Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “The secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for”. A recent experience made me believe that the purpose of our lives is to contribute something positive to society and to the spiritual evolution of humankind. We should leave the world a better place than we found it. I was provided with an opportunity to serve the society spiritually and religiously recently.
A group of people unknown to me visited my house recently. I had to entertain them as they were respectable people from the colony I reside in. I inquired about their purpose of visit. There is no temple for our community in the neighborhood and the elders have to travel a long distance to pray, one of them said. We should do something about it. I was curious, land prices in our part of Delhi are high and it won’t be easy to get that much donation. Construction cost could be affordable for their newly formed association (they were all rich people) but they wouldn’t be ready to part with that much money, I thought. But apparently starting a religious enterprise is no less than setting up a business. They had an innovative idea for a start-up.
They planned to identify a piece of public land in a park or other community area. Every morning and evening some people would sit there, sing bhajans and offer prayers. After sometime they would put up a temporary structure, a shamiana or tent to save the devotees from sun and rain. A few months later a permanent structure would replace the temporary structure. Gradually but surely they will expand it as much as possible. Once a religious structure is formed nobody will dare touch it, law enforcing agencies will look the other way. You can get away with murder but nobody dares to hurt religious sentiments in India. This exercise is easier when elections are round the corner, I was told.
I can understand many intricate human emotions but these overzealous followers of God are beyond me. Hakim Agha Jan Aish, a well- known Delhi poet and Ghalib’s contemporary said this about Ghalib’s poetry but I think it describes the religious activists of today very well.
Kalam-i-Mir samjhay aur zabaan-i-Mirza samjhay
Magar in-ka kaha yeh aap samjhain ya Khuda samjhay
(We understand the verse of Mir, we understand what Mirza [Sauda] wrote;
But Ghalib’s verse! — either he understands or God!)
PS – If I am not liable to any legal action this is a true story, otherwise it is a figment of imagination.