Little Srijith was crying- inconsolably. He had received a hiding from his mother for tasting the laddoos before they could be offered for the pooja. Hearing his sobs, his grandmother hobbled up to him and offered him another piece of laddoo. He gave it a glance, took it and flung it out...
Srijith's grandmother would feed him stories of God's kindness. While his mother- a disciplinarian and a devout lady- would often warn him against God's hot displeasure. But she also taught him to have faith in the same God. Srijith was no Socrates. But, hearing so many things about this 'God' confused him to no end. Even the other day, when he had fallen off a mango tree while trying to pick fruit, his mother admonished him saying, "God punishes naughty children! I hope you learnt your lesson." His grandmother was different. She took him to a nearby temple and both of them prayed for his wounds to heal quickly, which they did.
Srijith's father was a man of Science and was rarely seen at home. A theoretical physicist, Mr. Bose was often busy with his research papers. But whenver he had time, he would spend it with his little son. Mr. Bose never touched upon the topic 'God'. He was an Atheist. Srijith would wonder why his father never spoke of this 'God', but never asked him. He would enjoy his father's company- precious little moments, they would be.
Fast forward, forty years. Srijith was a Professor in Theology. He could vividly recall all those memories of his childhood. His parents, and his doting grandmother. He never forgot what each of them instilled in him. All that had ignited a desire in him- a desire to know about 'God'. And he took every opportunity that he chanced upon.
"God's Love" was the first book(let) he received, at his school's fete. He was attracted by the parables of Christ. Amar Chitra Katha was there as well... He read those pictured books and was drawn in to another world. He happened to read the tales of Narada- who often had some trick up his sleeve- and laughed loud. He read how Guru Arjan was tortured- and cried. He also read how Ramakrishna Paramahamsa practised the major religions and realised they lead to the same goal.
'Jal', 'Paani', 'Water'... Didn't they look, feel and taste the same? Our Professor was lost in thought. He was still confounded by what his mother and grandmother would say. He could not comprehend how God, an embodiment of love and kindness, could also be God, that beheld fear. He was being Agnostic in his rumination... He thought of all the news he had read- animals being sacrificed, and humans as well! Was this 'God' blood-thirsty too? Had his mother forgotten to tell him that? Or was this restricted to the Mayans and Aztecs of yore- which had suddenly surfaced in some parts of today. And what about these 'God-men', supposedly blessed by the Divine...
During one of his lectures, a student had come up with a statement, "God is man's manifestation. Man needed someone to put the blame on, and lo! There was God..." Srijith wondered what his mother or grandmother would say to that!
In a tension-filled world, Srijith reflected, people go to any extent to find solace. One such place is God. Be it a Christian view of following the Right path, a Satanic view of following the Left path, a Wiccan view of the oneness with Nature... Anything! 'Tolerance' was no longer a watchword. Srijith saw that more often than not, the tension people faced was a consequence of their own actions coupled with the environment they were in. Renouncing was definitely not the answer. 'Materialism' was the new watchword.
One has to change with times. Srijith observed how most of the Hindu priests were doing well- priesthood was a lucrative profession; performing marriages, house warming ceremonies, death rituals, etc. He wondered further- Is it wrong to be 'materialistic'? After all, you want to lead a comfortable life with your family. Anyone would wish for all the comforts life has to offer... In fact, don't elders wish for the same and bless you? A priest is a man of God. And he is expected to be simple. But he has a family, and he has every right to wish for their comfort. Celibacy is not relevant today- not to everyone. People hope to do well and live their dream.
Hope is a good thing; may be, not the best of things. But all good things never die.