Wednesday, May 6, 2020

An Atheist meets God

A few days back I had a conversation with a family friend, who I haven't met in a very long time. She had read a blog I had written, and called to discuss an issue which she felt I could throw some light on. I listened to what she said and at the end asked her if I could share this interesting conversation with others in a blog form, without revealing any names. She consented. 
Presenting it here from her perspective.

I am an atheist. My family members are god loving people, but they are open enough to allow me my perspective. As luck would have it, I got married into a family which was even more devoted, as was my husband. My husband is a very gentle soul. Despite his busy career, he is a practising vaishnavaite and takes his spiritual duties seriously. I asked him once - why he agreed to marry me? Taking a deep breath, he replied that no one told him that I was an atheist, or else he would have escaped his fate. Then he begins laughing. Thats his sense of humour.

Like all couples we have our differences over little things. Sometimes things go out of hand. Sometimes they cross a limit. Usually at such times I take the lead and the feminist fire in me does all the talking. He, on the other hand goes silent after a certain point, and will continue doing his work acting as if the fight didn’t happen, but I can tell that it is affecting him.

Somewhere in the last week of March we had one such fight and I, as usual, give him a piece of my mind and after a certain point he went quiet. Usually we step out to go do our work and by the time we return things simmer down a bit. Since we were in a lockdown period, and in each others space, there was no respite. 

A few nights after our fight, I had a dream. I saw a huge figure of the diety Narsimha, who my husband worships. He wordlessly asked me - why I fight N****(my husband) and why do I pain him? I am at a loss and do not know how to reply, and He disappears. I woke up; it was around 5 in the morning, so I went back to sleep. 
Again, in normal circumstances I would have stepped out for work and would have forgotten this dream. The next day I was sitting in  my balcony when from nowhere the memory of this dream came to me with a force and drew my attention to a few remarkable  things that had skipped my attention before.

In theory I know that Narsimha is the avatar of Lord Vishnu. I would have dismissed his presence in my dream as just another dream or just another creation of the subconscious. I have seen some photos of this deity; there’s a small one in our home mandir. But the deity I saw in my dream was different. For one he was alive and vivid in a literal sense. His presence was detailed in a way that I was previously unaware of. I can dismiss the remarkable image I saw, but am unable to dismiss the presence I felt - tangibly powerful, radiant and divine. His form seemed to be composed of glowing light. 
I emphasise this because these ideas are alien to my thought process. So if dreams are a reflection of our reality, I am sure I have nothing in my life which would lend itself as ingredients to create such a powerful idea in my mind.  And yet in the dream I accepted him as divine simply because I could experience his divinity; a fierce yet benign energy emitting from him. Even now when I am awake, if I were to describe him honestly, I would have to say that it was divine, there is no other way to describe it. 

Over the days, another aspect of this dream began bothering me. My husband is deeply devoted, but I have never heard him speak about god or Krishna in a personal manner. He speaks reverentially but keeps them on a devotional pedestal. However in the dream I recall how the deity Narsimha refers to N**** as his own, as his parent would or best friend would speak protectively on his behalf. It seemed like he belonged more to him than to me. 

I was surprised to feel a tinge of jealousy. Let’s say that there is a God. If God has made everyone, then we are all his creation, his children and logically we are all equal to him. But in the dream I found the deity speaking on his behalf 
and asking me why I pained him. To be fair, my husband is a sweet person and I do get mean sometimes, but I was troubled as to why the deity was speaking on his behalf. Why wasn’t he speaking on my behalf as well (though I am an atheist)? Was he being partial to my husband because he worships him and I don’t? 

I spent most of April thinking about this. I thought of sharing my dream with my husband, but a gut feeling told me that I could not share this with anyone close to me lest they begin entertaining ideas and that don’t intend to commit to. I often though of dismissing the whole thing. But if I am to be honest with myself then I cannot ignore what I experienced. What power could orchestrate such a powerful presence in my most personal space? Yet I did not feel intruded upon.
I wanted to share this with someone to get a feedback. So I called you. What do you make of this?

I told her that my ideas on this should not matter, because she had done very well to be honest with herself and to go as deep as she did, accept and face what she saw rather than ignore it. The only advice I could give was asking her to consider sharing it with her husband and see what he says, given that he was also a part of the dream. 

As we were saying our goodbyes, I asked her what would she say now if I ask her - “Is there a God?”. She was quiet for a bit and then said “Previously my answer would be a hard no… but now I would say - Maybe there is”.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, she sounds like such an evolved soul who has gone past the need for worshipping God with name and form! Thank you for sharing this beautiful conversation.


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