Faith or easy money?
It is incorrect to link scientific and economic progress to people’s faith in religion. As a teenager, I always used to believe that as we make technological progress, people’s faith in God would decrease, and some day eventually ‘God’ would remain as a concept limited to books. How wrong I was.
When we shifted to Mumbai, we used to stay in a rented apartment. On the roadside there was a huge banyan tree and under the tree was a stone smeared with vermilion. I remember passersby quickly praying to the stone while on their way. Someone offered flowers, others lighted essence sticks (agarbattis) or diyas (earthen lamps). By the time we moved out of the rented premises, the stone god had a small home for itself was enclosed by three tiny walls and a roof.
I visited the area few days on the occasion of Dasara (Dusshera in Hindi). The sight left me shocked. The banyan tree was no more. Instead there was this ugly looking huge temple structure, occupying the entire footpath and encroaching upon the road. Outside the temple was a queue. A queue so long that it would have taken an hour to enter the temple for darshan. The streets were dotted with flower shops and puja offerings. There were beggars too.
Now this is what I call economic development. From a ubiquitous stone, someone built this huge temple structure. And now people were queuing up outside! It provided livelihood to scores of people who sold religious wares outside, and also a gang of beggars who would chase you until you pay them.
Never mind the obstructions in traffic or the unclean kept surroundings. This is the age of neighborhood school, neighborhood supermarket and neighborhood God. No longer do we have to visit places far away, there are facilities everywhere, making it so convenient.
Soon a temple trust would be formed to legally squander the money people offered to God. Nobody is concerned about the fate of the money they donate to temples. We have been taught not to question something that is a matter of faith. Nonsense! Building and running a temple is the best profession. Selfish this may sound, but prove me wrong.