Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In the Name of God

They make me uneasy. those prayer cum threat (sometimes veiled) forwards.

I know many who just delete them without a second thought. But somehow i find it difficult, though of late i have begun to do it selectively.

You claim to be a rational creature, i tell myself. but the truth, i guess is, i am not.

Or, why do i still insist that we are not three in number when we set out from the house for an auspicious or important occasion? I remember the daily routine during my daughter's SSLC exams. My husband , i and my daughter set out from the house together. She was dropped at the school, i at the bus station and then he went to the office. Since she was going to appear for the crucial exams which were to decide her future, i would wait at the gate so that we didn't set out in three, a number which was considered ill omened! My husband who, as a rule, is dismissive about such "superstitious practices", did not protest . Guess, he too didn't want to take a chance :-) . I still do it, but make sure it is done without drawing attention .

I have this habit of branding certain clothes and accessories as 'unlucky'. I remember the silk salwar suit i was wearing when the radiologist dropped the bombshell about me being diagnosed with a dangerous disease. We had dropped in at the the Diagnostic clinic after a party. I was wearing the most expensive Salwar suit i ever bought.

I gave it away to my maid who nearly fainted on receiving the expensive gift. She knew it was a brand new outfit.

"Why pass on an unlucky object to her?", my friend asked me when i told her.

"What's unlucky for me need not be unlucky for another person", i replied. 'Anyway, i didn't give her the Dupetta. So the unlucky combination is not complete".

My friend shook her head in disbelief. I thought she even looked disgusted when i told her about the fate of my brand new Biba salwar suits that I'd worn during the visits to the docs who confirmed the disease. I gave them to my sister in law who had to tamper with their perfect cut to suit her measurements. I thought my sister in law too looked incredulous when i told her why i am giving her those clothes, and why i refused to give the complete set(to break the unlucky combination).

And i always describe myself as a rational being!

Thus it is that i hesitate to delete those forwards which come with threats of divine retribution if i don't forward them to the specified number of people. Why take a chance with the ire of the almighty?

For a sample of the threats:

Some are blatant. They go something like this.

'If you don't sent this to 10 people, within 24 hours something terrible will happen to you". Some mails specify the nature of misfortune that will, without doubt, befall you if you break the chain- like loosing all your money, disease invading your family, losing job and the like. These mails sometimes give list of people whom disaster struck like a thunderbolt. That makes it really scary.

Some threats are subtle and use emotional blackmail as a tool.

"You have No hesitation to forward jokes, even vulgar ones. Cant you do this for God" or "Not only are you depriving yourself of a big bonanza, you are also depriving 10 others(instructions are to send to 10) of a fortune.

Some of the prayers/thoughts forwarded are truly inspiring or appropriate to your mood or the crisis which you find yourself in. But the minute i see the attempt to threaten/cajole/emotionally blackmail, i withdraw into a protective shell, and ponder over how to handle it.

Earlier, i sent them to those i knew believed in God and his bountiful as well a retributive nature.

Now, i edit them. I remove all the threats and pass them on, hoping that at least one of the recipients will forward to someone. Thus I wont have to carry the burden of the guilt of having broken the chain.
Now, i have started deleting them. I delete them without opening 'cos i know that once i read and see the samples of the disasters that will pursue me in a battalion, I'll lose the courage to delete.
I ask myself: Why am i like this? I ought to be totally unaffected by these forwards. I ought to know that whoever generate these mails are not prophets or seers or messengers of god, but - - . But who are they? Why do they do this?
Are these the efforts of well meaning souls to do their bit to establish the kingdom of God? Do they want to build up a virtual army of God to implement his laws on earth?
And who are these 'theys', these 'start' points from which these messages originate and spread all over the virtual world through the agency of even the so called rational people like me, who, for some strange reason cannot mete out the dismissive treatment these forwards deserve?
Questions and questions for which i have no answer.
Are you any wiser, dear blog visitor?


  1. Such mails should be called "blackmails" or "b-mails" for short.

    They blackmail you into sending the forward further...

    Over the years i have tried both.

    On some days i would forward and on some days i would delete..

    My observation is that there is no corelation between what i do wiht those b-mails and the way my day turns out...

    So now, i delete before opening even. And it still doesn't effect my days in anyway!

    And i am confident that if there is a God out there HE will have no quams abt it whatsoever! :D

    Hope this helps.

  2. I dont worry about them because I'm a half-aethist.. ;)

  3. I delete these mails without opening. I feel people who have to blackmail to spread the msg of God don't deserve any attention. Now there are similar txts as well on the cell!!

  4. why even bother reading the "threat" bit of the forewards?

    when i get a chain mail... just see whats in it and dont bother forewarding it... all you do is achieve what the creator of that mail wants you to achieve.

    check this out:

    apparently this started over a 100 years ago.

