Why religion will always prevail

At IIT Kanpur, we have a place called MT here. Nobody knows its real name, some say it stands for Motor Transport, for it was where auto rickshaws used to stand previously, some say it stands for Mehta Telecom, for the oldest shop. Whatever the real name maybe, MT is one of the oldest, most favored and typical hanging out place in the campus. It stands out among the rest of the campus as a place which doesn’t look like an educational institute at all, it looks more like an assortment of shops that spring up near a highway, paan-cigarette shops, tea-samosa shops, and a bicycle repair shop. Add a small temple too. Students flock to MT in droves day in day out, for smoking, for getting ‘real’ tea in dirty glass cups. The most repeated lines among students, after the classes, or in the afternoon in hostels, doing nothing, is “Chal MT chalte hain”. I think it stands out among other IITs in this respect; it still has one small corner of its campus that is rooted in ordinary people, people of Naankari, the adjoined village, students whirring their ways through examinations, relationships, depression, festivals, jobs, internships, and what-not, workmen, guards rushing in after shifts…

Okay, I got emotional, hehe… Anyways, that small temple, which is of God Hanuman, is quite an active one, and organizes ceremonies on particular festivals. These days, I guess Navratra are going on, so Sundar Kaand paath was being organized there, along with an Havan. I was there in the evening, sitting on a sidewalk with my friend, sipping tea, watching the whole thing going on. Half a dozen people was chanting from holy books, three four of them were playing dholak, manjeera and surprisingly synth too. The other congregation was at the small gate of the temple, chanting a completely different bhajan with lots of manjeera, temple bells ringing and stuff. Frankly, it would have sounded pure noise to many. But not to me. I was sitting there, just watching these guys going about it with great gusto. I liked the atmosphere. I have never been a religious person, but I have always loved the atmosphere that is created on festivals, or during a ceremony in temples. I haven’t visited a temple ever since I got to college, but the atmosphere during Diwali is most exhilarating and positive to me. So I was sitting there, and I could feel the positivity flowing in the air, a sort of good-feeling. I was thinking, if such a thing could induce such kind of joy in an agnostic like me, what would these guys be feeling. I see people, many of them students like me, getting their chappals off, and kneeling/joining hands devoutly to the gods.

The thing that happened with me today has happened a few times before too. I was just sitting there, transfixed, enjoying the strange feeling of joy and peace that was in the air, not listening to what they were saying, just the music, and a kind of a dazed euphoria, as if on drugs, where you forget the pains behind, and just believe, just rest, on the supreme force, and he will take care of the rest. I was thinking, that is why religion will never vanish from human world. Because there’s one thing that religion has: faith. Atheism can give people everything, but it can’t give them just this one thing: faith. And all the things that come with it. Strength, based on faith. Optimism, based on faith. Hope, based on faith. That’s why religion will always be the majority, and atheism a minority. Religion gives faith. And people don’t need a real god to have faith. They just need the concept of ‘God’. They will create the rest from it. Atheism can’t give you that. It can only give you reason. Rationality. Logic. Of course, optimism, happiness, and strength come from reason and logic, but it’s a long and hard path, the path of a Buddha, the path of enlightenment. And humans are weak creatures. Yes, taken individually, people have shown remarkable strength and courage, history is full of such examples. But at any given point of time in history, men, as a society, as a collective, are weak. And weak can’t walk the path of Enlightenment, of Buddha. They need the alternate way, faith. And notice! By faith, I mean faith in anything, literally anything, except the axioms and natural laws of this universe and your own mortal self. Faith is like a shortcut, a wormhole, it lends you power, it lends you strength, hope and optimism.

I was thinking… It’s an amazing thing! No matter how much I dislike it, I couldn’t help being enchanted for those moments for the strange feeling there were giving me, even though I ridicule, in principle, every single thing they were doing there. That’s the power of religion! This is the amazing thing atheism can never give people. Faith. That, is the power of religion.

______________________________________

After-note: Looks like initial readers have taken the impression that I am a religious man, or my religious faith is restored. Well, it is not so. I’m as strictly anti-religious as I ever was, and I was examining this advantage of religion and belief-in-god over atheism from a objective point of view.

