Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Don’t You Perform Rituals without understanding their significance…?

PREFACE

I once met a young “Indian-American” couple.

Actually – in their case – the term “Indian-American” is a misnomer – because – they were full-fledged American Citizens with US Passports.

They had migrated to the US to realize their “American Dream” – and – having successfully achieved their ambitions – they had relinquished their Indian Citizenship and acquired US Citizenship.

They had permanently settled down in America – and – they had no intention of returning back to India.

Their Indian Origins combined with their American Passports gave them the exalted status of PIO (Persons of Indian Origin) who are treated like “celebrities” and enjoy better prestige in India than even “Resident Indians”.

Yes – India is one of the few countries where “Expats” (who leave India for greener pastures abroad) are treated better than “Residents” 

Yes – “Non-Resident Indians” are treated better than “Resident Indians” by everyone – the Government and Indian Society.

Now – let me tell you about the “Indian-American”.

On one of their visits to India – they performed the “Munja” of their son on a very extravagant scale in a luxurious resort. 

In ancient India – the “Munja” (“Upanayana”) was a traditional “rites of passage” ritual ceremony performed on a boy before the parents sent the boy away from home to a Guru to study in the “Gurukul”

I was curious as to why this “Indian-American” couple was performing this traditional Indian ritual on the wholly “American” son – who had been born and brought up in the USA.

“You are “Americans” – so – why are you performing all these “Indian” rituals…?” I asked them.

“How can we forget our culture…?” they said.

I smiled to myself – but – I refrained from saying what was in my mind.

So – I asked them: “Do you know the significance of these rituals…?”

“Isn’t “Munja” performed on all boys around 8 years of age…?” they said.

“In earlier times – the “Munja” ceremony was performed when the boy left his home and went away to live in a “Gurukul” to study – after his “Munja” – the boy left his parents and went away to live with his Guru…”

“Oh…”

“In today’s times – it is the equivalent of going to “Boarding School”. Aren’t “Boarding Schools” the modern equivalent of “Gurukuls”…? So – after his “Munja” – are you going to send your son away from home to study in a “Boarding School”…?” I asked the parents.

“No. Why should we send him away to Boarding School when he can stay at home and study…?”

“Oh – so you are going to keep your son at home with you. If that is so – then – why are you performing the “Munja” ceremony on your son if you don’t want to send your son away to study in a “Gurukul” …?” I asked.

“It is an important RITUAL – everyone does it…” they said.

“Oh – so you are just performing the RITUAL without following the significance of the ritual…?” I said.

Look around you.

Don’t we perform many RITUALS without understanding their significance…?

Aren’t some rituals observed even when they have outlived their utility…?

When a particular Ritual is started – there is some cogent reason for it.

But – over time – the reason for the ritual is forgotten.

Also – over the years – circumstances may have changed – and – the reason for the ritual may no longer be relevant in contemporary times.

But – we keep blindly performing the ritual – without understanding the significance of the ritual.

In fact – some rituals are celebrated as “events” – rather than solemn ceremonies.

This was true of the lavish “Munja” ceremony of the “American” Boy – where the focus was on celebrating the event with “pomp and show” at an exotic location – rather than have a simple ceremony. 

DO YOU BELIEVE IN RITUALS...?
Food for Thought 
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Do you believe in rituals? 

Or – do you follow customs and traditions? 

Are you superstitious? 

Even Military follows rituals, customs and traditions – some have historical explanations – and some are unexplained. 

Yes – the military is steeped in tradition.

There are many customs, traditions and rituals.

I remember  there was a custom in the Army  in the Artillery  where you do not light more than two cigarettes with a single matchstick.

There was a logical reason for this practice during World War I  when – in the darkness of the night – an enemy sniper or gun observation post – first saw – then took aim – and fired on the third light.

But today  this tradition seems archaic and meaningless.

In the Navy  we do not clink glasses while drinking or making a toast. 


This is plain and pure Naval superstition.

In the Navy  if we asked the reason for a certain custom which we found meaningless  our seniors would admonish us and say: 

This is the Naval Tradition”  

Even in our day to day life  in the name of tradition  we unquestioningly follow customs, traditions and ceremonies and perform all types of religious, social and superstitious rituals without understanding the spirit behind the ritual. 
 
Ritual is an action performed purely for Symbolic Value
 
In many cases there is no logic or rational explanation for the ritual. 

Hey – I am digressing.

Let me come back to the moot point of RITUALS – how they start – and – how they continue to be blindly observed till eternity – even when the rituals have lost their significance.

Here is a story which illustrates this… 
 
This apocryphal story from ancient wisdom The Mystical Cat” illustrates how customs, traditions and rituals begin.

