The ‘H’ religion

And so life goes on for all of us living in Mumbai, less than a month after its most heinous terror attack. The political slapstick comedy continues – AR Antulay joins the long line of our officio’s talking nonsense-hatching up non existent conspiracy theories to create further mayhem amongst a community already in the clutches of panic. Why did he say what he did? Did he really believe what he said? Was it a Diversion tactic? Or just plain stupidity? For fifteen minutes of fame? Is there a bizarre twisted method to this madness? Something none of us are getting?

Our helplessness continues. People are trying to do whatever they can, clutching at straws trying, to show their solidarity, raise their voice, make a difference. Join peace rallies, wear a black badge, form a human chain, come to protest gatherings, light a candle at the window, attend midnight prayer meets, join the jihad against terror, and all that and whatever else anybody can think of.

I know of brave citizens who are donating bullet proof vests to the Mumbai Police. Some have made other monetary contributions to families of victims Some others are concentrating all their effort on what others CANNOT do rather than what they themselves CAN do. The most incongruous in all this (in my view) was a request to sign an online petition against the media for coverage of the event by Vishal Dadlani the musician. The petition claimed that the media coverage of the event was a threat to national security and put the operation at risk by giving the intricate details of the Operation away. Which is ridiculous to say the least. The Indian media showed exemplary courage in bringing the events to the world, to the extent of putting their own lives at risk and showing great sensitivity to the victims and heroes involved. They were not privy to the details of the operation, nor were they inside the Taj or the Oberoi to give away any leads. If they were they would be dead like most of the unfortunate ones inside. They media were merely doing their job like the soldiers of the NSG and police were doing theirs. It is their job to report news and that’s what they did. If anybody had a problem with what was being shown on TV-he should have just turned the TV off. It’s what I instructed my daughter to do because I knew she was not mature enough to see what was going on and it would have an adverse effect. His claims that it was done for TRP’s is as true or untrue as saying his petition was a publicity stunt.

The reason I bring this up is, is not to ridicule another’s point of view or effort but because I truly believe a free media (and by media I mean any public platform where information is assimilated and shared…blogs and on line petitions included) is a true pillar of democracy. The right arm of freedom. It is the crux on which a new world will rise. Shut that up and we cut off a vital limb of a system that is meant to pluck us out of the dark ages and steer us towards a more just and equitable world. Without a free media we will be forced to revert to medieval and feudal methods where only those in power had the liberty to live at all. The rest, when they were not out dying of bullets or oppression or starvation had to suffer in silence, and nobody ever found out. Without a free media we will be forced to revert to relying on outdated religious texts and rigid dogma, Revert to dark times where enlightenment and knowledge was the privilege of a hallowed few. The rest had to meekly follow their dictat, however inhuman or misguided and manipulative – Remember the ordinances of the Manu Smriti that said “Women and drums are meant to be beaten?” Or that ‘The shudra should serve the Brahmin?’ and more such crap?

Thank god for Hindu reformists who reinterpreted these texts, and thank god for our own minds that were open enough to reinterpretation. And thank god for the freedom that allows us to discard what doesn’t seem right and embrace what does. Thank god for Gandhiji, who showed us an alternate way of dealing with oppression. Who made us understand that the unjust and barbaric tenets of our own Hindu religion and superstitions, were our enemies as much as the British. The British merely exploited our own inherent weakness. There was nothing personal in what the British were doing-for them it was merely trade…money, power, profit. It had nothing to do with Christianity. What was personal however for the entire Indian mindset, was that it changed the minds of how most Hindu’s were forced, either out of ignorance or habit, to think at that time, in the name of religion. He started a new religion-the religion of truth. It liberated us. Our god was within.

Terrorism is not Muslim. But the words have become synonymous with each other. Terrorism is the religion of hate. But nobody seems to see it that way anymore. My heart leapt with hope when I saw Shahrukh Khan say in a television interview that he is a proud Muslim and the Quran is being misinterpreted. That his religion certainly does not condone the killing of women, children and innocents. And that there are two versions of Islam- one from the Allah and one from the Mullah’s. The fundamentalists that are creating havoc and spreading terror in the name of Islam, are merely exploiting its own inherent weakness, To gain power. Take it away from the individual and keep it all to themselves.

