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Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Today i have the pleasure to have Suresh as a guest blogger on random.Though he needs no introduction as his writing speaks for him still i would like to give you a brief introduction,Suresh is a a chemical engineer, purely on the strength of a certificate, and IIM-B finance MBA – both by certificate and expertise. Having worked for 16 years in the area of fertilizer subsidies and policy-making and consulted for a couple of years thereafter he is now the master of his own time. He started trekking at 44 and is now addicted. Books, music, trekking, travel and, now, blogging have ensured that his life is far more interesting than climbing the corporate ladder would ever have been.To read more visit
Thank you Suresh for being my guest and for this lovely post.

When my mother was semi-paralyzed because of metastasizing cancer, it was inevitable that thoughts of how a Compassionate God could cause such distress to a person, who had never in thought, word or deed hurt anyone. It is a common phenomenon that when you see the innocent, the naïve and the good in distress, you start questioning the existence of God or, at least, his compassion.
Those, who believe in God, certainly say piously that the ways of God are unfathomable. Inevitably, however, they attempt to fathom them in every significant incident of their lives. The unquestioning belief that ought to exist in the face of something beyond your understanding somehow eludes our rational selves. We can believe that imaginary numbers exist, even though the very name places them in the realm of the unfathomable, merely because we call it mathematics – which is seen as the epitome of rationality. But God, somehow, is seen as merely a human with superhuman powers and, thus, His actions are seen as something that ought to be subjected to rational human analysis.
Almost all religions exalt the character of a person. Consider a world where there is no want – physical, social or emotional. Would you find a person coveting something that is not his? Consider a world where there are no negative consequences to any action? Would dishonesty be at all necessary in such a world? Would courage? Consider a world where there is no unrequited lust. Would you find rapists or eve-teasers in such a world?
All the virtues that we exalt are necessary only in a world that has pain in addition to pleasure. Good character is worthy of respect only when the concerned person upholds it in the face of adversity. In fact, adversity is the crucible in which a person’s character sheds its dross and turns pure gold – or, of course, sheds the gold and turns pure dross! The true measure of a person can only be known – even by himself – in the way he reacts to untoward incidents in his life.
If you think of joy and sorrow as necessary to test and/or establish a person’s character, then you could conceivably think of the world as a testing ground where souls are adjudged by God. Given that there is a plausible reason for why God permits suffering, the existence of sorrow – of whatever intensity and inflicted on whichever soul – does not necessarily negate the existence of God.
Going strictly by the above measure one may think of God as being present but does it also give reason to think that He is compassionate? Not necessarily! God, as in the above rationale, is a stern Judge but not necessarily a compassionate Father. We shall have to seek elsewhere for reasons to believe in His compassion.
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I need to reiterate that the ways of God must necessarily be considered unfathomable. When we talk of the Creator of the Universe it would be presumptuous to assume the capability to read His mind. I seek to postulate His reasons for what happens in the world around us merely because we seem incapable of resting content in the unwavering belief that He knows best. Cries of ‘Irrational belief’ and ‘Blind faith’ – in our own minds, if nowhere else - can only be silenced by advancing a plausible theory, however unproven and however far from the Truth.
The theory of ‘Prarabda Karma’ advances the idea that the suffering in the life that we lead is a consequence of our actions of previous lives. Thus, it is not God who inflicts suffering on us but we, ourselves, who have caused the suffering. In this case, those whom we see as naïve, innocent or good are expiating the sins of a past life when they may not have been naïve, innocent or good. This, theory, nonetheless leaves the question open as to whether God, in His infinite compassion, could not have pardoned the sins of the past and averted the suffering.
Think of a tribal child with a hole in the heart being operated upon by a cardiac surgeon. Think then of her parents being totally unaware about modern medical practices (if second grade Bollywood movies can think that tribals still exist who think of a matchbox as a miracle, it should not be such a great feat of imagination for you!). The parents are likely to view the surgeon as a sadistic monster, who cuts open little girls for his illicit pleasure when the surgeon, of course, is inflicting some pain (at least post-operative) in order to avert greater distress later.
The philosophy of Advaita thinks of all souls as part of God – or Brahman as it calls it. Achieving oneness with God is the sole reason why the dross needs be burnt off the soul. If one can conceive of the fact that the separation from such Oneness is a source of infinite distress to the soul, it is easy to understand why God permits human distress as a means of ending such separation. Like the surgeon in the example, God may permit the infliction of a relatively minor pain in order to ameliorate the greater one.
If, with all the limitations of the human senses and intellect, one can find a plausible reason for the existence of distress in the world, it should not be difficult to believe that an infinitely Compassionate God may have reason for permitting worldly distress.
In the end, the only path to God is one of unwavering Faith!


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