Old woman, Mary John promised to the Virgin of Vellankanni, fifty candles if her daughter was returned safe from her trip to the Kailas Mansarovar. She, as penitence for her litter’s sin in seeking an alien and false God in lieu of the only true God she was sworn to, offered a special mass at the local parish church. And when her daughter came back from her highly trumpeted journey safe and healthy as when she left, Mary John was pleased that her God heeded her supplications. Still ,when she was told that her daughter’s Land Cruiser almost went off the mountain road in Tibet , but was saved by a whisker she thanked her God for sparing her daughter from a life threatening danger . It dawned on her then the sleight of her God, taking away the life of the little white lamb in their house instead. It fell dead one day with no apparent reason (Life of beast are in any case insignificant comparison to human beings).As a bonus to her God she said a twenty one “Hail Mary’s” and twenty one “Our Father who Art in heaven”.
Rameshan Nair was an ardent devotee of the bachelor god Ayyappan who abodes in the hills of Sabarimala. Rameshan Nair is a private contractor and has his fingers in all lucrative civil works in town. He has this uncanny acumen and knack to tackle bureaucracy and the powers that be. He had insider information on the tender just called for the construction of the new Airport terminal that would run into multi million. He manipulated and with insider help defrauded the various quotes and had his bid as the sole tender and at a highly inflated price. He in turn had offered his God Ayyappan a gold crown studded with gems. And he promised to bring it to the abode of the God by himself, only that the contract must go to him. God relented, after all who would not in face of gratification? And Rameshan Nair bagged the contract.
Haji Ahmed had business of rectified spirit. Besides the few thousand litres of authorised licenses the bulk of the merchandise traded by the Haji was smuggled in from distant States. The standing contract with his God and his plenipotentiary was that no untoward must happen to the smuggling of rectified spirit that happens incessantly. His God has been faithfully abiding by the verbal understanding and Haji Ahmed used to uninterruptedly without fail dispatch a sizeable amount in currency to the Masjid treasury.
What is wrong in these three cases of commissions and gratification? They are approved by the heavens. Aren't they?
We have thousands of men and women in India from various religion and faith, scamper to many places of worship- temples, mosques, churches, etc and offer money and in kind for various favours they ask, in advance and post- happening. You help me achieve this, help me get this, save me from conviction, and I give thee in cash or kind. Perfect the quid pro quo begins with the holy Gods.
Thence what is misplaced and wrong about a minister making the extra few hundred millions for favours done to some selected industrialists, and what is wrong, sinful, unethical and unlawful in paying bribe and receiving gratification. The matter begins with God.
In matters of commerce, they say, the fault with Dutch is offering too little and asking just too much. But Indian culture has the opposite we are even handed in giving and taking. The art of graft begins in places of worship. Else how could one explain the throng of men and women flocking the temple at Tirupathi, with the alibi of the story that the Lord should not default in his contract with the Lord of wealth, Kubera? Why do we offer quid pro quo to God? This is not spiritualism if someone argues in that fashion. It is pure, plain and unbridled graft, like the ones that happen daily in Indian social, economic and political life. Why is it that only when it is offered or given to Providence it is offering and to A. Raja it is bribe?
Indians cannot live without giving and accepting gratification. It is engrained in our physiological system and body chemistry. Our culture and civilisation does not jettison that, it embraces. The difference in the same exercise, when offered or given to Gods is termed offerings and sacrifice and when it is handed out to a bureaucrat, a poor peon or an elected representative then becomes bribe.Is there something amiss in our interpretation of the act, the language?
Ours is a rich spiritual culture and heritage. It is claimed in all history books in our curriculum. We have hundreds of years of spiritual existence in India. And consequently, ideally the penury and sufferings in the country should be a misnomer. A spiritually rich country that can claim five thousand years of civilisation , that can offer thousands of years and ancient spiritual solace to the entire world - festering itself in poverty, disease, hunger and infamy of various hues! A strange contradiction!