Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Tharoor's Ishtadevata

Reading Tharoor's 'Why I'm a Hindu' continually throws up surprises. Consider the following-


Hindus are often asked, during certain ritual prayers, to imagine their ishta-devta, their personal God, or rather that way of imagining the abstraction of the Absolute in an anthropomorphic form that most appeals to them.

When you are born the family Jyotish calculates your horoscope and says what your Ishtadevta should be. You learn the name of your Ishtadevata along with your Gotra, etc, so that when having a ritual done you can give the correct response to the priest. However a lot of kids like me and Tharoor who were born outside India don't even bother to do that. Daddy or Granny or the family purohit supplies the answer while we just go through the motions. Indeed, appearing completely deracinated and gormless is considered prestigious.  

I pick Ganesh—or Ganapathi, as we prefer to call him in the South—myself, not because I believe God looks like Him, but because of the myriad aspects of the godhead, the ones He represents appeal most to me. Om maha Ganapathe namaha,sarva vignoba shantaye,Om Ganeshaya namaha…Every morning, for longer than I can remember, I have begun my day with that prayer.

All prayer commences with the invocation of Ganesha. Furthermore if Ganesha was Tharoor's ishtadevata from before he could remember anything then it must have been the one the family Astrologer calculated for him.  

I learned it without being fully aware what all the Sanskrit words meant, knowing only that I was invoking, like millions of Hindus around the world, the name of the great elephant-headed god to bless all my endeavours to come.

It is interesting that Tharoor does not mention that Ganesha is both the creator and remover of obstacles. A writer with a facile pen will write trash unless he faces obstacles. This is something Tharoor hasn't done. He has followed the path of least resistance. 

Interestingly, when Homer Simpson impersonated Ganesha, he both created and removed obstacles such that Apu and Manjula could have both a Hindu 'arranged' as well as an American 'love' marriage. As far as we know, Apu and Manjula are still together. It seems, despite Tharoor putting a big Ganesha on his wedding invites, his own matrimonial experiments have been less successful. 

There is little point invoking Ganesha egotistically unless you recognize that ego, greed, laziness are the obstacles which will prevent you succeeding in your endeavor even if, by God's Grace, it commenced auspiciously, or easily, enough.  


No comments: