Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Swadharma shows what to do!

I think the writer of this piece has rightly touched

the core of sanathanic concept of life, as swadharma.

I will elaborate on it in later posts.


To me, Nature appears as an active incarnation of God

By Namita Gokhale

(From 'God and I' column, Deccan Chronicle, July, 2, 2008)

My relationship with God is one of trust and surrender. In good times and bad, I try to interpret the cues and prompts that life provides, and to follow the course of action that seems right in the circumstances. Faith, reason and instinct are often in conflict when one assesses the "right" thing to do, and in these situations the Hindu concept of "Swadharma" provides my answers. I try to understand the operational duties of a particular situation, and of my role in it. I come from Kumaon, in the central Himalayas, and Nature has always appeared an active incarnation of God to my very Pahari mind. My religious imagination is peopled by a multi-faith pantheon of devis and devatas from around the world, including Amataresu from Japan, the Virgin Mary, and Hermes, messenger of the gods. But Shiva in the swaroop of Bhairav, and Golu Devata, the patron saint of Kumaon, are my chosen ishta devatas. My husband’s family worshipped Ambabai of Kolhapur, and the image of Ambabai in my mandir has been in the Gokhale family for five generations now. Our kuladevi Ambabai has held the threads of my life together through many dark and troubled times.

The Himalayan snow peaks, "self-born mocker of man’s enterprise", are another visible emanation of God. The Himalayas are young mountains, they possess tremendous strength and energy and vital earth-force. I love and worship the peaks of the Kumaon Himalayas — Panchula, Nandadevi, Chaukhamba and the rest. The Makalu peak, which is considered a manifestation of Mahakala, in the Nepal Himalayas, also inspires a sense of tremendous awe within me. I am an animist at heart, and this is perhaps overlaid by my brahmanical upbringing, and a smatter of so many different religions, and a healthy dose of scepticism.

Not to forget the majesty of religious literature, of chanting, and ritual, and uttered prayer. That’s when I feel closest to God, and to myself, when I am lost in prayer — which is also poetry.

Namita Gokhale is a novelist and divides her time

between Nainital and New Delhi

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