Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Erosion of Faith

Before I make my point I would like to tell you a story. It is not a true story. I just made it up when I saw a person wearing a Tilak of ash. Even though it is not real story it is a plausible one. The story goes like this:

Story: Family Tradition

There was a rich man who had emmance wealth and everything that one need to live a comfortable life along with his wife and two sons. His health was good and family was very loving and helping. Even though he had all comforts he was not able to sleep properly. He was always worried for unknown reason.

One day he heard about a sage (sadhu) who was staying beneath a baniyan tree outside the village. He went there and stated his problem. The sage suggested him to go to a crematorium (shamshan) everyday and put some ash on his forehead. He started doing the same and day by day started feeling better. He lived happily ever after and died peacefully. But since this practice had given him great peace of mind, he taught the same to his sons too. This practice got into their family tradition and passed to further generations.

In later generations the business became so vast that the head of the family became too busy to go to a crematorium (shamshan) everyday. One more reason was people used to look at him suspeciously when he used to go to crematorium. He decided to go there only once a week and bring the ash in a bottle. Later in further generations that practice changed even more. Now the head of the family started to send a servant to collect the ash in a bottle. In next generation the head of the family started feeling same anxiousness and worry for unknown reasons. Even though he had much more wealth than his ancestors and his health was even better and family was as loving and caring as his ancestors and he was following the tradition of putting the crematorium ash on his forehead, he was still worried for unknown reasons.

One day he went to consult some sage (sadhu) and got the same suggestion to go to a crematorium (shamshan) everyday and put some ash on his forehead. He though he was already doing it and he came back to home loosing all hopes and faith in this tradition. He decided to leave this tradition and kept living a luxurious but miserable life. Finally one day he died due to heart attack.


Even though this is just a story it has a big similarity with the tradition of many different rituals in various religions. We follow the tradition but never try to understand the meaning of it. With time we twist them as per our convinience and since we don't know the motive behind them most of the times we change it to such a great extent that it looses the purpose.

Now let me explain you what exactly happened in this story. The rich man had all comforts but he was worried because he was not sure if he could sustain it for his whole life. He used to feel an unknown threat that he might loose all that he had. When he started going to crematorium every day, he started feeling better because putting the crematorium ash on forehead was only way to induce a psychological process which made him realise that it was the final destination. When he realised that one day he will have to loose all that anyway, he started feeling better. He had no worry to loose anything he had earned. But he only knew the ritual. He had no knowledge of how it affected him in a positive manner.

Later in his generations the tradition of putting the ash on forehead was followed but going to the crematorium was left away and hence the psychological process of realisation of the final destination was left out too. It beat the whole purpose and hence became effectless.

I am not against the rituals but one must understand them. If you don't perform the rituals but bring their abstract in your life then you can get the benefit. For example putting sandle wood paste on your forehead signify to keep ones mind cool. If you keep your temper low and always think with a cool and calm mind then you do not need to put it on your forehead. On the other hand if you are loose tempered and your mind is always in stress even if you put sandle wood past on your forehead then this ritual is useless.

Instead of doing the rituals blindly, it is better to bring their abstract in your life.