Monday, September 9, 2013

Tolerating religion - taking the easy option

I came across the following Reading the Bible (Or the Koran, Or the Torah) Will Make You an Atheist from is-this-the-first-honest-bible, which also had this wonderful link God Is Disappointed in You: Original Sin.

I had personally been relieved when the anglican school allowed us to opt out of the bible class and take moral education instead. My teacher was very disappointed. I was the best student. I could answer the questions as expected to the delight of our teacher :) I never had the courage to actually tell him what I thought about what he was teaching us.  Aside from the emotional scar, the content was GIGO.

Similarly, I avoided any argument or discussion about my views of Ramayana. Aside from the childhood memory of loving Rama burning the Ravana effigies on Dussehra, I can't ever recall any appreciation of his actions. I preferred Ramayana Retold by Aubrey Menen. I had read it abroad (my father had bought it). I believe it was banned in India. More recently, I also loved Sita Sings the Blues (on Wikipedia).

Stories from Mahabharata were different. Even Yudhishtra could be made to lie! The moral ambiguities of the heroes were quite a learning experience. The irony of Dron Acharya forcing Eklavya to cut his right thumb and then both of them fight on the same side against Arjun is something which still troubles me.

As a child, I am told I troubled my parents because we visited a temple ruin and there was no priest to give me prasaad. However, for as long as I can remember, I have been extremely uncomfortable whenever I had to go to a temple or any religious place. I tolerated it out of politeness. Even today, I take deep breaths and ignore statements about "god's will" or similar statements as meaningless and not worth offending my neighbours and relations. But, I have to make a strenuous effort to avoid the temptation to respond.

I suppose the content mentioned above had a greater impact today because of the depressing headline about pointless violence in today's paper.

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