Aren’t we a hippocratic, paradox riddled civilisation? We have two faces and atleast two beliefs about most things we have been following in the name of tradition. We happen to be a society struck between the glorious past with its beliefs and very logical reasonings and an evolving present where we have just carried forward the beliefs and not the reasonings; becoming a largely superstitious society. We have become the herd that just follows without any questions asked. A society that has become blind in our beliefs. What else would you call beliefs without reasons and practices that are no more in sync with the reality of this nation.
I had written about one paradox that I associate with personally as a woman in an earlier post. Today I want to point out to another one that I have questioned time and again but never got an answer to and finally quit. Asking and following, both. Being a born and practising Hindu, I have been seeing offerings big & small – being made to the gods we worship throughout my life. Though my parents were never devout believers they too started falling prey to this whole system of offer this to X god for wish fulfilment…offer this to Y god at this time for luck etc. I have seen them turn from moderate to devout believers in the past 10 years. But my question still remains unanswered – why the offerings to the stone idols, the gods?
I happened to attend a puja, in 2012, which was done to remove the apparent sarpa dosha from my horoscope. It was performed at our newly built home in Kerala and trust me the kind of food, flowers, honey, wood and other things that was used in one single day…I don’t know about the sarpa dosha, we would have defiantly gathered a lot of environmental dosha that day. The whole day I saw a team of brahmins perform puja after puja putting into fire, raw materials that if would have been given to the have-nots would have served as food for a whole family for a week, atleast. I asked the chief brahmin too – why the offerings to the idols, the gods? The answer: that is what the shastras say. Unconvincing!
My understanding of the why is – the offerings are a symbolic demonstration of detachment. We offer materialistic treasures to the gods as a symbol of detaching ourselves from these treasures and giving it away; while the fruits, grains, milk, honey, rice was offered to the gods as a system built by our forefathers for the sustenance of the brahmin families who spent all their time in the worship of the gods and had no other means of providing for their families except these things which were received as dakshina.
But the thing is we live in a changed India. While the offerings have been made compulsory as a blind ritual where all the raw material is either used for decoration or to put into the fire or to be given to people as prasadam (most of which anyways gets wasted); and dakshina only has one meaning. It means money and it is compulsory and also pre-decided on many occasions. Where are the gods in this, who anyways did not get any of the offerings. Nor then. Nor now.
Someone may offer 1 kg of gold to the deity at Tirupati but that someone will have 20 kgs in his locker back home. If he had 1.5 kg gold he will never offer it to Tirupati because he thinks he does not has enough. In India we only hear news of donations by multi-millionaires. But we hardly get to see or meet people from middle class India (which is the most populous social segment) who donated/ helped the have-nots. Because middle class India does not. It believes that it never has enough. They strive on the hope of more. The whole detachment theory is a failure in today’s India. Detachment is not giving up when we have more than enough, detachment is giving up because we want to give up. Unfortunately, we seem to have fallen short to our forefathers hope. They must have believed while conceiving this system that associating detachment/ offerings to gods will make us give up things beyon
d our need and the society of have and have-nots will be in balance but alas they hoped too much. Middle class India gives but only inside the temple, to the deity who we believe is powerful enough to harm us but never to the hands outside the temple. It is the fear psychology at work else we would not even give to the deity!
The question remains – Do our gods need our offerings? And the answer is – actually they don’t. They don’t have a mortal body to feed. The ones with mortal bodies need it. Calling out to the most populous social segment of the country – offer the offerings to the hands spread out to you. That will be worth gold. A lot more than the kgs you are saving up to load your daughter with on her wedding day.
Among other indexes hope to see India rank high on the philanthropic index too.