Yes! The question that keeps buzzing in one’s head – especially when one begins to ‘grow-up’.
Who is God?
Did you ask your mother this when you were a kid? Most probably not. You just sat beside her, holding her dupatta, shyly – folding your hands and devoutly – bowing your head.
Why would you do that? Just because you are a kid and would believe in anything – even a Santa Clause or because you are more ‘ grown up ‘ than others and understand faith more than anyone else?
Last week, I visited a Gurudwara in Chandni Chawk. I saw a 4 year old sitting next to his father. The child sat still – very unusual for a child of his age – and it surprised me how he understood the sanctity that needed to be preserved. He sat there quietly, without fidgeting and listening to the Gurbaani. I really don’t know what he understood of it – but he was there – more focused than any other devotee…
…and that’s what made me think. Think about his belief in God. Think about my belief in God. Think about the times my parents prayed and I just sat next to them. Think about abstract things. Think about the introduction of the ‘God’ in our lives.
Who told me what God was or who He was? Was it something that came to me naturally as breathing. Was I taught? and if I was – why don’t I remember. I just remember my mother telling me the ‘names’ of the Gods – (only valid in Hindu Religion). But she didn’t tell me what God was. I knew it – even an atheist knows it. Or, was I just simply aping my parents – without asking them the question. I asked them about the sky being blue. I asked them why we sneeze. I asked them how I was born. But why didn’t I ask them about God. Did I know it all?
I knew what I should have known – and I know what I shouldn’t have known. I sat quietly, staring at my teacher, observing her wrinkled frowned face and her pepper colored hair. She suddenly asked us to introduce ourselves. It was my 1st day in Class I. I must have been 6 or 7 years old.
As I grew nervous and my heart began to run a 100 meter sprint, everyone introduced themselves one by one. The closer my turn came – the quicker it ran. And then it came – now, I could hear my heart as if it were beating on the outside – it was so loud that even my teacher could hear it. She asked me to relax. All this nervousness was for a trivial reason. For a reason which shouldn’t have existed. For a reason I had no answer to – and now when I have an answer, I choose not to answer.
I gave my name, age and my father’s occupation. And then I stopped. The teacher then walked close to me and with her saggy smile asked me, “… and what’s your religion?”. To this I had no answer. And I said, “I don’t know.”
Luckily, for me – I guess we were too young – I was spared the embarrassment. The teacher instructed me to ask my parents and my new classmates just stayed mum. Wonder how they would react, if we were in college. But, that’s when I asked my parents – “Mother, what’s my religion?”
Clearly, there are things that you know from your gut and things that you learn in this world – the choice is one’s own, but it is always interesting to reflect on it – time to time – you just don’t know when you ‘grow up’.