We know it is just an art. Plain paper and ink, modified into a monkey with a mace and a man with bows and arrows, endowed with a very feminine face. A stone, sculpted to look like a female, holding a veena. For the guy who painted /sculpted, it was just yet another poster/stone and does not signify God. For others, it becomes irreverent. The morphing takes place somewhere in between.
We moved last week with all the photos of various deities(supposedly) in a cardboard box. When the time came for their settlement in the new house, a new bookcase was bought, just to fit them all in, especially the newly gifted Gold plated ones. The gold makes them even more good looking and pious, I assume. While being arranged by MIL, you could see the gold was in the forefront and others taking a slight back seat. It is not just the gold, it is the fancy of the new. Like when we get a new dress. I am sure my Hanuman was feeling bad till I saved the day for him, by requesting him to be brought to the forefront. And once morphed into these photos of deities, it is tough to throw them out. I have age old calendars with deity photos and ‘n’ number of Ganesha idols, that can never be thrown into the garbage.
I have never been able to read the “Kandha Sashti” ( a tamil shloka on Lord subramania) without laughing out loud and yet I read the Hanuman Chalisa whenever I can. When I visited Shirdi, after all the hustling and jostling, I got to see baba’s statue and felt very foolish. It is the same marble sculpture as the one in Santa Clara, except that Shirdi was where he died. I felt even more so, when I bought some prasad in one of the stores there. My instincts did not let me eat them. It was just some sugar cubes, the way I look at it.
We can believe in a super natural power or not. I call God’s grace the thread of hope by which we hang during moments of helplessness. And we are conditioned for that from childhood.My shirdi baba, hanuman, raghavendra,ganapathy and all the multitudes of photos will still be worshipped once a week,despite knowing that they are only photos. And I will continue wearing the red thread on my wrist.Confused? Yes. Agnostic? No.