Dec 14, 2005

The perennial confusion

In case you were wondering why I wrote the post on Sandyavandanam, here is why: A little flashback..

Mid-eighties: I watched the movie 'Yaar' starring Arjun, Nalini, Jayashankar, Jaichitra, Senthil, et al. It was about a satanic child being born when 7 planets are aligned and how good defeats evil in the end.. It made me think (yes, when I was in class 6) about the existence of God. I told my mom that, with scientific awareness increasing among the populace, thanks to education, people would slowly give up several religious rites, and in 30 years (one generation), there would be more atheists than theists.

That was the time I started questioning about God. In mid-90, one incident happened which made me believe God for sometime but after sometime I was again confused (and continuing to remain so). A few days ago, I read somewhere in the internet that the present generation of young and educated are quite religious and so on. I wanted to verify a part of that by asking the question in the aforementioned post. I have a few beliefs about where we stand now:

IMHO, on an average,

* Ladies are more religious than gents.

* The previous generation and kids (age<10) are more religious than the present generation of adults/teens.

* People in villages/towns are more religious than those living in metros/other big cities.

* NRIs are more religious than those in India (added, after some brain-storming within and Deepak's comment).


thennavan said...

"Ladies are more religious than gents."

That's what I thought too until I met my friend's sister and discovered that I was more religious than her :-)

Nitin said...

good win for India man. Kumble did an amazing job, I have always wondered why can't Kumble play both odis and test. They removed him completely from odis, and use harbajan singh, i think kumble is amazing in tests.

tt_giant said...

I agree with your conclusions, if they pertain to Indians and Hindus, specifically. In fact, when I was in grad school, it was common for desi students to go to "H1B/green card family" homes for sahasranaamam paarayanam.

Raju said...

Mukundan, well.. there are always exceptions, arent they? Those remarks were made 'on an average'.
Nitin, yep.. good win indeed. As usual, Kumble raised his hands up and completed the demolition job.. He is certainly improving with age, which is good for us. I certainly think Kumble is better than Murali Karthik in bowling department and so should be picked up for one-dayers, atleast until 2007 World cup (which is not very far away, only 16 months to go..) He should be brought back to ODI side and re-groomed as a strike bowler.
Deepak, mm... by and large, I know only Hindu families; so certainly those opinions were based on Hindus. mm.. I have also heard about desi guys visiting families settled here for Thyagaraja aradhanai, Sathyanarayana poojai, etc.

Me too said...

I too agree with your conclusions, except that among NRIs, 'Gents are more religious than Ladies'! IMO, Gents turn more religious after becoming Dads and/or aging.

For 'aavani avittam' when my in-laws were here, my FIL was so concerned about what to say instead of 'bharadha gante'!!

ada-paavi!!!! said...

i am don seem to agree with many of ur conclusions, especially bout kids, cause there are numerous feligious samiaars like sri sri ravi shanker and all who seem to be having a ball and booming.

every one turns to god when their chips are down (mostly true)

Paurna said...

well raju,even i at times have had my doubts about god but then as vatsan mentioned we all turn to god when the chips are down.but my family being an extremely pious one,i have my own pooja room where i pray every day but i am not that much into slokas and stuff.i recite around 8 of them daily.and IMHO it's shud be mandatory that all hindus know atleast some slokas.The muslims and christians know their verses and so should we.and as far as i can tell u from my experience at PBBB,K.K.Nagar,IMHO brahmins are much much more religious than others.well all of us do pray but only my brahmin friends used to chantra all kinds of mantras and that used to leave me ashamed of being a hindu and yet not knowing the hanuman chalisa and stuff liek that

Vanathi said...

You are right raju...

narayanan said...

Well the swing you are talking about, does'nt really end up in athiesm. Among my friends and few places I've found similar arguements. Its only a few people who lie on the extremes of being a thiest or athiest, majority take a neutral path (not able to clearly define and yet follow all the religious rites, goto kovils.

But does going to temples or following religious rites alone make one religious, isnt that a inner belief which you dont show it off to many? My mom does all this and yet I feel she does'nt quite believe.

