Thursday, February 14, 2013

When God Said Cheers




Anurag Kashyap’s play, When God Said Cheers, was staged in Delhi recently.  Reading about it in the Metro supplement of today’s Hindu newspaper [14 Feb], I wondered why God couldn’t actually be a person with some sense of humour.

All the gods I know are dreadful bores.  They are too grumpy, or jealous, or bloodthirsty.  I’d love a God who would share a drink with me in the evening and engage me in a light-hearted conversation peppered with occasional bouts of laughter.  I’m sure God will burst into laughter when we discuss his priests and their religions.  I can imagine the tears that God will try to hide behind the whisky glass when we will discuss His believers killing other people in His name.

And God will tell me a parable:

In one of Hitler’s concentration camps, a group of Jews put Yahweh on trial.  They charged him with cruelty and betrayal.  There was nothing that could be offered as a defence for Yahweh.  No extenuating circumstances.  No benefit of doubt.  Yahweh was guilty indeed. He deserved death as punishment.  The Rabbi pronounced the verdict.  Then he looked up and said, “The trial is over; it’s time for the evening prayers.”*

And God will laugh raising the whisky glass to his thin lips.

And I will join the laughter forgetting my environment.  The Hegemon will come hearing the laughter, God’s and mine.

“Don’t you know that you’re living in a sacred place, a temple of the goddess of knowledge?  How can you laugh...?  Oh, I see, you’re not only laughing but drinking too.  Such shameless immorality!”  The Hegemon will pronounce the verdict.  I’ll lose my job.  So, dear God, I can’t share a drink with you yet much as I would love to hear you say ‘cheers’ with a twinkle in your eyes.


Notes

* This story is borrowed from Karen Armstrong’s book, A History of God.

Hegemon (from Greek root which means leader, guide, commander, chief): one who exercises hegemony

12 comments:

  1. How true! Having listened to Kathas (holy stories) during my childhood recited to propitiate different deities, the least sacrilegious conclusion that I could arrive at was that God is goddamned blackmailer. You miss a ritual and you are absolutely destroyed! No, I am not an atheist but I have made my own peace with the God. Wish you well in your drinking rendezvous with God.

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    1. Uma, I'm not an atheist, either, in spite of my knowledge that there is no God of the type that religions teach. The God I visualise is the same as the one I've portrayed here: my own creation. I create God for my psychological consolation. My God has a profound sense of humour. He is humane enough to share a drink with me. He is intelligent enough to understand that greed, jealousy, and many other human weaknesses create more problems than a drink and pleasant companionship.

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  2. No matter how grumpy etc. God is, He apparently makes for good company for billions of people. Unfortunately, you are not one of them!

    RE

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    1. True, Raghuram, I'm not one of them. But I make God give me good company because my God is my own creation. An alter ego - without being presumptuous.

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  3. There are countless others for whom God and religions are 'opiums'...

    But if u really want to share a drink with God, u r welcome to Thane (Mumbai). I am always available. I have been playing God to so many I don't mind bending my back forwards once more; just for old times' sake in PGT Hostel in Shillong and then in other 'havelis' while u were penning articles for Shillong Times.

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    1. I'll be in Thane next summer, thanks for the invitation. We can indulge our nostalgia.

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  4. I didn't really get the joke but I don't know much about the context either. The rest of it, I absolutely loved and could relate to. In the last year and a half, I have started leaning towards the same concept where you say "I'm not an atheist, either, in spite of my knowledge that there is no God of the type that religions teach. The God I visualise is the same as the one I've portrayed here: my own creation. I create God for my psychological consolation. ". The problem with teachings about God are just like human problems, where you set something up so high on a pedestal that the distant it is, the better off you are. Humans when strangers offer more comfort. But when you know them up close, you see faults. We accept humans with faults but we aren't allowed to see God that way. And then, if we do, I guess God becomes somewhat human and is no longer a God then! I think I am more comfortable with the idea of God rather than specific Gods and Goddesses from teachings of various religions!

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    1. Thanks for your wonderful opinion.

      The joke, in short, is: "God is dead, Long live God!"

      A friend of mine sent me the following message after he read this blog: "When I read the story of Yahweh on trial, in the camp, I was reminded of a humorous remark by karl Marx on the Germans. He said that the Germans, as a nation, could not launch a revolution, unlike the French, because, if they went in all their anger and protest, to picket and blast a railway station, first thing they would do is to stand in queue and purchase the platform tickets."

      The only God that makes any genuine sense will be the one each one of us discovers for ourselves within ourselves. Mahatma Gandhi said the same thing when he said his Rama was not the Rama of the epics...

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  5. Hi sir, Nice post, i came to know u r working in radha swamy satsang. one of my collegue also working in that, but in hyderabad.

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    1. Hi Satish, I work as a teacher in a school that has recently been handed over by its real owner, Mr Sitaram Jindal, to the Satsang. My employer keeps changing according to the whims and fancies of the owner of the school!

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  6. Very well written. Your blog reminded me the way John Lennon has described God in one of his songs "God is a concept with which we measure our pain".......

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  7. Thank you for adding yet another dimension to this blog. God is a good palliative.

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