With the current general definition of being a religious person, I can be considered an atheist (નાસ્તિક). I rarely go to the temple, I don’t even remember the basic mantras like hanuman chalisa, chants, shlokas, I never fast, I strongly oppose outdated religious beliefs and so on.
However, with the experience of studying the Bhagvad Gita and looking at many spiritual and religious perspectives, it has come to be the opposite case. From the point of view of the Bhagvad Gita, I have found that most people, including me, knowingly or not, are on their way to being religious on different levels.
Still, when someone asks if you’re religious. How should we answer this? And on what grounds should our response be.?
This blog could give a fresh dimension to the above questions.
- Principles of being religious.
From the point of view of the Bhagvad Gita, the general tenets of being “religious” are as follows.
- No arrogance of one self.
- Empathy for all (no one superior, no inferior – everyone is equal to you).
- Live life in the present moment without expecting results.
- To understand one’s inner ability and to keep enhancing that ability.
- To understand the creator and it’s creation.
- Consistent devotion towards the creator.
The traditional religious path has concentrated mainly on constant devotion to the creator (Point No. 6). However, today I am concentrating on other points, which unfortunately known religious people had often overlooked.
Personally, I believe that if one follows first 5 points, then consistent devotion to the creator will be a natural course of action in his life. However if one start directly on the path of devotion for the creator without following the other religious principle, i.e. nothing but foolishness.
Of all religious principles, the understanding of the Creator and his creation is of the utmost importance. Because if one understands the creator and creation, it would be easy to follow other religious principles.
The creator is the first intelligent author who created this whole Universe.
It may seem that nature created the universe. Following question: Who created nature?
If we examine in greater depth the elements of nature, then the existence of the sun resides in its light, the existence of fire resides in its warmth, the existence of water resides in its fluidity. If there is no light, heat and fluidity respectively to sunlight, fire and water, then these elements have no existential value.
The Bhagvad Gita – Adhyay 7 describes the creator as an existential value of nature.
Creator has multiple role and it can be understood in infinite number of forms. However the closest and easiest way to understand can be its form of our human body.
In general, our body is nothing more than a collection of atoms. However if we open our body, then we realize that our body is not only accumulation of atoms, but it’s a well-planned and well-co-ordinated body that looks at all aspects of its survival. Then who thought for this coordination ? Can atoms be the thinking machine ? If we ask this question, then we can understand the role of the creator as “creative coordinator” of all the atoms.
However creator role does not end with creation but his role also extends to be the maintainer of the world.
Let’s look at one of the five world elements i.e. Earth, here we can also realize that creator not only coordinate the creation but also maintain the creation.
Earth moves 25,000 miles a day, per hour 1,040 miles. According to science, it is said that if the speed of the earth increases/decreases even slightly, then there may not be any agriculture due to atmospheric changes. So who gives this knowledge to Earth to maintain the velocity of Earth and how?.
Here the role of the creator can be also seen as the maintainer. And without this maintainer, there could be no possible existence of this Universe.
The more questions we ask, the more we realise the presence of this first intelligent author in everything we see, feel, hear, smell and taste.
This first intelligent author is commonly called the Creator/ God/ Aatma/ Soul/ Allah/ Krishna/ Christ or any possible connotation.
I will further use God from all above name for two reasons,
- If we understand the commonly known full form of God, then it gives holistic view of God.
G – Generator (Creator),
O – Operator (Maintener),
D – Destroyer (Third role of creator)
- “God” being religious neutral name.
After understanding the existence of God everywhere, one may wonder why we are unable to see God then.
Why we are not able to see God. ?
Let’s understand with below example.
Eg:- One man went into the jungle and became thirsty after awhile. He observed that the jungle is so green without rain, that there must surely be a lake or a river nearby. He looked for water all over but he didn’t find a river or lake for the water. Alas, a man of sound mind saw him and called this man home and served him water.
To supplement his curiosity, he asked this sane man how the jungle has so much greenery in spite of the absence of river or lake around. How trees nurture greenery with no water.
The sane man responded that the roots of the tree can use stored ground water to keep them green when there is no rain. But humans have no roots in the ground so they have to dig deep to obtain water. Humans need to understand the right place to find water rather than go with the flow of senses.
