Would I be called an atheist when I get rid of a ‘Chanu’ or a ‘Devi’, being suffixed with my name? These suffixes purportedly identify my faith. Though I tend to avoid using any of these not-so-fascinating suffixation, sometimes I wonder if God is being politically incorrect in differentiating us on the grounds of religion. Why is religion given so much hype in our world? Why are the religious bigots continuously feeding on fanaticism? Can religion seriously contribute something in the shaping of an ideal society?
These questions keep disturbing me and unsurprisingly I have no answer. Perhaps I am just a confused person, lost in the religious complexities and all those moralities and mortality thingies.
Well, let me share a few personal experiences from my life on the religious clashes among individuals in our society. I grew up in a typical Hindu family. I enjoyed one such childhood period, listening to the words of wisdom from the Holy Geeta narrated by the late Karam Edhou. I enjoyed listening to his thoughts and the preaching on Hinduism and did enjoy most of the mera-mesh meal fondly shared with Edhou. Those memories are precious to me. I have grown up with many such good memories of those lessons on life that I have been taught by other edhou, bubok and many elderly persons who had left for their heavenly abode now. This was my father’s side.
My Ema, on the other hand, hails from a typical Meitei Marup family. My Keisampat Abok (my granny) had this tiny ‘khubam’ right at the courtyard. Around those days, she also introduced us the ‘heepu yaipubi’.
On query, she replied Heepu Yaipubi is the Meitei version of Goddess Lakhsmi.
The realisation amused me and I started developing a notion that God, no matter which one we worship, is known by a lot of names.
Since then, I had been fond of Sanamahism as much as I had been worshipping Hinduism or Christianity. Nonetheless, I have keenly observed the religious conflicts between my Wangkhei bubok and Keisampat abok during those days. It seemed to me as though they were born to dislike each other just because they followed different faith. They hardly came into terms with each other. Our two buboks would not show it openly but all of us know in their silence what was really going on between them.
As I grow up and see, hear and learn the truth, I have started disliking Hinduism and have almost denounced my faith, especially after knowing about how it was imposed in our society in the most forcible and barbaric manner. This fact has been etched on my mind. It’s like robbing and ruining all the good memories of childhood and I am equally helpless. I have started questioning my then beliefs on the various philosophies of Hinduism. But tell you what? I am not doing the right thing.
What had to happen had already happened, however hopefully, what can happen in the future is now entirely up to us. An enlightenment that leads to constructive thoughts is worth accepting but not the one that tinctures hatred on our mind for reasons that are best kept in the dark. We should have an open choice to follow our preferred faith or belief. Secularism should be promoted for an egalitarian society, but religion should not be misused as a lousy political tool. The more we misuse it, the more chaos we are prone to create in the society. Let us limit the use of religion. And the best thing is to keep in the closet of our private space.
Follow any religion you want to follow, who cares? Even if you want to worship Satan, it’s your choice. But make sure that you respect others who follow their choice of religion. Hatred cannot be a solution to rectify the blunder from the past. No religious book teaches us to spread loathsome philosophies. You are as much a Meitei whether you worship Pakhangba or Krishna. You are as much a Manipuri whether you follow Christianity or Islam. Let us stop building all these narrow domestic walls. Though the question of losing one’ s identity after following a foreign faith can be kept aside for deliberations some other time.
I did not have any particular reason of denouncing my faith. I just have this feeling that religion cripples our view and make us petty. For example, if you introduce yourself as a Hindu, you are just a Hindu. It seems like building a narrow domestic wall when you differentiate yourself from others as a Hindu. So, I find it a much better option to denounce any faith. Instead of worshiping idols or chanting hymns, it’s better to hum songs of love for mankind. Let us believe in spreading happiness. Let us believe in making this world a better place to reside. Let us believe in peace not war. Let us abolish hatred. We need to manifest and infect one another with stirring ideas of social and political change. Manipur is laid back in civilization in almost all the sectors. Let us focus more on how we can chip in with our ideas of civilization.
It is not a death-dream to see a prosperous Manipur, if we all become united as Manipuris, and not as Meitei, Paangal or Hao. Let us join the global march in this progression of civilization. Let us not waste our time quarrelling or philandering on trivial issues. Always be a Manipuri first… we can be a hao, a meitei or a paangan later.
Theism or atheism, today what we need in our world is love.