As a kid, my grandmother had taught me many different things. Hymns, Chants, prayers and how each god was to be worshipped during different festivals. The stories of the gods fascinated me as they would fascinate any child. I was totally in love with Lord Krishna and made him my favourite god. His stories were by far the best. Naughty little Krishna and his pranks, his mischevious smile and his beauty as was explained to me as a kid, made him my hero. I remember the time I had gone to this exhibition where I saw this statue of Krishna and pestered my mother to buy it for me. I had it for the longest of time. Until I was religious. Then I gave it away when I started believing that Krishna is nothing but a fable, a story that people cooked up a million years ago. The statue still resides in my aunt's place and it is so strategically placed in their apartment that you just cant miss it when you go there. I go there often and everytime I watch it, I am transported into the past when I believed that blue Idol to be my saviour.When you lose someone so precious in your life, you are bound to be shaken. So was I and became an Atheist, or rather called myself one. If anyone asked me what my religion was, then "Human" or "Indian" was what echoed out. I often revolted when asked to follow religious customs and traditions. If I was reprimanded for something that went against the religion, it left me all cranky and bitter towards those reprimanding me. I always had friends who followed Islam and were devoted muslims, and I continued to have muslimfriends. I never labelled myself a Hindu, even while I was religious. But ever since I became an Atheist, I started saying that I didn't follow any religion except Humanity, and I have no problem with those who did. I was once admonished, well "admonish" is a nicer term, lets say I was brutally attack with a barrage of insults by a person who was from the same caste I was born into. My fault for deserving the insults??? I was talking to a Pakistani friend online. I had enough of comments on my being non-religious and was ready to take more of them in my stride. But what really hit me was, a fellow Indian was questioning my integrity as an Indian. I cried bitterly at that time, but soon learnt that people will vent their feelings, and nothing should affect me as long as I stand by what I believe. I had started the process of learning.
Friends often asked me to come with me to temples and I would often say that I am not interested as I didn't believe in god. Even today I visit temples, once or twice or thrice a year, with the company of my friend. If they find the peace of mind there and in doing what they do, I had absolutely no problems with them. I could just come there as a spectator of the architecture that went into those marble blocks. I always maintained that I was non-religious and thought whatever greater power there was, came from within me and my surroundings. I believed if there was god, then it probably would be what I find withing myself or in my family and dear ones. There was no other god for me.
Then there was this day when I just sat back and listened to this person, who I consider the most wonderful and intelligent human being I know, apart from my family. She was talking about this concept of Atheism and God. She said something that had me thinking. If you are an Atheist, you totally rule out the concept of God. The question of god did not arise there. That statement had me thinking, for the first time since I rejected Idols, that was I truly an Atheist?? Did I believe that there was no such thing as God?? Here I was, back home thinking over it in the middle of the night, when I should have really been thinking of the exam that was at hand the next day.
It hit me instantly. I didn't completely rule out the existence of God. I had just refused to be the part of a system which taught that you are supposed to do such and such things in so and so manner to make the "Gods" happy. I still believed that there was something supreme, inside me and outside, that make things happen mysteriously when I dont expect them to happen. Whatever else I believed earlier, of idols and chants and hymns had been long flushed out from my memory. But what remained was even more powerful. I only refused to follow a system. This is the question I want to ask myself--or to the world. Because right now, I dont find myself capable of answering my own question.
Am I an Atheist??
Watch out for this space as I update my
quest for anwers on this topic.