Born to a theist Papa and an atheist Mom, I had the luxury of choice. I chose to be an atheist.
Being a science student automatically made me lean heavily towards ‘proof and results’. Temples contributed liberally to my disgust of theism. Think impatient Pujaris (We are the proprietary middle-men to Heaven.) Think lecherous peddlers (A hundred rupees note will get you instant darshan, Madam!) Think repugnant God-men (I distinctly remember meeting one with red eyes, grey beard and saffron robes. When I and my brother refused to genuflect, his eyes darkened in incredulous rage. P.S: The only en’light’ment he saw must be at the end of his ganja–chillum!)
Meanwhile a wily God with a zany sense of humor decided to ensnare me with two most unlikely baits. A man and a meal…
Secure in my hero-worship; I did not enquire deeper into the ‘Why?’ Then one fine day, I realized it is time to bestow validity to my passion. To understand his turmoil and dilemmas, I chose not to focus on his triumphs and achievements, but on his most vulnerable moment – the one that led to Bhagwad Gita.
I purchased the Bhagwad Gita. I read the Bhagwad Gita … and understood nothing. It seemed like the unabashed propaganda of I, Me , Myself by a narcissistic God.
Heavily disillusioned, I gave it away (honestly I did!) to the revolving library – grateful that it was a heavy book and would at least fetch me bonus points. Unfortunately, they tossed it back to me – told me it held no value (!) and would fetch me no points!
It stayed on my shelf, mocking my efforts to wriggle out of its grasp.
In the meantime, pawns were being shuffled, tectonic plates were moving and wide nets were cast. As I moved up the professional food-chain, I got allotted doctor’s quarters. Old neighbors moved out. New neighbors moved in.
Uh-oh, I grimaced as I saw the orderly row of footwear dotting their front door every Friday. I groaned as I heard their loud chants drowned by the treble of drums. I studiously looked the other way; hastily closed my door before they beckoned me to theism.
Ultimately, my neighbor arrived with a formal invitation, ‘ISKCON is starting its annual session. Unraveling the meaning of Bhagwad Gita ’ My antennae perked up half-way.
‘Prasadam will be served.’ she insisted. Prasadam = meal. Ordinarily, food would be the least tantalizing bait for me. But this was August; my Mom’s annual visit to brother’s USA. That left me with the unpleasant task of cooking (bearable) and eating(unbearable) my own meals.
Finally, my atheist stomach consented to the theist (… and free … and weekly)dinner invitation standing at my doorstep.
A matryr to theism; for the sake of Arjun and a free dinner. Like I said, a wily God (link here to post ‘God’s jigsaw puzzle’…my amazing experience) with a zany sense of humor…
I did not realize I was beginning the journey of a lifetime- from being staunch atheist to cynical skeptic to open-minded questioner to… the journey is still on.
Where are you on the arc between theism and atheism? What, if anything at all, was your spurring moment?