A recent conversation I was having with someone on Reddit regarding my point of view on spirituality and God – Finding God is what prompted this article. This article is a logical extension of that viewpoint.
A lot of times spiritualism gets lost in the fog of pious devotion and ritualism. A lot of times these practices seem like a conduit to spiritual awakening (of sorts) but if anything they deviate from the true goal, leading us to go in circles around rituals, godmen, and banal institutions.
Naam, Guna, and Rupa are the three sankirtana’s – ways of appeasing God (in Hinduism) out of which rupa is the most futile – the one that deals with the physical worshipping of idols and idolatry and ritualism in general. It is the path that leads to the principles, the ideology behind spirituality taking a backseat and superstition and pious flaunt to come to the forefront. It is these rituals that prevent most from exploring the profoundness of a spiritual path.
As far as rituals giving peace of mind to millions, I do not understand the point of having peace of mind that is ephemeral and short-lived – just like these rituals. In the 15th adhaya of Bhagwad Gita, Krishna says
“Patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati tad aham bhakty-upahrtam asnami prayatatmanah”
Essentially it doesn’t matter what you offer, the offering is meaningless but the meaning behind the offering is what stands paramount. With rituals, the focus shifts on the manifestation of the offering – measuring of one’s devotion in grams of gold, or the number of garlands, the beauty of the puja and the scent of agabattis – if you will, and not on where your mind is and what your karma is leading to.
All these rituals etc have become means of instant gratification with no spiritual crux to them anymore.
Sometimes, I wonder if God has become less important than the rituals themselves!
Also, why would you chase short-lived gratification of these rituals when the quest for spiritual awakening offers a sustainable meaning to life?
Now that’s on a philosophical level, let me talk in terms of gross economy of rituals – most of them were designed by the Brahmanical system wherein the goal wasn’t to appease a ‘statue’ but to provide livelihood to the supposed self-appointed conduits to God. Hinduism was never about appeasing statues, it was always about finding God – at a personal level – by each one of us on their own spiritual journies.
Thirdly, there is more than enough poverty in India, in the world, we do not NEED any more resources to be spent on rituals, the betterment of society is a much better goal to pursue.
It is perfectly fine if anyone doesn’t share my views, not everyone has to. I’m always open to having my mind changed or at least to understand someone else’s point of view without imposing mine. A healthy debate is always a great concept – i.e. a debate that is about exploring and understanding each other’s points of view and not about defending one’s position and patronizing the other.
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