This i believe…

Unfortunately for me, I was born without a faith bone in my body!!! If fact be told, most Shirodkars are agnostics and prefer to leave the godly path well alone. This is true more of the men folk in my family: the daughters of Shirodkars still retain a modicum of faith and are “god fearing” and religious, though not fanatically so!! (Thank God!!!)

This men-women difference in the family, itself is an interesting twist of faith! Apparently 4 generations ago, my great-grandfather chose to go on a Kashi yatra (obviously he believed in God) and never returned. People accompanying him on the Yatra came back after 6/8 months, and told my great-grandmother that her husband had succumbed to sickness and passed away enroute. My great-grandmother, shaken up by this twist and turn of life, gazed at the 4 children she was now left to bring up, alone!

Her reaction was to go inside the house (they were land-owners and money lenders)  straight to the Pooja room where all idols of gods were kept; pick up all the idols there, bring them out into the courtyard of the house, and…she threw all the idols into the open well!!! Reportedly, she told the shocked onlookers that if god could not protect her husband, who had gone to pay obeisance to him, she would not worship such a god: and neither would any member of her family!!! Village folks thought this was an immediate emotional outburst and the lady would come around, in due course. But the idols remained immersed in the well and the lady remained firm on her thoughts. Thus ended the faith and “pooja-archana” in the Shirodkar clan.

Her 3 sons and 1 daughter (my paternal grand-father being one of them)  maybe due to their love for their mother, or maybe since they were stricken by the injustice of loosing their father so early, stopped being faithful and religious. They became rationalists and lived their life bereft of faith, away from rituals and temples. This is what they taught and professed to their children. Most accepted this approach, though even in our family there were exceptions; especially the married into the family daughters-in-law. But the approach was tolerant: we will not stop you if you believe, but we will not join you either. This in turn gets passed on generations to generations. Even today I look at my daughter who tends to paraphrase Robert Browning Pippa’s Song “God’s in his heaven/ All’s right with the world” to mean “let God be up there and stay away from me; and I am down here and will live my own life without troubling him”.

Is this right? Is it wrong?? I don’t know. It is hard to believe in coincidence, but it is even harder to believe in anything else.

I totally believe George Carlin ( famous comedian of yore)  “Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.”                                            So what is faith and belief?

I grew up as a rabid atheist, keen to debate and tell people of faith how wrong and irrational they were. My credo was ” belief is the death of intelligence” a la Robert Wilson. But through the growing years (and with debatable increased maturity ?) I understood that I know precious little!! So it’s foolish to conclude definitively on such matters. Resultantly, I became quiet and kept my opinions and lack of faith to myself. Atheism ripened into agnosticism. I did not believe;  but I could appreciate others’ faith and belief.  I understood that views and opinions are so divergent that it is foolish to “convince” others. So let everybody believe what they want and practice as they will. A la Mao, “let thousand flowers bloom”. The world is much better off with toleration and mutual respect of each others’ faith !! Or lack of it!!!

Bengalis have a saying ” if you are not a communist when you are young: you do not have a heart; and if you are a communist when you are old: you do not have a head”. Faith, Belief, Trust, Religion : to me, are similar concepts. Head and Heart both pull you in different directions at different points of life, & at different stages of your growth.  And the best part of this conundrum is that : it is a sliding scale!!! Or it could even be compared to a see-saw that swings either way!!! what is left to you, is just enjoy the ride!!!!

Sometimes (Often?) I admire my wife and others who have a core of faith. They intuitively follow Emerson’s dictum “All I have seen teaches me, to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” Believers are lucky, as they have something to believe…to hold on to. During the Annual Pandharpur Yatra ( or Amarnath Yatra or Vaisnodevi Yatra, for that matter)  I see hundreds of thousands of followers who are content to chant the name of their gods and saints. They experience a bliss which eludes me. They have a solid rock to stand on;  while I am perpetually buffeted by the sea of doubt and lack of faith. Belief gives a stability & structure & direction to their lives which I do not experience. Like the proverbial blind men, I need to slowly feel my way forward, perpetually in doubt, whether I  am on the “right” track. But would I exchange this darkness with the light of certainty? No! I would rather like to muddle through, step by step!!

