Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Violence+Martyr+Violence = FAITH

I think genesis of an idea or a philosophy is greatly influenced by the age and time in which it is born. As much as a child who’s growing up, his outlook, vision of life, his morality and ethics are determined by the circumstances into which he was born and importantly how he was raised. Don’t you think so?
I some cases a turbulent incident and or experience can influence a person without bounds and change the course of his or her life. Like it probably did to the lives of Gautama Buddha and the Mauryan beacon- Emperor Ashoka and in recent history to Mohandas Gandhi.

It is also true that a religion like Communism was born out of the socio-economic conditions of an age. But its application in  society in as violent a way as it was applied in the Czarist Russia or even in the Pol Pot’s Cambodia, paved way for its eventual demise in those societies. It is a glaring fact  that history often repeats, but Man seldom notice – that violence begets violence and, “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart”( Proverb 11.30).

Though an irreligious person, I have been fascinated by Christ (not the Christ that the Church has electroplated as she want), but the Christ- he may have been a mere mortal, the son of God (figuratively speaking) or the son of God, a man who extolled virtue, nonviolence and urged masses to rebel silently within and exhorted the marginalised to do so, so that a skewed and unjust socio- economic system was addressed and changed. He eventually paid with his life like some others in later history, who dared to articulate- a loner, a lone voice in a frenzied mob.

I feel Christ was perhaps the first communist and not Karl Marx, who was more of an economist expanding on probable panacea for economic and social ills and also borrowing from the philosophy of Christ. It was strange aberration and a painful one that his (Christ’s) acolytes in later days indulged in the most heinous acts to preach and spread his philosophy around the globe. But then that scorched chapter became a ugly history after the age of the Inquisitions. I think, now no one who has admiration for Christ would exhort the archaic dictum of, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, even against the most extreme provocation. If this does not suggest the thought behind the genesis of Christ’s philosophy, the humanistic ring around its genesis, what else does it tell? Whereas a violent birth and a violent childhood is sure to bring forth violent existence!

I have now spent more than a year in a society, a land which is by far open and free, when compared to some of the countries in the neighbourhood who are grossly obscurantists and intolerant. Most of them are conforming to remnants of tribal laws and culture from the medieval ages, when tribal customs, archaic and unjust laws, belief in sorcery and its use to create fear of the supernatural, internecine wars and intrigues, horrendous cruelty on the losers and dissenters were all as common as the sun rise and sun set. Faith and philosophies born out of such times continue to be as primitive as it can be. Though people live in the absolute comfort aided by the advancement of science and technology coming out of Western scientific temper and thought, they seem to be still marooned in the dark ages as far as intellect, custom and beliefs go. Faith in violence, still is in the core of their nuclei.

If someone told me that I represent a country of apostates and who are pagans and with beliefs in strange and false gods, I would either try to enlighten him on his lack of knowledge or ignore the comment in total. For if someone calls you a jackass, unless you doubt you are one why react or show a violent dissent?

A few days ago I was privy to a strange custom that was enacted outside my apartment. A house of god as one may call it, flocked by a sect of people situates across the road. The ten day long festivities began and for the first eight days I was curious, to begin with and then began to enjoy the congregation that came at night time, the drums and the songs they sang. It reminded of those temple and church festivities back home. Then on the ninth night and tenth morning it was in my understanding bizarre and macabre enacting of a strange and repulsive ritual. Scores of youth lining on either side clad in white, wailing, flagellating with flails and soon they were drenched in their own blood.  The morning ritual was with menacing swords slashing themselves, their torso and head. The young fellows seemed to flaunt. Blood was flowing from head to heel down their torsos, the white clothing a distant thing! The bizarre melee was their way of venerating a historical figure who they considered as the ordained chieftain of the faithful’s and who was brutally killed in the battle by renegades of the same faith.

Later that afternoon I walked an alley down and for the first time I knew the stench of human blood. It was nauseating and morbid air.  I wondered how haloed would this bloodletting and infliction of pain can ever be? If reverence to the martyr and commemoration of martyrdom was the observance then those folks could have enmasse gone to a medical facility and donated blood. That would have been a great act of reverence and worshipful than this ghoulish ritual. But!


Happy Kitten said...

Yea.. this ritual is gruesome... just like those in Brazil..they also let themselves be nailed to a cross.

Guess this is why this sect is unacceptable to their brother of the same book.

NRIGirl said...


NRIGirl said...

I am totally in shock!

anilkurup said...

@ Happy Kitten,

There are a few societies say in Latin America and Philippines were some enact the nailing on the cross on Good Friday. The Church ( Vatican ) has not endorsed this ritual .
But this is acquiesced by the clergy.

