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Two words and a CBM

Author: Santhosh Lakshmanan.
Article Category: General Interest, Opinions
  Published on Sep 29, 2005 : 04:42:39 PM
In an increasingly polarised world, it is important to have the confidence of the person, and in a broader context - the country, next to you. How can we contribute to this and how significant is it?

On 'Vinayagar Chathurthi' a few days ago, I was travelling in a town bus in Bangalore.
There was the usual hullabaloo that some self-styled chauvinists are known for during these Hindu processions.     [Arguably, the celebration does not aim at praising Ganesha; instead, at instigating others through praising Ganesha; we will save that topic for another day].
I stood(rarely do we get a seat) travelling lurking outside for a glimpse of the different 'costumes' that Ganesh wore that day.
As a bus-stop approached, there was a small crowd that looked like an 'after-theatre' group.
A man around 30 with his son, I believe, a beautiful four-or-five year old with fair face and Godly countenance, and his hair flowing down his nape, boarded the bus.
The beard and the pyjama of the man, the white religious cap over the head of the infant, and their shibboleth, spoke of their identity.

My habit of trying to grab the attention of children with a smile, and then search my pocket for a Paris 'mittai' or an Ecklairs or a mango bite, continued. Only this time, it was empty. But the toddler also never turned towards me. The man stood besides me with the child in his arms.

After about five minutes, still the boisterous celebrations on, the man would bend, just as I have been, for a glimpse of the God and in a low tone, but clear enough for me to hear, asked his son Ganesh dekha?(Did you see Ganesha?) pointing towards an embellished Ganesh idol.
Stop. Stop. This was new to me. But my ear letting me down was not.
So I was more attentive now.
Again I heard the same words Ganesh dekha?.

The stripling would say a canorous 'Haan'.
After a couple of stops, they were gone and I was on my way.

I would, for a long time after that incident, think of the two words.
Why did he say that? Was it aimed at me who had ash on his forehead?
Did he want to show others that he was teaching his son secularism?
Did he want to 'show' that there were truly secular people in his community also?

Whatever the answer, the fact is, there happened something small, the importance of which cannot be emphasized more in our country, and today's world in general.

Many a time, I have been in his place trying to show to a couple of people around me what I believe - that God, if exists, does so as one, but in different 'costumes'.
This show, not always(for I've got my own plans to make), and invariably during a bus travel, would involve a gentle brush across my face with my palms as the bus would pass a Mosque, or a cross across my chest for a Church, etc.

So, I would presume I did understand the idea behind the two words.
Knowing that I was a liberal might have encouraged the man to ask that question.
That might have been the confidence he saw in me ! And he took it a lot further !
The result is mutual confidence, a sense of camaraderie, and most importantly, hope - hope for a better future.

Treaties signed after years of red-tape between nation-states are not the only measures to build confidence. CBMs can also be built at the common man's level that can make a positive, rock-solid, and ever-lasting impact against a widely held tenebrous belief that proclaims one's religion as the only religion; one's religion as the only religion that is capable of salvation, capable of taking you to His feet, capable of healing all your ills, capable of making you wealthy, and capable of what-not!!!

These CBMs, not necessarily for religious harmony alone, at the grass-roots level, are more powerful than the signed ones. And we are the virtual signatories to it. What this takes is nothing but a smile, an accomodating mindset and an understanding of love. This choice is available for you too.


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 » About the Author
Name: Santhosh Lakshmanan.

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