Thursday, December 06, 2012

Questions about religions

I have been thinking about some questions for some time. As I have been reading different philosopher's philosophical books, I have become more enchanted with these questions. Now coming to the point -

Is God a dictator?

Is God/Allah/Bhagwan a dictator? Dictators keep their subjects down in control so that people would worship him. Almost all the great dictators in history forced their subjects to worship or fear him. God is similar, isn't it? Everyone of us, either Hindus, Muslims, Christians or Buddhists, we all have been institutionalized to accept God as the supreme head. Why is that? Why would He/She be considered supreme? Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi also considered themselves to be supreme in their respective countries. So then, what's the difference? If the devotion to God arises within us, then we would worship Him/Her. Why would He/She tell us to worship Him/Her through Gita or Quran? Just like dictators force us to abide by their words, isn't God doing the same with us? What happened to our own wishes? Don't we have free will? Where is our freedom then? To be relieved from the shackles of subservience, people fought against the British or Pakistanis etc. On the other hand, we have been subservient to God since our birth. Did we ever realize that?

Or is this whole thing created by the society? Our society has brought us up in the way where God has taken the position as a dictator. Do the figureheads in the society determine this dictatorship of God for everyone? Do the everyday people just abide by whatever these figureheads instruct us? Should we?

So, what does it come to?
Is God a symbol given by society which the figureheads of the society create for use to change things in the manner they want?

Is there really anything as virtues or sins?

Who determines virtues or sins? If God determines them, then He/She is the creator for both virtues and sins. We all are created by Him/Her - that's how we have been told for years. Then, He/She does the virtues or sins through us. If we all go according to our own wishes, then we have to take the responsibility of our actions. But can we follow our own footsteps? God himself/herself created us, according to Him/Her. He/She directs us.

What should we call sin? A disabled boy who after his father's death forced to take up the responsibility of the household where the mother is sick and the sister is very young. At that point, nobody takes him for employment, fearing he is too young to do the job. Thus, he is forced to join the local gang group, gets himself involved in loots, robbery. So then, is his action a sin? What is virtue then?

Such examples can be said for virtue also. A multi-millionaire does his business through dishonest means. He eventually goes up the ladder by ripping others off. After becoming a billionaire, he creates employment for many thousands. Moreover, he gives out free clothes, provides food for poor people in the area on a weekly basis. Additionally, he opens up a senior citizens home. So, all the means that he had taken to reach this level, were they all sins? Then, whatever he did in the later part of his life, were they not virtues? If he had not taken the path that he took in the earlier part of his life, then he would not have been able to do what he did in the later part of his life. Thus, without those earlier sins, he wouldn't be able to do all the virtues later, would he?

Now, specifically in regards to Hinduism...

Why is space black?

In the Srimadbhagvad Gita, Krishna (God) called himself "light". He mentioned this in chapter-10. Now the question is, why is the whole space black? If God is considered to be light, then why is the vast, infinite universe black? The universe is part of God. Then, even though God had a vast, infinite part called universe/space that is dark/black, he is calling himself light. In our human eyes, the Sun or other stars with light are very small when looking at the space. Why would God confine our vision so that the bigger part of the universe is black, in comparison to stars or Sun?

Is God not arrogant?

Again, in the 10th chapter of Srimadbhagvad Gita, to describe His image, Krishna (God) portrayed Himself with various analogies. In those analogies or examples, most (if not all), were compared with the supreme of their respective aspects. For example, Lord Indra of Gods, Narada of sages, Chitraratha of Gandharvas, Airavata of elephants, Sheshanaag of snakes/serpents, Prahlada of demons, Garuda of birds etc. From these examples we can see that God compared himself/herself with all the best elements that we humans know of. Does that mean He/She is not present in the rest of the things out there? If not, then why did He/She mention those specific examples to Arjun? If He/She is not present in rest of the things, then who is present in everything else? If the son gets A+ in exam, then the father will show affection for son, otherwise not. Is that what is portrayed by Krishna (God) here?

