Thursday, August 24, 2006

Of Gods and their miracles!

Miracles have always been part of life in India and the Hindu faith abounds with stories of miracles that have happened. With millions of gods in the faith, one would naturally begin expecting such miracles to happen every other day! So, it wasn’t really surprising when idols of Lord Ganesha started drinking milk in several parts of the country this week!! This is nothing new as the same phenomenon occurred around the same time of the year in 1995. As is happening now, at that time also, people flocked to temples to spoonfeed Lord Ganesha :-) While scientists explained that this was due to surface tension, people were steadfast in their belief that the Lord himself has descended upon earth to drink milk!! In fact a cobbler (in which city, I don’t remember) showed that his cobbling tools also “drank” milk, thus ridiculing the idea of any miracle! This created quite a furore at that time! The staunchly religious pointed out that if surface tension was the reason, then why did Lord Ganesha drink milk only now and not all the time? Not an easy question to dismiss, I must say :-) Having been a science student at high school, I sided with the scientists and gave physics lectures at home, which wasn’t well received by folks at home! Unfortunately, I have since bade goodbye to science and its principles and this time around, I strongly believe that this is a miracle and nothing else :-)

This brings me to an interesting question as to how far people are ready to go in obliging the gods if these miracles become a routine affair. Hinduism, one must appreciate, has a god for all seasons and all reasons! And each of those gods expects us to please them (read worship!) in some form or other. The most common form of worship is to make offerings, which may be either in cash or in kind. The cash is generally used to maintain and run the places of worship. The offerings in kind are given back to the devotees as Prasadam!! Now, if all the gods were to take the cue from Lord Ganesha and decide to demand their “pound of flesh” literally and have the Prasadam for themselves, would we still be inclined to continue making offerings as we do today?

Another “miracle” which occurred this week was sea water turning “sweet” at Mahim beach in Bombay!! People have started taking sea water home and have started consuming it as well!! Thankfully, nobody seems to have been affected by this, thus reinforcing the theory that it’s a miracle! And as usual, the non-conformists attributed this to the heavy rains recently and pointed out that sodium chloride levels which used to be about 10000 ppm (parts per million) have come down to 500 ppm! These people seem to have no other job than establishing theories on anything and everything. But the believers have come back strongly asking why the water turned sweet only at Mahim and not in other places when there has been rain everywhere! The non-conformists must accept the fact that we Indians have always, and will always continue to, have something called “faith”! And miracles are just the reminders for us to keep the faith :-)

P.S: To clarify, I'm neither an atheist nor am I deeply religious! I tread the middle path :-)