Sunday, August 26, 2007

Understanding Rituals and Spirituality

Tomorrow is Ammniyavatam, when the many Brahmins will put on a new sacred thread and throw away the old one. To me this day will bring to fore one more day of clash of thoughts and beliefs and thus actions within the family. Those who believe in the ritual will try to force those who do not believe in the ritual and practice. Emotions will fly. People will be upset with one another.

During my reading of discourses of the Bhagavad Gita, I cam across a concept which was propounded therein. The concept is of sruti and smriti. Sruti, I understand is a temporal law. Wheras, Smriti is an eternal truth. What it means, in my undertanding but definite belief, is that the truth does not change and is applicable to all and all at times. Wheras relgious practices and rituals change in accordance with change in time and place. They are not permanent or applicable to all, always and everywhere. They are contextual.

Whether my understanding is right or wrong, I believe in the above. The relevance of It. The governance by It. The connection of everyone to It. The behaviour of It and our own relationship with It are all true and ever prevailing.

Let me deivate a bit and try to empahsise on the need for every individual to experiment with It. If a rule, law, theorem is true. No matter who or how we experiment with it, it will prove to be true. if Newton's lawas of physics are true. It will proven true in any context. There is nothing to fear in allowing anyone to experiment with the laws. Because whatever the epxeriment it will prove to be true. Thus it will build a conviction even the intial doubters of the law or truth. Why should be this be different in spirituality. If It is true, then people should be allowed to experiement it. It should be argued against, qaurelled about, negated, tested in different contexts, questioned with regard to the day to day life. If It is true then no matter what it will prevail. The truth will conquer. It will remove all doubts in the doubters. Human being will evolve a developed and stroner person by having been convinced by experimentation.

Unfortunately, we force rituals on the individuals, who then find flaws in the rituals and the practices posing questions from ones experience and perspectives of self and the world. When there is nothing scientific to be posited agains these arguments, we resort to age old practice of putting fear into the human being to control him/her. We tend to the argument that we will be punished because we do not follow the ritual. This will only weaken the human being, make him revolt, make him doubt things more than ever.

Lets allow for experimentation of the individual with It without any fear. Satyamevajayate. If It is true, he or she will see the truth and accept it.

Rituals and practices are transitory, temporal. Instead of emphasis on following of the rituals and practices we will better of if we guide and be guided towards the pursuit of the truth and It. Why should someone be forced to play football when he or she like to play cricket. why should one be forced to learn music when one likes to draw. We cannot force rituals and practices which are agains the nature of the person in particular and human being in general. We need to allow the natural behaviour of the individual to prevail. We teach sscience to all from childhood as it is eternal and universal. Spirituality is eternal and universal and thus it can be something which is taught and will be accepted. Rituals and practices are neither eternal nor universal. Thus for it be accepted will be difficult for a person unless it comes from within. Need for physical fitness is an universal and eternal. The form of it i.e. whether football or cricket is contextual, contextual to the person's nature and environmental circumstances. You cannot force one to play football when his nature pushes him to cricket. We need to realise the distintion between religion and spirituality. Spirituality is universal and eternal. Religion is contextual to space and time.