The reason we are unable to see/sense/hear/taste God is because we seek God in the wrong place.
What happened in the traditional religious principle that it had limited God’s availability in temples/churches/mosques/sacred places..
From the 7th to the 10thAdhyay in Bhagvad Gita, all forms of God has been explained. In 10thAdhyay which is popularly known as Vibhuti Yog, the author has described, how our human senses can also feel God presence.
If I explain the crux in glance, then God existence is in everything as life energy and his intelligence pervades the maintenance of this world. Every creation we can see, feel, hear, taste and feel in this universe originates from the same creator. And we, as humans, have received the special gift of understanding the role of the creator and creation. God is the essence for the celebration of one’s own creation.
But there are many who do not find any reason to be driven to understand God. Most people today is engrossed in fighting for better survival in this world. In this process, there is a tendency to forget who their creator is and why behind their own creation. And this is because of the presence of a big cloud between us and God and i.e. Maya.
- What is biggest Maya in this world ?
When one consider the existence of the world as the permanent truth, then it is biggest Maya.
Maya is delusional. Even though being the part of maya those who remains detached from maya is what religion/spirituality helps us to accomplish.
We should not waste this life remaining entangled in maya of this world as other animal species. And thus religion helps us to escape from this greater maya.
In our Upanishad reference is made to the very intrinsic aspect of our manifestation, i.e. “Tata Tvam Asi”. Tata means Creator, Tvam means You (Creation). This means that you are the creator and the irony is that you are the creation.
In Bhagvad Gita, in 1st to 6thAdhyay, Tvam is Explained (What is you and How is you and How Should be you), from 7th to 12thAdhyay it describes Tata (Who is God, his Presence and his Form description) and from 13th to 18thAdhyay, it is about adjoinment of Tata and Tvam. “Tata Tvam Asi” means when creation adjoin with creator, creation becomes the reflection of creator.
This thus explains to us the final bond between the creator and creation.
- What religion do for us. ?
Religion is the medium which make us constantly realize that there is someone above us who is all pervasive in this universe. One may consider this form in any possible connotation like Krishna, Ram, Allah, Christ, Buddha, Mahavir, etc,. Religion makes us understand our role as temporary visitors to this world. Then it help one realize that the creator (God) within the creation (Oneself) is permanent. And then it make us further realise one’s current manifestation as impermanent. Finally, religion teaches us that there is the same creator (God) in all creation. This realization of oneself will then bring peace, happiness and love into life forever. To elaborate,
Peace– There is nothing to achieve, as you know, there is nothing to gain from here. Everlasting peace without arrogance and expectation.
Happiness– As this manifestation has been chosen by one for celebration, exploration and dedication, there is just happiness in this role.
Love – Everything you see through your senses is You. If you can love yourself, you can love each creation.
Today most of the perceived “Religious People” have taken the way of “સેવાપૂજા”
સેવા–Altruism, પૂજા – Devotion.
To see altruism as devotion or devote in the form of Altruism. This religious path is very noble, however this path of સેવાપૂજા is often devoid of Knowledge(જ્ઞાન). Here many people have considered the સેવાપૂજા as serving only god in the mode of doing morning puja, going temple, jap mala’s, yagna’s, chanting Shloka’s, participate in religious bhajan’s, doing fasting, etc. I do not have aversion for all this way of serving to god. However, I averse, when it is devoid of knowledge / meaningful reason behind doing this activities.
Here, there is ignorance in understanding the difference between theistic and atheistic.
Being Atheist (નાસ્તિક) can be decided by two characteristics.
- One who does not believe that there exists a power beyond himself or nature.
- One who does not have knowledge of the creator in full form and cannot differentiate between the creator from nature (False Ego).
Today unfortunately most perceived theist people often goes in to the atheist category, as they have rarely tried to put more thoughts in getting the knowledge of the creator in it’s real form.
In Gujarati Language, to go above the way of સેવાપૂજા, there is another religious way which is more ideal than the former and i.e. “પાઠપૂજા”.
પાઠ – Attain Knowledge, પૂજા –Devote towards that Knowledge.
First attain knowledge of creator and then devote in varied forms of worship, meditation, karma, altruism, etc.