So who gave them that power? If there is a dichotomy of the notion of jihad (suffering) or indeed the religious itself… why is an alternate version not being provided…or more importantly accepted? What makes these martyrs of Islam think that it’s okay to kill others as long as they pray before committing murder? How can one holy book have such completely opposite interpretations? That of the fundamentalists and that of the liberals? Is there no point at which the two can converge? No middle path?

Why is there not a group of liberal secular Muslim scholars that are rising to say We will interpret Islam for you in the right way-please give us a ear and then make up your own minds. This is how we understand it, and see it works for us so why wont it work for you? What Allah meant by liberation, was not merely of your lands and your territories but most importantly of your soul that will take you beyond the physical plane… Our biggest enemy is a mind and a heart that is not open.

Gandhiji was a man of the hour. He was what the world needed at that point of time to pull Hinduism out of its medieval pitfalls and give us freedom Yet it was a Hindu that killed Gandhiji. The first thing that was publically announced on the radio when he died was that Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by a HINDU named Nathuram Ghodse. Nelson Mandela was a man of the hour too. Madiba – or chief – as he is fondly known. He freed his country from the atrocity of apartheid. They threw him in jail for 27 years, but it didn’t matter. Because his mind was always free.

Our battles begin in our heads before they ever enter the physical world. Therefore these battles must end in our heads too. What God would be intolerant? Or want his people to suffer? Or die in his name? What makes the Jihadis believe that?

The need of today is perhaps A Muslim Mahatma or a Muslim Madiba… Because this is a problem far deeper than the Governments, or efficient administration… An Islamic Messiah. To end terror in the name of Islam…with compassion, with intelligence and a fierce resolve. Alleviate his people from darkness and move them towards the light…

Is there such a man waiting to emerge? In this instance I don’t say woman for obvious reasons. That is a discussion for another day, another blog.

As for all the television propaganda with the image of a fist painted in the Indian tricolour to wage a war on terrorism…hmmnnn…interesting in concept and striking in execution. But I don’t believe in war. Not even in a war for peace.

However, I do believe we need a revolution. But of a different kind. Not with guns and grenades and more people dying.

But a revolution in the way we think. In the way we understand and act. In the things we do and say. In the ideas we propagate and the things we tolerate. In the way we treat others and allow ourselves to be treated. In what we feed young minds, in how we raise our children, in the world we create. So that future generations do not bear the burden of our ignorance, or the shame or our misdeeds.

As a starting point towards that I would like to convert to a brand new religion that I recently heard about. Its still in its nascent stages, an underground movement of sorts. It sounds promising, and doesn’t carry the burden of past mistakes. It’s called the ‘H’ religion – the religion of happiness.

H for honesty
H for humanity
H for hard work
H for hope
H for humility
H for Haj
H for Hanukkah
H for Hail Mary
H for Hare Rama Hare Krishna

Place these H’s one on top of the other (in any order of preference-add and subtract a few more words starting with H) & it becomes a ladder going straight up. If religion is a drug, and indeed the opium of the masses, let’s all get really high and go all the way to heaven. What say?

I’m climbing this one. Care to join me?

19 thoughts on “The ‘H’ religion”

  1. Welcome Ma’am! Let me have the privilege to post the first comment on your wonderful blog! Looking forward to read your blog and know about your opinion on various Issues!

  2. Saw a re run of the programme where they paid homage to all those who gave their lives up to protect mumbai from nov.26 2008 onwards. My son was watching it with me and they were talking about the officer who got shot dead. They were announcing that he gave his life to save the mubaikars my son said, “mom he happened to be doing his job and got shot.”The masses only see journalists sreaming themselves hoarse covering the atrocities. Some friends were saying the terrorists in Taj hotel were watching everything on tv. and could accordingly plan their next move. What s actually going is that there is mass apathy, complete lack of interest in the political situation. U r right u cannot blame a community. Our country is a place where in Chennai u have muslims chanting sanskrit shlokas and again u get to see a south indian passionately recite urdu poetry.An assamese learning bharat natyam. Its not a land of divide. All get together and sing carols for christmas, nobody thinks i’m a sindhi i cant sing carols. No community is good or bad. H for harmony, H for hunger (a hunger like a quest to make this earth a place of love not hate.)

  3. I think you have captured the feelings going thru most of the thinking minds right now – it’s a feeling of despair, helplessness, confusion, panic and last but not the least, uncertainty. It comes across clearly in your thoughts and words penned down by you.