I take solace in the words of Yaan Martel who puts it so well in the Life of Pi  “If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”

Still searching for an answer to that one: vikas

60 Replies to “This i believe…”

  1. Great writing and thoughts, Vikas! Forces me to think about myself in the same terms – a few parallels there.

    My family comes from the temple town of Parshuram, near Chiplun. Though life in the village somehow revolves around the temple, my paternal side is rather rational, and the little bit of religiosity that prevails comes from girls married into the family, who brought their habits (faith?) along with them.

    The rationalism event to remember: My dad took my grandma to Kashi as part of a tour of North India and she refused to enter the Kashi temple when she was told that the only way to get in was by paying a tout. She said I will go when the deity is ready for me. She never did. She must have been in her late 70’s then. Wow.

    She had some knowledge of pressure points etc and used to dispense medicine using the seed called Bibba in Marathi – Semecarpus anacardium is the botanical name. She irritated/infuriated a lot of casteist folks by treating everybody irrespective of caste who came to her doorstep free of cost, taking her patients to her ‘consulting room’ which was right next to the Pooja ghar. For those times, that was a bold thing to do.

    My maternal side is Saraswat and there was always a lot of rituals going on that side. Dad played along, never commenting this way or that. So we went along, as did my father. Whenever we went into a temple, it was only on account of my mom, with father taking care of the chappals outside.

    So our attitude was more or less ambivalent. Diwali lighting, Lakshmi Poojan does occur but I will have difficulty remembering when I last visited a temple. (I just remembered – we recently made a drive tour to the south and visited the awesome Rameshwaram temple.)

    About your slight move towards agnosticism – the more one thinks about subjects one doesn’t know anything about, one starts to believe there is a force out there that does exercise some influence over one and that influence can be influenced by one’s deeds.

    I also believe that with meditation and the related introspection makes you look at things differently.

    And finally – an unrelated statistic: The highest percentage of firm believers are to be found in jails and in hospitals. All looking for answers and direction.

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    1. Ravi
      sorry for a very much delayed response. When I first read through your comments I wanted to respond i detail and after thought
      But with a family vacation intervening in between I have got back to the computer only today after a longish gap. I know you will not misunderstand: but i owe you a reason.
      Ravi in some ways I feel we are all bound together by similar experiences and common stories: and so I am not at all surprised with the striking parallels in our paths. And all this seemingly unrelated stuff that comes together at some level is to me the greatest evidence of a larger design/someone pulling all the disparate streams together and weaving a logical and yet beautiful design.
      You make an interesting observation about the hospital and jail inmates: both trapped in some way and both requiring an out: who and what provides that? Stakes differ and that many times shapes our “reality” very differently from our fellow brother. But all ofus need to move on; move forward; move to a resolution.At such times I feel you look externally for a superior intelligence; a person; a book which seems to have answers and reassures you of the method in the madness.
      I remember a Chief Engr friend of the family who used to say: it is easy tolive in pune all your life; travel by cycle from prabhat road to Fergusson and debuk God. But whan as an Engr I have done all my calculations and all ground work right: and yet when I cast a bridge I await with baited breath to see if it would stand up or collapse: at that moment you realize that there are bigger powers than what you command: and you must remain humble before what is beyond logic and planning.
      In that sense we are ALL trapped in our own personal jails and hospitals : all of us are and will continue to seek answers and direction!!
      Oh the glorious uncertainty!!! Life : I bow to thee !!!

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  2. Before believing in god, v need to understand who r v ? Why r v here in particular family, city, with typical nature, tendencies, in specific country?
    V also need to clarify definitions of faith, rituality, spirituality, religious etc then, v need to understand concepts of ATMAN, GOD ( BHAGWAN), PARAMATMAN, ISHWARA- all have different meanings in scriptures…
    Then v can judge ourselves that our thoughts, behaviour, speech is godly/ like animals/ like humans?
    R v expressing our’ bieng’ title like in animal ways, human ways or deity ways…then if v want evolution of our mind, to rise from where v r, in what v r ( our nature, our behaviour etc)….why v need to change them ? Why our mind and thoughts need to evolve ?…..Gita teaches the way..

    Gita and Upnishadas have all your answers…I feel like that

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    1. Tina all relevant points. My only problem is Gita and Upanishads will guide me; Koran will guide my friend Khalid and the Bible will direct the soul of Gratian. All good so far. But as soon as we get stuck thinking there is only one way to the Allah: I am the ONLY trurth; then I have a problrm. When our priests and the Archbishop ( just to exemplify) say THUS then I have an issue.

