Birth of a new Faith (fiction-6)

After Sucharitra’s passing, the new religion took roots; it needed to be propagated well and soon. After all, the king of Amor was supporting it. Rising of Suyesh from his grave had been the most amazing and scariest incidence that any Amoran had ever experienced. To start with on a Friday, they all had brutalized, crucified and finally buried Sucharitra. And now his so called rising and vanishing into thin air on following Sunday, was being termed as an act of god. And this act had put the king and his men in deep thought. Discovering a real body converting into mud; they analyzed, ‘is this why they say dust unto dust?’ No one could think of a more sensible or realistic scenario. King’s ministers made everyone believe, ‘vanishing of a dead man from the grave’, as logical. As though with utter fright, all the subjects of Amor turned into Amoran Sucharitrans…

Well enough of beating around the bush. As the time passed, new faith spread. It went beyond the boundaries of Amor or shall we say Roma or Rome. Followers of this new religion believed in miracles. Of course we are talking about Roman Catholics or Christians. There can be no confusion now. Leadership of this religion has always projected to the followers that the clergy in order of hierarchy has direct links to god. Only way to god is through Fathers and nuns in a church. Only they are qualified to lead you to heaven. The church desperately wanted to hold all rights and routes to god. So, they covered most things with sheets of unexplainable mystery. There are a few examples that can put it in a perspective –

  1. Initially church believed that the earth was flat and no one was allowed to have any other view or version.
  2. Church believed that earth was at the center of the universe and all other planets revolved around it, including Sun. Nicolaus Copernicus had propagated heliocentric theory, which banned for nearly 200 years.
  3. Later Galileo was prohibited from towing Copernicus line. In 1633 Galileo had to face a trial by Inquisition, because he wanted to spread his knowledge of our solar system. He had discovered that the Earth revolved around the sun and not the other way round. This had angered the Pope. Galileo was brought to Rome to face the trial. The Church banned his book and he was sentenced to house arrest at his own home in Florence. He finally died there after going blind. Finally, as recently as in 1992, the church officially reversed its more than 450 year old belief from illogical to a scientific one. Pope John Paul II, officially reversed church’s stand, ‘earth was not stationary and it revolved around the sun’. But poor Galileo had to suffer insults and lost invaluable time at the peak of his most productive life. What a waste of a great scientific talent?
  4. A few months back BBC did a story on bicentenary of ‘abolition of slavery act’. Modern world was horrified to know that the church owned and used black slaves on their plantations, for more than 300 years. Slaves were not only used, they were also brutalized. The Church apologized for its part in the cruelty and hardship of the thousands of black men, women and children. Somehow now, they are considering compensatory payments to them.
  5. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI was part of an unwarranted controversy, in quoting a 14th century Christian king. The quote, ‘Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only “evil and inhuman” things’; started a huge uproar around the Islamic world. There was no need to repeat a 700 year old quote in public, especially when entire world is so sensitive to religion.
  6. Lastly there is an incidence again 0f 2006, when Vatican had invited top scientists for a conference on cosmology. During question answer session after the conference, Pope asked Dr. Stephen Hawking to not study the beginning of the universe before the ‘big bang’. He said it should be left alone as an act of god! Unbelievable! It is sad when some one wants to control people by using their ignorance. Brief conversation became public soon. Vatican later said that Dr. Hawking misrepresented what was said.
  7. A very important negative point is clergy’s sexual abuse of young children. Internet space is crammed with these scandals. Over a few years many feature films have been released on the subject of pedophilia among highly placed clergy. Wave of this has put them very strongly on the back foot.
  8. Only a good Christian would be allowed to live in the ‘heaven up in the sky’, since no one knew anything beyond the solar system. The telescopes then were not powerful enough for peeping into the Pearly gates of heaven.
  9. Church has custom of canonizing clergy with sainthood. Understandable requirements for a person worthy of being conferred ‘sainthood’ are, “you must lead a flawless exemplary life and must inspire faith.” But soon, things turn weird with, “after you are dead, two miracles must be attributed to you, unless you are martyred as a result of your faith.” These miracles can be manipulated by investigating people. If I am a saint then society will recognize me as one and on its own call me a ‘saint’. I can not imagine an external agency deciding whether Kabir or Sai Baba of Shirdi were saints or not. Sainthood is not like conferring doctorate on worthy by a university. No one can become a saint because a powerful organization pronounced, ‘from today onwards you are a saint or you are a saint because I chose to call you one.’
  10. Church is also too paranoid about the numbers of its followers. They know that there is huge power in huge numbers. Initially they had set up missionaries to spread their religion, but later they were used for, conversions. And this luring or forcing people to embrace Christianity has had a few set backs too.

It is a very bad idea to look down upon other faiths to make yours look better. There can be immense problems if you start thinking that other religions are baseless compared to yours. Such an attitude will only establish spiritual shallowness of your thinking. Respect me as me, and I will think high of you too. But if you tell me that shelter inside an enormous church is more spiritual than my own space then it is high time you faced a mirror and asked, “Are you really the prettiest of them all?”

