We are awed by the sound of drums beating with metronomic regularity by a mechanical device. Clapping and nodding with it we endure with pleasure the long line of people awaiting a glimpse of the deity. Carved in stone, clothed in silk, decorated with a garland of flowers and kumkum, the idol is made to look resplendent in the dim light. The chanting of the priests adds rhythm, the burning incense, the handheld diyas, all this creates a sensation that we have come to equate with devotion.
The idol looks like any other we have seen before, made in the likeness of man and woman, an animal or a cross between. This is the god we have come to believe as our saviour. Not knowing the true essence of God, we offer oblation to an image of ourself, to which we relinquish our responsibility for all our actions. The God is endowed with human qualities – s/he can get angry, retaliate, expect subjugation, terrorise us with dire consequences and so on. All the so-called gods were in fact men with unusual capacities. Even the women who lived a devout life eventually transformed into a goddess. Men represented Shiva or Vishnu and women their consorts. And the tales woven around them are sometimes like our own and sometimes outright bizarre. But a human family nevertheless – we are talking about gods here and our adoration to them which can be seen as nothing but fantasy.
Is it because we love our own invention that truth eludes us?