Provides the background for these write-ups
WHAT IS A TATOODI?
Tatoodi, in Gujarati language (of Gujarat State, India), means a small musical instrument similar to a clarinet. It used to be played as an accompaniment to an assemblage of drums particularly on battlefronts. Its voice, being soft, used to get overwhelmed by the loud noises of the drums. This lead to the Gujarati idiom 'Nagarkhanama tatoodi' (નગારખાનામાં તતૂડી) used as a metaphor for a low barely audible voice of dissent that hardly any body wanted to hear.
WHAT MAKES ME A TATOODI?
I have become a tatoodi because, like it or not, I simply cannot agree with the traditional beliefs of the majority in many respects, religious, political, economical etc. This makes me a pariah in many circles because people like yeomen and not dissidents. They are very unwilling to even listen to my reasons for disagreeing with them. On the other hand, I would be betraying my soul if I pretend to agree with the conventional viewpoints simply because it is very convenient to do so. Therefore, I end up being a tatoodi.
I am not too old to ignore or support injustice and exploitation perpetrated in the name of religion, culture, democracy, capitalism etc. as a routine too entrenched to be challenged. I therefore prefer to speak out against them in not quite palatable terms.
WHY THESE ARTICLES BY TATOODI?
Ishaavaasya Upanishad prays God to remove the golden lid covering the face of 'Truth' so that we can view the 'True religion'. Since we are not different from God, having said 'so-ahm-asmi' (I am Ge), we may as well do it ourselves. We cannot do that unless we identify the 'golden lid'. Significantly, the lid is golden and not an ordinary one. Therefore it is quite attractive and appears to be very valuable. That lid is our own 'mamatva'. We are attached to what we consider 'my'; 'my culture', 'my religion' etc. and never dare to question 'my' or 'our' values. This 'my'ness was the undoing of Dhrutarashtra when he asked Sanjay, in the first verse of Gita, "What did Pandavaha and mamakaha ('my' children) do at the Kurukshetra?" For us too, it is this mamatva that prevents us from seeing our own faults and leads us to believe that we are the best. Then we go ahead and exercise our right to be as bad as the others thereby forfeiting our claim of being the best.
This mamatva makes us replace pride (gaurav) with vainglory (mithya-abhimaan). In the former, objective evaluation of our weaknesses and mistakes is permissible. In the latter, we justify every thing we consider 'ours' including the bad and wrong actions of 'our' heroes. All our religious preachers suffer from this mamatva and exhibit mithya-abhimaan. It is good to have pride for our heritage but not vainglory.
The search for true religion must, therefore, start with giving up our mamatva and reviewing all events, real or mythical, in their true perspective. The postings I am writing are intended to make a beginning in this direction and to provoke thoughtful self-review.
In reality, it is not the truth that is covered by golden lids but our eyes that are covered with eye-glasses tinted by Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Capitalism, Marxism etc. Those without tinted vision can readily see the truth.
We believe in what we are made to believe. This is because we are subjected to incessant propaganda, religious, political and economical, right from our childhood. The propaganda is another golden cover appearing to be very attractive and valuable but nevertheless hiding the truth. Some of it is malicious; most other is not. In either case we are misled into respecting unworthy persons and their beliefs. Either we do not use our God-given intelligence or we misuse it occasionally even unknowingly. Thereby we hurt our fellow human beings as well as ourselves. It is therefore most important to see through the barrage of propaganda and look at the truth.
My views expressed in these postings are important not because they are mine but because they are based on truth and unclouded common sense. Just because nobody is willing to listen to them should not be a cause enough to suppress or ignore them. Some day, they will be recognized as valid. If that does not happen in my lifetime, let it happen later. Therefore it is necessary to record them.
There are a few important aspects about my thought process.
The only criterion that matters to me, and I believe should matter to every one else, is humanitarian considerations in dealing with others. This along with justice and truth govern all of my thinking process. Careful review of the practices and stories of the religions reveal that many of them violate basic decency of human behavior.
1. I do not let anyone or any thing obfuscate my thinking. I am not so intelligent. But I preserve clarity of thought using God-given common sense. I do not get over-awed by miracles, bombastic language, traditional reputation, 'greatness' etc.
2. I do not change the facts and events as commonly and traditionally known to most of us unlike some preachers who twist them to suit their beliefs. I only provide a different but more sensible and believable interpretation to them.
3. I do not hide behind fake 'positive attitude'. Some people who do not like my views advise me to develop a 'positive' attitude implying that I have a negative one. They believe that accepting all the misleading propaganda of the religious, political and business 'leaders' is 'positive' while questioning them is 'negative.' Praising the true and good aspects becomes a meaningless travesty if the wrong or bad aspects are not condemned. Nothing can be more negative than NOT using our God-given common sense. And if the tall claims of those leaders do not stand up to our scrutiny, let them be exposed rather than covered up in the name of 'positive thinking.'