Besides, what is Krishna (God) trying to accomplish by giving such examples? He/She is present in these things. That means whatever is great or best is Him/Her. So then, if I proudly say that I was born in a royal family (consider it is true). I have a huge mansion. I have a lot of land properties. Wouldn't people call me arrogant then? Won't I be considered egoist? The descriptions that Krishna (God) gave in Chapter-10 of Gita, aren't they forms of arrogance from the supreme being? Or is it not considered arrogance when He/She says such things, but not a regular person like me?

However, He/She himself/herself told us in Gita to be above the Trigunas: Sattva, Rajas, Tamas. He/She himself/herself couldn't go beyond Trigunas, but telling us to surpass Trigunas. How is that possible? If we accept that He/She is beyond Trigunas, then what is Gita? It's 10th chapter? Aren't those examples God's arrogance?

Why didn't Lord Vishnu take birth in a poor family?

Did any of the avatars of Lord Vishnu take birth in a poor family? Let's start with each of them -

  • Matsya Avatar: It's a fish. There is no rich or poor.
  • Kurma Avatar: Same thing. An animal. No question of rich or poor.
  • Varaha Avatar: Same as last two.
  • Narasimha Avatar: Even though it's half-human, half-lion, it didn't stay long in Earth. Thus, no question of rich or poor.
  • Vamana Avatar: Considering the other avatars, this one was the closest to any poor family. He had to beg from Mahabali. Other than that, there was not much of an impact of poverty in Vamana's life.
  • Parashurama Avatar: Although born in a sage family, His life was not hugely affected by poverty. 
  • Rama Avatar: It won't be wrong to say that He was born in the richest family of all the other avatars. Excluding the 14 years of forest exile, Rama didn't face incredible poverty. 
  • Krishna Avatar: He was also born in a well-to-do family & raised in Nanda's house where He did not have to face poverty immensely. After death of Kans, He lived in royal palace for most of His life.
  • Buddha Avatar: Some don't consider Buddha to be part of Lord Vishnu's 10 avatars. But many scriptures tell us that Gautam Buddha was one of the avatars of Vishnu. As far as I know, He was also born in a royal family. He willingly left royal home to meditate for 40 years or so to attain nirvana.
  • Kalki Avatar: Although He hasn't come yet, scriptures say that He would also take birth in a relatively middle-class family.

Now the question is why did I mention about Lord Vishnu's birth in a poor family? In today's world, more than 50% of world population live under poverty. Many of them live on a daily paycheck-to-paycheck. But our Lord Vishnu was born in middle-class or royal families most of the time, if not all. Why didn't He take birth in a poor family to show us an example of how to live life when born in a poor family? To better give us first-hand experience of how poor people should live life, why didn't He consider at least one of His avatar to be born in a impoverished family? How one should take care of little siblings, sick parents while also maintain school, college? To leave example like that, couldn't He be born in a poor family? Or was there some other reason behind it?

Why is there so much jewelry in God's appearance?

We can't say with 100% guarantee what the other reason was. But we can at least speculate from the images that we have of Gods that He/She liked jewelry. The biggest proof of that is the various forms of jewelry in Gods & Goddesses, mainly. In a Bengali film (forgot the name) by Bhanu Banerjee, he questioned why do Ma Laxmi wear so much jewelry? What is the problem in appearing as plain, simple figure? In today's world, how many of us can afford golds or diamonds? Seeing so much jewelry in Devi Laxmi, wouldn't the women of current society be inclined toward jewelry? But those of us who barely earn to keep three meals a day, they would be forced to regret their miserable life. Is that what Goddesses want?

The more you have something, the more you want it. It's a bitter truth. The more we see, the more our desires grow. So if God/Goddesses themselves portray themselves as such that our desires grow, then what does that show?

However, we also have to consider that these imagery of Gods/Goddesses were characterized by humans long time ago. If that is so, why are we still worshiping such images of Gods/Goddesses? Why aren't we changing? Just like the movie OMG! Oh My God! showed us that if God were to descend in today's world, He would wear suits, pants. So then why aren't we changing the clothing of the idols we worship? How many of us still wear dhutis or pitambars?

Why do we worship Mahamaya when we ourselves are trying to get away from Maya?