      Fortunately Hinduism is very inclusive so I float and live with that
      tusr you understand

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  3. Well written , Vikas.
    Beliefs shape reality and the real world is all “maya”…..
    Keep challenging our beliefs.

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    1. Thanks Vish I have been blasphemous and iconoclastic. I do not believe it is just a put on. I genuinely doubt and question sometimes to my own detriment. But I get by with some help from my friends like you

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  4. Hi Vikas…its so well written…I liked that you have captured the question of faith so well without being judgmental. I count myself as a person who is very rational 🙂 and looks for logic before accepting any proposition!! And when the question of Faith comes all I can say search for the Truth and the Truth will surely set one free ….Regards. Shyamlee

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    1. Thanks Shyamalee for your comments. I have tried to be objective as much as possible throughout my life. and yet I know there are powers larger than us like Truth Honesty Love and all of these concepts take us o a higher level than our humdrum existence

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  5. Great Shirodkari values that have well percolated down the generations.
    These values have helped Raos to amend their faiths beliefs and values
    It has helped my mother not to blame her god whenever
    she faced disasterous situations.
    Your blog takes me down the memory lanes and i am experiencing bhaimama and pamilamami talking with me.
    Thank you so much for once again exposing me to the
    SHIRODKARI TATVAGYAN.
    To coclude i feel you should further elaborate and develop this germ for larger benefit the society.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Harshad
      many thanks for your kind words of encouragement

      Shirodkars in general and my parents in particular were so soft but firmly focussed outside of their self and they always tried to help/guide/support all the people they met
      am so glad to hear your recounting of the influence on your mother and yourself
      They were indeed towering personsonalities
      who gave us a strong core of values
      and teaching us that people were always more important than any murti or ritual

      I too feel blessed that this topic has generated so much debate and helped people put their won stake in the ground
      I hope I can continue to excite and energize people through my writing

      and yes it is a fond dream into the future to make a larger impact on a larger populace
      Bless me so that I can achieve this
      vikas

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    2. Vikasdada
      Thanks for coming back on my feed back
      You have described bhaimama and pramilamami as towering personalities
      I feel more high level superlative adjectives would not be termed as exaggeration.
      Let me confess of my faith
      If there is GOD and GODESS
      It would be no different than this couple.
      Without hesitation or shame i can proudly say
      Yes mi dev baghitla ahe tyancha sahavas anubhavla ahe.
      Best of luck in ur future write ups and reaching larger sections of our society.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Very well expressed. You write so well, and also what I feel, you verbalise it so well.
    As for your last question to which you are searching answer, here is my response: It is a good question, and a good question does not have answer; the fun is still in searching the answer……

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  7. Dear Vikas, A brilliant exposition of a genuine dilemma. I am truly amazed by the richness of your reading and recollecting to contextualise your thoughts. Also at your perceptiveness in looking at this subject through a lens of such long history. I live this dilemma every moment and have no answer or enlightenment. Is there a large force that orchestrates everything ? I believe no. Should there be a large purpose to everything that we do? I believe yes. Are these two not therefore similar? I don’t know. Does one need to have faith? I think yes. Should one then leave it all to faith and hope? Certainly not. Does our mythology provide clarity? Confuses me more as those stories are full of Gods who are imperfect. Perhaps the issue lies in our image of God and our expectations form such God’s. So I have possibly found a way to live with this ambivalence and therefore live and let live. Perhaps I also do what is convenient and become transactional and appeal to higher powers quietly when I feel the need . Surprisingly I have found that that has helped me in tough times. And so the story continues —-

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    1. VJ
      you make very relevant points
      all great books and teachers leave us with more questions than answers
      and your post underlines the learning and growing potential of this “seeking”
      I am sure we will never arrive….as the destination will reveal other worlds and other questions which we have yet to explore
      a la Tennyson: “all experience is an arch wherethro’
      Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
      For ever and forever when I move”

      while these questions and quests will go on and on: it is indeed fortunate that our paths cross other seekers and travellers
      who in their touch
      teach us as we go forward

      You are one of the rare HR folks I have grown to respect because of your authenticity and simplicity
      so your initial words & compliments make me even more humble
      I will always strive to live up to your words of praise

      thank friend

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      1. Dear Vikas, Good morning and thank you. It is a privilege knowing you. Look forward to continuing our exchanges and eagerly await your blogs.

