Apart from the article, “The ideas that killed 30 million people”. My friend Raja also preserved a 7 part essay I wrote on God about 27 years back, when I was doing my 2nd year civil engineering in Vijayawada… obviously this was much before I had even an idea that I will be one day a film maker.
When I read it now I was frankly surprised with the clarity of my thoughts and the way I could conceptualize them even back then. Sure enough the language and some of the examples seem too simplistic and I was very tempted to update it to how I think and would write today but then I thought it might be interesting to whoever is curious enough to know how I used to think 27 years back so I decided to put here exactly the way it was written 27 years back.
I decided to put one part of the 7 parts essay every 2 days as it is kind of heavy stuff and tends to get repetitive.
P.S: I wrote this essay to impress a girl called Satya who I was madly in love with at that time but the tragedy was that she never finished reading it as she got too bored. I am super sure that quite a few of you will share her feelings.
So venture at your own risk and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
(Essay on God – Part 1 of 7)
Origin of the Idea and Necessity
Man, as he was endowed with intelligence, unlike the animals, began to think. He got curious about his surroundings and himself. He was bewildered by the things that were out of his reach, like the sun, the moon, the stars etc., and was amazed by the power of the wind which he couldn’t see. Whenever he came across things like gigantic mountains, he was in awe of their size. Whenever strange phenomenon occurred in the atmosphere, such as the thunderstorms etc, he used to be scared of the immense power they exhibited. Slowly, an idea originated in him that there is a power whose magnitude is beyond his comprehension and that everyone and everything is negligible in comparison to it. In addition to his interest in his surroundings, he slowly began to think about himself and ask questions like, why he was born, the purpose of life, what death is, etc. But it was beyond his understanding. So, whatever was beyond his reach and understanding, he attributed it to a supreme force. But, at this point, this force or more correctly, his belief in the force didn’t in any way affect him. He just acknowledged its presence and feared its power. He christened this force as god.
As man grew intelligent, he realized that dominance of other animals will improve his standard for which, strength is needed and strength was in numbers. When the numbers increased, in order to maintain unity among a large number of people, he needed a force, and here, the force god began affecting his life.
In ancient times, when men used to live in small groups, each group was led by the strongest man in the group. By the means of his physical strength, he used to command the group. Like in all pack animals, the others in the group acknowledge his strength and fear him. They abide by his orders and take shelter in his strength against their enemies. They respect his ability to protect them.
But, as the numbers grew, the same rule that the strongest man will dominate did not work. For, in large number of people, it is difficult for one man to take control, as his physical prowess is limited. It was impossible for him to control every individual. Also, in relation to the number of people, the number of strong people also grew. These started having following of their own, which created fractions and the group inevitably split into smaller groups.
As there was strong need for unity, men have to stick to some standards. But, these have to be implemented by a superior force. Here, the force of a one man or a group of men will not be sufficient, as it is limited. To make the people stick to some standards, fear and respect should be induced in them. This can be done only by a supreme force whose magnitude can never be understood fully. People will allow the rules set forth by this force, and some like the kings and priests will see that they are doing it correctly.
The creation of priests and such people was inevitable as it will be difficult for the rulers alone to maintain faith among the people. A ruler, as he has to attend to many aspects, inevitably mixes with the people and in times of need, he himself has to bend or break the laws. This results in a loss of faith among people. So, there was a need for separate department to look after this problem, and here the priests and such people came into the picture. In the way he dresses, behaves and speaks, he creates an aura of mystery around him. Here, it is not said that it is the plan of an individual or a group of individuals to implement this. It is all a process developed in steps as per the necessity of the prevailing circumstances.
When certain individuals question the existence of god, the enforcers counter them with questions beyond anyone’s comprehension, like, what runs the world ….? ..etc. Also, in order to stunt such thoughts, fear is induced in them. They proceed to describe in detail, the power of god. They frighten the people by saying things like; they would be struck down by lightning if they persisted in entertaining such thoughts or if they break any laws set by the religion.
