Every morning, in my home, as they go about their routine tasks, both my parents religiously put on the Punjabi channels and listen to the “Katha Sagars”, in which the pearls of our religion are shared. Nothing deters them from listening to the religious preachers who try to explain how one should lead a balanced, spiritual life and sometimes unravel the meaning of some of the selected portions from Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. These “kathas” provide background music to our morning activities. And though, I am a non-conformist to this tradition of my house, I like the feel it brings to everything around us. So pious, so pure, so serene.
My mother has tried hard to get me listen to these sermons and lectures but to no avail. Some days I am occupied with other priority tasks and some days, I am plain lazy to get up in time. So, once I am up and awake, the wisdom is shared with me in bits and pieces, my mother knowing very well what is going to retain her daughter’s interest. All the morning conversations between me and my mother are marked by her efforts of passing on the messages she liked the most in the lecture.
That day also, when I rose, the katha time was over. Of that I was sure, because the background music had now switched over to some news. My mother was doing the laundry but I could tell something was amiss. I just could not find out what. At first, I thought it must be some matter to which we youngsters could not be made privy to. So I let it pass. But curiosity was ranging high. Then my mother came to kitchen and started working next to me.
And then at length she spoke.
I was waiting for my daily sermon. I expected it to be my dose of katha. But her words were, “Can you find out the site of this katha on the Internet”?
Wow! What a suspense breaker. What do you make out of it? What do you think I made out of it? Nothing. Absolute zero.
I mulled over the question for some time and tactically answered, “I can give it a try, if you give me some details”.
Pat came the reply, “Fine then, once we’re done with our tasks, you find out the site and post a message to these people and tell them that “not to resort to such disgraceful methods to promote our religion. Nobody in any religion ever taught its followers to speak ill of others. This will never help them bring back defectors. In fact, it will end up in alienating more people.”
While I was still digesting this verbal brekkie, my father joined in. “No, really, they should not be mentioning other religions and their shortcomings when ever ours is not perfect. If they have nothing good to speak of others then remain silent. But why, why do they in the name of God, speak derogatory things about other’s faith. Does this put us above them? Does this mean we are superior? Their today’s remarks were definitely uncalled for.”
So this was it. The orator, on that particular day, had shared abrasive ideas about some other religion and this had irritated my parents. And this would / should have irritated anybody for that matter.
All religions are mostly religions of love. Hate does not figure often in religious dictionaries. As Jim Loy put it, “Hate is a cancer. It destroys people, churches, and nations. If you hate, your hate may destroy someone else. But it will also destroy you, and those people that you love. Hate shrivels up your heart (not physically), and makes you less and less of a human being. I recommend examining your heart, as the various religions tell you to do. If hate resides there, you may want to consider what harm it is doing to you and those you love. Really.”
So here goes my mail.
Dear religious teachers,
We do not want to be taught how to hate. We know enough of that. We see enough of that.
That is why we come to you. To teach us how to love. To find good in all our brethren.
To give unto others what we expect for ourselves.
Please help us examine our hearts and help us cleanse them of all that is clutter.
But before you teach us how to do this, practice this yourself. For you cannot teach, what you do not believe in.
And we exhort you to do this because your words make a difference in lives of common people. They believe in you. That is your power. Do not wield it to preach hate.
And dearest ma,
Though, I could not find that particular site, I whispered your message here.