Friday, 24 October 2008

A sinful blog

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The advantage of being in today’s world is that you can get most information through the net. All the quotes used in this blog are obtained from internet. I have refrained from quoting those religions which don’t believe in review or being analyzed. If this blog hurts the sentiments of anybody kindly excuse me. Throughout this blog I have only tried to draw inferences from various religions and never criticized or complimented any religion. This being a blog suffers from its inherent flaw of the need to be brief.

The other day I saw the wall of a Christian cemetery with the words “The wages of sin is death”. I am unable to comprehend the full meaning of this phrase. The following questions arose in my mind as I was traveling along:

What is sin? Is the definition of sin same across religions?
All religions preach righteous conduct and hence the definition of sin across religions is almost similar barring a few socio-cultural differences. For example some religions view sin as a crime against God whereas Hinduism views it as an act against dharma, moral order and one’s own self. Every religion terms lust, adultery, greed and murder as a sin. Going by these definitions 75 to 80% of human actions are sin.

b. Why do we sin? Can we in the modern times lead a life free from sin?
Christianity suggests that we sin when we put ourselves before God and our will before his will. Further it states that if we know how to do good and we recognize that we ought to be doing certain things, the failure to do them is a sin. By this definition, we ignoring the crime, corruption and misrule around us is also an act of sin

Judaism glorifies the divinity of human race by saying that it was never created with an inclination to do evil but the tendency develops in youth. As far as I could understand Buddhism does not recognise the idea behind a sin because in Buddhism there is Karma and Vipaka.

Hinduism says that if your relatives or your kin are doing bad things and it is your duty to protect people, failure to not do so would amount to a sin. This is the basis on which Sri Krishna argues with Arjuna who believes that fratricide is moral absolute sin. More often than not we act to the contrary and protect our relatives even when we know that they are in the wrong. No parent accepts that their son is a terrorist nor does any one of them disown their kids for running over in a drunken state poor people sleeping on the footpath.

Can we in modern times lead a life free from sin?
Christianity suggests that we should realize that sin starts in this mind. When we allow evil thoughts to enter our mind and stay there, disrupt the process before its gets started, by not even allowing wrong thoughts into our minds. You shall not commit adultery, whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Judaism holds that no human being is perfect and all people have sinned many times. Sins like Avon (sin of lust of uncontrollable emotion) and Cheit (unintentional sin) do not condemn a person to a life in hell. Being practical, I go with the opinion of Judaism. It is impossible not to succumb to temptation. However Christianity says that every time we give in, we will find it that much harder to resist giving in the next time we face temptation. I am really confused on this point. My belief is that anybody can reform himself or herself.

Is it possible that a person who does not sin won’t die? (If one goes by what was written in the epitaph)
I believe that human beings are born to die and it is impossible for a human life to pass by without a sin. Buddhism says that anybody who can follow the Pancasila and the Noble Eightfold Path will cease to have suffering and thus is a way to be free of Samsara, the cycle of death. I feel that it is only freedom from cycle of death called Samsara and not actually death. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Is there is redemption for all types of sin?
Hinduism says that the residue of sin is called papa, sometimes conceived of as a sticky, astral substance which can be dissolved through penance (prayashchitta), austerity (tapas) and good deeds (suktitya). I wonder if a sweet meat shop owner who chases away a beggar is doing his karma (of ensuring that his customers are not inconvenienced) or is he committing a sin. The same sweet meat shop owner when he goes to a temple would voluntarily drop a dime in the beggars bowl. Is he dissolving his papa or doing a good deed?

Prayer, repentance and charitable actions are ways to repent for sin according to Christianity. Let me touch upon a very sensitive point, if you commit adultery, is their redemption for you through the above methods. Most of us would take refuge in the preaching of Judaism and move on.

My search for meaning of the words “The wages of sin is death” has just begun and despite being an atheist I feel we should all keep our sin account under check. If not for attaining eternity, only to die with less guilt, we should sin less

Monday, 20 October 2008

Memorable wedding howlers I have been part of

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Weddings in India have their own howlers. Not matter how well you plan based on previous experiences; the next wedding will have a unique howler to throw up and usually more ridiculous than the previous one. I guess all these make an Indian wedding so humane and enjoyable. You always have something to recall and jokingly barb your spouse/relative with even ages after the wedding is over. Here are some of the most memorable ones I have been through with:

My brother’s wedding – Where is the sacred pole?

One of the custom in Tamil weddings is to erect a pole on the night before the wedding and it is called “Arsan Kal” (can’t exactly write it in English). For some reason my aunts forgot about it, till early morning of the wedding. I had gone home the previous night and came at around 4 am to the choultry hall and was put on a frenetic mission to get one. Luckily, the choultry was near to the famous “Bamboo Bazaar” of Shivajinagar area, Bangalore. I went on my moped to find all the shops closed. There was only one tea shop open and I explained the situation to the shopkeeper, who demanded Rs.100 for one bamboo stick. Desperate as I was, I gave the amount to him and the formal hoisting was done.

This I had kept in mind and tried to avoid it in my marriage but there my reception dress went missing which I have already narrated in this blog of mine.

My cousin’s wedding – Where is the thalli?

