(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
One of the most vulnerable minorities in this country are people with what you heathens call ‘religious sentiments.’ This small group consisting of millions of saintly souls is being oppressed by the thousands of tyrannical unbelievers. People experiencing these sentiments are so delicate, so fragile, and so defenseless, that they need to be protected at all costs. You need to realize that their feelings are natural. They cannot help it, they were born this way. To a neutral observer it must look like that these people were indoctrinated by their parents and others around them, but they were just being slightly nudged to express a devotion which was already existed. Pity that your bigoted eyes cannot see that. So what if their intolerance is slowly eroding the small set of freedoms that you enjoy? Just because they use loudspeakers at odd hours, block traffic as they please, use their position to
diddle little children bless little children with their holy seed, immerse environmentally unsafe products into the sea, you think you have a right to judge them and or call them names? If you feel so left out and helpless, why don’t you pray to your god? Oops! Sorry! Didn’t remember that you didn’t have any. Don’t worry; you’re probably going to hell anyway so why bother at all?
As the world grows more open, religions have turned more dogmatic and stringent. Instead of letting them evolve and adapt with modern life, the human race has turned religion into something complex and grotesque. These days religion is less about finding the meaning of life and more about competing with each other.
Religious people take real pride in being more pious than the other guy. Look at me; I’m so pious I only eat living things sprouting out of the soil. Screw you, you amateur! I’m so pious I don’t eat anything unless it has been regurgitated in the bowels of an animal. You call that being closer to god? I sneer in your general direction. I’m so pious I survive on rainwater and the raw bark of a dead tree.
Even religious festivals have turned into a competition to determine who can be the biggest asshole. Holi used to be about decorating your house with temporary graffiti, putting some non-cancerous chemical colour on each other and spending the rest of the day eating and drinking until that old uncle who cannot really hold down his alcohol starts to create a ruckus. Now it’s about starting to throw balloons at unsuspecting strangers a fortnight before the darn festival and then turning to eggs or paint or whatever you can get your hands on to use on the day itself. Diwali used to be about playing light Indian Poker, praying for more money and drinking and eating until that old uncle who was jealous of everybody’s success started to create a ruckus. Now it’s about gunfights over lost houses, destroyed families, gold idols and the race to produce the largest amount of noise and the most expensive toxic fumes. Christmas used to be about giving birth in unusual places without any medical assistance whatsoever. Now it’s about buying useless expensive gifts for people you don’t even like.
People defend their religion from critics with the same fervour they defend Manchester United or Steve Jobs’ luxuriously autocratic mobile operating system. Nirvana is for people who have access to the most well stocked app store. Also, pretending to defend god is also pure human hubris. What the self-appointed defenders of faith are essentially saying is that not only is their god the most omnipotent, the most powerful, the king of every other god, but this very same powerful entity needs them, the average Joe-the guy who gets confined to the bed for five days because he was dumb enough to leave home without an umbrella even though it was drizzling outside-to defend them. Talk about your delusions of grandeur.
Not that I am a person who wants religion banished from the earth. We need religious people for the same reason we need the Kardashians; to make us feel better about ourselves. Everyone is entitled to their own delusion. I, for one, believe in the divine powers of a bottle of Jack Daniels and no amount of rehab can erode that belief. But I don’t go around legislating my beliefs or forcing them upon other people. In fact, I’d like as few people as possible to share my religion so that there is more ‘holy water’ left for me.
However, if you imagine someone is watching you every second of the day and keeping track of all your activities, then you’re right.
Although, I think you might have God confused with Kapil Sibal.