Kamal hassan came up with a brilliant and beautiful film called ‘Anbe Shivam’. The film conveys a simple message – ‘Love is God’. We are brought up as Christians, or Hindus or whatever for that matter. If all the religions teach us to love each other, to do good things, then why come we have so many religions out there and how easily we differentiate them. Christians go to church every sunday. Hindus offer poojas, they have a strong belief in ‘Horoscopes’. Muslims give namas thrice a day. Their life time ambition is to visit the holy place called Mecca. So the stress is not on LOVE, it is on the practices, the policies, the rules, the external beautification and that is what differentiates us all. That is the reason why I am a Christian and you a Hindu. How foolish!!
I still remember when I was a kid, while all others of my age enjoyed the ‘Donald Duck’ show on Sunday 9.00 in Doordarshan, I had to attend the Sunday Mass. Not even a single sunday was spared and there was nothing I could do. And to my Horror, there was a separate subject for Christians called ‘Catechism’ which was way too tough than the ‘Moral Studies’ that our Hindu friends used to study. I never understood the logic behind our not studying the ‘Moral Studies’. Probably our principal felt that Christians were supposed to be moraly perfect. What made matters worse was the fact that the teachers who handled ‘Catechism’ were very sadistic in their approach. They were not to be blamed because all ‘Catholic’ schools were supposed to train their ‘Catholic’ students very well in the ‘Catechism’ subject. This was appraised by having a yearly State-Level Exam in Catechism and the first three ranks would be announced. So our principal and ‘Catholic’ teachers made it a point that we studied the subject extra hours. The rude shock came when we were called for the first time to stay back till 7.00 PM everyday and study the subject, and still worse, we were asked to come on saturdays and sundays to sit and study it. Today I don’t remember even ONE damn thing from the 7+ years of studying Catechism. ‘Anything forced for a sufficiently longer time becomes a Habit’ And we meaninglessly follow it without even giving a second thought for the rest of our lives. One can learn more about Christ’s love in a few hours, than by attending sunday masses for years. Good parents are all that is required.
That was not all. We had to get an attendance signed by our priest every sunday. This was done to ensure that we were attending the Sunday masses properly. And for every ‘Catholic’ festival that was around, we had to prepare days together for a procession and the actual day of the procession would be invariably a Sunday. What more, the processions would be in the main roads of Pondicherry and I very much hated the idea of having to cause terrible ‘Traffic – Jams’ just because we were praying ardently. Did they ever give a thought to the hundreds of people who had to switch paths or wait till the processions were over. What does one gain by shouting at the high end of his voice amidst the already nauseating traffic. I can think of only one reason. Getting everyone’s attention. Christians were getting attention but they were losing the values for which they were known for – LOVE.
While I am trying to point out that all religions are equal and the differences among them are superficial, I am well.. ashamed to accept that there are 1001 divisions within ‘Christianity’. First there were catholics and then came protestants (They got their name as they protested against the Pope for some practices which they didn’t approve of). Then there was another 100 divisions out of the protestants alone. But why?? Well there was no obvious reason for the further partitions. It could have been just someone’s ego, or someone wanting to establish his name etc. But if they were all the same, then what could they do to differntiate themselves from their brethern. Just then some ultimately stupid person came up with the idea of differentiating through practices, appearance and what not. So they decided, ‘If those bunch of people are going to attend Sunday Masses we will do it on Saturdays’. Wow!!! and if he is going to celebrate ‘Christmas’ on Dec 25th, we won’t and we will tell everybody we meet that Christ infact wasn’t born on Dec 25th. Excellent!!! and another much more stupid person stood up and said, ‘We will make sure we make our presence felt. We will shout as much as we can, so that we get branded for it’. But the one I like most is ‘We will not wear ornaments. God in the bible had asked us to live as simple as we can’. So Strict NO to ornaments. I feel a pang of pain when people ask me which branch (read Brand) I belong to as soon as they come to know that I am a Christian.
Once I had a chance to go to a village with one of my hindu friends. When he said to the villagers I was a christian, they had this terrible look at me and moved on. Later I learnt that a few locals have been converted to Christians and together they are making a lot of mess, in the name of prayer and calling others as devils and so on. Why don’t they understand the essence of Christianity – LOVE. Those who don’t wear ornaments are prompt in accepting money/jewels when it comes to dowry. Shame on you !! and don’t fill your religion as ‘Christianity’ in any application form from now on. If there is any threat to Christianity, it is because of Christians. As Mahatma Gandhi put it, ‘ I like Christianity, but not Christians’. Christians have isolated from the core of Christianity that Christ gave them 2000 years ago and instead are forcing new rules, practices that were laid just a few years ago.
I am very much against conversions. Why the hell does anyone have to convert to Christianity? Christianity is not a religion (though it has been made one), it is just a way of life. To be honest, to be kind, to love one another is being a Christian. You need not get converted or change your name from something like ‘Tamil Mozhi’ to ‘Jasmine’ just to know about Christ or to love one another. Even when I was a high school student, I never could digest the fact that people are converting to Christianity and I have seen that those who get converted show more foolishness. They tend to call the temples and mosques as devil’s home. They won’t eat foods that have been prepared for Hindu functions and so on.
When I first met Kayar, I knew she had all the good qualities in her. So it never occurred to me that she is a Hindu and that it could be a problem for us to get married. But my parents were prompt in laying it as Rule No 1. Even Christ would not have approved of it and neither did I. But then we had to get married and they wouldn’t go ahead till she was proclaimed Christian. Damn!! It was not only cowardly on my part to ask her, but against my principles. But she proved to be not only good but logical enough. She said that it would end things smoothly and she was not going to lose anything by accepting it. Because of her, we are in good terms with our relations. But still it had caused a wound inside me and my principles. The world doesn’t need any more conversions of religions , but of minds.
In my perspective, anyone who follows the one Golden Rule alone can call himself a Christian, “Love your neighbour as you would love yourselves’. And the hard truth is there will be very few Christians in this world compared to their current 50+% population.