I too have to disagree on your conclusions:

Generally very few girls/women speak their true beliefs out. No offence, but If I try and start off such a topic with any girl including my mom, it usually gets diverted knowingly/unknowingly. So true beliefs are just known to a selected few, for the general public they may still look religious.
You can't really count kids < 10 into beliefs. At that age, it is mostly under parental pressure. IMO Its only at like 13/14+ does one get bold enough to express his beliefs.
To quote one of my college friend, he used to do sandhya vandhanam twice daily until he finished engineering. He's the other way around after he came to grad school.
I do agree with your point of people in rural areas. Most of the people I've met from rural areas do fall in that category.

Infact do you remember when Rita struck Keys this year? There was an article on the people's belief in the 'grotto' saving the Keys from the ravages of a hurricane?

I am in the confused neutral gumbal, will probably raise my (future) kid as another neutral gentleman/gentlelady :)


narayanan said...

am from PSBB(Main) and a Brahmin too I hardly knew anything outside the prayer book we used to have. My old roommate at gradschool from PSBB KKN used to be what u just described. But most whom I met 5+ years since high school are not that way.


tt_giant said...

LOLing at Aparna's comment reg her FIL!!..

Paurna said...

hmmm well i guess the people i knew at psbb were like that.well i think at psbb kk nagar u are taught these verses till 8th.though i am not sure bout that as i joined only in 9th std.may be even psbb main had it as well.

Raju said...

Aparna, among NRI's, gents are more religious than ladies? mmm.. you surely have more experience here, so I wont argue about it.. Why s'd gents turn more religious after becoming dads and/or aging? They mature late, huh? :-)

LOL on the 'Bharadha gante'.. should be 'Columbus gante'. Also, what about 'Rama kshetre'? There is no Dhanda karanya either.. :-)
Vatsan, mm.. the saamiyar thing is something I didnt think about during eighties.. I think Sri Sri is good. He and countable othere are 'trustworthy' and have done a remarkable turnaround in the present Urban youth. The 'Art of Living' course and the 'Sudarsana Kriya' have helped a lot of people and made them turn religous, also making them appreciate our ancient cultural values.

I agree on ur last line. Helplessness..?

Raju said...

Paurna, my family is a pious one too, but being away from my folks for a long time has tremendously reduced the impact they would have had on me in religious beliefs..

The problem with Hindus, especially in Tamilnadu, is that, the so-called 'Aethists' groups have influence on the government whenever DMK is in power; even otherwise, MK would be blabbering something against Hindu gods.. This kinda negative feelings are unique to TN, IMHO. It does affect a sect of the people..

True, I have also seen Brahmins to be more religious than others, but that is understandable, by the way the things have been for several centuries.

Unlike in other religions, we have too many gods, so it is impossible for a commoner to know of everything like Hanuman chalisa, etc.
Vanathi, mmm..
Narayanan, yeah, I know... thats why I didnt write about theism vs atheism after the first para.. my discussion was on being more vs less religious.. I agree that very few are 'total-aethists'.

Well.. going to temples and following rites are not 'showing off', or, are they? Those have become like a part of being religious. But, as u said, the contrary need not be true, w.r.t. ur mom. I may be seen in temples, and occasionally chant some mantras but I do it for my wife, who is very religious.

About ur disagreement on 'ladies vs gents', that conclusion was based, on an average, after looking into a few relatives/friends' families. As in case of Mukundan and your mom, there might be exceptions; but, I think the ladies being more emotional and dependent has something to do to them being more religious.

True on kids.. they dont really 'think' but I thought that they tend to believe more in the concept of God being there rather than not, no matter what their parents do to affect them. That is a reason why I believe that a kid has to be fed with as much right information as possible at that age, b'cos, at a later stage, he/she would find out which is right and which is wrong; if he/she had been taught/told too many wrong things, then it would lead to loss in faith on whoever person told so.

On ur college friend, it could be something to do with him being busy (plus/since he is now away from home). mm.. these 'enlightments' of whatever kind happen at any of those young ages.

What is 'grotto'?

mm.. I am in the confused state too.. but, your raising ur (future) kid would also depend on ur (future) wife, right? :-)

Raju said...

Paurna and Narayanan, it is good to know of schools which inculcate healthy religious thoughts in young minds. I guess the schools such as PSBB and Ramakrishna vidyalayas all over the state picked up this concept from Christian schools..

Teaching religious slokas, along with our ancient practices such as Pranayama and Yoga would be a good blend for the kids, for their physical and mental well-being..
Deepak, that was a good one, wasnt it? I never thought about it (since I havent done Sandyavandanam a single day in US).. BTW, what do you do on 'Bharata gante'?

tt_giant said...

what to do.. i just say bharatha gante.. oru flow thaan..

