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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dabbling with scriptures

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It’s not easy to dismiss scriptures, texts and learnings that have survived centuries, and some part of me aches to at least try to understand them. Since there is no mandatory required reading of religious texts in Hinduism, one doesn’t have opportunity to do so unless one wants to do by himself. In world increasingly disinterested, nay, antagonist to religion, aspersions on validity of meaning to today’s era remain as legitimate concern. Nevertheless, even if one is not very religious, there is a feeling to see, even if dispassionately and objectively, what special lies in these texts that has captured imaginations of men and women for so long. If for nothing else, one can perhaps understand their literary merits. And while irrespective of religion, texts of Mahabharat and Ramayan have lessons for life for all human beings, I am talking here of Vedas and Gita. These thoughts have fleeting presence in my mind now and then, which has led me to dabble briefly with various scriptures. Unfortunately, my experience has not been satisfying.

As born and brought up Hindu in India, it’s impossible to escape fundamental principles of religion and life even without touching religious scriptures. They are so ingrained in our culture, our rituals, our manners, our thinking and our outlook to life — notwithstanding numerous exposures to Gita Saar — that at first glance what I read in Gita sounded too familiar. There was a feeling at back of my mind that I already knew what was being told since I’ve lived and seen that all around me. Of course, I was soon challenged by an more avid reader who destroyed any illusion of me understanding anything. Gita is a logical discourse about war, but with related implication and transferable lessons in life, between Krishn and Arjun. And while Hinduism in that sense is very liberal in letting one form his own impression from logical conviction rather than forced obedience, somehow brand of logic in Gita didn’t appeal to my scientific argumentative mind. I  could not see how Arjun was convinced by incomplete answers by Krishn unless he factored subservience to Krishn’s divinity into account. Before I dismiss this, though, there is a feeling that I am missing something, and not reading properly.

I dabbled with Koran and Bible too, purely from objective angle. While first chapter of Bible was interesting with Genesis (sense or no sense, it’s a good story), narration quickly thrust upon me so many characters that I lost count and couldn’t just remember anything. There are like so many generations of people with their sons and daughters and names and places that just went beyond my head. I wanted to move ahead with story, at which point I gave up. I expected Koran to be more interesting because of all those rules (good or bad) about living Islamic life and family and infidels. And it was to an extent, but only problem is that half the content in Koran is ‘God, most gracious, most merciful’ which doesn’t help in moving story forward and can get on nerves because of self serving tone. Yet, at some point of time, I think it will be worthwhile to try to finish these books, as man no less than Mahatma Gandhi found many useful things in both.

What can I say now? It seems like all scriptures are designed to be boring and uninteresting. May be Lords wanted only those seriously interested to be able to understand His message, or may be he is not simply good author.

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