“I am not an atheist, but I don’t visit famous places of worship. Most of them have become places of commercialisation. We don’t find God there anymore,” said a 60-year-old man who always believed that ‘God’ had a way of taking care of us no matter what.
On a recent reluctant visit to a very famous place of worship in a metro city of India, I had a first-hand experience. Although I was all ‘let’s explore what makes the place such a big deal’ and ‘how does it look from inside’, I saw a huge queue to enter the place and decided to stay put outside as others accompanying me went in.
Then began the evening that wasn’t full of peace – as that is what is expected from a place of worship – but full of utter chaos and insults. Passing through the so-called security check where the woman guard only touched one of my pockets (without a metal detector), not bothering to check my wallet and simply let me go.
Thinking that it was their lack of efficiency and that they were outnumbered by the massive number of believers, I am not taking that argument further. I am beginning another one.
I saw that to get a few seconds ‘glimpse of God’ one had to pay a fee of ₹50 per person. I had no idea that God demanded money – I had no idea that God resided in only one place and in all the other places God was absent. It seemed silly to me how everyone would put on their best behaviour inside the walls but begin behaving inhuman outside. Maybe they forgot the thing about God being everywhere and within. Do they think that humans could confine God to a certain thousand square feet? Do they think that God was going to act like a human being and make people wait to see him simply because he/she is perceived to be powerful?
Thinking that it was all about belief, I am not taking that argument further. I am beginning another one.
Most of our epics, be it of any religion teach us to be human first. But if you commit the crime of leaving your footwear near the exit of the place of worship, with a person you know guarding it, insults will be rained on you. A woman will come and talk to you like you are her slave and scream. She will then threaten to pick up your footwear and throw them in the dustbin. She actually does that. Maybe she needs to understand that she is the ‘house of God’? Even though her superiors instructed her to not let people leave their footwear anywhere but at the designated place, should she talk like that?
Thinking that she must be frustrated with life and fought with someone that day, I am not taking that argument further. I am beginning another one.
You manage to stand through the 20-25 minutes in the bee-line to see ‘God’ and then are shoved and pushed by others, with the pundits screaming at you to move. So, you catch a glimpse of God for a few seconds (sometimes not even that). What happened to prayer, peace and conversation? What happened to meditation, respect and time to spend with God?
Thinking that they would accumulate a huge crowd within the premises if they didn’t push and shove, I am not taking that argument further. I am beginning another one. And this one is important.
Are we too blinded to see that most places of worship have become a source of minting money? Have we forgotten what ‘worship’ really meant? Are we so naive to think that God exists only in places of worship and at certain places of worship, he exists more? When I put it this way don’t you find it strange? Even hardcore theists understand this but what happens to our common sense when we throng to these famous places in hope for wish fulfilment?
Theism has got nothing to do with visiting places of worship and praying for 2 seconds to idols in a crowd of a few hundred that does nothing but spur chaos. There are many beautiful temples, mosques, gurudwaras, churches etc. that are free of commercialisation and peaceful enough to let people reflect upon their deeds and connect with themselves. These places are usually small and simple. This is where you connect with yourself – and since God is within us – you connect with God.
What is God? Who is God? Think about it.
I want you to take this argument further. I am not beginning another one.
Disclaimer: The author does not intend to hurt the religious sentiments of anyone.