieve if we hate/kill each other in the name of God?
The after life never held sway over me. Neither did heaven or hell (though some versions of it creep me out). I’ve always been more concerned about ‘who am I’, ‘what is the meaning of life’. I do not have answers to them neither do I think anyone does. But, the search continues. Reaching God is not a goal I have. It simply does not make sense. I don’t believe we are born to reach God. Realizing our own divinity I agree, but, I don’t see God as a destination or a goal. So, my view of God is more of a friend/guide. I’ve felt his presence in the stillness and calm of nature, in Mother Teresa and all the volunteers who held their hands to collect the vomit of a leper and cleaned them, who nursed them back to life. If Sai Baba went around living on alms, helping and curing people irrespective of their caste and creed, should that humanity be my religion? or the one which says he’ll grant my wish if I read his life history 11 times? I do not hold any contempt towards organized religion, but, for ‘lemming’ like following, for the ‘business’ of religion and for the aspect of religion which breeds hate towards each other. I think it’s high time for us to understand the difference between religion and God and, it’s time for us to be more spiritual than religious.
This is just my opinion and means no offense to any person, religion, caste or creed. To each his own.