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  8. To paraphrase Hamlet, “To Believe or Not to Believe, THAT is the Question” . While there was a strong reason for your non belief, i think now-a-days it has become a matter of convenience, but that debate/discussion for another date. I come from a family that has strongly believed, nurtured and spent time, energy and a substantial amount of money on God, i chose differently. If we invest all of the above mentioned things in people, the world would be a different place but alas! There’s always that belief my parents have that i will come back from the dark side, but i know that ship has sailed long back. Believe in people, is what i would say, there are billions of them now and while some relationships bear fruit, others do not ( same principle as believing in God, isn’t it?, Not all your prayers are answered, right?) But that does not mean you stop doing it. I am always reminded of what you said at Malshej, looking at the valley and mountains that surrounded us, “Look how huge they are and we humans are a mere spec of dust in front of them, it’s humbling” and i never forgot it. We were never at the top of any chain so why act like that. Put faith in something that’s in front of you and the world will be a better place

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amumama
      Thanks for your comment. You make some very pithy points and make them well.
      Mountains have always fascinated me. When i had the privilege to over-fly in a biplane the majestic Everest i had a similar experience to the one you recount. Looking down (lierally as we were in a plane) on the Highest Peak in the world, mountain ranges all around, peaks covered by snow : the vast universe stretched languishly in all glory: and we an infiniteseminal place with 20 idiots. You marvel at Mother Nature and her unending glory.
      And then you come back and land. And meet other people: this is within my reach, i can grasp this, i understand sonewhat. Is that what gives rise to the love of the fellow human?
      I too have always felt Godji is too remote far abstruse. But people surround me where ever i go. So i too have sought my god in other people, fulfilled my hunger to reach out by loving them. Seeking godhood in others has been my approach too. Great to hear your reflection of similar thoughts.
      History will show we did not turn out as bad apples. So am sure our parents and other people will repay our trust and faith and love in them.
      I for one do love you my little yet big hattidada
      Vikasmama

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  9. Very nicely written article… taking us through your journey, right from generations-old family values/traits, growing up influences, (rebellious?) youth mindset, middle-aged introspection and second-guessing, interspersed with curiosity/envy for people comfortable in their belief systems, along with the Haan-bhi-karta-Naa-bhi-karta-Dil-mera-deewanaa sort of dilemmas, all the way to present day continued quest…
    … and most importantly, the strength to continue “believing” in that quest, rather than settling for an answer either which way before one is ready… (not saying that settling either way is wrong/weak or taking the easy way out)

    Like any genuinely good article, this raises more questions and thoughts than providing solutions. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with these deep, innermost beliefs along the way! (Most people find it too personal to share, or assume it will offend others who believes differently, or lack the sheer courage to be seen uncertain in such matters)

    Personally, I follow a “Big Red W” system to address most uncertainties. It’s simply about asking the questions “WHY – What – How – When – Who/Where/etc” in that order. The only rule is not to jump to/think about the next question, until totally convinced about the previous step.
    So for me, more important than what/who people believe in (or not), or how they act upon/display their beliefs…
    … is the more fundamental question of “Why do people need some sort of belief system?”

    Same as you, I too do not have a final answer to that question. It’s more of an ongoing quest, with different thoughts over different times.
    One oversimplified parallel is that of the ‘tooth fairy’. It’s difficult to explain to a 5-year old the overall dental development process, and to assure him that his teeth will grow back eventually. Tooth fairy to the rescue… the child believes, and goes off to sleep with sweet dreams. He grows out of that belief, but then again tells the same story to his own children in due course. With God, it’s difficult to get out of the ‘tooth fairy’ phase, as there’s no convincing alternate explanation.

    Another corporate parallel is the advantage of having a great strong manager… an all-knowing, all-forgiving, all-powerful boss at that. That way, when certain things/life gets out of control, all you need to do is reach out and fess up. Or when life rolls out a bitter dice, just say “Boss ne bola hai, toh kuchh soch samajh ke hi bola hoga.” It works.
    (Or maybe God is the HR, who watches you, appraises you, promotes/terminates you, and decides your increment.)

