Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Here, Take My Religion... I don't Need It

Religion is very confusing – as a word, as an institution and everything else it may represent. So here’s definition I found quite apt – “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects”. And all such definitions were centered on terms like belief, rituals, faith and devotion. So that’s settled then. Extrapolating the definition a bit, we find that science is a religion too. And so is shopping, sleeping and not giving a shit because a lot of us have faith, belief and devotion for the said practices.

On a more serious note though, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism etc. and Cricket are the real ones we recognize as religion. They have their teachings, religious books, so called Gods and their own dedicated fan following. The set of beliefs that a particular religion represents can be misconstrued and misinterpreted in different ways and this does happen. A lot. And these varied interpretations may gain a following and may lead to the birth of a different sect within a religion. Sooner or later this would create a conflict. There is no international organization like the BCCI to make rules for everyone to follow.

And even if there aren’t sub-divisions to fight with, there are other religions. And guess what, my religion is better than yours. My area’s MLA’s driver saw the movie PK and came back red faced over the disrespecting portrayal of his boss’s religion. Now I didn’t see the movie but fuck that. How dare Aamir Khan, or anyone for that matter, disrespect my religion uh.. like that driver says ?? My religion preaches compassion and forgiveness. But fuck that. Let’s troll Aamir first.

It’s not any religion’s fault but the mindless population blindly following a god-man or freelancing with their own religious opinions. Most likely, no one exactly gets what his religion, that he so ferociously protects, teaches. Not many have read the religious scriptures in their lifetime and if they have they hardly understand what It means. They just go with what that Godman says. And ‘that’ godman may be different from someone else’s. And BAM! We have got ourselves a difference of opinion which sometimes gets magnified to extremely dangerous proportions.

Sometimes with no fault of their own and sometimes with, these godmen enjoy a dangerously powerful position in the society. They have the public, which lacks the magical power of ‘thinking’, into their hands and can be easily manipulated to incite one sect or religion against other. This right here is a politician’s orgasm – the power of manipulation. Religious extremists employ religion as a means to sway the population any which way they prefer. They don’t deter from using violence to point across and then use religion to justify. And this exists across religions.

Religion in India is an extremely sensitive issue. If you do a random activity, like say make a movie, chances are you will upset someone. That little anecdote you so stealthily tried to hide across 10 different scenes spread over 2 hours of runtime will come back to bite you in the ass. In a country of over a billion, there must be someone who will get offended by a dialogue, a character, a distant synonym of a word which referred to some caste millions of years ago and believe me, the media will not let him keep that to himself.

I found it best to keep my distance from religion. Currently I am somewhere in the middle of being an agnostic and a full blown atheist. I have my reasons. I find it very challenging to keep up with countless customs and guidelines a devout follower of a particular religion has to abide by. You are not allowed to eat meat on certain days because you’ll get a straight red card to hell if you as much as smelled meat on the unanimously set days. And you are allowed to commit murder on the rest of the days without being fouled by God.

And I get annoyed by strange restrictions forced on me by my devout parents. I am not allowed to have a haircut on certain days due to different reasons and that leaves me with a window of a couple of days to part with my hair. I am not allowed to buy new or wear new shoes, clothes on some days, not to travel on certain days and to sleep with my head pointed in a particular direction. I don’t remember the specifics because I do not care. Never did. There are numerous other strangely illogical superstitions resulting out of religious beliefs somehow.

I always have had a hard time standing in front of an idol, and praying with closed eyes. That, for me, is laziness and a pessimistic lack of confidence in one’s own abilities. According to some popular beliefs, God helps those who help themselves. Then by asking the almighty for some extra marks, money and blessings defies the very sentiment of the statement. A little faith in oneself, in one’s own power and capabilities more than makes up for the fact that you need someone’s blessings to accomplish a task.

Why are we required, by social convention, to try and please a deity which is nothing more than a rock figure we have surrendered ourselves to?? A religion is nothing more than story developed to answer what science can’t. The universe wasn’t created by a God, nor will it come to end due to one, and he certainly doesn’t control and command the weather and the rains.

