Features Friday, March 27, 2015 - 05:30
By M.R. Narayan Swamy (IANS) | The News Minute | March 11, 2015 | 05:44 pm IST Title: On Religion; Author: Khushwant Singh (with Humra Quraishi); Publisher: Rupa; Pages: 206; Price: Rs.250 Title: 50 Spiritual Appetizers; Compiled and Edited by: Vinod Dhawan; Publisher: Partridge (A Penguin Random Book Company); Pages: 204; Price: Not given If celebrated journalist-writer Khushwant Singh is to be believed, there is no god; the concept of karma is all hogwash. One reason for his insistence is that no one, at any time, has seen god. "Even if I came face to face with Him, I would not recognise him," he says in this collection of writings. And that's why, he says proudly, he is an agnostic. If god did exist, would there be so much injustice in this world? asks Khushwant Singh, who died last year. He has more questions: how many paid the penalty for killing innocent Sikhs in 1984? How many were punished for razing the Babri mosque? Without hesitation, the man shared his doubts regarding god with the Dalai Lama and Hindu holy personalities. Khushwant Singh concedes that reason and logic have their limitations and cannot probe the ultimate mysteries of our existence. Still, he won't grant that god exists although he is clearly sympathetic to the Sikh religion. "Believers would have us fly across to god on the magic carpet of faith. We agnostics would like a solid, concrete bridge of reason to cross over from the known to the unknown. Till then, their religion for them, our doubts to us." If you want to know how the agnostics think, read this book. Journalist Vinod Dhawan is on the spiritual path. His work is a compilation of 50 brief writings by mostly known spiritual giants, neatly divided into 13 sections. The subjects deal with devotion, death, suffering, god, guru, mind and ego, even science and more. Swami Ramdas (1884-1963) cautions those embracing spirituality not to be bound to any institution. Ronald Henry Nixon (1898-1965), a British spiritual aspirant who visited India in the early 20th century and came to be known as Srikrishna Prem, wonders if Hindu god Krishna will take birth again to destroy present-day evil. There are also writings by Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, Paramhansa Yogananda and Paramhans Ramakrishna besides a host of lesser-known Indian and Western seekers. This slim book is for those who believe - unlike Khushwant Singh - that god exists. (M.R. Narayan Swamy can be reached on narayan.swamy@ians.in. The views expressed are personal.)
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