    Social influence is the biggest (and maybe only) factor here. If suppose, a child is left out to grow without any religious/spiritual inputs whatsoever, sort of like the movie “The Truman Show”, then it’s highly unlikely he/she develops any sort of belief system. May sound primitive or animalistic, but let’s stretch it. “Why don’t animals need a God, or any belief system?”
    Maybe the sole purpose of humans developing any belief system is to help maintain social order, a tool to reinforce right vs wrong, do-s vs don’t-s. And to a large extent, barring religious fanaticism, it works.

    At the end of the day, when there’s no way to know for sure, one has to believe something (counting not believing in a higher power as one type of belief here). It’s like the few axioms (things that can neither be proved nor disproved) upon which the entire modern mathematics is based.

    Closing out with Abba’s immortal lines:
    “I have a dream, a song to sing
    To help me cope with anything
    If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
    You can take the future even if you fail

    I believe in angels
    Something good in everything I see
    I believe in angels
    When I know the time is right for me
    I’ll cross the stream, I have a dream.”

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    1. Amu kudos for a brilliant piece of writing.
      It stands independent of the original blog and grows in stature on its own. Brilliant dear brother; thanks for taking time to pen these thoughts.
      Unlike the other comments: i shall desist from making any “reply” as that would be facile.
      Many thanks are due for the Big Red W approach: this will help me going forward in many ways and is a lovely shorthand of a deep and basic approach in analysis and problem solving.
      I believe in angels too and you are one of them for me
      vikas

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      1. Amu’s reply actually raises more questions not just on the ‘higher’ power but also on people’s beliefs, but to each their own. To quote Arun Kolhatkar here ‘What is god
        and what is stone
        the dividing line
        if it exists
        is very thin’

        Because here in our country you ‘ scratch a rock and a legend springs’

        But at the end of the day do we need to choose our God? Just hum ‘Tujhme rab dikhta hai, yaara main kya karun’ and you will be as content a person as probably the maker you believe in

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      2. Truer words were never spoken

        I have always sought godliness in my fellow human beings
        all around me
        drivers and cooks
        maids and zaduwallahs
        intellectuals and seekers
        challengers and champions
        yes even stones and living beings

        all are there to teach us
        and take us forward

        keep your eyes and heart open
        and you will never go wrong

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  10. Very honest and pure view of yourself towards god. This was explained to me as an abriviation at Belur in Karnataka by a priest thinking I was a foreigner. He simply explained GOD as an abriviation Bhrama, Vishnu and Mahesh i.e Generator , Operator and Destroyer (GOD). I have subsequently learnt through life that unless something is destroyed nothing can be created and that’s what happened with your great grand mother where faith was destroyed in God. So it’s remained in the family somehow but then again there are believers and there are others. Mistake not for both have faith it’s only in different things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rupesh my friend
      If you are a foreigner I am god!
      jokes apart thanks for sharing a new definition of GOD (Generator Operator Destroyer) It is a great concept. We all have to go through these 3 phases and participate in the drama that unfolds before us. Nothing comes from nothing and so I do understand there has to be a Creator. And new developments require a phase of destruction.
      I also agree we are believers. There is that core sense that does not go away. The inner voice. The strength that drives you on. Lack of faith is also a belief. Sometimes equally strong. And people like me are always confused. Not knowing whether the carousel is going up or down. What goes up comes down and then goes up again ad infinitum. This journey is made enjoyable by the presence of good friends like you. Thanks for being in my life and helping me to enjoy the journey of life

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  11. I have been seeing your blogs and as such have great respect for your ability to ‘place your mind on the table’!. I must admit that I am unable to keep pace with the ‘flow’ of your blogs and hence have always found myself lagging in responding to you….or not responding at all!

    This subject , as perhaps u guess ,is of special interest to me and hence I am putting many other things aside to pen this.

    I did have an impression about your approach to life being in the agnostics category. It was quite revealing to know about how this has come down from your great grand mother’s generation. Any one in her situation, perhaps ,would have acted in a similar way, at least immediately on the occurrence of the event. The depth of her feelings can be gauged by the fact that time just did not heal those wounds.

    I am also touched by your honest expressions about how u feel about seeing others with faith ..who have something to hold on to

    It almost appears that you want to be a believer, but you have not found any explanation that satisfies your rational mind.

    I recall our trip together to Hyderabad years back when under a BK program ,we spent a couple of days at Nagarjuna premises. Something in the ‘air’ had really touched you and back home, you described the trip as your best days till then (to Sunilbhai). This certainly was not any religious event ..but what resonated with you ,perhaps, was the value based ambience that was sought to be created in a corporate environment.. ..new in those days.

