Thursday, November 29, 2012

Within or Without

I finished watching the movie OMG: Oh My God! just now. And, am quite pleasantly surprised at the maturity with which the subject was dealt with. No wonder it is based on a play. Because apart from the likes of Aamir Khan or Rajkumar Hirani, Bollywood has rarely produced such cinema. What is a little dissappointing is that the movie received only a lukewarm response from the public. What is surprising is that it did not draw critics from religious fanatic groups (atleast as far as I know), because I think the message was loud and clear in this one.

If you summarize the message, it is really old wine in new bottle. However, I think in our age where the public imagination of the modern-day God wears a suit and rides a Harley, the way the message is communicated is critical. Today, conventional wisdom is considered rudimentary and even irrational at times. So, the wisdom needed to be out in a more contemporary fashion and presented such that the rational-minded and 'aware' people buy the idea. What adds a little to the freshness in the approach is that the first intense conversation about God and Religion happens quite early in the movie instead of saving it for the climax. The climax is in fact underplayed, in my opinion. The audience has evolved and has little taste and belief for stories with all the action packed in the end.

However simple and powerful the idea of a formless omniscient God might (or might not) be, there aren't and probably won't ever be a lot of buyers for that. The movie itself (forgive me, I have not watched the original play) gives you the reasons. Religion, along with all it's fanfare, has become the way of life. We idolize people who appear Good and Benevolent. And, then we seek solace in the demi-God's Greatness. Believe gives us Hope. And, we are suckers for that. Big Time. Bal Thackeray was one such man in whom Maharastrians believed. And so, people either protest when you take their God/Hero away from them, or find themselves a replacement quickly.

I don't believe I am an expert in any of this. But I was recently having a discussion with my mother on if the concept of a God was born to 'embody' Spirituality. The rational in me was arguing that God is actually just an Idea, a Divine Message, the Truth. Somewhere we gave it a Form, an Entity so that we could relate to it more than we can relate to abstract notions. I think that we have come to perceive God as a physical entity external to our being. With this external entity gets born the need for a symbolic representation. The human form was perhaps the easiest to perceive. We added the extra limbs and gave some special powers to portray God as greater than other beings. As people move up the 'spiritual ladder', God becomes a very Bright White Source of Light. Further up, God is said to be akin to a Force/Energy field. As you are considered more and more awakened, the physical form becomes more and more hazy and the scope widens. In the end, it is said that the one's search for God ends with oneself, that is God is within and not without. At this point probably the entity of God merges with one's own identity and the two become One. I see this as Awakening/Enlightenment/Knowledge of the Truth. And, I bet the Truth would be something simple and elegant, something very obvious in hindsight. And then you will probably realize it was really about reaching there than about what lay there.

It would fit all the pieces of what I have heard about Spirituality/God. It would also make for a more believable story in the end. A magnificient journey almost always ends in the most uneventful way. Remember how Robert Langdon felt after discovering the Holy Grail?


aha88 said...
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aha88 said...

Well, sadly so hardly discussed in the group, but Iam sure we all sometime or the other during that one intense year ended up thinking about spirituality...( may be less as a discussion but more like a private conversation with god/self)... However, its true Ankur, that if asked the rational being in us...this is exactly what God/or concept of god be understood as. And all the haze around it is... to keep us all guessing and turning a page after page to only find ourselves as the 'Robert Langdon' ... But try and look it this way ...that all this larger than life image of 'god' actually just made things interestingly mysterious for us...may be thats exactly that got you thinking about it at the first place and me to commenting on it.....After all its propagators are- who have been there, done that!...And btw-'paise bhi toh kamane hai'(just saying-OMG!!!)

Ankur said...

Yes, we have all had those moments, haven't we :)

I am not sure if those who have actually been there and done that would propagate the image of God as larger than life. That is my point of contention. In fact, Bhakti Yoga asks us to look at God devoid of awe, rather it asks us to nurture God like our child, if I am not mistaken.

To reach that stage perhaps we need to pass through a lot of intermediate steps though :)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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