Saturday, October 10, 2015


Pic.: Alwyn Mathias

I am surrounded by people of every religious faith: Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs. I have friends who are Jews and Parsees, too. Come on, never, ever has any one of them  made me feel that I am different from them – yes, just because I pray to different deities and saints, read different Scriptures, follow different social and religious customs, or eat different food… fish, chicken, mutton, beef or pork… snail or  snake, dog or cat… spinach or grass or brain!

Likewise, I haven’t ever allowed that thought to creep into my own mind – what my Hindu or Muslim friend or neighbor, my student or associate eats or who he worships. Come on, is it not something so beautiful about co-existence… that, my Hindu friend calls his God Krishna, and I call mine Christ or my Muslim friend calls his Allah? Why should I worry about what Holy Book he reads? What food he eats? What he wears on their weddings ceremonies?

Some of the most beautiful couples I know had their inter-caste marriages… They have amazingly made enough space for their respective deities, Holy Books, Customs and Food in their homes… One eats beef the other leaf, one goes to temple the other to mosque, one wears desi the other videsi… Come on, what difference does it make? And, why should it?
That’s something so beautiful about tolerance in life… Helen Keller called it famously, “The highest result of education.”
Reflect on it. She said, that the highest result of our education is our tolerance!

In the village where I grew up, on the right side of our house lived a very, very orthodox Brahmin family. On the left side lived an equally orthodox Muslim family. And, at the centre, ours was no less orthodox Christian family. But, then, never ever did our praying or eating habits come in our way… We kids went to each-others’ houses and blissfully had fun… ate each-others’ food (Yes, it was fun!)… But, sir, nobody poisoned our tender minds saying,  “Hey, don’t play with him… he eats beef, pork or grass.” Heck, beef was beautiful… Pork was yummy… Grass was divine. Some of my Hindu friends knew ‘Our Father’ and ‘Hail Mary’ better than I did… That’s something, even today, when I think of, makes my heart smile and a bit ashamed of myself, too…

But, tell me sir, is it not something so beautiful about our co-existence?

“I did not know I was a Jew,” said a well-known Holocaust survivor, “until Hitler made me think I was one!”

And, it shall, always, remain so for all of us… I will never go around shouting I am a Christian and my neighbor is a Muslim or a Hindu unless some despot poisons my mind…
But, then, to remain unposioned in life is what ‘that highest education of our hearts’, which Mrs. Keller reminds us of.
Let me end my Post with one more pertinent quote from an unknown soul:

“Tolerance is
The Highest Degree of your Strength,
And desire to take Revenge is
The First Sign of Weakness."


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