    I was born in a highly religious family .. I followed rituals as suggested by parents ..more out of fear than love for God. I was praying in a temple when I got the news of my admission to IIT B. While that increased my faith manifold, 5 years of hostel life had changed me a lot. I had started questioning the religious practices ..though did not have the ‘guts’ to go entirely away from them!

    My contact with Brahmakumaris brought a big change in my thinking. I realized the difference between religion and spirituality. Religions, by their very nature , divide people. When you start looking at every one as a divine spirit /energy/soul , you start understanding the commonalities cutting across caste/region/religion. This can potentially become a great uniting factor,.This , if leveraged properly ,can form the basis for peaceful/ harmonious coexistence…This is very much the mission of BKs which has kept me with them.

    Another aspect of Bk that appealed to my rational mind (formed in the IIT environment) was that since starting point of any of our actions is a thought, we need to put all efforts in making the thinking process positive. This has a great impact on all aspects of our life, as I have also personally experienced. The connection of thinking with the health is now fully accepted even by the medical fraternity.

    Overall ,I do feel satisfied that I have got an answer that convinces me. My best wishes are with you to get an answer that brings comfort to you!

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    1. Jagdish bhai
      many many thanks for the long post. I must confess I was wondering whether I was bothering you and imposing on your time by FWing the links: since upto now you had not replied. But our days at Atul had given me a sense of connected-ness that I felt I can burden you with my outpourings. It feels nice that you were following the posts. and thanks for replying to this one.
      I am especially touched to read whal all you have shared about your background: your IIT hostel days etc. which I did not know hitherto. As they say there are indeed multiple ways to the Allah and we allhave to find our own groove
      I too remember our trip to Nagarjuna and the learning there. I have realised I am a “follower” whatever I follow I believe totally. I do remember being impressed with the BK approach and exactly because they were appealing to the thinking man.
      Unfortunately I lost that touch because on return I found Brain Bacon and the local BK folks again being too rule and formula bound. Also when someone tries to follow up and push me down a path then my innate rebellious nature comes to the fore and that drove me away from BK Valsad. Possibly my loss.
      all through the Atul days I have always enjoyed seeing the peace and comfort apparent on your face. You were always calm and collected and I never saw you lose your temper or raise your voice. That was a thing which I truly admired as it was poles apart from my own excitable nature. You were a role model to many. Sad that we did not interact and engage much during the Atul days.
      From there Siemens and J&J took me on a big spin : a roller coaster which I have never been able to get down from. I used to envy people like you and BMT living a peaceful life in Atul environs. The ability to focus on personal and professional at the same time in a peaceful environment like Atul was really a dreamlike existence. I always felt I was wrong to join Atul when I was 30+. It would have been an ideal place in my mid 40s after I had sown a few wild oats?
      Yes indeed I am a man in search of a “resting place” a “true north” and feeling of being connected to the larger goal. But I must say I also enjoy the trials and tribulations of the path so much that I sometimes happy that I have not reached any destination or even arrived at “a chosen path”. I am still happy to float and explore : maybe it is a commitment phobia.
      thanks for your good wishes as I travel and hope to remain in touch
      vikas

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      1. thanks Vikas..i appreciate your taking time to respond to each of the key points i had made in my ‘debut’ response on your blog.

        Atul is certainly a great place to be in..as you have written ,the ability to focus on personal and professional aspects at the same time is easy over there. I ,however, felt that the true strength of spirituality ought to be tested in a chaotic environment of place like Mumbai. My shifting from Atul to Mumbai had something to do with this reasoning ….and i had to do it well before reaching superannuation ..which is why i grabbed the Pidilite opportunity when it came my way.

        in retrospect, shifting to Mumbai has been a great blessing. ..and look at this : i end up in this place ..Hiranandani Meadows..which has an excellent environment..greenery, quiet ambience, great infrastructure.. i could have never planned for myself such a replacement of the Atul environs. After shifting to the place, next morning when i came down to the Meadows garden , i suddenly realised how the destiny had made sure that i do not miss out on all the essentials of the Atul life! it happened without my even thinking about it…which again brings me back to the faith aspect..! i was ‘brought’ to this place by some unseen hands ! i have no words to adequately thank the Supreme!

