The recent inauguration of Ram Janmabhoomi temple marked the culmination of a protracted religious dispute in India. Or perhaps it has opened the gates for more conflicts in the future. Religious strifes over the holy places have always been part of human history. Religion is an excellent tool for power, and politicians from the dawn of civilizations have wielded it effectively. The evolution of god or gods itself is fascinating. Most religions of today have a history of a few thousand years. Homo sapiens have been around, as distinct from other homo species, for the last three-lakh odd years.
The other extinct homo species like Neanderthals or Denisovans might have had their share of gods and divine myths. Or some of the gods we know now are the long-extinct Neanderthal heroes or Denisovan chiefs. Many religions have died, taking their gods to their graves. The earth continued to move on, not caring two hoots about the puny man and his fragile gods. But the idea of god has proved resilient. Perhaps God is the most successful species. It has mutated so many times, in so many forms, in the hands of skillful storytellers, and survived and flourished.
Though there have been many exotic definitions on god, the most popular version seems to be the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent one. Even a doctrine like Hinduism, which once indulged in many speculations including rejection of God or seeing oneself as God, seems to have settled for the Abrahamic definition of fatherly God and now has the same conflicts that have plagued the Middle East for centuries. Since none of the concepts about God must lift the burden of proving anything
and can stand up on the shaky foundations of faith, every idea is as valid as the other. As Buddha had said, arguing about God is a foolish exercise as one cannot prove or disprove the same.
But, God, as the fatherly figure, has given humanity enough problems. Perhaps the time has come to invert the thought. Instead of a judgmental, all-knowing, all-powerful God, in whose name the disputes arise, how about an infant god? What if we believe God as our child and we have the responsibility of bringing up? Instead of thinking the God created the world, what if we think we need to create our god in the image of ourselves? Would we be proud of our gods then? Not that this has not been tried before.
The concept of Bala Krishna or Bala Murugan that the medieval era Bhakti poets tried was similar. And it helped them avoid a lot of conflicts in the dark ages. Instead of trying to be an obedient child or a scared devotee, we become a responsible parent, an elder brother, or sister to the God we need to nurture. We set an example with our lives that God can emulate when she grows up, which she never would. God then is not a distant figure floating somewhere in the sky with a microscope to spot the tiny us in this vast universe, nor he has to bother carrying an account book to fill in our balance sheet of sin and virtue. She is an infant who needs our guidance, looking up to us for everything.
A concept of child god fills many gaps. She did not create the world, or if we want to have it in an old-fashioned way, He did not create the earth. We evolved from nature, went through multiple selection processes, got some lucky breaks and here we are, in all the glory and faults. If the world appears screwed up, it is not God’s fault, for She is a toddler. We have made the world a mess, and as parents, it is time to accept our responsibility. We must clean up the mess we have created to make a world worthy of the kid god, the innocent, the pure, the immaculate.
Then what would we do with all myths, holy books, and countless art that we have produced? Well, don’t we narrate stories to our children in which they are often the heroes? Fortunately, we have so many tales where god is the hero. Like any parent, we tell them those heroic legends with gusto and our infant god ought to love them all. For as parents, don’t we believe such fables, though fanciful, are the ones that shape the child? With all those beautiful legends, who knows, perhaps one day, the infant god would grow up to be a wonderful human being.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Author of Asura, Ajaya series, Vanara and Bahubali trilogy)