Art as a celebration of life

On a long leisurely walk towards Gandhi Bazaar yesterday evening, we ventured into this pretty-looking ancient house which said “Bimba, the Art Ashram”. We turned out to be the only visitors in the place. There were some four “shopkeepers”, led by this guy with a funny beard called Deepak. Deepak was to lecture us for the next half hour about how art is a “celebration of life” and that is what his shop sought to “celebrate”. At the end of it we were so minidfucked that we went out without really looking closely at any of the pieces on display.

While we were walking out, we realized why the store had so few visitors – we’re sure it doesn’t get any “repeat customers”. People would have had their brains bored out so badly on their first visit to the store by Deepak’s lectures that I doubt if anyone would dare to return. And I doubt if the store does much sales also, given that Deepak’s lectures don’t even give visitors an opportunity to check out the stuff properly.

Another Lemma – in a store that claims noble intentions of some sort, you are likely to get less value for your money than you would at a store being run for pure commercial purposes. I leave the proof as an exercise to the reader.

Axioms and fear

So it is around the time when I’m taking part in religious ceremonies that I question my religion, or lack of it. That’s when I need to interact with priests regularly, and sometimes talking to them is frightening. What is most frightening is their level of belief in certain things that I find absurd.

Every major religion is founded on a basic set of axioms. These axioms are designed in a way that they cannot be disproved scientifically.

Sure, there is no way to prove these axioms either, but then given that religion is the “defending champion” it has fallen upon the atheist to disprove the religious axioms. But the way these axioms are stated makes it extremely hard to disprove them. The best that most rational people can do is to call the axioms “absurd” and leave it at that, but that does nothing to convert people on the fence.

For example, take this concept of rebirth and reincarnation which forms the basis of a lot of Hindu thoughts. I find it absurd, and there is no scientific way to prove it (especially since the “universe” is so large since you could be reborn as any species). But there is no scientific way to disprove it either, which is what gives the proponents of this axiom more mileage.

The other thing I observe is that the easiest way to propagate religious thoughts is to create a sense of fear. Stuff like “say your prayers daily else god will punish you”. And then there are some selective examples (with heavy bias in selection) given of people who didn’t make the right religious noises and hence had to suffer. When faced with all this, the young child has no option but to comply with what the religious elders are telling him.

Then I realize that the way you are “taught” religion is extremely absurd. Growing up, you are simply taught a set of processes that you need to go through, without ever going to the significance of any of them. Even the axioms that form the basis of the religion are not exactly taught. In some cases, even the parents would have simply “mugged up the religious practices” and are in no position answer when kids ask them questions about these practices.

For example, when I read Dawkins’s book a couple of years back, I was shocked that there are people that actually believe that there was some “god” who created the universe. I’d always taken evolution as a given. Similarly while talking to priests yesterday (my mother’s first year death anniversary ceremonies are going on) I was shocked to find they actually believe in rebirth, and life after death. Of course, I do believe in Live After Death and think it’s an awesome album.

I just hope I’ll be able to inculcate a sense of questioning and rational reasoning in my kids, and help them protect themselves from blind faith.