        Thanks again for your response..will love to remain in touch ..

        though i must caution u not to expect very prompt responses from this lazy self!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Zahe naseeb JLS
        whenever you can respond will be good enough for me
        I thrive in the feeling that there are well wishers who care
        that is enough for me

        many times I too am spell bound by the way destiny takes us forward in our life
        I too have realised there is a larger design which I may not understand
        but need to trust as it all comes out well in the long run
        In my blasphemous way I say the Devil ( or the God) protects his own
        But if we trust the process and allow ourselves to move freely with out attachments it always comes out well
        and the journey teaches you at every stage
        happy hunting my fellow traveller
        and all the best

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  12. Sir,
    I can’t agree more than what is written …your thoughts and actions are same and amazing …..I am fortunate to have you as my boss and mentor …rgds.

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  13. Enjoyed reading this piece. Great choice of topic and the varied instances of your journey made me look back and assess as to where I stand vis a vis this scale. And agree with what you have written at the end that you “would rather like to muddle through step by step”. As a student when I used to travel by train I often used to wonder how people used to write ‘Ram’ 1000 times, with utmost dedication. Whether that gave them a sense of conviction and confidence about themselves is something that I always questioned. Although I am still finding an answer to that, this piece in many ways lay bare a lot of questions we keep asking ourselves in our life. A great read. Crisp and powerful.

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    1. Minouti many thanks for your comments.
      It is indeed surprising and to some extent humbling to be in the presence of people who have boundless faith to do ritualistic “sadhana”. Not being able to understand their seemingly inane behavior makes it all the more difficult for us to travel the road of faith.
      The idea of my blogs is to explore and share questions. Answers may or may not be there. And my answer may not appeal to others who are at different stages in the journey. So I feel good that I am raising relevant questions and causing some introspection from all my readers.
      keep following your heart and am sure you will come to right conclusions and actions.
      Keep encouraging me and other fellow travellers
      take care
      vikas

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  14. Absolutely thought provoking piece straight from the heart. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and at the same time, the article throws back so many questions and as you rightly ended it- answers that we are all still searching. for…
    I agree with you that believers are lucky, (and in that sense I’m not) and for quite a few the only available form of transportation is a leap of faith.
    For me faith is best expressed as and I quote Khalil Gibran “Faith is knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof”. I think that each day of our lives a story is still being written and one should not let go off that faith because of what we have yet to see…..

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    1. Deepa understand where you are coming from.
      But it is a tall order for most to not jump to conclusions and rather to keep the faith to see how the story that is being still written actually turns out.
      Often we get short circuited and conclude for or against. I suppose that is why the phrase “Keep the faith” is about suspending our judgement and awaiting the final outcome. But sometimes that could be too late?
      anyway thanks for your POV
      this is a subject where there will be as many conclusions and opinions as there are people. But the dialogue and questioning helps all of us get deeper and more enlightened
      ( No puns intended on deepa deeper and light(deep)
      Thanks for encouraging me with your comment
      keep writing in and sharing your views

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      1. Liked the pun although it was unintended, I have a long way to go on that. Just pondered and realized I missed sharing some of my experiences. Although being born in a Jain family, was raised by parents who were not ritualistic, not derasar going and who did not believe in following Jain principles blindly and rigidly. They taught me to keep faith and trust in good people (by being good) and surround myself with positive people and positive thoughts. Also was taught to be open to different philosophies and religions. This with faith in oneself (and goals) would be enough to face life’s challenges and strive towards a richer and calmer life. And i can’t thank them enough for what I’ve imbibed and follow.
        Hence(citing just one of the many experiences), it is difficult for me to understand when 5/8 yr old’s fast for 8/10 days only consuming water and celebrations are marked with pomp (luncheons are planned, gifts exchanged so on…) does the child know why he did it? For what? In most cases No!
        Are we able to differentiate and understand the difference between and meaning of faith, religion, rituals, beliefs??? And the significance of these in achieving a blissful life? I am really not sure….

