There was a time when churches were meant for prayers and worship alone. Its still the same in most places, except Kerala, God's own country. Now Sunday masses means an opportunity to release an 'idaya lekhanam'(circular) filled with falsehood and which is meant to help the political and monetary ambitions of those at the top of the church hierarchy. These circulars are read out during the sunday masses in churches that fall under that particular sabha. And it has nothing to do with God. There were such circulars released by various churches during elections asking the devotees to vote for a particular candidate. Later they used it in the self financing colleges issue to further their propaganda against the Govt. Its a known fact that most of the colleges in Kerala under one or the other church. And now, the latest of those circulars comes out to condemn Professor T.J.Joseph, the man whose arm was cut off by islamic fundamentalists for the simple crime of setting a question paper for his students.
The question which caused all this controversy is a simple dialogue between God and a guy named Mohammed in which the students were supposed to add the necessary punctuations. Its borrowed from a famous book by P.T.Kunjumuhammed.
Here's the translation for the same-
" Muhammad : God, God.
God : What is it you idiot.
Muhammad : How many pieces will we get if we cut one Ayila(fish)?
God : You dog I have told you so many times that there will be 3 pieces.
Prof T.J.Joseph after his arm was cut off
There's nothing to suggest blasphemy in the whole dialogue. But, the fundamentalists thought otherwise. They took revenge by cutting off Joseph's arm. And if that was not enough the management of Newman college(where Joseph was working) dismissed him from service. The next week the church during the sunday mass, comes out with the circular supporting his ouster. A place meant for prayers is being converted into one for false propaganda. And it was sad that in none of the churches were this was read, no true believer rose up and said "this is wrong" and showed his finger to the 'religious businessmen'. The poor professor is being made a scapegoat in the murky games that goes on in the background. A lost arm, a lost job and lost pensions, still he's smiling. His interviews shows you the picture of a learned man with liberal views, not a fanatic who will spit venom on a religion. And the students of his class for whom he made this question paper are still supporting him. Its only the uneducated fundamentalists and educated religious pimps who find fault with him.
The whole episode did send shock waves through our increasingly fake secularistic mindset. Religion in modern times is becoming more of a burden than a boon. Intolerance is at its heights and any small deviation from the accepted line of thought is branded blasphemous and the person who originated the thought is hounded till his grave. A song, a slogan, an advertisement, a movie poster, a poem or even a simple question paper as in this case, can whip up that cliched 'hurt religious sentiments' in many of us. The Govt in Karnataka has banned beef saying its against Hinduism. What about the many Hindus like me who doesn't give a damn on what these bigots think and would prefer munching on beef? Even in our company bulletin board, I've seen (educated) people defending decisions like this, in the name of religious sentiments. And then there are those ugly boards in front of some Kerala temples which scream 'non-hindus not allowed'. Why don't we just throw away those boards and allow anyone who wants to pray to get inside? This kind of religious blindness is the biggest plague that has affected modern society. Religion has also become an excuse to flaunt. Celebrities increase their market value by secretly leaking detals of how much money they offered at a particular religious place. Come to think of it, almost all the ills of modern soceity can be retraced to their origins in one religion or the other. Certainly, God won't be happy to see us using his name to further our own secret selfish propagandas.
These lines from motherjane's song 'soul corporations' makes perfect sense in this scenario..
The cross maybe the ultimate metaphor
For religion sold as a brand
A sacrifice exchanged for the almighty dollar
with the tacit blessings of the Vatican
we all have guardians trading faith for power
businessmen by whom we swear
betraying everyone from eshwar to allah
with their holy wars for market share.
We're losing our religions, entrusting our gods
to corporates that protrate before balance sheets
Unsuspecting pawns inititating brethren
into the oldest MLM to stalk our streets
Behold the soul corporations, the spiritual supermarts
dispensing salvation with a price tag
mocking the truth that resides in our hearts
Paralyzing the human conscience with practised art
And of the various hues of desecration
this makes them the hardest to beat
the unsure can't endure the liberation
the pious don't discern the need
for if there's a truth to be told
religion's just a shadow of god
illuminated by thought and understanding
sullied by the ambiguity of words.
PS- Am not an atheist. But I believe religion is something personal, which is not to be flaunted and not to be fought over. And my religion won't be affected just because somebody somewhere drew a picture or wrote an article or made a film which throws a little mud on my religion. My religion won't be affected if some people ate beef or pig. If anyone thinks such things can be bad for his religion, then he must be worshipping a foolish God and a crappy religion. So, here goes for all you fundamentalists...shove your religion up your arses..
your crusader Praveen