Barani said...

I once heard a Gurukkal in our workplace say Amerika Khande , Dunno if thats right !! :-)

narayanan said...

What is 'grotto'?

This was what I was talking about.
About my college friend, he did have time, its just that he gave it up after coming to US. BTW he was in hostel during my college. And busy would not mean completely giving up right?
your raising ur (future) kid would also depend on ur (future) wife, right? :-)

:D well that was just my part.
About kids, they tend to follow whatever the parents or who is influential on the, and as you said they dont give up that easily too. But thats an age where you listen and learn more than question right?


Sundar Narayanan said...


two different things..

believing in god vs not believing .. (here you are either in or out)

following your religion to believe in god or not (this in reference to rites and rituals pertaining to certain religion).

dont know if you are mixing the two issues.

example: you dont have to go to the temple everyday or do sandhyavandhanam everyday to believe in god.

do you loose your hindu / brahmin status if you dont do sandyavandhanam everyday ? it is just a simple prayer which says "purify me for all the sins i committed this day"..


i could say that in one line in english.. this year we celebrated ganesh chaturthi by singing "happy birthday to pulliyar ummachhi" with my toddler ..

Raju said...

Sundar, no, I am not mixing the two.. I just used the 'Doing sandyavandanam' as a measure of our following the rituals.

you dont have to go to the temple everyday or do sandhyavandhanam everyday to believe in god. yes.. I was just playing with the reverse concept.

Interesting way to celebrate Ganesh Chathurthi..

JayBee said...

Raju said:

"True, I have also seen Brahmins to be more religious than others, but that is understandable, by the way the things have been for several centuries".

What is 'being religious' in the first place?

Please define 'religion' and 'religious'.

Let us get this clear, first.

Raju said...

Jaybee, sorry for the misunderstanding.. By that quoted statement, all I meant was that, Brahmins were assigned and supposed to be the ones to do poojas at the temples. Their job was to study and pray.. thats all.. In that context, I mentioned so.

Also, I dont believe that being religious makes a person better... (I myself am not... so why would I say so?)

NaiKutti said...

the actual meaning of "religion" is lost :-)... if all you mean by religious is beleiving in god then i think, the current generation is as good or as bad as the previous generation was!

Raju said...

Karthik, mm.. 'the actual meaning of "religion" is lost' Did you say that in the context of this post/comments, or in general?

NaiKutti said...

it was a general comment... nothing particular to the post/comments...

Raju said...

Karthik, ok.. got u.. I am confused in this aspect too..

A-A said...

To get over the confusion, you have to define 'religion'.

Socrates always implored his students to define the subjects of discussion. He said that, once a thing is defined, then a person is already on the way to understanding the thing.

So also with religion

A-A said...


What is 'religion'?

Raju said...

a-a, welcome here.

I have to define religion? I am too small to define that.. IMHO, religion is a matter of belief in God and the consciousness of God's presence.

A-A said...

Oh! I forgot to disclose.
A-A is JayBee.
Arthur Avalon is my pen name.

There is a lot of confusion on what is religion.

There are many shades of religion.

Orthodox religion
Classical religion
Fundamentalistic religion
Reformistic religion
Ritualistic religion
Spiritualistic religion
Philosophical religion

People who are considered to be religious, always fall into one or more of these categories.

Raju said...

a-a, oh, OK..

mm.. so many shades of religion..

I talked about 'classical religion'. My parents would probably chose 'orthodox' one whereas the present generation seems to be hot on 'spiritualistic' part.

A-A said...

On the contrary, there is more accent and acivities on ritualistic religion.

See, these people? They build huge statues. They discover new types of deities. They perform very complicated homams and yagams. They discover newer homams and pujais that would bring money and destroy those whom they dont like.

Spirituality is confined to a small fraction.

There is also a degree of fundamentalism which is developing among several religions, including Hinduism.

Raju said...

a-a, ritualistic religion is followed by only old and orthodox.. right?

yeah, they build huge statues but do they 'discover' new deities? I dont believe that homams, yagams and pujais can do either good or bad to anybody.. esp. 'destroying the people they dont like'.. Life aint that simple, is it?

sadly, Gujarat riots were the sample of fundamentalism.. We can certainly do away with that..

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