Sunday, September 21, 2008


I recently had an opportunity to attend a service at a church. It was quite a novel experience, since I had never done so before. Just prompted me to write about how different it is as compared to a service or a sermon or prayer I am used to.

One of the first things I realised is a certain sense of joy and happiness that seems prevalent. I am not saying that we, as Hindu's are not happy. To me, it seems that we are more obsessed with "following the ritual" and bowing down before a supreme entity than paying our respects to that entity. I believe there is difference - you can be happy about the fact you are paying your respects, or you can lower yourself in order to portray that entity as something that deserves your respect. I think we tend to do the latter. I have almost never seen people happy or rather, joyous while praying. ( I perfectly accept the possibilty that I have been observing the wrong people. But I'm just trying to write what I have seen. :) ) The only time I remember people to be enjoying their prayers are at the Ganesh festival, where people are not enjoying the fact that they are praying. They are just enjoying the whole thing.

During the service, the people seemed happy to be there. They also seemed to express that a bit more than I have generally seen. (Although, Americans in general express their feelings much more than Indians.. so I shouldn't count this in). The mood was, overall, lighthearted but respectful, not sombre.

I have not been to any kirtans or the sort, so I cannot say how it proceeds. But at this service, it was a pleasant surprise to see members of the church come up and give their interpretation of a certain passage of the Bible. They gave examples from their own life, about their own mistakes in helping everyone understand what they had understood.

A little sentence was spoken by one of these speakers, which has stuck with me. He said, that "staying away from idol worship" as said in the Bible does not mean that one should not look at an image of God to pray. It means that one should never obsess over some object, or activity. Don't overdo playing a video-game. Don't overdo repeating a certain habit. And so on. I liked this definition of idol worship, because personally, I believe that it sorta helps to have an image to which you would like to pray to. Just a sorta little belief.

All this just tells me, that what I believe in, tends to not fall in any one religion. What I believe in, is a sorta my own patched-up version of all things that I have heard and found to be morally and logically satisfying to me.