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      2. Valid points Deepa
        and thanks for posting your personal journey and take on this imp subject
        The example of the 8/10 year old child going on a nirjali fast: I see what you are saying
        but think: is the child not demonstrating his faith and belief in his parents?and the society around him who heap approbation on his act?
        Possibly our parents were made differently when they gave us independence and allowed our coming to age on our own
        But to me that is merely a different model than the South Indian Bramhin families where knowing all puja archana in rote is the only way you will “grow”
        who is to decide which model is right?
        maybe all are right?
        again questions that i have no answers to
        but worth pondering over

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  15. Good one… Believe that being compassionate to the living is the true offering to the higher force in the cosmos, whatever name you choose to give it

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    1. I am in violent agreement to that.
      Praju the most amazing personal experience I have had of this is when my friend philosopher and guide Arun Bhende lost his son. He rang up to tell me the news as he did not want me to hear from anyone else. When he heard a party going on the background( It was Rashmi’s birthday and kids were making lot of noise) he put down the phone saying we will talk tomorrow.
      Next day when I ring him up he says I did not want to spoil Rashmi’s birthday but this is the news: I lost my son!!!
      I still cry when I remember the “compassion for the living” that Arun exemplified in his act. Few people can rise so much above themselves and put others before self. When it happens it is the best creation one can experience
      We are fortunate to have such saints and true believers in our lives

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  16. Vikas as a firm believer not in God but values I think rather than envying people their faith its best to just see where they stand on the scale of humaneness. I have often seen people being religious but mean human beings and those who are atheists or those who are agnostics but full of the milk of human kindness. And I think that’s all that matters for after all everything else is mithya. Enjoyed the piece though. Do read Sandeep Khare’s poem nastik. It’s my all time favourite.

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    1. Peeti thanks for your comments.
      my envy is to the fact that they can hang their doubt on another hook and live life in trust. I still find it charming that some people can do that.
      Of course when the Book of Account is opened it will be Abu Ben Adhem’s of the world who will score well regardless of their professed faith.
      Remember the story of the farmer who slogged tirelessly and spoke God’s name only twice in the day when he took rest from his strenuous labour? And when God declared him a “better bhakta” than the Bramhim who daylong chanted God’s name: the answer was clear: it is not how much but how you do that weighs heavier?
      the milk of human kindness is indeed very much heavier than gold thrown routinely/faithlessly in hundis. We have all received gifts given with love and gifts just given: have we not not weighed them by intent rather than the price tags?
      Will catch up on the poem you mention. Dont remember reading it. But glad is nachiz ki cheez aap ko pasand aayi (and you said cheese!)
      Love you not so little sister

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    1. Thanks Suresh. Being an HR person has taught us to see ourselves and all around us in third person: as spectators. That perspective is important. And as I explore my relationship wit people and with god: i think that helps me a lot. Thanks my friend for your constant encourage ment

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  17. Great Expression Vikas. Though I have not validated the points that you had mentioned, but because I believe in you, I filter it as facts in my belief system. Infact any disbelief is also belief, which has roots in how you have filtered experiences. These filters are from childhood when your intellect was not matured or your distinguish judgement about events which gets strong with repetitive experience.

    Keep Rocking Vikas

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    1. Manish bhai: Mr Positivity Personified.
      Great for my blog to be blessed with yours as the first comment. This I believe my dear friend.
      Jokes apart I agree that faith and belief is a part of our growing up regime and later it requires a powerful experience to swing you either way.
      To me life is about exploring one’s own reality. I am fortunate to have friends like you to share my perspective and reality with.

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      1. I am in complete agreement with you that belief in god or almighty is a choice one has to exercise and there should be no compulsion or coercion. What counts is how good you are as a human being- are you compassionate, exhibit empathy, ready to wipe the tears of your fellow men, ready to respect others beliefs and practices. Religious beliefs has got its own sanctity but the practitioners have to understand the true meaning of the messages in their scriptures or else it becomes a mere ritual performed superficially with no end objectives. I really appreciate your choice of words and relevant quotes used to put across your point of view.gopi

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      2. Gopi sir many thanks for taking the time to read thru and comment on the blog. Yes it was mindless rituals that I too rebelled against. Unfortunately our scriptures have all the logic and rationale: but our temples and priests have chosen to make it rote and formulaic. This is difficult for the mind to accept. But at the core we all must accept a (the?) Maker and his/her guiding influence in and around us. The joy of the journey of faith is finding your own rhythm and speed in this “pilgrim’s progress” as we are all on this journey willy nilly.
        Special thanks for complimenting my choice of words and the quotations. I agonise a lot over what to use where. So your kind acknowledgement mean a lot to me

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