This entire web of words is not merely the rant of a soon-to-be atheist. I am in no way suggesting that you let go of your religion and follow me in my own directionless quest of nothingness. I am not asking you to forego your family’s traditions and customs. . I do not use my lack of religious beliefs to mock someone who does have a dedicated faith in his religion. There is faith and then there is blind faith. The least we can do is keep our eyes and mind open and weigh some logic defying customs and avoid being a tool for someone for his/her own selfish gains.

There is no hell, only the obnoxious reality we live in. And heaven is just some optimist's overly creative imagination.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Technology and What it Means Today

“Today’s kids, technology has spoiled them.” said an elderly man looking at a boy who was immersed in his smartphone oblivious to the outside world.
“Rightly said, bhai sahab.” Another person contributed his views. “Jab dekho mobile mein hi lage rehte hain.
A simple conversation that I came across which pretty much sums up the current generation and probably even the generations to come. Technological innovations have changed our society drastically over the past couple of decade or so, overall, for the better I would say. But in the process, we’ve become over-dependent on the technology that was meant to simply ease up our life.

There was a time when smoke signals, drum beats and pigeons were used for the most trivial communications. The invention of telephone was a breakthrough for that reason. And not so long ago, mobile handsets were extremely bulky – a far cry from the feature packed smartphones of today that can be fit into one’s hand easily. And not just in communication, we’ve had major advancements in the fields of aeronautics, railways, sports etc.

Railways today are exclusively dependent on electricity, replacing the seemingly ancient method of steam engines. The entire complex network of railway lines spread across a vast geographical area is available on a screen one click away with detailed information of every single train within the network. Similar is the case with spaceships which in today’s date are better equipped to explore the mysteries of the galaxy than they were some years ago. And technology has made an impact in fields like sports too. Be it Hawkeye used in tennis or cricket, goal line technology in football etc. Also advancements in nanotechnology have been harnessed to provide safer and more robust protective gear to sportsmen and elsewhere.

The impact of technology at individual level can also not be ignored. Things as trivial as the pen we use to the hair dryers in our bathrooms, almost everything has benefitted from the innovations. And all this has surely made our lives better, more convenient and simple to some extent. We are more connected with the ones we care about than ever before. A lot of devices are at our disposal that simplify otherwise tedious everyday chores. We are grateful.

But as good, convenient and simple our life is today thanks to the technology, it does come packed with it’s share of limitations, although avoidable. Take for instance the mobile handsets. Granted that we are a lot closer to everyone else, one call or just one message away even in the remotest corners of the globe. But in reality, we have created a barrier for ourselves. Social interaction, long hour chats in the comfort of parks have been replaced by Facebook, BBM, WhatsApp, Skype and what not. Come to think of it, we are in fact a lot more spaced out than being closer to people.

The simplified life of ours due to the devices has given way to couch potatoes – too much laziness in the world today. Very few of us would remember the effort required to wash clothes with bare hands. Of course that ‘fun’ has been replaced by washing machines. We do not sit out in the sun desperately praying for dry hair after a bath. For that we have hair dryers. Gone are those days when we had to physically move our bums to the television set in order to change channels. Not we can wirelessly reconfigure the entire TV from the other corner of the house. Also we are a lot more dependent on computers, machines and electronic devices even for some relatively simple chores.

Not to take anything away from the comfortable life we life today thanks to the modern day technology, it should not be allowed to take over our lives. We should try and limit our dependence on technology wherever possible. We should try writing with a pen on paper once in a while instead of a word processor. And I do not mean we should go back to stone-age for that matter. It’s just that a controlled use technology, allowing some physical movement of our limbs would be a nice change. Let us get out of our computer’s influence and interact with our family. They are nice people.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Genius of Christopher Nolan

Most of us grew up watching brainless Bollywood movies and their intensity of dumbness has only increased lately. Keeping that in mind, we are probably not the right audience to appreciate the brain challenging movies Christopher Nolan produces on a timely basis. Most of his movies, for instance Memento, Inception and Interstellar recently, are too taxing for an audience that contributes to multi-crore nonsenses like Chennai Express (pardon the judgment). And not to take anything away from some excellent movies within Bollywood too, but they don’t do that well box-office wise. What makes Christopher Nolan the person, the director, the producer that he is ??

Complete article published on Campusghanta.

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