But, as intelligence in people grew, this was not able to satisfy people that god will punish them if they committed any wrongs. This was disproved by their observation that even when certain individuals committed any wrongs, they were going unpunished. So they began to doubt the enforcers of god, and this started them thinking again. So, in order to stop such thought, a master stroke of brain created heaven and hell. Heaven was described as divine place where you went if you did everything good in your lifetime, believed in god, and strictly adhered to the principles of concerned religion. In the Hindu mythology, the bait offered was beautiful women like Rambha, Urvashi, etc; and in addition, good liquor. As these are the greatest pleasures in our knowledge, it was beyond their imagination to offer greater pleasures.
Similarly, as they were incapable of imagining greater pain than that is caused by burning, lashing, etc, they frightened the people that they will be eternally tortured in hell if they did not trust in god. But here, there was a problem that if an individual did anything wrong, he will think that as he had already been condemned to hell, he will continue doing things as per his liking. So, quickly, provisions were made that the duration in hell and heaven depends on the number of good things that you have done in your life. By this, the individual was given a chance to reform himself and again walk in the religious path and thus make use of the chance that has been given to him.
As hell and heaven were beyond people’s reach, their existence can neither be confirmed not denied. As people were already curious about what lies after death, they took this theory, as there was no alternative easy to understand explanation.
When a few individuals still insisted in pursuing truth, they were condemned by the society, which was led to believe that only because of such people there is misery in this world. These people, whenever discovered, were punished ruthlessly and examples were set with them. The people who inflicted punishments claimed that god himself was punishing those people through them. These people could not retaliate as they were less in number. So finally the majority of people surrendered their thoughts and the remaining few surrendered to the coercive powers of the majority.
As it was stated earlier, in order to improve standard of living, there was a need for a large number of people to be united. It is because when men lived in small groups they used to hunt for their food. Here, there was the necessity of everyone hunting as one could not sit idly or he will be left without food.
But if the people were more in number, there was a scope for learning other things, instead of hunting alone. Because, here, as there are a large number of people some of them can experiment on new things such as agriculture etc, while they are fed by other people. With this, knowledge in various fields will be advanced. And with the invention of writing, this knowledge was stored in the form of books. The greatest advantage of writing is that the generation can start developing from where the previous generation left off. They need no go to the trouble of learning everything again by themselves. With the help of a book, one was able to learn in a few days, which many people took their lifetime to find.
Religion helped a lot in maintaining unity in the society. Certain principles were set, which would benefit the social progress. It was stated that men should help each other and such other things. This helps in a stronger binding in the society between the individuals. Also, the animal in the man with its instinct to get whatever it needs by means of its physical strength will turn violent at times. To curb this, it was induced in to him that hurting or killing another man is a sin. But here, there was a danger of the fighting ability of the man being dulled, as he begins to detest it. But the society needs it at times, such as a foreign invasion. So they exploited the fighting instinct in man, only as long as it benefits society by inducing in to him patriotism, and urging him to fight the evil in the society, evil in the sense of whatever is antisocial
Regarding the sexual relations, there were no restrictions during the pre-historic times, just like there were no restrictions in the animals. But it was realized that restrictions were necessary for maintaining a strong bond between the individuals. For example, if sexual relations were restricted between a man and a woman by means of marriage, the attachment between them grows by means of their love or by the force of the virtue. The couple will care for their offspring more, and strive to make them good citizens, which ultimately benefits the society. The society incorporates in to the conscience of the people, how they should train the children, so that they are maximum useful to the society.
Also, a society needed strong and healthy people. Weak and unhealthy people burden the society and hinder its progress. So, whenever there was a chance of such procreation, it was stopped. As a result, incest and such things were banned and termed as sin. But, here too, the rules were flexible depending on the religion and the personal whims of the people who set them forth.
So, everything that benefited the society and promoted its progress was termed as virtue or moral and virtuous people were said to be the chosen favorites of god and a place was reserved for them in heaven. And, whatever was anti-social and worked towards the deterioration of the society was termed as sin. The sinners were supposed to face the wrath of the god and condemned to hell.
And so, the people lived under the shadow of god, some of them believing, some of them fearing and some others fearing the some who believed. Whatever the reason is, this ultimately resulted in a society where everyone lived for one another and accelerated social progress and giving themselves a better standard of living.