Hanuman Chalisa and a Paracetamol

For two days now, I have been racking my head to come up with something witty so that I can post it as part of Blog Action Day. For those who are unaware, Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. This way they aim to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. I personally like the idea and feel that it presents a platform for numerous voices to be heard. Wether it makes a difference or not is the issue, for we atleast made an effort and that itself is satisfying! I had come up with something last year but then the theme was ‘Environment’ and hence easy. With poverty as the theme for this year, I was struggling to put something together that could be passed of as readable. With the deadline approaching and an empty draft I sought help from a higher authority. The revered economist and spiritual leader Baba Bangali. Dappan Koothu seems to have become his second home after the ‘White-House‘, and I was glad he condescended. So here’s what transpired between me and good ol’ Baba.

Me: Tera hi hamaam baba, tera hi hamaam.

BB: First tell me, since when have you become a bath-soap salesman? The recession hit you that bad?

Me: Shubh Shubh bolo Baba, what if the thataastu gods hear it? I was just asking for help and for a change tried Sanskrit.

BB: Shaanth gadha dhaari Bheem, Shaanth. You might want to sit for a few Sanskrit Bharati classes again. It’s ‘traahi maam’ and not a popular bath-soap as you mentioned.

Me: Pardon my ignorance Baba, I’m outta ideas for Blog Action Day and I need to meet a deadline with my next post on poverty.

BB: I thought poverty and world peace were reserved for beauty pageants, it’s spread to you bloggers as well? You sure they won’t object? They won’t have anything to answer in the final round otherwise!

Me: Like anyone cares for those rounds, it’s only the eye candy we are interested in. See what happens when you put them on a pedestal, they run for Vice President! Before we side track again, can you help me out here?

BB: The answer to your question lies within you. Lets trade places with someone living on the streets or maybe a tribal in a remote forest. Imagine yourself in his shoes for a minute and tell me what you see.

Me: I see hunger, disease and lack of proper shelter and clothing. My wife is very feeble but is yet struggling to till the soil in the fields where she works. My daughter crawls on the hot sand, her knees are bruised and she is eating mud unable to suppress her hunger. My youngest son is sick and weak, hunger has got the better of him and has cried himself to sleep. My eldest son though only a 10yr old is struck by polio, he works in a stable.

BB: If you are facing so many hardships, then why don’t you pray to the almighty for a way out? A better life for your family, food to eat and clothes to wear.

Me: I have lost faith in the almighty Baba, the cries of my children go unheard, the plight of my family is overlooked, I am beginning to question his very existence!

BB: A very wise bhakta of mine recently said ‘faith is an unwavering trust in someone bigger and better than you and me’. In all my years, this is probably the simplest and most effective description of faith that I have come across. He also goes to add and I shall quote this time around.

At various times in my life, I’ve looked at Him as a teacher, counselor, guardian, friend and big brother, and it has helped me a lot whenever I found myself at a cross-roads and felt indecisive, whenever I was disappointed at the world, whenever I was afraid in the face of danger, whenever I doubted my own abilities to succeed, and most of all, whenever I wanted to do something unkind. Without Him, my successes wouldn’t be there, and my failures wouldn’t have been so soft, and my moral compass wouldn’t ever point North.[link]

Me: How do you expect me to have unwavering trust in a force that has never answered any of my prayers. A force that watched my second child die of hunger. A force that prefers to ignore the plight of his own creation.

BB: So you
the almighty
for your plight
So you blame the almighty for your plight? is he responsible for what you are today? If the society has ostracized you, then it’s your own cowardice to blame. It is your lack of unity to fight back when one of you is bullied upon. The creator created everyone equal, you have divided yourselves into religions and castes. You allowed yourselves to be exploited and till their fields. You allowed yourselves to be looked down upon for the professions you chose. Pray may I ask, how do you then have a right to blame him? You allowed others to dominate you and snatch your lands. You endured years of oppression without fighting back and now pray to the god to resurrect your life? Is there like a magic switch that will brighten your lives, or is there a panacea that will solve all your problems? They are all man made and we have to fight our own demons!

Me: Bah all you hardliners are the same. The only guy who sympathizes with us is the missionary from the neighboring village. He preaches the name of the real god and even cured my youngest son. That is the real faith, where the god answers your prayers. They explained the evils of this society and how the god I have been praying to, is a fake!

BB: Ah now it gets interesting! Just because nobody tells you nice things about your religion or tries to hold you back you embrace a different god? You are free to embrace another religion but then on what basis? Just because someone preached the beautiful things in it? If you convert because you believe in it then I have no qualms about it. Converting because it brings food to the table or medicines for your children, makes me sad. I agree that one has the right to follow any religion, but not on the pretext of belittling another. Proclaiming the superiority of one god by calling another god fake is unacceptable in my books.

Me: He gave us money for listening to him, promised us more on conversion. My child will be cured by the holy medicines and prayers to the lord. The false gods have lost their powers with their disrespectful conduct, I have found my real god so stop brainwashing me!

BB: Brainwash? One doesn’t have to shoot a man who is running towards a cliff. Vinashakaale vipareetha buddhi. You have made your choice and there’s no point in trying to talk you out of it. However I wonder if I had got to you before the missionary with a Hanuman Chalisa in my hand and a strip of paracetamol in another. Would the story have been different then? I guess instead of taking up arms against each other, the people need to take up their religious books and go on a preaching spree. This seems more like votebank politics where you buy votes here you’d buy faith! Never realized that faith could be a commodity that can be bought with a wad of cash, an strip of analgesics and a book of prayers!

Me: Crib all you want Baba, for you can never understand the plight of us downtrodden and impoverished folks below the poverty line. Faith for us doesn’t lie in the path to righteousness or moksha. We believe in the god who feeds us and cures us, the rest can go to hell!

BB: Faith has become like in the Age of Empires where you constantly need to preach and heal people lest they get converted! The real issue of poverty is eclipsed by faith and religion, what a sad day it is!

PS: before flaming me, do read these contrasting views, this one and this one as well.

(Image courtesy: BBC)