In whose name for God's sake!

The despicable, abhorrent and loathsome attack on young girls in a pub has outraged the entire nation. The incident defeats all reasoning and has left everyone in a state of shock. What is even more appalling is the fact that the reprehensible assault on young women was done in the name of religion by so called and self professed guardians of morality who had the audacity to state that they are acting to preserve Indian culture.

As expected there is widespread indignation among civil society. Sadly the whole issue has also become fodder for dubious agendas and political bashing. What is even more regrettable is that the perpetrators may be go scot-free or at best with minimum punishment.

That women were treated with such contempt by a bunch of hooligans while many watched is shameful and speaks volumes about the prevalent state of affairs. How far will we stoop in the name of religion.

I remember a December day sixteen years ago when I felt ashamed of my religion just as I am today. It was the day a house of God was destroyed in the name of another God, in the occurrence mine. On that fateful day I questioned my own faith just as I do today.

I am a Hindu by birth and by choice. I was born to profoundly Hindu parents but grew up in lands of diverse faiths. My parents never imposed their views or beliefs. At home Hindu festivals were celebrated with fervour and some ritualism and the many questions I asked at different moments of my life were answered candidly and without fuss. It is much later in life that I discovered that my mother was not really bent on ritualism but it was her way of introducing me to my faith. I grew up with my set of questions and doubts and each one got cleared with simple honesty.

When I asked one day whether I could go to church and partake of communion as all my school friends did ( I was in a convent school) my parents simply answered that I could if no one had any objection. I guess I had expected a vehement refusal and was a little perplexed by their reaction. I did go to church often and even found a humane priest who allowed me to taste the holy wafer. Some years later while in an Islamic country I wanted to fast in the holy month of Ramadan and once again I got the warm approval of my parents. I celebrated the Sabbath with my Jewish pals too and with every such occurrence my belief got strengthened as I was proud of belonging to a religion that did not close any door in my face but on the other hand allowed me to embrace all faiths. I was proud to be a Hindu.

The tales my parents told me only went to reinforce my faith. I was delighted by the pranks of Lord Krishna and by the touching tales of Ram when he ate the fruits proffered by Sabri or rode in Kevat's boat. I never felt the need to question the sagacity and humanness of the religion I was born in. Till the fateful day in 2002.

Once again my faith is wavering. Which form of Hinduism is supposedly being defended by attacking women in public? What culture is being preserved? Are we not one of the only religions that worships Goddesses with misplaced fervour? So how can anyone stoop down to such acts. Where are our so called religious heads, and why are they silent. I have often asked myself why our so called god men, the ones you see on TV and that have huge following never speak out when such incidents take place. They simply chose to remain silent. Be it the killing of a girl child, the burning of a bride for dowry, or the raping of a Dalit girl, one has never heard a public condemnation by the innumerable religious men. They seem to be stubbornly silent on burning social issues. And yet they have the power to bring about the change we so badly need.

At a time when my faith is vacillating my thoughts go back to a day when i had a terrible head ache and a little boy folded is hands and shut his eyes tight after informing that he was going to ask his Bhagwan (God) to make my ache go away. The headache disappeared as the little boy's prayer was heard a faceless and nameless God. That is the one I want to believe in today.