4. My views are developed after a lot of reading and thinking. Some friends suggest that I should read their favorite book(s) to 'clear up' my 'misunderstanding'. All these books appear to be very convincing to the believer and yet hide the truth in the name of faith. My faith rests only in God and God's principles, not in the self-appointed agents.
5. I am, in a way, a fundamentalist but of a different kind. I like to examine things from the fundamentals, i.e. starting from the definition or the basic concept. Therefore, I find many anomalies between theory and practice, which is why I want to speak out.
6. I judge people and events by whether they support truth and uphold justice. More often than not, the innocent are punished and the unworthy rewarded in the name of religious and cultural values. In such cases, I refuse to accept the conventional explanations justifying the improper acts of the person concerned howsoever great hse is popularly regarded.
7. My criticism of the religions is based not on science but on common sense considerations of humanity, truth and justice. For example, I do not question whether fire can judge a person's guilt or innocence; only whether it was judicially proper for Ram to subject Sita to the 'fire test' (agni-pareekshaa).
8. I do not always provide proof for the statements I make. In many cases, the statement is so obvious that it needs no proof. In some other cases, I would like the reader to check it out himrself. Providing all proofs would defeat the purpose of making the readers think on their own.
9. I try not to sound 'knowledgeable' so that the reader can develop hisr own understanding. I am neither a leader nor a follower, just a fellow traveler on the path to truth.
One good way to evaluate any belief system is to visualize how a non-believer might view it. For example, we Hindus like to boast that Lord Shiva performed the first transplant in mankind's history by placing an elephant's head on a boy. We do not realize that the non-Hindus may quite naturally conclude that our god is a rash child-killer who could not wait even for a few minutes for his wife to finish her bath and open the door. I therefore look for the real meaning behind the symbolism of Lord Ganesha. (Ganesh) I try to apply this method wherever possible.
Some people justify their belief system by trying to prove science to be wrong using incorrect understanding of scientific laws. There is no dichotomy that if one is wrong, another is automatically right.
People read a lot. Some people read only one book of their choice, like Gita, Bible or Koran etc., and keep quoting from it all the time. Some others read books by only one author exclusively considering him to be the only available source of knowledge.
Reading, to be fruitful, must stimulate thinking, not stifle it. It should be a journey rather than a destination, a process rather than the product. It should encourage and enable the reader to develop hisr own perspective, which need not necessarily conform to the other peoples' views. We need to read all the lines, between the lines and beyond the lines.
We also accept notions without even applying common sense. Surat city was submerged under severe floods several times. On two occasions, it happened on full moon days. People kept saying that the high tide of the day had made the situation worse forgetting that six hours before and after the high tides the sea also has very low ebbs that would pull away water much faster than normal.
Similarly, we have raked up a controversy about Ramsetu, the bridge built by Ram's army. It was made up of stones and rocks inscribed with 'Ram' on each of them making them float. If such a floating bridge does still exist, it must be preserved. If the stones,having been subjected to twice daily tides and some severe storms, drifted away, nothing can or should be done. If Ram's name got washed away and stones sank in place, it can be investigated by divers recovering some of them for careful examination to determine whether the existing underwater ledge is made up of such stones or of solid rock. In the latter case, there should be no objection to creating a navigable channel through it.
Young are those who speak out against injustices, the old ignore, tolerate or even support them. Are you young or old?
TO THE READER
If you happen to be one of the very few persons to read this, please do not brush off the contents of these postings as useless. You may not and need not agree with all, most or any of them. If you agree with even a very small part of it, please feel free to use it as your own but please express it in your own words. The moment we quote some body else, we give up our originality. Please do not give up yours. Of course, I do not mind if you want to reproduce any part of my write-ups verbatim even without mentioning the source as long as it does not alter the basic concept behind it. I am against the dumb and wicked concept called 'Intellectual Property Rights' because God gave us intelligence to serve our brethren, not to exploit them. Even those who disagree should at least be aware that there can also be a viewpoint different from the traditional and commonly accepted one.
Of necessity, I have tried to be brief leaving the reader to fill in some gaps. People do not read long pieces unless written by well-known names. Besides, these thoughts are expressed as they occur, hoping to be able to edit and link them in some smooth pattern some day when I get the chance. For the present, the goal is to record the thoughts.
My views have been called 'radical'. I think they are 'rational'. What do you think?
Some of my statements are necessarily unpalatable. Sugarcoating the truth would defeat the purpose of these articles aimed at uncovering it. That coating itself would be another golden lid. We are needlessly sensitive people. Rather than trying to think openly, we hide behind 'hurt feelings' and suppress any dialogue or debate. We label people as 'anti-Hindu' and so on just for criticizing our shortcomings. How can we uncover the truth in such an environment? I prefer to be 'Pro-truth' only and if that makes me 'anti-Hindu' or anti any other religion, then so be it. If you think that your feelings are hurt, do some honest introspection. Your feelings should stop hurting. If they still hurt, please accept my sincere apology.
Even if you totally disagree with me, please do it for your own reasons rather than agreeing to other peoples' views howsoever great. Please do not give up your freedom to think independently. Do not let anyone govern your thinking.