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Author: Mitostargazer

I read. I write. I listen.

26 thoughts on “Why religion will always prevail”

  1. Great correlation between faith and religion.. as rightly said religion takes different forms in different places but wat lies behind the curtains is the faith which.. as you felt.. gives u the strength, the confidence and the belief of the existence of that religion πŸ™‚ Very well put !!

    1. thanks man,
      but i was not trying to portray it as a good thing, it just is. neither bad nor good. maybe bad for me and other non-believers and those who prefer reason and logic.

  2. Faith is like a shortcut, a wormhole, it lends you power, it lends you strength, hope and optimism.

    This line made my day πŸ™‚

    Awesome relation, and yes atheism lacks faith, logic is not everything. Although I am an Agnostic, still I liked this post very much. Like a euphora, a silver lining on a dark cloud and like the blue hue of the sky after night, this post struck a chord in me, in fact gave me the motivation, and faith πŸ™‚

    Keep writing (Or else I will kill ya! πŸ˜› )

  3. I am an agnostic too. After coming to college, left going to temples too. As we grow up our faith starts to diminish seeing the logic everywhere, yet there are times we need this faith, there are situations where people know that the task they are pursuing is way out of their ability yet they attempt it because of faith, and succeed as well. That is what growing up teaches us- to take things from everywhere, keep what fits in the circumstance and move on with things that are beyond your control.

    I don’t know probably the comment is way out of context with the theme. I just followed the tagline of your blog. πŸ™‚

  4. we too had a place called Taramani , similar to MT at IIT -Madras and i can totally relate to the first paragraph.
    Definitely religion will always prevail.It is like your favorite team in EPL irrespective of their performance one clings on because of the faith.We all at some point of time need to cling to something and religion has been the source for many.

  5. i was discussing same topic with m wingies some days back…of all the religions that developed all over the world in different areas and cultures… the common thing was the belief that GOD was something which everyone of them combined could never be, a power beyond the measure of human efforts and if IT’s support be on their side they would be happy…. and how some groups understood this basic common thinking and used it to rule a lot more people than they could by their armies

  6. add one more in that “being agnostic” list πŸ˜›

    totally agree with u that I never liked the whole pooja-path thing but the ambiance and frenzy it creates during festivals n makes u feel lil different from ordinary days..

    being born in an bramhin family we have this high-class HD pooja in every festival…. I literally hate the whole illogical processes it involves… but somewhere deep down when all the members of family come together and have laughs and cheers…. it feels great..

    Well “faith” is the deepest thing to fathom..
    For me religion will prevail coz… as humans we always look for an authority who will mend things no matter how crook we r πŸ˜›
    and this ideology can never diminish !!

    1. hehe, πŸ™‚
      well, that’s what i’ve problem (childish obstinacy you might say) with, why are we always looking up in the heavens to clean up our own shit. We should rather own up to that.

  7. if we learn to do that [which I’m sure we’ll never, coz that’s the beauty and most important property of human behavior ] we’ll be called Gods
    Wat do u say ?

    1. yes, you’re absolutely right.
      Gods, in the sense that we’ll become God and Man itself, there will be no distinction.
      If that happens that will be the last and final step in the evolution of mankind, evolution into God.

  8. My take on this complete write-up is that when you have faith its only faith n u don need any astrology., religion to support the similar, but as u rightly mentioned humans are weak coz they all r afraid of failures in life n they have FAITH tht god will not give them failures coz they have so much faith in their god which is derived from their religion.

    It amuses me at times dat by birth I have been tied up in religion HINDU..where we do all kind of tantrums which no one knows even the result and logic jst blindly following the religion, strange!

    In Guru Grantha Sahib it is written- If you have faith in me then you shall not go anywhere else then jst no matter wht have faith in me. N still we keep on running and we talk abt faith.

    Faith for me is like this- “Maano to sab kuch nain to kuch nain”

    It was a good insight…

    Keep writing..

