The idea of a Creator or Divine Being, as well as the religion a person follows can usually be traced back to the family. In my case, its safe to say, that the parents neither taught me about any religion nor expected me to follow, any. Yes, but my Father who is a Turban clad, devout Sikh man, did not speak to his son for a whole year, when he chopped off his hair! Sometimes, I wonder if he regrets that. Anyhow, when I was little my family lived in a house that was situated bang opposite a Hindu temple. Once I would return from school, I would sit in the room that faced the temple and would watch the rituals and at times participate in them. At the age of eight or nine, I can’t recall how it happened but I remember singing kirtan with Sikh women who were as old as my grandmother and then of course there was the missionary school upbringing. But despite all these influences, I can’t recall really believing in a God until I started to hate him! At some stage after my Mom burnt herself, I started viewing God as this devious man, an opponent in a game of chess who always won because he had rigged the game. For the longest time even in my reformed avatar when things went wrong, I caught myself thinking, ‘nice move’.
I was returning to Delhi from my annual, month long sabbatical from the Valley when I typed The God In Paradise. Before, you start to misjudge me for a God-fearing, pious being, let me clarify that it was an incomplete post. Have you ever heard the saying, ‘Sau chuhe kha ke billi haaj pe challi ?’, that would sum me up. Before I get accused of being self depreciative yet again, lets just call me God’s prodigal child. On my way back from Kashmir, I stopped over at Anandpur Sahib- historically one of the most important sacred places for a Sikh. As I stood amongst the devout at the Takht Sri Keshgahr Sahib in the wee hours of the morning all I could think off was taking a dump. After over five hundred kilometers of driving, God was the last thing on my mind.
Over the years, due to the questions in my head and the answers I just can’t seem to find, I find myself gravitating towards sites of pilgrimage in Ajmer, Pushkar, Amristsar, Anandpur Sahib, Ludhiana, Kashmir and of course Delhi. Though, there is something magical and powerful, about congregations singing hymns together other than that and my general need to watch and capture the show, I’ve come to the conclusion I ain’t going to find My God in a building! So, who and what is my God and why do I even believe in the existence of one? The latter, I have an answer to.
.Through, the worst times of my life there have been stranger’s who have walked into my life for incredibly short periods and changed the very course of my existence. After much deliberation I’ve realized that it’s happened way too many times to be a coincidence and there’s absolutely nothing about me that can perpetually attract that. Plus, I survived two thousand fucking fourteen purely on God and long distance phone calls.
. I’m the rebellious, reckless soul, who takes more risks than are considered advisable. I’m alive and kicking despite my best efforts and my brother who was so sorted, who did everything right is gone. How and why would that happen, if there was No God, No Preplan and No Destiny?
. Where do our thoughts originate from? I read somewhere, thoughts are the arrangements and the characterizations that our mind makes of the energy that the body perceives. If two people receive the same energy why are their thoughts different? They are coloured by their experiences, you may think. But what about all those extraordinary people who somehow manage to have thoughts that aren’t skewed by their circumstances?
You may think whatever you want to, but I’ve been beaten (or have risen) into submission. Anyhow, as to who and what is my God? I don’t know who to ask. Like I say,’If you want to stop believing in marriage, hang around married people and if you want to stop believing in God, speak to the Priest.’ Each time, I start to look for a religion to follow, I can’t help but look up the similarities rather than differences between the major religions.
Similarities between Hinduism And Sikhism
Both Hindus and Sikhs believe in Karma.
Both are cremated after death.
Both believe in reincarnation.
Since most Sikhs have Hindu ancestors their daily lives are filled with their practices. A majority of Sikhs go on pilgrimages, fast ( karva chautth) and believe in the caste system all of which are against Sikhism.
Intermarriage though not openly encouraged is still considered acceptable.
Similarities between Christianity and Sikhism
Oneness of God- Though, both the religions preach the oneness of God, the Sikhs believe in a formless one and the Christians believe in the Holy trinity.
Charity- Helping the needy is an important aspect of Christianity as well as Sikhism.
Both believe that the body is the temple of God.
Similarities between Judaism and Sikhism
1. Both religions give importance ‘to being in this world but not of it’, therefore they are householder religions.
2. After prayers the followers have a community meal.
3. Judaism and Sikhism preach the existence of a formless God.
4. The Jews cover their scripture- The Torah, in a special cloth and then place it on a special table. The Sikhs also follow a similar practice with the Granth Sahib.
5. The head is covered during prayer.
Similarities between Islam and Sikhism
Both religions are Monotheistic.
Sikhs and Muslims believe in a formless God.
Both religions are against idol worship.
The Sikhs believe in Dharam Yudha and the Muslims in Jihad. The war of righteousness, makes both militarized religions.
Charity is one of the most important basic tenets of Sikhism and Islam. In Islam it is called Zakat and in Sikhism Dasvandh, where 10% of a person’s income is supposed to be given for important causes.
Followers cover their head for prayers.
Though both Islam and Sikhism reject the caste system, they have been unsuccessful in eradicating it from amongst their own followers.
According to the Granth Sahib- the best religion to follow is, ”Of all religions, the best religion is to chant the name of the Lord and to engage in pious deeds.” That leaves me exactly where I started…who realized that consciously choosing to follow a religion or to follow none is actually hard work.