Mahamaya is another name of Devi Durga. If we break up the word, it's Maha+Maya=Mahamaya, meaning great illusion or affection. But we were told since childhood that his human life is to ultimately get away from all attachments, affections altogether to attain that Parameshwara. After 84 lakh yonis, we were given this human life to attain that Parameshwara, isn't it? So then if we were to break away from that attachment, then shouldn't we worship someone who would remove us from bondage or attach more? If Mahamaya is the ultimate great web of attachment, then why would we knowingly try to attach ourselves even more? I'm considering that Mahamaya is the ultimate great web of attachment (correct me if I'm wrong).

The way Krishna left the Earth, wasn't that suicide?

From the arrow of hunter Jara, Krishna was struck and eventually left His body. That's how we were told of Krishna's departure from the world. So then why did Krishna position Himself in such a way that the hunter consider Him to be a target? As a Kshatriya, Krishna could've fought with a warrior or even the hunter and eventually be killed. He could have died a heroic death as Abhimanyu. If someone wants to commit suicide today & lies in the track of train, then people would call his death a suicide. But who killed him? The train operator, isn't it? But still we call it a suicide. Why would it be different for Krishna?

After what Indra did, why do we still worship Him?

Indra is the king of Devatas (Gods). After drinking amrita, they attained immortality. Thus, whatever they do, there is no death for them. From reading Ramayana or Mahabharata, there are many examples of Indra's evil actions. The famous one (at least I can remember for now) is His naughty behavior with Ahalya. When Sage Gautam was not in his home (which was done by Moon God under Indra's order), Indra went into Sage Gautam's home, as the sage himself to be in a sexual intercourse with the wife, Ahalya. But when actual Sage Gautam returned home, he cursed his wife for the wrongdoing whereas the total fault was Indra's. The curse left her as a stone till Rama avatar touched her.

But our scriptures consider Ahalya as one of the five satis. So then why would Ahalya suffer for Indra's misbehavior? Why didn't Sage Gautam curse Indra?

There are various examples like this in scriptures about Indra. Why do we still worship Him even after learning about this incidents caused by Him? Why is He still the king of heaven after such behaviors? Why don't Brahma, Vishnu or Mahesh take action against Him after such repeated incidents?

If we were to compare Indra in today's world, he would be like a spoiled son of a minister. Whatever wrong He does, He is still free without any problem. The minister would repeatedly go to get bail for his son. Similarly, the Gods also causes a trouble & then seeks Brahma or Vishnu for solution. Vishnu or Brahma would relieve them from the trouble, just like the minister. Is that a wrong analogy?

What determines reincarnation?

Since childhood, we have been told that Hindus believe in reincarnation. That means we all are bound to a circle of life & death. As long as we can't attain that supreme being, Parameshwara, we can't relieve ourselves from this circle. After 84 lakh yonis, we have attained this human life, as we were told.

Now the question is what determines this reincarnation? As far as most of us know is that it is our previous life. Our previous life's actions. If that is so, then what determines the very first life? Let's consider we all were insects at first. That means everyone. That way a level-playing field is set for all. Then, who makes us do the actions in that first life? Or even the later lives? If we ourselves are doing the actions, then why is it said that God is omnipresent? Isn't that what Prahlad told his father, Hiranyakashipu about Lord Vishnu? If God is present everywhere then He/She must be present in even the insects. Then since from the beginning, we are not doing anything. God is doing the actions through us. Even the religious songs say the same thing. If that is so, then isn't God playing favoritism with some & not others? Some born in a royal family, some in beggar's family. And if He/She is not doing or controlling it, then who is? We? So then, why would we worship Him/Her when He/She is not the controller of us? Shouldn't we worship something like our mind or something that can better give us control over our actions?

Well, that's all the questions for now.

And yes, these questions didn't come to my head from watching any movies (like OMG! Oh My God! or Bhanu Banerjee's films). These were playing in my head for many years now. I was thinking of who should I ask these questions. Later I realized that I should ask as many people as I can about these questions. The more people I ask these, the more or similar answers might pop-up, thus enlarging my knowledge limit. Don't think I'm an atheist or on the verge or atheism or converting to some other religion. Nothing of that sort. Since I am a Hindu, I want to learn more about our Hinduism. These questions will further enhance my understanding of Hinduism, I believe.

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