The proof of divinity - II

This is the second part of the post by the same name. You can read part 1 here.

A common phrase we refer to in Hindi is, वो करे तो रासलीला, और हम करें तो करक्टर ढीला! The rough translation of this into English is, "When he (Lord Krishna) does it, you call it divine bliss; when I do it, you call me an immoral man". If you haven't already guessed from the tone of the idiom, it is generally presented as a defense by streetside romeos and others who make lecherous advances towards women. Why and how? Well, because Krishna stole the clothes of the naked Gopis bathing in the river and it is considered one of his great teachings. He had the right to do this - you and I don't. I am not going to go into that debate right now (some other time, perhaps - including some qualms I have about Rama and some other deities). But in a lot of other contexts, I find this inherent "He is divine therefore whatever he does is right" mentality confusing at best and hypocritical for the most part.

I have this objection against connoisseurs of modern art, to begin with. If you and I were to draw a single red straight line across a white canvas and call it art, we wouldn't be hailed as a visionary thinker, get invited to black tie parties and asked to deliver snooty lectures over expensive champaign. An established modern artist on the other hand, can walk in somewhere and do the same thing in five minutes and it will be hailed as the blood line dividing the haves and have-nots in society. If that be so, it is the brand name that is selling and not the art itself. The "divinity" of the artist in this case is apparently captured on canvas, and the painting will sell for crores of rupees and adore some wall somewhere where it will be worshipped. I dislike such art for this precise reason - when you want to, you can find meaning in almost anything! That shoe rack in your room is art, but someone wouldn't pay to see it. Place it in the middle of a large room with clean walls and nothing else; I repeat, nothing else; in the room - and people will pay good money to come see it.

When you see divinity in a person and not the idea, you are deluding yourself. Common everyday actions become legend: and we accept their actions to be the right way of doing things. "Did Mrs. MLA decide to stay for 5 more minutes until the last lecture was finished at the small school's sports day? Look how much she loves the people: we need such leaders!" "Did she walk away as soon as her lecture was done? Look how dedicated she is to her work: we need such leaders!"

We refuse to accept the fact that they too are human and their behaviour is going to be just like that of any other human being. The fact that she is already on that pedestal of divinity for us is always going to make us look up to her. Every single action of hers thereafter is simply going to be an additional proof of her divinity: we all then suffer from confirmation bias and will refuse to accept otherwise.

Don't assume that this is always a positive light, though. The same two examples from above about the MLA can also be interpreted by a sworn detractor as her political gimmick or a snobbish nature respectively. I am of course throwing the word "divinity" around here loosely. Poet's liberty, visionary, simplistic expressionist, religious fanatic or right wing extremist - throw up any word salad you want but my head will still be shouting, "Really? If his arch enemy did the same thing would I still be equally dreamy and fawning fan of the other guy?".

The conclusion, therefore, is to keep an open mind. We need to actively strive to be tolerant of other opinions and ideas, give the other guy a chance. And when in doubt, we must be ready to have an acid test of an idea/ideal we hold true. Let us not twist words to fit what we already know: or at least try not to do so. Active introspection is a great tool - it tells us about ourself and makes us ponder about the possibility that we may be wrong. And like they say, "Self realization is a bitch". :)

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