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All It Took Was 7 Days

All It Took Was 7 Days

October 08, 2011

Beliefs, tolerance, values, religion. Sometimes you have to wonder where it all goes wrong and how we can make it right.

Genesis, is a word whose etymology remains perplexing to me. Meaning “in the beginning” in Hebrew, in the beginning it seemed quite an acceptable theory to me, when put forth by my nanny. Of course, I was about 5 at the time and I was also convinced that Frankfurt was in France and that I could catch the tooth fairy (this in my opinion is still not out of the realm of possibility). As a not entirely unbiased observer, however, the extent of difference in the levels of reconciliation between science and religion in different religions is quite startling.

I lived half my life in Nigeria, with most of my time being spent in the company of good-natured fanatic Christians who would insist that I should thank Jesus for dying for my sins. Growing up, I was quite the stickler for my religion - Hinduism, and had I been more creatively inclined I would have sported t-shirts that testified to this. However, I was also raised to believe quite simply that all Gods are equal, which in effect translated to respect for other religions. At least it ensured that I would never deny or undermine any other religion. A trait that I’ve found isn’t imbibed as easily in some others.

Maybe it is the lack of a competing theory to Genesis in most other religions that made Darwin less of an enemy and more of an intellectual acquaintance from beyond the grave, to some of us. For me, the Ramayana and Mahabharata were incorporated as bedtime stories in line with ‘survival of the fittest’. An incredibly embellished tale that in effect said ‘we evolved from monkeys and then Good triumphed over Evil, Rama built some bridges and Krishna and his wives lived happily ever after’.

The thought that these views could be so categorically accepted or dismissed occurred to me when I first saw a twenty Dollar bill and the words “In God we trust” jumped out at me (I was also a tad disappointed that the bill wasn’t as green as they looked in cartoons). It struck me as increasingly odd each time I was told conflicting tales from the Bible (courtesy of Grace, my friend and babysitter) and the Gita (mom mostly). The ‘my way is the only way’ attitude towards beliefs made me uncomfortable. Staying now in Chennai, where most of the time my company consists of hordes of Hindus, a special Sikh friend and a couple of Muslims none of whom are particularly religiously inclined, I hadn’t given much thought to this until a friend of mine from Nigeria, who is a very pious Muslim came by for a visit. For an incredibly naive second I wondered if my proposal of improved tolerance might just win me a Nobel prize, after all wouldn’t it solve an enormous chunk of our conflicts?

6 Comments

  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    18.12.11 02:49 PM
    @Vidhya

    You are free to believe in what you think is correct.
    I would leave the freedom to you.
  • Vidhya
    By
    Vidhya
    18.12.11 02:39 PM
    @rajpriya: Nope We are quite close and very comfortable in each other's company, but it's good to know you think you have a semblance of empathy
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    18.12.11 02:31 PM
    @Vidhya

    Correction! Read as:

    YOU would have made your very pious Muslim friend from Nigeria extremely uncomfortable in your company leave alone getting a Nobel prize.
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    18.12.11 01:42 PM
    @Vidya


    I read with interest your “All it took was 7 days” with interest. As usual I read about the author section before I read the article, to know the background the author has. I would begin with your idea that a movie should be made of your origin.

    As you know movie makers would like a touching script that would get stunning box office results, if they were to roll out a good story into a successful movie. Though I won’t elaborate on how I could help you on this matter at this time on NRI, I really could get you closer to your dream because of my close connections to moviemakers in Chennai. They look all the time for marketable scripts.

    In fact I will be in Chennai from next Sunday to the following Friday but I do not think I would neither find the time to discuss nor to meet you in person this matter during this period. It’s quite a tight schedule that would leave me hardly any time to get even adequate sleep.

    If you want to keep your dreams alive write your story and KIT through Admin NRI to reach me.

    Now coming back to your article it was not difficult to grasp the underlying meaning of religions. I am a Hindu but not a fanatic but even if was creatively inclined I would never have sported a t-shirt to testify this to the world simply because I just would go irritating people who believed in a different religion and moreover, YOU have made your very pious Muslim friend from Nigeria extremely uncomfortable in your company leave alone getting a Nobel prize.

    There would come a time in history that many people who stamped their presence in this world during 19th, 20th and 21st centuries as myths that never happened. Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the like or the peoples uprising in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya against dictators.

    Just my thoughts about religious Harmony, and the Ramayana.
  • Vidhya
    By
    Vidhya
    18.12.11 12:01 PM
    @dr_idli: Sure, You deserve a prize. They have good intentions, but I don't like how they try to impose and are very categorical. I appreciate their devotion and faith. As a people, I've noticed that their faith sustains them and keeps them very happy and satisfied with their lives. That is something we should probably learn from them. I'm glad you could relate to this though.
  • dr_idli
    By
    dr_idli
    16.12.11 05:57 PM
    hahaha ,
    i can sometimes identify with the picture you have of Nigerian telling you to " thank Jesus for dying for my sins "

    i am currently studying in South Africa. I have neighbours from all over africa , and many of them are Nigerians. I've becomes quite friendly with many of them. They are loud , good natured and quite welcoming. They are overly conscious of the reputation they "carry" ( at least in SA , they are considered as scammers and involved in a lot of white crime) but always ready for a joke.
    They have adopted me as a pseudo nigerian, in that although i have never visited Nigeria, compared to an average non nigerian, i appreciate their " jalebi rice ", " bitter goat " , their " soup " and paap amongst others . I can identify by name their tribes , their geography , the politics . They even wish jokingly that i marry a " kalaba " woman . They are quite a fun group of people.

    But like you , i do have to exert a lot of tolerance when they bring up the "religious " topic. I dont think a single of them could appreciate that I'm a Hindu, believe in karma and reincarnation and there are many gods in my realm ( maybe being myself not very religious and unable to explain the concepts very well - then again i never really tried ) It's quite beyond them.

    They do feel very strongly on their religion. Gospel music played loudly for the whole building to listen, regular bible studies, Prayer sessions , Leader gatherings and yes Sunday morning is a day they dress up to go to church!
    Out of curiosity , I myself went to their "church" once . It was quite an experience, rather scandalous for me in that I catholic school and familiar with churches and the ceremonies in a way . The "church" they took me was a hall above a shop. Not a traditional dedicated building . There was no latin or no ceremonies which i was used to, certainly no "body of christ " or "blood of christ" The choir was dressed up like in black american movies and singing gospel songs which one could follow on a white screen , karaoke style. they sing very passionately aloud, screaming , dancing , jumping.The sermon itself was quite a show . Every sentence by the pastor was followed by a "praise the lord" or someting similar from the audience . A real culture shock to me and what i had had experienced in traditional catholic churches. I came out of it dazed!
    Anyways, i can say , i've been to such a place in my life. As for the frienship , it's still going well . I have just learnt to steer away from religious topics. Maybe Vidhya , you could nominate me for a nobel peace prize as well .

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