Act of God

One of my friends is a busy RJ. She lives in music. Still, she writes to me often. Recently, she sent me this out of the ordinary story:

In a small town, a person decided to open up a liquor shop, which was right opposite to a church.

The church and its congregation started a campaign to block the liquor shop from opening with petitions and prayed daily against his business.

Work progressed. However, when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days later, a strong lightning struck the liquor shop and it was burnt to the ground.

The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the liquor owner sued the church authorities on the grounds that the church through its congregation and prayers was ultimately responsible for the destruction of his liquor shop, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection that their prayers were reasons for the act of God. As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented:

‘I don't know how I'm going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, we have a liquor shop owner who believes in the power of prayer and we have an entire church that doesn't.'

The above story compelled me to explore contextual messages in our faith, wherein I found Lord Krishna saying in Bhagawad Gita:

"If any worshipper do reverence with faith

to any god whatever,

I make his faith firm,

and in that faith he reverences his god,

and gains his desires,

for it is I who bestow them."

But then am I the only one who should be stupefied! I understand that the parallel between the Hindu faith and that of Christianity impresses even Western students. This probably was the reason why Emerson got inspired by the fine hymns of Kalidasa in which the latter devised the holy trinity of Hinduism, the Trimurthi or Triple Form of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. The well-known poem of Emerson thus reads:

"Praise to you, O Trinity,

one before creation,

afterwards divided

in your three qualities!…

You, the one cause

of death and life and birth,

in your three forms

proclaim your own glory …

In the cycle of your day and night

all things live and all things die.

When you wake we live,

when you sleep we perish …

Hard and soft, large and small,

heavy and light, you are all things.

You are both substance and form,

ineffable in power …

You are the knower and the known,

you are the eater and the food,

you are the priest and the oblation,

you are the worshipper and the prayer."

Interestingly, and most contextually, I have some knowledge of the religion of the early Aryans from the 1028 hymns of the Rg Veda, which is the oldest religious text in the world still looked on as sacred, and which was probably composed between 1500 and 900 B.C. From the point of view of the Aryans, the greatest god was Indra, who fulfilled the dual function of war-god and weather-god. Indra was associated with storm and thunder and his hand bore the vajra (thunderbolt), with which he destroyed his enemies.

But was Indra also a rowdy amoral deity, fond of feasting and drinking? I am tempted to mention here one hymn, which, according to the usual interpretation, shows the drunken Indra bragging in his cups, though it may well represent the feelings of a worshipper who has drunk liberally of the sacred drink soma:

"Like wild winds

the draughts have raised me up. Have I been drinking soma?

The draughts have borne me up,

as swift steeds a chariot. Have I …?"

Frenzy has come upon me,

as a cow to her dear calf. Have I …?

As a carpenter bends the seat of a chariot

I bend this frenzy round my heart. Have I …?

Not even as a mote in my eye

do the five tribes count with me. Have I …?

The heavens above

do not equal one half of me. Have I …?

In my glory I have passed beyond the sky

and the great earth. Have I …?

I will pick up the earth,

and put it here or put it there. Have I …?

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