The story also tells you how due to repeated repetition over the years these customs and rituals are gradually established and become a part of culture. 

And then  once established  customs, traditions and rituals are blindly followed for years and years, despite the fact that, in most cases, these customs and traditions have lost their significance and the rituals have outlived their utility and meaning.
 
THE MYSTICAL CAT
An Ancient Wisdom Teaching Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

A seeker joined a monastery to learn meditation and the art of living. 

Every evening  all students and disciples assembled in the large meditation hall for a discourse by the Spiritual Guru – followed by group meditation.

Just before the meditation session commenced  the disciples would catch a cat. 

The disciples would tie up the cat. 

Then  the disciples would place the tied up cat on the lap of the Spiritual Guru. 

The Guru would then start caressing the cat  and he would begin the discourse and meditation session. 

After the meditation session was over  the cat would be untied and set free.

This was the established daily ritual.

The Guru would start the meditation session only after the tied up cat was placed on his lap. 

Hwas extremely particular about this.

Once – when the cat could not be found  the Guru refused to start the meditation session. 

The Guru demanded that the tied up cat be placed on his lap.

So – the meditation session was delayed. 

And  all the disciples launched a desperate hunt for the cat.

The disciples searched for many hours.

Finally  they found the cat.

The cat was duly tied up and placed on the Guru’s lap  and only then  did the Guru start his discourse-cum-meditation session.

The seeker was quite perplexed at the mystery of the tied up cat. 

He could not understand the significance of this ritual and how it was connected to meditation. 

The seeker wondered: 

What is the significance of the “tied up Cat placed on the Gurus lap...? 

What is the correlation of the “tied up Cat” with meditation...?” 

The seeker asked everyone in the monastery – but no one knew the answer.

One day – someone told him to ask a wise old man   who lived in a cave up the hills.

So – the curious seeker trudged up the hills to meet the wise old man

When the seeker met the wise old man – the seeker asked the wise old man the significance of this time-honoured ritual. 

The wise old man said to the seeker:

“It is like this... 

One evening  many years ago  when the then Spiritual Guru and his Disciples began their evening meditation  a Cat that lived in the monastery started running around. 

The Cat started making so much noise that it distracted the Spiritual Guru and his Disciples and disturbed the meditation practice. 

So – the Guru ordered that the CAT WAS TO BE TIED UP during the evening discourse-cum-meditation practice – so that – once the Cat was tied up – it would not run around and create a nuisance. 

This practice of tying up the Cat before meditation practice continued – so much so  that even after the Teacher died  the next Guru continued this tradition  and the Cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session.

When the Cat died – another cat was brought to the monastery to be tied up during the evening meditation session.

And when that cat died too – they brought another cat to be tied up during meditation practice. 

And then  as and when the cats died  they kept replacing the dead cats with new cats  and  the practice of tying up a cat during meditation continued.

With the passage of time this became an established ritual – to tie up a cat during meditation practice. 

Once precedence has been established  no one can dare to question it. 

So – once the ritual of tying up the cat was established – no one could dare to question the sacrosanct ritual. 

With the passage of time  this “tying up a cat” during meditation – it became an established ritual.

Once precedence has been established  no one can dare to question it. 

So  it has become a custom, tradition and established ritual to tie up a cat during the meditation session.” 

Hence  it has become a custom, tradition and established ritual  to tie up a cat during the meditation session...” 

Satisfied by this story – the seeker came down to the monastery. 

And – from then onwards – the seeker actively participated in the daily evening pre-meditation “tying up the cat ritual.

Many years passed  but the ritual of tying up the cat during the meditation session  it continued and continued – till it became an eternal established ritual.

The seeker 
 who by then had become the Spiritual Guru  he wrote a scholarly treatise about the significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.


DO YOU BLINDLY FOLLOW RITUALS, CUSTOMS, TRADITIONS AND SUPERSTITION WITHOUT QUESTIONING THE LOGICAL BASIS OR RATIONALE...?

I wonder why we accept customs and traditions without understanding their significance...?

Just like a blind man lead by others who are blind 
 why do we blindly follow rituals without examining the meaning, logic and significance of that ritual using our own intelligence and judgement?


Why do we follow customs, traditions and rituals that are obsolete...? 

Why observe rituals that have lost their significance and outlived their utility...?

If you see any ritual, custom or tradition being blindly followed by people  and for which there seems to be no rational or logical explanation  remember this story of 
The Mystical Cat.

Ask questions  and find out the logical basis for the ritual, custom or tradition. 


Is there some logic or rationale for the belief  or is it just superstition...?

And  if you are not convinced  isnt is better to stop blindly following rituals that have become meaningless in the modern world of today...? 

