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Now the title of this post might surprise or even enrage some of you. But for those who have known me for a while, it won’t really come as a surprise. This topic is not something I usually write about, even though I do talk about it a lot. I will try to put in the written form what I usually express in the spoken one. So, here goes…

To start off with, I am not a believer (in the religious sense) at all. All my life, I have swayed between atheist and agnostic, with a preference for the latter, but have never felt convinced enough to be a believer. I acknowledge that there are many phenomena which science today is unable to explain or even fathom. However, I also believe that some day, we will have a reasonable explanation for those. After all, even half a century ago, who would’ve even thought that things like modern medicine, instantaneous communication or the internet would be a reality? We are a young species compared to rest of the universe around us. We have come along some way, and there is a long way to go. To cover the distance, I am putting my money on science, not religion.

So am I discounting religion entirely or calling it useless? The answer to that would be no. To me, religion is simply a way of life, a set of practices that one adopts/adapts as they see fit. In that sense, it is simply a choice one makes (or has to make, in most cases). I do not see it as a set of instructions from an all-powerful entity, to which we must conform or risk being punished in the after-life (again a religious concept). I am Hindu on paper, but I eagerly look forward to Christmas for the yummy cake and goodies (oh how I wish I could look forward to it for the mistletoe :P) and Eid for the delicacies (too many to list). Yes, I do look forward to Diwali and Dussehra as well for the very same reason. 🙂 What I find irritating about religion is that today it is used more as a tool to discriminate rather than accommodate. Just because someone worships a different God (or doesn’t worship one) that is no reason to view them in a lesser light. Like I always say, the scriptures say that God created man in his image, but I feel that man created God in his imagination. What makes me feel so is the use to which religion is being put today. I am all for diversity and freedom in what one chooses to believe, where one chooses to invest his faith if they want to, but I cannot accept it if someone markets (yes – that is what it feels like at times) their choice as the only one that matters.

If religion is something I do not subscribe to, the caste system is something I absolutely detest. Whenever someone asks me my caste, I answer with a straight face – “I don’t believe in the caste system”. If they still persist, they get a look that says “Dude, are you high or something?”. Making an opinion about someone based on which family they were born strikes me as pathetic. Using that criteria to judge them or grant or deny them something is, to put it plainly, criminal. Unfortunately, I see too much of this happening around me. Many a times, we instantly tend to pre-judge someone based on where they hail from or what last name they carry. Logic and sense can always take a ride for all we care. Being a Brahmin makes one no more superior or worthy than being from a “lower caste” (take your pick – we have too many of them, it seems). Yet, this is one criteria we subconsciously or even consciously seem to apply in our daily life. Even there, I have seen “selective filtering”. We can have friends from any caste/religion, but heaven forbid if someone from the family chooses someone from a different caste as their life partner. The younger generation shows some signs of breaking these shackles, but we have a real long way to go, especially in this country.

I know this is looking like one bog rant so far, but that is how I really feel. If I am wrong somewhere, please correct me. I am all open to bouquets and brickbats. As long as I have made you pause and think, I have fulfilled my purpose. There is more I can put here, but that will have to wait for another time. Till then, adios! 🙂

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