Sucharit/Suyesh (fiction-2)

It must have been nearly 20 years after that adventurous evening, when I met those three saints and also witnessed the dramatic scene of a pregnant woman delivering a baby, who then shockingly was forced to abandon it in the middle of the dense forest.

My village Jandera had got its name from its own population; because all of them followed one faith and ideology called ‘Godaism’. Jandera was under the kingdom of King Vikram, who ruled from the capital city of Amor.

Jandera was very lucky to have a young villager who had become well known for his spell binding discourses. Even nearby villages were buzzing with news of this young boy’s abilities. His speeches had become very popular. He did not talk about the religion or scriptures, but about practical issues of how to lead a simple and uncomplicated life. People were visiting him in herds, because the boy had practical answers to everyone’s day to day problems. They asked him various house hold, health or relationships related questions and he offered them long term easy solutions. He never said, ‘I will give you something’. Instead he said, ‘you have it all in you. You have all the solutions inside you; you just have to learn how to discover them’. Due to this the flock was getting self-empowered, especially women. Many of the listeners now wanted to stay with him as long as they could, to learn the art of living, the art of staying happy and be confidant! But he would always refuse such offers, ‘you have to take care of your own life and family. No one should turn away from his basic duties. All you have to do is do your job well and lead an honest life’. In spite of this people just kept walking behind him; there was no way to stop them. His disciples were growing every day!

The boy’s name was Sucharit – man of good character. Strangely his huge popularity got him another name, ‘Suyesh’ or the one who is famous for good reasons. Sucharit was about 20 years old. He was tall, had a lean muscular body. His beard grew a little scanty. His curly hair was up to his shoulders. He was mostly seen in a white cloth wrapped around his waist and a pleasant expression on his thin face.

Like everyone else, Sucharit too followed a near 2000 year old religion called Godaism. Followers of Godaism believed that the universe was created and governed by a single omnipresent, omnipotent power called, God. He lived with three old men, who were carpenters. Yes, these were the same three saints had rescued this howling baby boy, from a forest 20 years ago. So, Sucharit was a carpenter too, expert in making simple and economical furniture. He did most of the work himself, so that his old saviors could take it easy in the dusk of their life. All his life, the saints had fed him, taken care of him and most importantly sown seeds of good qualities in him. They adored him for the way he had grown up- so bright, so strong and so humane. But they had never bargained that he would be so popular.

It had not been easy for those saints at all, bringing up a child right from his birth. They never let out the secret how they had found him. Only dismissive answer they had for numerous questions and doubts for nearly 20 years was, that ‘his mother’s name was Meera, who was known to them and God was his father! Can’t you see it on his face? Look at the peace and glow! Doesn’t he remind you of God?’ It was nearly a declaration from those well respected saints to make a point for the boy. A thoroughly impressed village crowd ‘semi believed’ them. Everyone knows how babies come on earth. An abandoned ordinary child was turned into an extraordinary phenomenon, only to cover up the absence of his father. Whoever met Sucharit just once, who he was did not matter. Sucharit spoke in a common man’s language. Slowly a belief started developing that he was a god and not a human. He physically ‘touched’ them to make them believe that he indeed was a human being. Due to constant speeches and interaction with troubled lot, Sucharit had grown very sharp in his mind and kind in heart. He could genuinely feel or even guess everyone’s pain. ‘Suyesh Sucharit’ had become a strong magical magnet. His strong attraction converted many of his listeners into his disciples. They really loved Sucharit from their heart.

Sucharit as a rule did not allow women to follow him permanently. He knew women are needed at home much more than men. But nobody had been able to convince or force ‘Mangala’ away. She had to face a lot of criticism from everyone. At that time it was looked down upon for a woman to live with a man, without village head’s consent. She in fact lived with many men, because they were all his disciples. She took up the job of doing all day to day chores for Sucharit on the pretext that he had no time to do them anyway. She smilingly, cooked, washed and mended his clothes, took care of all important visitors, who were growing in number. Now Mangala became a strong confidante of Sucharit. And gradually got a nod of all his followers, to be with them.

She would wait by his side until he fell asleep at night. She was ready by his side again with a jar of water in morning. Watching her devotion, everyone developed a deep respect for her too, not so much because she was close to Suyesh, but because Suyesh also had so much respect for her. Mangala was now Ma Mangala for everyone. Phenomenal popularity of Suyesh now could not be handled by the usual small scale arrangements. It needed planning at a much higher level. Ma Mangala stepped up consultations with other colleagues and designed a security net for Sucharit. Since they had spotted spies from Amor too many times in the crowd, visitors were not allowed to get very close to him. Donations too had become large to be taken lightly. They had to be received, stored securely and properly accounted for. Thankfully Sucharit’s ministers had kept all these worldly matters away from him. His last meeting had so many visitors that they had to meet outside the village in a more open space. Sucharit spoke for a long time making everyone spell bound. Someone guessed there might have been nearly 50000 people in that gathering!

And that did not send a friendly message to king Vikram of Amor.