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh. 
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

Dating Guide – Go on a “Date” – Only if You Want to “Mate”

DATING – in a Nutshell

Are you thinking of “Dating” someone…?

Don’t “Date” unless you want to “Mate”

Yes – in a nutshell – that is my advice to you:

Don’t “Date” unless you want to “Mate” 

You don’t agree with me…?

Looks like you are “out of date” on “Dating”

Let me give you a “refresher course” on “Dating”….

DATING GUIDE
Romantic Musings
A Fictional Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE 

WHAT IS DATING…?

A “girl” asked me out on a date.

Since  I am “out of date” on “dating” – I decided to re-check the meaning of the term “dating”.

So – I Googled the word “Dating” – and the top hit was the Wikipedia Page on “Dating”.

Here is the definition of “Dating” from the Wikipedia Page on Dating (accessed on 07 March 2016):

Dating is a part of the human mating process  whereby  two people meet socially for companionship  beyond the level of friendship  or with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or marriage. 

Later – there is an elaboration:

One of the main purposes of dating is for two or more people to evaluate one another’s suitability as a long term companion or spouse.

From the definition of “dating” above – I surmise that: 

The principal objective of “Dating” is – “to assess the suitability of the Dating Partner – for an “Intimate Relationship” – or as a Prospective Wife/Husband” 

The aim of “Dating” is to assess the suitability of the Dating Partner”: 

1. For an “Intimate Relationship” 

or 

2. As a Prospective Wife/Husband” 


So – in the light of the definition of dating – I reflected on the “moot question”:

“Should I accept the girl’s dating proposal and go out on a date with her...?”

Well – let me ruminate on the two salient aspects of the “dating definition: 


DATING FOR MARRIAGE

I am married.

In fact – I am “much married” for around 36 years to the same wife.

And – I do not intend to divorce my wife and marry the “girl” who has asked me out for a “date”.

Actually – even if I want to marry the “girl” – it may not be feasible – since my wife may not be very eager to divorce me.

So – why should I waste time and resources “assessing” the girl’s “suitability” as a “prospective wife” – when I know that marrying her is not possible.

Now – does the “girl” want to “date” me in order to assess my “suitability” as a “Prospective Husband”...? 

Well – you will have to ask her that. 


DATING FOR INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP

I am married. 

And – I am a conservative prude. 

Yes – Dear Reader – I am a “Puritan” Prude

So  as far as having an extra-marital “intimate relationship” is concerned – the less said the better. 


CAN I GO ON A “DATE” WITH THE “GIRL”...? 

Now – let me come back to the “moot question”: 

A “girl” asked me out on a date

Should I accept the girl’s dating proposal...? 

Should I go out on a date with her...?”

As far as going on a “date” with the “girl” is concerned in light of the definition of dating – for me  both objectives of dating” don’t seem to be feasible – at least for me to achieve.

1. I cannot marry the girl – since I am already married (Legal Hurdle)

2. I am not inclined to have an intimate relationship” with the girl – owing to my conservative moral values (Ethical Hurdle)

So – with both options closed (marriage and intimate relationship– sadly – for me – the pleasure of “dating” is ruled out. 


CAN YOU TAKE YOUR SPOUSE ON A DATE...?  

Well – you may console me and say: 

“Why don’t you take your wife out on a date…?”

Come on – don’t be crazy.

Do you want me to assess the suitability of my own wife for an “intimate relationship” – after being married to her for 36 years…? 


“DATELESS” LIFE

So – “Dating” is ruled out for me – both inside marriage and outside marriage.

Yes – no intra-marital dating for me. 

And  no extra-marital dating for me. 

In fact – in my entire life  I have never had the experience of dating.

So – no “pre-marital” dating for me. 

I have had zero dates – “pre-marital”, intra-marital” or extra-marital” 

Yes – I have had a zero dating life.

And sadly – I am destined to live a “dateless” life. 


MORAL OF THE STORY 

Let me summarize and recap the 3 salient aspects of “Dating


1. “Dating is a part of the Human Mating Process

So – Don’t “Date” unless you want to “Mate”...


2. The principal objective of “Dating” is “to assess the suitability of the Dating Partner for an “Intimate Relationship” or as a prospective Wife/Husband...” 

So – Don’t “Date” someone unless you are considering having an “Intimate Relationship” with that person or are serious about marrying that person... 


3. Dating” your own Spouse is infructuous 

Do you want to assess the suitability of your own husband/wife for an “Intimate Relationship” or as a prospective Husband/Wife...?


AFTERTHOUGHT

Dear Prospective Girlfriends: 

All that I have written above is “theory”. 

I don’t practice what I preach. 

So – if you ask me out on a date” – I would be most delighted to accept your dating proposal. 

Come – shall we go out on a date”...?  

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.