Continuing with my reading the book I began a few days ago on my train journey to Chennai and back, I stumbled upon another interesting piece – the essay was titled “Cartesian Thoughts on Hindu Stone Gods”, the theory of doubt being used to analyse an unknown phenomenon.
The essay begins with the statement that westerners were brought up learning to believe only what can be seen and to have faith only in what is experienced. Under the umbrella of logic and reason from Rene Descartes – the Mathematician, physicist and philosopher.
I reproduce an abstarct of the reading I had.
Those of us from the west are taught to disbelieve in the unnatural, the supernatural, and the religious and generally what is invisible to the eye. Many with Marxist leanings and touch of atheism. This is why many of us when we come to India , have difficulty with the way Hindus adore gods in statues .How in heaven can there be any divine presence in piece of stone ?
Yet a few westerners, instead of rejecting outright this pagan habit sustained for millennia, have tried to analyse it, using the very Cartesian logic with which we are endowed because of our education. One such person was Alexandra David – Neel, writer, explorer, and the first western woman to have explored Tibet way back in the 1940’s.
She remarked,” The energy which the Hindus project on the idol is not totally immateraial.The existence of the real or not of the deity is unimportant, what matters is the accumulation of psychic force in the idol ,a kind of charging a car battery. Once fully charged one can draw out energy from the battery. With the persistent devotion, adoration and frenzied prayers, the statue continues to get charged. Once fully charged one can draw energy out of it. This happens over centuries”.
Her summing up is simple, Gods are created by the energy emitted by the faith in their existence.
Will this rather scientific or unscientific explanation of idol worship be sufficient to convince disbelievers?
The fact is all religions however Cartesian they are, have their share of beliefs in the supernatural and unscientific. Is it more rational (than worshipping idols) to think, for instance. as Catholics do, that Mary conceived a child while a virgin, or that Christ came back from the dead and ascended physically to heaven, or that Muhammad was transported to Paradise in the skies in a Golden Chariot sent specially flown down, or the God of Moses inflicted plague on the hapless subjects of the all powerful Pharaoh?
Descartes must be turning in his grave- the rational, logical thinking west!! (My quote)