# Day 252 (Seeking the ‘Force’)

“Apke isht-devta kaun hain?” ~ that question came out of the blue and caught me off-guard. (Just to translate, it is a question asking you about your personal deity, the one whose worship will guide your soul to its ‘moksha’ or salvation.) Although, when i think about it, there was nothing in it to be shocked about. It’s both a question we are often asked by followers of other monotheist paths and a doubt that plagues every Hindu sometime or the other…why do we have this pantheon of gods and goddesses? Would anyone ever ask a Christian who his personal Jesus is, or a Muslim about his favourite Allah?
Most of us have heard that anecdote made in jest about priests from different religions being stuck in a boat that is about to capsize. Each calls out to his God to save him and they all manage to pull through, except for the Hindu priest. When he questions God about why he alone did not survive, he is told that he first sent out a plea to Lord Rama and so God took on the form of Rama. Then he quickly changed his mind and prayed to that remover of obstacles—Lord hanuman— to save him, so God had to turn back again to return as Hanuman. Then he began to invoke the Divine Mother and started praying to Goddess Durga to be merciful, so God again needed to change form ~ and at the end of it all it was too late to save him! That story may humorously highlight the perils of having too many choices but this happens to be one of the defining characteristics of our Hindu faith ~ the form or attribute of Divine Reality you choose to worship is your choice and yours alone. And so you have to be prepared to answer that question~ “aapke isht-devta kaun hain?”
It’s a tricky question to answer, for in different circles of Hindu religious beliefs, the ‘protocol of importance’ (for want of a better nomenclature!) for the worship of deities tends to change. There are worshippers of a particular deity, such as Ganesha, Shiva, Krishna, Durga etc, who will place their own deity as the first in importance and every other deity as secondary. There are others who will invoke more recent saints like Shirdi Sai Baba first. There are also rituals where Ganesha has to be worshipped first. And then there are people (somewhat like me!) who simply follow a chronological arrangement according to the festivals and fasts that come during the course of a calendar year. So on Shivratri, you would keep a fast in the name of Lord Shiva; during Navratri you would celebrate the nine forms of the Divine Mother; Janamasthmi would invoke Lord Krishna; one would bring home and worship a Ganesha idol for the Ganesh-chathurthi festival; Diwali would be in honour of Lord Rama and Goddess Lakshmi and so on and so forth.
In an article by a spiritual-guru i recently read that the earliest statement about the Nature of Divine Reality occurs in the first book of the Rig-Veda ~
“Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudha Vadanti” (The One Being, the wise diversely speak of)
In later books of the Vedas, the highest conception of God is regarded as the ‘Supreme Indeterminable Reality’ for the Supreme Being is both Manifest and Unmanifest, Existence as well as Non-existence…the ’paar-brahman’ that pervades all of creation. Somewhat like ‘the Force’ in the Star-Wars stories. (To digress a bit here, ever noticed that all mythologies of the world—be it ancient epics or more recent American super-hero stories— celebrate heroes with whom the “Force’ is strong and who fight the “Dark side” to ensure that the good forces of “Light” remain dominant in the world?!) Perhaps it is this “Force” that should be our ‘isht-devta’ for an understanding of the inter-connectedness of all creation would evoke the compassion necessary for an attitude of comprehensive charity and take us away from the bigotry of a fanatic faith.


About sunsur81

A gatherer of thoughts...exploring myths,metaphors and expressions of life...
This entry was posted in 365 Days Blog-roll, Indian Accents, Matters of Faith and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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