The assumption that god created man is contentious. If there were no god, there would be no man – and, if one takes the liberty to say so, vice-versa. In all likelihood, it is man who created the concept of god; it may or may not be the other way round. No ethereal being, however elevated, can claim to have descended upon earth to force its lower subjects into deification.
This needs to be asked: why does such a god threaten his devotees of dire consequences if His wishes are not met with? Is this not discordant with the idea of an ever-compassionate god? Feeding us such lies is often the work of overzealous and self-appointed custodians of organised religion. There is no greater reality than this: the fear of god instils more devotion in the unrefined disciple than love towards Him ever can.
It is argued sometimes that this is not the case in the educated strata of society. However, I have been privileged enough to come across some eccentric characters in my travels, two of whom I take the liberty to write about here. Mrs R, an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, who works in the Union Bank of India’s corporate centre, preaches the benefits of cow-urine for curing asthma to whoever has the misfortune of running into her.
Mr K read Keynesian Theory at the London School of Economics, and was, for long, the top man for Tata Steel in northeastern India. This, however, did not stop him from joining the little group surrounding Union minister Ramdas Athawale when the outlandish act of “Go Corona, Go!” was being perpetrated.
These illustrations reveal a truth that our pedagogy system tries to suppress: academic instruction does not always result in the inculcation of common sense. Our nation has the great honour of housing millions of such occupants. The assumption that god can, and perhaps will, wreak havoc if one does not obey His commands is fundamentally wrong to someone who chooses to look at Him as a lovable being. To the same individual, god is envisioned as a caring, compassionate and merciful entity. He is omnipresent, and knows more than He chooses to divulge.
How can such an entity, who speaks for the voiceless and shelters the downtrodden, resort to extortion like a common thug, like our enlightened peers in ordered theology would want us to believe? The concept of a fallible god is inconsistent with the belief that He is all-knowing and all-forgiving. Such an idea was created by man who, at ease with his own frailties and constraints, puts Him on an identical pedestal. That is sacrilege of the highest sort.
A god who is pleased solely by the offerings of a thousand flowers or who attains a kind of sadistic pleasure in seeing His devotees undergoing severe physical mental discomfort does not deserve to be called one in the first place. The kind of message that this sends to society is ominous: it does not matter if you lead an honourable life or not; a few flowers and the occasional sacrifice will win you plaudits (and possibly reserve a seat) in the heavens above.
Is this how low we have fallen – creating the notion of a god who can be bribed?
The idea of god was conceived by man to represent a power that was greater than himself. He has now been reduced to being a synonym for destiny, fate, or any authority that is beyond the control of man. As organised religion permeated through the masses over centuries of decay, the ideal concept of god eventually began to lose meaning.
God has, by now, become a messiah – someone who is present only to alleviate the pain and sufferings of His devotees – and the spiritual essence that created Him in the first place has suffused entirely. No religion can claim to evade these impediments or emerge victorious in this unwinnable war. Every faith has claimed their god to be the one true god, their way to be the one true way, and without exception, the ways of the others to be sinful. With such recognition comes the desire in men to proselytise and inform those of other religions of their erroneous and immoral ways.
Such men think themselves to be endowed by divine authority to convert the aforementioned unfortunate souls to their faiths – partly as a means of increasing their numbers and partly as a ploy of oneupmanship over their rivals. For this is what the concept of god has now turned into – one of a business transaction including profits and losses. Few decide to go in depth and examine.
The ancient religions of the world did not survive such attacks – antiquity being no reason for excusal – and unsurprisingly, only the newest endured. Each religion, without exception, preaches to its followers to be a way of life rather than a prescription on how such a life should be led, but closer investigations have revealed the extraordinary strain that their devotees are put under in trying to live up to those expectations.
The concept of an ideal god – one who is kind, compassionate, loving and caring – has been made a mockery of, as no religion can withstand the widespread incognisance and incomprehension that is prevalent amongst their proponents. God has been humanised, the idea of a fallible formless entity inundated and the search for the truth lost somewhere in between.
Mohul Bhowmick is a national-level cricketer and passionate writer. He has published three books of poetry and one travelogue. His latest work Seeking Kathmandu: Travails of a solo traveller across Nepal is out now.