The other sect is no different when it comes to intolerance and violence against other faith , culture. A civilised acceptance will not happen. One accusing the other - like the pot calling the kettle black.

@ NRIGirl,
What else can you expect , genesis of violence will beget the same.

KParthasarathi said...

Faith takes different forms.In our own country to give just two examples,fire walking or piercing the both cheeks and tongue with sharp steel rod are practiced and they seem none the worse for what we may consider harmful.
There is atleast a religious faith behind the aboeve mentioned practices but what to say of the self flagellation or whipping of the bare torse by a long rope like thing till blood oozes out all for some alms out of pity from the onlookers.
Weird though they may appear the motivations are strong and different for these customs and individuals.

Insignia said...

I often wonder how could GOD be happy if you hurt yourself. Did He ask for such a showcase of faith; I doubt.

This is insanity at its worse

Meera Sundararajan said...

I have never understood this thing about blood in religion- the animal sacrifice that my religion practices in some parts as also some other religions across the world! It is quite scary.
About Christ, I certainly belive that he was a rebel of sorts. He faught for the under previledged because of which those in power had him crucified. Whatever, he is someone I admire tremendously- though I am not sure if I believe in his divinity!

Happy Kitten said...

Nd yes Christ was a true communist...it is true that the other sect is no different, since tolerance keep reducing as years go by....e body piercing India did come to my mind...each will have their own reasons for all this act of India.

Happy Kitten said...

I meant all this act of faith and not India

Happy Kitten said...

I meant faith instead of India

Thommy said...

Blood is part and parcel of every religion

anilkurup said...

The argument put forth by all such outlandish rituals is , it is matter of faith and that has no reason and should not be questioned.
Cheek piercing has no place in Hindu literature and texts. The ritual seems to be a tribal custom and also practiced in other pagan cultures. Like “Sati” which has no place in Hinduism religion is often used to whip up passion and hypnotise people. In fact the cheek piercing is done in an altered state. For Fire walking there is no divine intervention to save the walkers soles. It has been demonstrated by many non-religious people too. What God and faith is it if it approves of letting blood and inflicting pain?

@Insignia said...
I ask the same question you raised?
@Meera Sundararajan
I do not think that one must be given a divine aura and pedestal to respect and admire.
Animal sacrifice is the hang over from early human history when paganism and nomadic living was in vogue. Even Islam is the off shoot of tribal culture. Though it has not metamorphosed like other faiths.

@Happy Kitten
The 90 percent of Indian population are migrants. Only about 10 percent are real natives – tribes. I understand that there has been cross overs and mixing of tradition and culture over the many hundreds of years.
Crucifixion on Good Friday, for instance we hear in some societies – has no ordinance from the man who’s agony and death is commemorated that day.
Meat eating is even seen in the Mahabharata. And beef is not banned by Hindu texts. In fact it was the influence of Jainism that got into Hinduism that proscribed eating of beef.
The body piercing, fire walking, sacrifice (?) of animals etc are all from the tribal culture and pagan.
The madness we see in the sect in question is also a bizarre hangover from the nomadic days and tribal times.

Blood is the life blood of religions of West Asia. Oriental religions have not subscribed bloodletting as the means to salvation. Buddhism is a prime example.

rama said...

I don't believe in such customs/rituals in the name of religion/ God.
Some crazy men got around and made these weird rituals to be followed by some equally crazy people all around the world, for such gruesome rituals are part and parcel of every country in the world.
If there is God, I am sure he must think his people are crazy.

anilkurup said...

@ rama,

There is truth and in great depth in what Karl Marx meant, "religion is the opium of man".

....Petty Witter said...

As my nana always said there's nowt as strange as folk.

As always a post that gave me much to think about, thank you.

anilkurup said...

@ Petty Witter

Thanks T.

Shilpa Garg said...

Blood offerings, animal sacrifices, inflicting wounds on self... how can God be pleased with all these!! It's weird and crazy but still happens with great zeal!

Kavita Saharia said...

What is God? Love and kindness,I feel!
Animal /human scarifices, blood offerings all these activities are insane.

anilkurup said...

@ SG, @ Kavita,

These questions must be answered by these fanatics. But then they are taught to react in frenzy , not to think.

Sandy said...

A very troublesome thought to think that people flail themselves in this manner. Your writing is very interesting. It brings to mind a myraid of thought processes regarding religious belief, different cultures and their own forms of worship..Great write, anilkurup

anilkurup said...

@ Sandy,
The cloak of faith gives much freedom and audacity to commit as much agony and violence in the world. Thanks for the comments.