And beauty of this પાઠપૂજા is that once you attain the knowledge, devotion towards the knowledge and also સેવાપૂજા will automatically be the integral part of life.
- Worship (ઉપાસના) VS. Devotion (ભક્તિ).
In understanding religion and religious people we also need to understand the difference between Worship (ઉપાસના) and Devotion (ભક્તિ).
When one goes to God after understanding the powerlessness and helplessness of oneself, then he is worshiper of the Creator.
Most people worship God rather devoted to God. And this happens when they fail to understand the role of God in the world and its mode of existence.
Today, people when left with nothing, worship God. However, in this case, one goes to God as a beggar and only requests worldly happiness. We often give more attention to modes of worship, to rules of worship, but we forget the essence of worship. This often makes us God fearing community.
There is difference between worship (ઉપાસના) and Devotion (ભક્તિ).
- Devotion requires acceptance of four major philosophies.
- God is the creator of all beings and the all-knowing one.
- God created this universe and all the elements in the universe (including us) and it is all pervasive.
- No matter what we have in life, it ought to be contentment. (No begging for worldly things – It also brings the concept of gratitude for all that you have in life).
- The apathy of his own manifestation. (As one is just visitor – one rather paying more attention to manifestation should be more concerned about its role. Manifestation will die, but role will remain).
Devotion can be attained with certain fundamental human principles like.
- No greed and envy,
- No fear,
- Empathy for all
- One who has won over anger,
- One who knows creation and creator,
- The one who can distinguish between the creator and the creation and also understand the relationship between the creation and the creator.
This basic human principles make one religious and spiritual.
Finally, one may wonder if I obtain all the fundamental human principles and also the knowledge of the creator and creation and understand it’s relation then why I need to worship God.
To understand that, imagine oneself to be the boss of the Company.
Now there are two types of employees in your company.
- There is one employee who does all the required hard work wholeheartedly but seldom shows respect or praise to boss.
- There is second employee who does not do the work assigned to him wholeheartedly but always keep praising boss.
What type of employee one will prefer for one’s company. ?
One will tend to choose the 1stPerson. As there is no sense of good morning (Praise and respect) if he does not work wholeheartedly. That’s so simple to answer, right?
If this philosophy is so simple for normal humans to understand, imagine God/ Aatma/ Soul/ Krishna/ Ram/ Allah/ Christ/ Nanakji/ Ma Amba who have created this complex world would ever choose the second employee ?
One who go to temple everyday, do lots of fasting, remember all chants and shlokas but does not follow the basic principles of Human, should deserve to be true employee of God ?
Let us then consider the possibility of a third kind of Employee.
This third kind of employee is the one who follows all human principles and also recognizes the grace of God.
This is the third kind of employee that God loves the most. Because here love and respect come in two ways. Because here employee acknowledge the grace of boss as he understood the importance of opportunity provided to him.
Going to any religious places and following religious rituals are the form to pay gratitude to the creator for it’s creation. This wondrous world is meant to be celebrated. And we humans have some special elements in the form of Sense, Mind and Intelligence. With that, we are able to understand the world and make it a better place generation after generation. And all this is only possible with the power of God. And with continued gratitude for the power that God has given us, this will slowly help to attain love for God and the final stage will be union with God.
Nowadays most people go to religious places with an expectation that by showing gratitude, God will give them the worldly happiness required such as money, prestige, wife, children, etc. However that’s not what religious places are meant for. The temple, the mosque, the church, etc., are the places where one can bond with the creator with peace. We offer water, milk, flowers, candles to the god for gratitude rather expectation.
Today many of our generation never goes to the temple because they distrust that it can help them. This distrust because when they look at people who worship God, they see that these people seldom observe the basic human principle. The principle of love for all, happiness in everything and peace in mind.
On both sides, that is a loss for the human race. True religion is somehow lost in between. In no way do I want to disregard the traditional modes of worship, there is a strong science behind this tradition. However, I simply wish that the tradition be followed after having reached the right knowledge and after having understood the real science behind it.
So next time, if somebody asks you, are you religious? You better know the right answer.
Thanks for the read. Your comment, like, critic, share and any acknowledgement will give a boost to improve myself to bring better content in the future. Lots of Love.