    You know, like they say in colloquial Hindi- ‘sau baat ki ek baat’, I have been wondering – now what? We will soon run out of the enthusiasm to organize ‘peace marches’, cops will run out of patience with all the police bandobast they have to keep doing for all these sundry marchers – and probably some hooligans will end up groping some poor girl at one of these gatherings, which in turn will result in some more breathless breaking news on a news channel ( with the reporter asking the hapless girl – “so, how does it feel?”)

    Which in turn will bring me back to the same question – ok, so now what? All the goodwill, prayers, havans, diplomacy, posturing aside – Lets think aloud, shall we?

    War mongering is NOT an option: history has proved time and again that war is not the solution to anything. In all the recorded history, only 150 (!!) years have been “war free” and yet we find ourselves in this shitty situation – so this option is DEFINITELY out. Starting a military action is exactly what these misguided terror mongers want.
    Browbeating politicians is NOT an option: we are a secular socialist democracy, politicians are as much a part of our lives as Holi, Diwali, Id and all that we hold dear, there is no escaping the fact. What we SHOULD realize is that its people like us who put these politicians in the seats of power – in short it’s our f*** up and we need to sort it out. Denouncing politics / politicians is not the way out.
    Looking to other nations for help is NOT an option: While it’s nice to feel the international community and their opinion behind us – it amounts to a load of bulls! I am not a conspiracy theorist- but I am yet to see an international act of kindness or support done out of selfless love. Take for example US, won’t they just love it if they could transfer the burden of engaging the Pakistani Jehadis to India and go ahead with their agenda of shipping oil of the gulf region- something that they always wanted to do anyways?

    There can be a few more non-options, but they are relatively minor and need not be explained in detail, for example, all we now need is a Rakhi Sawant performing a public item number so that the proceeds can go to charity- you get my point, I hope…

    Now, here are a few things we CAN do

    Take these impromptu peace marches to the next level, make it a national/regional consciousness movement where each one of us armchair activist shall get off his/her ass.
    We, the so called thinking class, need to take a few days out of our busy schedules and follow the key political candidates and potential policy makers in the new government while they are on the campaign trail in the coming elections. We need to listen to their manifesto, ask them questions that a poor villages cannot or dare not, question them on their credentials and their plans to REALLY work for the benefit of people they are planning to represent.
    This sounds like a daunting task, but let’s start small – connect with various NGOs and government watchdog agencies, use the mass media to our advantage. The only way system can be changed is from within- no amount of candlelight or peace marches will change it.
    All talks of war need to be killed immediately. Our defense needs to be in a state of readiness to protect us, NOT to attack. An attack will yield us nothing but huge expenditure of life and money that can be put to better use. Hopefully the right political leadership will ensure that the funds get diverted to better equipments, better training, better infrastructure to defend us instead of paying year end bonuses to a bureaucracy that is already bloated and rotting at its core…

    I remember learning at some class a long time go that the ONLY action that is expected from a government (good government) is its ability to PROTECT its citizens. That’s the only reason why we need a government. If it cant provide us physical and demographic security- the state has failed us and we need to get a change ASAP!!

    Just some random thoughts that I felt like sharing with you…thanks for taking the time to read thru.



  4. The H religion is just what the world currently needs in all the turmoil the world is currently facing. Wonderful post.

  5. H also stands for hatred, hideous and horrible
    it is what the world has been so far living by

    but i like your take on the H religion. It is nice. Sweet and tender

    I will gladly climb the ladder with you

  6. yes the muslim world definitely needs a Mahatma or a Madiba

    Is this what Nostradamus was talking about when he said a man will rise from the east?
    ofcourse it was interpreted in the notion of war

    but may such a man rise-to end hatred in the name of fundamentalism and bring peace on this earth.

  7. yes i too saw the interview of Shahrukh Khan on TV

    but would he have bothereed to say anything at all if he didnt have a film to promote? rab ne bana di jodi? when did he do anything other than for money?

    infact when did our film stars do anything but for profit?

    with the exception of rahul ose

  8. But its all as before!

    Yes! At the cost of sounding like a non-concerned, self absorbed citizen of the country I will again say “Its the same as before!”

    What has changed post any of the many candle lit marches, many news channels showing it 24X7 and multiple conspiracy theories! What?

