how religion keeps me sane, although I don’t believe in god.

Christmast ball - Hinduism
Christmast ball – Hinduism (Photo credit: nabeel_yoosuf)

A year ago, I embarked upon a reading spree on Richard Dawkings and Christopher Hitchens. To me, they became both inspiring and revolutionary. Their writings were somehow capable of twisting my religious outlook. My family lineage are among those that believe in Hindu Religion (being Nepali gives me some understanding of Buddhism also). Yet, for better or worse, the present me does not completely believe in the existence of God. I now view Religions as a way of life, rather than believing in the almightily power.

am I atheist?
After spending most of my childhood believing in God, celebrating their birthdays and their great accomplishments, visiting temples, watching and listening to God associated preachings, and reading the epic books of both “Mahabharata” and “Ramayana”, I can firmly say that – Religion is a progressive culmination of a way of life. I can firmly establish (for myself) that, Hinduism has NO fix list of good or bad things to do. Has no hard and fast rules, and no established order of political intervention on my way of life. My answer – I believe in Hindu way of life, but do not believe in the existence of god, but love going to temples. Let me elaborate.

1. no political intervention
Four Thousand years of refinement has made a religion that stays out of my political life. Hinduism, as I see it, does not demand political interventions. I can be a capitalist, a socialist or a communist and still be a Hindu. I do not have to follow laws made by religious figureheads, and what ever laws broken does not entail me to get beaten, burned or buried. However, may be because of its maturity, has tons of examples on good governance. Both the above epic plays has something to teach – something to suggest – but nothing to enforce. It gives me the choice of being right or wrong.

2. not one God/Goddess, but many
I can choose a persona of one particular god/goddess and follow it. Hindu mythology has one of the most elaborated sets of mighty powers. The number of gods in this mythology is said to be “tettis koti” which literally means 33,000 gods and goddess. There are tons of named demons and evil beings also, whom, time and again (as per mythology) have shown greatness and kindness. There are multiple persona (God/Goddess) for every personality type. I can literally choose my favorite powerful being, that I can most relate to. For the record – I love Lord Ganesha. The obese God with an elephants head, a broken tooth, who has a mouse as his trustworthy companion. A God that loves food, well literate, and who loves his parents very much. Kinda like superman and batman of the yesteryears. It even has Goddess of Wrath (Kaali) and somewhat Womanizer God (Krishna).

3. a situational religion that can morph as per time/place/person
Hinduism over so many years got elaborated to fit into every possible culture and society with many geographical variations. A religion that has a set of guidelines (not so rigid) for men and women of all ages. It acknowledges and identifies with third gender, which is still a hot debate in most part of the world (and Nepal too, in recent years). It has provisions for being alone or with family; among society or separated from society; for travel; for happy and sad moments, and well almost all the emotions that I can think of.

4. a culture that gives you options
The best thing about this is, it gives me options. I am not obliged to believe in god. I can be a devil/demon worshiper and still be a Hindu. Somehow will not get kicked out of the Religion, although may be demoted of my social status. For better or worse, there are good amount of Hindu priests who are somewhat negative vibe followers (the evil Tantric stuff). A small clarifications that, there are good Tantras and stuffs too, but I have little or no knowledge on either. Even the demons and devil of Hindu religion worship the Hindu Gods, gain some mystical power, and then go on war with each others and Gods themselves.

oh.. but it’s not all white either
Over the years, with the gradual development and expansion of this religion over our way of living, there have been numerous wicked twisted interpretations as well. Almost every religion seem to have it, and Hinduism is no difference. As I see it, the biggest negativity which developed over the years are – the caste system, and gender inequality. I will write more on these bad habits in due time, but here is one example, which we (me and my wife) are facing recently concerning the gender issues.

example – of gender issue with my religion

(my small personal experience)
I have a small sister, a year and half younger. All our life, in any religious events, as a Hindu unmarried girl, she was (still is) given an utmost respect. She (and all the unmarried Hindu girls) get respect, loads of pooja money, every body bows before them. Girls is treated as Goddess incarnations and it is believed that by pleasing them, one appeases the Goddess of Wealth, Health and Education (among many other stuff).

This was similar to my recently wed wife also, until we got married. As soon after we were married, somehow, the twisted religion breaks this high spirit (which got groomed for years and years) and puts her husband on top. Somehow, I am getting most of the attention these days. An girl never bows down in front of anyone (except may be her elder sister) before she marries, and after that, strangely she has to bow down in front of her husband. what strange culture is this?. Think of the ego that gets hurt.

As a boy/male of the society, I bow down to my parents, my sisters (younger or older) and any other elder, out of respect. Given the dates of festivity, like “Dashain” and “Tihar”, I literally touch my sisters feet with my forehead. And since I have been doing this for as long as I can remember, and since it does not hurt or humiliate anyone, I am glad and know that I will do it for a long time to come. Obviously, her feet should be clean, and with no malodor.

Switch it to my sister’s case who will get married soon (or may be few years later) or my wife’s case who recently got married, they had always received this honor. Suddenly, after this marriage, there is a strict rule, that they must bow down and never receive this honor again. Weird. A girls parent now must respect and appease their son-in-law more, she herself has to touch his feet again and again, she has additional feet-touching-work to her husband’s parents too. It’s difficult to imagine from her(wife) perspective, and as a brother difficult also to imagine from my sister’s perspective. They are two people who were given respect, treated as Goddess avatar all their life, and suddenly post marriage become no one. There ought to be a huge mental disturbance here.