This was a wonderful howler. This guy had an intercaste marriage. The wedding was performed according to both Konkani and Tamil customs. It was decided that a “Tamil Thalli” would be tied. Don’t ask me what is a Tamil Thalli? I myself don’t know the difference between a Konkani Thalli and a Tamil Thalli. Since the wedding was organised by the girl side, the rituals started in the noon as per their custom. As per Tamil custom, you have to bring the thalli directly to the choultry. In this case the thalli was not yet ready and hence it was decided that the goldsmith would bring it the next day to the choultry. Next day being an auto strike, the goldsmith (GS) had to come by bus. When I called up his residence, his wife told he had left home at around 830am but it was almost 1030am and he had not reached the choultry. The tension was building up. I and another relative of mine were assigned the responsibility of guiding the GS from bus stop to the choultry. I was virtually looking into every bus which was stopping by. The muhurtham was at 12:15 and there was no sight of the GS even at 1145am; it was decided that there is no point in waiting for the GS and we went to a nearby jewellery shop searching for a “Tamil Thalli”. Thankfully, we got one and came rushing to the choultry, only to find that the GS entering into the choultry at the same time as us. Finally, the thalli made by the GS was made the official one and the other one was exchanged for a ring.

My brother-in-law’s wedding – Who will serve the food?

Wiser from the previous experiences, I had made a checklist of all the possible howlers. Everything was ensured the arsan kal, groom’s dress, thalli, etc, etc. The reception was on a Sunday and after Rahukalam it was scheduled to start at 630pm. At 615pm, the cook called us, aside and said “Sir, people who were meant to serve the food have let me down, you have to arrange yourselves”. Mind you this guy was known to my in-laws for many years. There was no time to react; the guests had arrived in large numbers. We could not arrange anybody at that time and hence a decision was taken that we ourselves would serve the food. All the plans of celebration, dance and most importantly the dressing had gone for a toss. We were not used to serving so many people and did a truly amateurish job. The order of service and quantity for each guest was haphazard; some of the dishes were not served for many of the guests, etc, etc. All the painstaking preparations we had made for the wedding day had fallen apart.

After my brother-in-law’s wedding, I have not been actively involved in any other wedding. I am determined to overcome all the possible howlers in the next wedding but that would make an Indian wedding very boring and colorless.

I just can’t imagine what could be the next howler? Any creative thoughts please leave behind here

My experiences with a regional outfit

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I strongly believe that all commercial establishments have to display their boards in bi-lingual with the local language getting the prominence in font size.

There is a particular regional outfit in Bangalore which claims from the rooftop that it is committed to the cause of Kannada. They have in the recent past carried out many “intensive” protests in this regard. I noticed a commercial establishment near my house which did not have the “statutory” bi-lingual board. I wanted to lodge a complaint with this regional outfit and called them up. This is the conversation translated into English.

Me :- Hello, is this ********
Reply:- Yes
Me:- Sir, I am calling from ***********, there is a shop by name ********, they have not displayed their board in Kannada, If I give you the details or send the picture, will you be able to take action?
Reply:- We cannot act on telephone complaints, you have to come in person.
Me:- ok, sir, please give me your address.
Me:- ok, sir, I will come today evening and lodge a complaint with you.
Reply:- Don’t come alone, come with atleast 50 supporters and a few Tata Sumos. All of you have to join our organisation to take action on your complaint.
Me:- Ok, sir, I will try.

I hung up the phone.

Need I say more?

Travelling by public transport

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For 14 years, I was used to traveling by office bus. It has its own pleasures assured timings, specific seat, direct route, etc. The 6th Pay Commission changed all this and the quantum of transport allowance payable for renouncing office transport was too difficult for me to resist.

It is only after I started traveling by BMTC (the only public transport mode in Bangalore) that I realized the advantages it offered. Once I step out of my office, I attain anonymity and I am totally shut off from office politics. It gives me an opportunity to interact with a wide range of people. I have to leave home early since I need to take a minimum of 2 buses to reach office on time. Rains in the evening mean worries for me on how to reach home within a reasonable time. On days when I am lucky I get a bus which drops me a couple of miles away from the office. This provides me a great opportunity to walk down in an array of trees, on the perimeter of Indian Institute of Science campus.

The other day I meet a teenager who reminded me of my college days. He was talking in an audacious way to a girl pretty similar to me. The only difference was that I used to have the limited opportunity of talking to girls only in person. Every evening I come across a fried groundnut seller near Shivajinagar. He makes a brisk business and has a more sound business model compared to the financial institutions and airline operators.

I noticed that BMTC has rapidly improved from my college days. More often than not a person need not wait in a bus stop for more than 15 minutes. If somebody is waiting in a bus stop for long it means either he is in the wrong stop or waiting for someone to come. However, respect for the sanctity of ladies seat has not improved. In Bangalore where traffic rules are not respected even a wee bit; maybe it is wrong to expect such courtesy and compliance. It is more pitiable to notice that very few ladies ask the male occupants to vacate it for them. BMTC has recently introduced “Suvarna” supposed to provide better passenger comfort as compared to the normal buses. Except for the fare, there is nothing premium about these buses.

There is a compulsion from home front to go in for a four wheeler. The emotional argument put forward by my wife is that being an officer, it is pitiable that I am traveling by BMTC bus. I have blocked it putting up an ideological argument of the need for everybody to travel by public transport. Let us see how long I can hold to my position, until then, the travel by the stuffy BMTC buses is an experience to relish.

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Banglaore, Karnataka, India