    I read a recent article by Pritish Nandy – TOI …This is maybe not the relevant post to speak abt it but for all who has not read it I want to share the key points. He mentioned that the state of the things in our country will become better if the government just does the following. 3 things that will change our economy. Also it might actually work in the government’s favor and get them back in power next year. Courtesy: Pritish Nandy

    1. We pay far too much money for oil. Crude oil has become 70% cheaper and the same should happen with Petrol and diesel. This will reduce price by Rs 20/L approx for petrol and diesel each and since every commodity in a way is directly or indirectly related to it , the prices of other stuff will reduce to an extent and we will have more money to spend and the spirits of people will be up again when they have more spending power! We will be a happier country.

    2. The government shld remove the tax on Capital gains for a year. So the seller does not have to split the sale in white and black to avoid a heavy tax! So there is more transparancy in the real estate market across the country and that is one of the key sectors that needs to grow or we all will go the US way!

    3. By reducing home loan rates people will not buy properties. As the relief is for an amount under 20 lacs. And in which city especially metros where the cash/capital/money lies does one get a flat for 20 lacs! So they need to come up with some kind of sensible housing scheme!

    There is more which eludes me! But after ages an article that did not rant against the government but offered proactive solutions and practical solutions at that made so much sense!

    If anyone has read it please can you share it as its definetly worth every word that was written..

  9. I remebered the the vital point finally and had to complete!

    4. One year income tax holiday for all citizens. Where we all have to compulsorily file returns but in lieu of the same we get to keep out tax money and use it for our selves. That means we pay off our loans/mortgages more easily and give ourselves a better life. When we feel better abt our lives we obviously create happier surroundings!

    Now as a working single individual if the government announced the above four key vital points I might actually become a concerned citizen and would not display so much non-chalance !

    Mr. Nandy thank u for this article. But now how do we make our politicians read it considering most of them havent even completed secondary school! Do we translate this is the local vern language and have someoneone read it out to them?

  10. Well said Suchitra, After practising all ‘H’s, we reach to the ultimate goal, HARE RAMA HARE KRISHNA,the universal Krishna Conciousness.This concept is the most ancient religion which was based on ‘Pantheism’, that is NATURE WORSHIP. Later on, it degenerated to multiplicity of Gods and Idolatory. Hinduism, the name was given by the Mohammedans, who under the guidance of Prophet Muhammed ,spread all over the country to put put an end to idolatory and establish thei religion.’Jehad’ is peaceful conversion. Not terrorist attacks.All religions in India are now perverted religions.It is a shame on all religions to behave like this in the name of the Creator.Only He should save us from this stupidity. My only prayer is ‘Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan.

  11. hate is the inward manifestation of outward jealousy.Pakistan is still not reconciled to
    separation on liberation of bangladesh.Since India was responsible for it, all the hate
    is being projected through wanton attacks on indian instiyutions and indian affluence.
    Pakistan as a nation hasn’t done any good to anyone anywhere,be it bangladesh before its seperation,afghanistan or baluchistan or the north western frontiers in its own territory.
    Its political leaders are a divided lot but united in one thing in being invertebrate against
    the Army.All American aid is abused.Nothing reaches the people who by themselves are
    not bad but who get easily brainwashed.
    The real need there is good leadership.That can come only through internal turmoil.
    That turmoil can be generated by all people and nations affected by this jihadism!
    That will be a kautilya solution to this insane terrorism.
    Ethics should not override national interest.
    we should strengthen our nation in every area and unite our own people as a first line of defence!

  12. ‘JIHAD’ I guess has been mis-interpreted by various religious as well as political leaders and in a way used for the benefit of themselves.

    What is happening in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Israel is no different from what is happening in India or any where else in this world.

    I remember seeing JFK when I was young and could not understand at that point of time, but today I understand – War and Battles are money and no one today wants to lose his share in it.

    I don’t want to comment on what are the sentiments of people like Osama, the Americans or the Isareli leaders as I have no authority and all I say would be or could be not taking appropriately.

    But I would like to join the chain of the ‘H’ word:

    H for Holistic
    H for Happiness
    H for Helping Hand
    H for Hilarious
    H for Humans
    H for Holy
    H for Humanitarian
    H for Heart
    H for Holiness

  13. Im not an abstractionist. Im not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. Im interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. – Mark Rothko

  14. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the tremendous lucidity in your writing. I will right away grab your rss feed to stay abreast of any updates.

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