Sunday, June 4, 2017

What God Means To Me


The presence of God has been constant in my life, but my perspective of Him has changed, and still continues to. I believe that this change is as natural & as necessary as the change of seasons. Our perception of God changes with age, knowledge & yes, a bit of firsthand experience, for, as Paramahansa Yogananda says in The Autobiography of a Yogi, “ No man lives who has not seen some of his prayers granted”

For a South Indian family, we were strangely disconnected with the ritual of going to a temple – a temple was visited only if there happened to be a birthday, an anniversary, a promotion or a good report card. But this doesn’t mean that we weren’t God-loving. A small shrine with the family goddess occupied an important space in the kitchen.  Mother would recite hymns while doing her regular chores and Father would silently bow in front of the shrine every day. I was sent to school with a smidge of vibhuti (holy ash) on my throat during weekdays and dutifully dropped at Bal Vihar & music classes on the weekends.

But upbringing is the foundation; it rests on the shoulders of each and every human being to build their personal equation with God. Growing up, I was exposed to the triumvirate of hobbies – reading, singing & watching movies. Unconsciously and rather unusually, these hobbies interlinked and honed my perception of God through the ages.  Stories written by saints like Sri Ramakrishna & Swami Vivekananda spread the message of supreme dedication to God through love for all His creation , songs by Saint Tyagaraja & Annamacharya, filled sometimes with pathos, sometimes with ecstasy, were an example in devotion  & movies such as Oh My God reinstated the fact that rituals weren’t necessarily synonymous with love for God.

Today my feelings of God are a perfect amalgam of my upbringing & hobbies. The day begins by touching the ground in respect of the Mother Earth, who bears all of us despite our drilling and digging. The wondrous sight of sun rays passing through trees during my morning walk serves as a reminder of God’s creation. Devotional music takes me into throes of inexplicable joy & I often find myself strangely energised after a session of music. My ten minutes of peace are often in front of the small shrine in the kitchen. Each morsel of food is eaten after thanking the Almighty, and sleep is beckoned after a recitation of God’s name.

However, it would be churlish of me to claim to have fully known or understood God. There are days when, despite the innate knowledge that God is nothing but filled with love, I feel that He is being exceptionally trying with me. But then, in unexpected moments of clarity, I rewind to the tough times in the past and remember that it was always He who helped me through them & stood by me, in the form of a parent, a friend or a well-wisher. He is, after all, without beginning or end, with form or formless, the creator, protector and destroyer of this vast universe that He has created. I am but a mere speck in this universe, a mere puppet , whose main aim of this life is to become one with Him, the eternal puppeteer.


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