    Mani

    1. faith actually is independent in itself, but then it’s nothing more than paganism, which eventually all got routed out with the development of civilization.
      as men got complex, so did their faith, and concept of faith was forever joined with religion.
      thanks mani πŸ™‚

  9. Dont exactly know whether human beings are weak or they are plain simple lazy and its this laziness which then has settled in which we call our laziness…or is it the fear of the incomprehensible? or is it the human capacity to imagine, to wonder, to create something where the mind is trying to comprehend stuff and in this comprehension itself creates in wonder putting all the metaphysical meanings in this one entity? or is it the case that life is so absurd, where not all threads can be connected to create an explanation, for where lives are so enmeshed that no explanation will be total and so we grasp the easiest explanation of it all?

    I dont want to easily accept the thesis of weakness because then it opens up a politics where we are led by someone who is supposedly strong and history has given us so many examples of dictators and stuff…but did we accept them because we were weak or is it because we have the same tendencies within us? where we relate to the one person who does that? not everyone does have those tendencies, but these are questions which we need to understand and ponder over……

    1. thanks for commenting manohar πŸ™‚ i wanted to talk to you on this one.
      as for laziness, i think it comes in the second stage, when your belly is full, you are safe from predators. initially it’s a search for hope, and when you can’t understand the natural phenomena happening around you, you have to put your faith in the incomprehensible.
      of course, it’s the wonderfully fertile human imagination which has created wonders in this.
      “or is it the case that life is so absurd, where not all threads can be connected to create an explanation, for where lives are so enmeshed that no explanation will be total and so we grasp the easiest explanation of it all?” – i think that is the case, as i said above.
      as for the second paragraph, i guess you’re being too philosophical about it. here i’ve referred to men as a collective, and that collective includes dictators and kings too. they power over lesser men doesn’t make them more rational or unafraid of natural powers, or ‘hell’.

  10. Very Interesting views here! πŸ™‚ I haven’t given it too much of a thought, but I want to believe that just sitting somewhere and smiling, is damn good religious practice

    1. hehe, i wouldn’t call it religious, but faith, yes.
      but the problem comes because faith presupposes the existence of one in whom to put the faith. That’s where I’m stuck 😐
      thank for commenting pzes πŸ™‚

  11. For me atheism is a definition of “what I am not.” That may be very different from other atheists, but I agree with much of what you say here. Atheism provides “nothing,” but does state what is not (not believing in a deity). I look for “what I am” in pantheism and Taoism–two religions.

    Religion isn’t going anywhere. People need something to hope for, something to feel good about. Something bigger than we are. Science offers that, but most people are not that analytical. If everyone became a scientist and found their hope in phsyics, I think the world would be pretty boring. There are rules and laws but rules and laws are artifacts of the Cosmos. If we believe in artifacts, we only believe in dead, lifeless things with no potential to change. I’d much rather believe in people and life, and that’s my religion.

    1. delightful analysis πŸ™‚
      science does offer the analytical solutions in the form of ‘what is not’ but most people don’t find faith enough in them to take that path. the minimal form of buddhism does provide a feasible amalgam between skepticism and mysticism, but unfortunately it doesn’t have much follower. good religion, even if they are based on sensible deductions, degenerate into bloated caricatures of themselves to satisfy people with the fake sense of faith and optimism they provide.

  12. I like how you mentioned the path of enlightenment. It is true, it really is a hard and long pathway for humans. Part of the reason, as you mentioned, is because humans are weak. A part of the reason is also because we are not fully conscious. We have so many unconscious thoughts going on in our mind. Our mind creates thoughts and judgement on mere things that we see or encounter on a daily basis, and this is how we have become slaves of our mind. Most of the people who are unhappy are in that state because of the heavy thoughts that their mind creates over a particular problem. So, if we want to be enlightened, we have to learn how to control our mind and become fully conscious first.

    This post is really thought provoking. I am not a religious person either. I started questioning the existence of God after I entered college. But I get the same feeling of excitement and love the environment that all the Hindu festivals create, even though I am far away from India, where all the real hardcore celebrations happen.

    1. you’re right, in that people are unhappy because they are unconscious of the deep recesses of their mind and how it affects their thinking and judgement.
      thanks nikita πŸ™‚

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