Yes, for all the written complains here, I do not want my wife to touch my feet. I am lucky, that my parents are among those few, who want respect and love not from religious gimmick, but through proper family values. I can proudly and boldly write here, that Dr Aditi has not bowed down to touch my feet after we got married, and neither has touched my parents feet. But, yes, we do love each other, and there is a deep understanding, love and respect from her side to my mother and father. what is my relation with my in-laws?. – this needs another post. A hint – it’s a happy one.

PS – happy Nepali new year – 2070 BS

my corruption hypothesis – from Nepal

disclaimer – I have no formal education in economics, business, or management. I could never be a good politician in my school, high school, or college – due to my ignorance and other really important stuff. The following (satires) are from my own perspective on politics from Nepal and similar developing nations in Asia. Any resemblance to any thing (person, donkeys, cats, trees, hammer, nails etc) else is pure co-incidental.

corruption = greed + opportunity

Following are some hypotheses regarding ‘corruption in nepal’. These are based on above general rule of corruption. Both greed and opportunity must be present for all the below hypotheses.

hypothesis 1.level of corruption is directly proportion to the socio-economic status of the corrupted

Those with greater need for richness corrupt more. Example.1. A person in need of urgent money, is unlikely to return the wallet full of cash s/he finds while walking alone. Example.2. A government official will take maximum amount of available bribe option, if he has greater need to support his family. Example.3. A politician or minister of the state is more likely to be more corrupted if s/he has had rough times growing up, with poor family background.

corollary one. corruption level increases if one has more family and relatives to feed. Example.4. Large family and joint family culture has more mouth to feed, and hence more money is needed.

hypothesis 2.corruption depends more on courage than one education and intelligence

corollary two. courage index for corruption increases on successive corruptions,

hypothesis 3.corruption increases with the level of hierarchy in any given office

hypothesis 4.not all corruptions are in a single system, but all systems can be corrupted

hypothesis 5.corruption is “necessary evil” for developing countries like nepal

Following are some more hypothesis, that I am not quite sure about. I have even less clarity on following hypotheses.

hypothesis 6.corruption has seasonal spikes before festivals and important state holidays

hypothesis 7.corruption is all or none phenomenon

hypothesis 8.corruption is not gender neutral

Above presented hypothesis could be explored. Invitation for anyone to proceed on these work. Also, since there are seven billion plus minds out in this world, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else already has these hypothesis under their name. But right now, I have no knowledge of similar work any where else till this point of time. My ignorance, due to the cold winter.

Top five corruption (present in Nepal – according to me)

5.  Corruption in Public/Private Tax payment

4. Corruption in Government Contracts

3. Corruption in Education

2. Corruption in Medicine and Health

1. Corruption in Law and Justice

P.S. – I will be updating this post, with more examples for each of my hypothesis.

P.S.II. – The follow up to this post was written on September 4, 2013 – and its about bribe/bribing. Link to the new post is here.

next post – Jan 8, 2013. 7.30am. NST – taking four day break.

medicated Nepal

The paradox Schrödinger’s cat was first known to me via the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Its an interesting puzzle, and right now, I use it in Health practice from Nepal

My mother was ill last week. Three days of mild to moderate fever temperature (maximum of 102 F) every evening. Continuous, with no chills and rigor. Chest infection, with productive cough (normal color) with her all time favorite maxillary sinusitis flaring up. The first two days were supportive treatment, but when the fever was not down, we decided to get her checked at a hospital with all the necessary tests.

Because I am a junior doctor, my parents do not believe me. It’s the same with my sister too. We may advice and prescribe medicine to all the others, except our family. Family still takes few years to believe in our qualification. This and the reason that my mother was an excellent nurse for the 12 years that she was in health professional.

We none the less, advised her to get a chest x-ray. My father took her to the nearest hospital, and then came back in an hour or so, with a dose of azithromycin (PO x OD x 500mg) and a mixture tablet of codeine phosphate along with acetaminophen. No investigation done. Upon our inquiry on why no investigation was done, our good parents told their doctors word

– “start with the medication, and if it doesn’t improve in five days time, we will do some investigation – – chest x-ray and blood test”

A paradox in Nepal, whether to start medication on hunch or do all the test and spend some money before one can confirm the problem. But a sound explanation that a macrolide was given for atypical chest infection in age range of 50+  is a good decision. Not satisfied with the result however, we wanted a second opinion. We went to my fathers’ cardiologist.

He prescribed my mother cetirizine tablets, calling it a an allergic infection. he gave her the free MR copy of the medicine in his drawer. He charged us no money.

Multiple things are wrong with this. One, we should definitely not have gone for second opinion. But its health, and even if I am a doctor, I have not been practicing for few months now. Second, we should not have gone to a cardiologist for a a problem related to chest infection. Third, the cardiologist, should not have given us a free medicine, from his cabinet which was given to him by one of the pharmaceuticals as a sample copy. He gave a medicine that is, by all means not so much valid (at least that’s what I think) for chest infection, on a patient already in azithromycin, codeine phosphate and paracetamol.

strange world. Smile