- Religion and Philosophy
In every happening around, the universal law, I see.
In the roar of an airplane; in the drone of a bee;
My part in existence is unignorable, yet trivial, I agree.
So are all contributions that shape beings like you and me.
Grandpa had always had this dilemma. He hadn't been able to answer the question, "What am I?" in the context of his adherence to any particular process of thought that approached and analyzed the eternal enigma of time and existence.
He had been exposed, during different periods of his life, to every manner of religious belief. There had been the strident atheism of his own grandfather, who would see red at the mention or allusion to a particular three-letter word. In stark contrast to it was the polytheism of his grandma and her likes, who would worship an extra-large pantheon.
His dad was an agnostic by compulsion. So busy and involved was he with his work that he hardly had time to think of God. His mother's limited imagination made her settle for monotheism.
These four being the most important individuals who shaped his life in his formative years, he found himself shunted between one extreme to the other. The independence granted by manhood, made him keep a distance from all of them and adopt a practical approach. Whatever that afforded comfort from anxiety became religion to him. Being inclined towards math and science, he preferred analyzing things from this point of view, but disagreed with those who said that only such an approach was logical and reasoned, and hence correct. Those who professed other approaches had their own logic and reason. It is the initial assumption that mattered. While the beliefs that his parents and grandparents adhered to, started with an assumption at a universal level and worked down to an individual, he preferred to start with himself, and work outwards to encompass existence. He believed that everyone did exactly this in reality-they wouldn't be adhering to their respective beliefs otherwise.
For most, it was the convenience of following an established norm that had been practiced by their elders. For some it was the ease and comfort of a particular path. For some others it was the appeal of the assumptions that defined a specific philosophy. Whatever may have been the reason, it was essentially the notion of convenience that made individuals to hold on to a faith or change it.
This outlook also helped grandpa in accepting others for what they were, and not being judgmental. But there was always this desire to know what made people tick the way they do, himself included.
The subject of astrology, as practiced and preached in his society, had been an object of abhorrence for him. It was one thing that he could not help himself from being judgmental about and felt uncomfortable for it too. This discomfort goaded him to work at proving the tenets of astrology and its derived conclusions wrong, using the tools provided by science. The exercise that he undertook was more to justify his loathing for the subject, than to change other's opinion of it. Then followed a few years of meticulous analysis, initially powered by the fervor of dislike, which gradually changed to wonder at the striking correlations that he started to observe. The results seemed to both support and undermine his antagonism to astrology. With time, however, he could glimpse answers to this paradox within his study.
He started to share and discuss his findings with his immediate circle of friends. Still unwilling to refer to the subject as astrology, he coined an exotic phrase, "Pan-existence Correlational Dynamics," to describe his study. His friends found it to be either too pompous or utterly meaningless, and the term died a quiet death. Time, again, conspired to diminish his dislike for the term "Astrology," and he began to use it, though sparingly. A loathing of a lifetime couldn't be obliterated in its entirety, but his conviction that the subject was a possible tool to understand the workings of life and not one to advance individual aspirations-as it was being made out to be, began to gain ground, and rapidly.
His state of understanding and appreciation of the subject and his aversion for propitiatory practices could be discerned from one of his inspirational poetic ramblings, which went thus:
The Sun graced the heavenly throne
In its resplendent glory;
The beautiful Moon by his side,
And so begins the story.
With the planets for courtiers it was
A play, governing the earth;
Of order and peace in every land
There was absolutely no dearth.
The celestials lived this utopian
Happiness, they knew not pain,
Until man decided to pamper and
Worship them for his gain.
He mapped them, he traced them; with
Astrological rules he laced them.
He lured them, he snared them, in their
Own gullibility he encased them.
And lo and behold!
It was now possible to have:
The power of the Sun weakened,
Mercurial pace slackened.
Unwanted brilliance darkened,
Dormant passions awakened.
Distressing it was indeed to see
The poor planets' plight;
Prisoners of their own naÃ¯vetÃ©
And done in by man's sleight.
On one side was their commitment
To the rules of creation;
On the other was the ever increasing
Burden of their obligations!
It was about this time that his grandchildren came to live with them. Munni the girl and elder of the two, was a quiet and compassionate child of ten, while Chotu the boy was an inquisitive and sprightly lad of eight. There had been an instantaneous establishment of an open and relaxed rapport between grandparents and the grandchildren spanning the double generational gap.
The grandfather and grandchildren, in particular, could often be seen discussing the little and seemingly insignificant happenings in their lives in the larger context of existence. It appeared to be a great way to grow up for the children, and a satisfying experience of grand-parenting for grandpa, as he found many of the nebulous notions that emerged from his study of life gaining clarity through this enjoyable exchange.