  5. wise I am ma'am :)

    I delete the mentioned objects

  6. The first chain mail was scary and I passed it on. Now, I delete them without even opening those.

  7. The only threat/warning which makes me uneasy is the You have No hesitation to forward jokes, even vulgar ones. Cant you do this for God.

    I guess the reason we feel uneasy is because we ask ourselves why not? What they are saying is true isn't it? We (maybe not you.. but definitely me) do forward all these trash forwards and yet when it is a religious forward we hesist, even if it comes without the warning. It might actually be a beautiful thought or a beautiful prayer or a hymn and yet we hesitate. Are we afraid of being judged? Is that what makes us uneasy? The realization that we might be judged? By humans or God.

  8. ma,
    this is a wakeup call for you to get out of retirement and do some social work,networking and the sorts.

  9. I do get a lot of jokes but rarely have I got mails issuing divine retribution if I do not pass them on. I regularly get such text messages though. I I delete them without hesitation. God has nothing to do with blackmails and threats.

  10. @ pooja
    blackmails- -brilliant.
    yes, i too have sort of evolved like you.
    half atheist? is that possible?
    @ sujatha
    some of these mails do contain a good/original thought or story. my quarrel is with the threat attached.
    'We do forward all these trash forwards and yet when it is a religious forward we hesist, even if it comes without the warning. It might actually be a beautiful thought or a beautiful prayer or a hymn and yet we hesitate. Are we afraid of being judged? Is that what makes us uneasy'
    well and rightly spoken. we tend to get apologetic about the religious content of our identities. you have given me a new idea for a post. thanks.
    @ gmatt7
    interesting. 100 years old. thanks for the site. shall read it
    only the wise visit my blogs:-)
    it took me much longer to reach your stage
    'God has nothing to do with blackmails and threats'
    like your confidence and conviction
    shall take your advice. i too have begun to feel the same way.

  11. I always thought the 'they's , the 'start points ' were the mobile service providers ...why else shud they be forwarded; why not just word of mouth publicity ?Mails are beyond my comprehension ,though.

  12. @los
    guess u r right. stupid of me not to think of it.
    well, service providers r most certainly not my idea of messengers of God!

  13. Consider them no greater than time-wasting practical jokers. They prolly visualise what the people at the other end go through when they inject those threats in and enjoy it too. Dont fall for it KT - if you didnt have an email address you wouldnt even see it, forget forwarding it. Spamming, I am sure, is not one way good things are meant to reach everyone.

  14. i seriously dont care to open such mails...and secondly most of my friends dont forward such mails to me...
    apart from that..i dont think a forwarding such mails make that person a better being..

    i usually read most other kind of regular forwards from friends and most of the time they are good.:)

  15. yes ma'm, its possible, ;) well, i dont know how to put it. I used to believe in this God thing for 20-25 years, thanks to mama-papa n moral sciences.. Now I believe God has been created by man, but still cant dissociate myself from my 25 years of fine-tuning..

    So here am I...half-aethist. :) May be in 5 years time I may be a true aethist.. K? (You find me strange and foolish dont you? hahahaaa)

  16. Tne chain-mails, I suppose, serve no purpose except clogging the cyber highways - if it is indeed possible.

    I guess these chain-mails are e-avatars of the chain-letters one used to get - "copy this onto postcards and send to seven friends - and win a jackpot. Don't do - and miss yor promotion" types.

    I have never forwarded one such message all my life. I am 62 and have so far enjoyed a life I have no reason to crib about. Earlier I used to glance through them, but now they do not receive even that consideration.

    But I missed the point, didn't I? When a cat crosses my path when proceeding for an important assignment, do I trace back my steps, sit down, drink a glass of water and 'start a fresh journey'? I don't, but if someone with me does, I allow him to. He is free to believe wat he wants to, as long as I am given my freedom!

    In the same category are the "I am the widow of the former finane minister of Ghana and would like to share his ill-gotten wealth for which I need your help" type messages which I consign to the trash folder.

  17. @ ktr
    'He is free to believe wat he wants to, as long as I am given my freedom!'
    yes yes yes and yes. hope the rationalists and hardcore believers are listening.
    tho, try as i do, i cannot, like u, disregrad the 'wisdom of the forefathers' (our foregathersd wre no fools, recently a high caste told me) or that lurking fear somewhere deep within me which keep telling me that there are areas (grey areas?) which lie beyond the rational faculty - -

  18. No, Molly, you got me wrong. I do not 'disregard the wisdom of our forefathers'. In fact,I believe that theirs is the accumulated wisdom of myriad generations and what we build is on that foundation. Remember the Einstein quote "If I have seen a little farther than others, It is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants"?

    What we perceive as superstitions today have their origins in rational actions and thoughts. My grandmother used to shoo me, a toddler, away from the kitchen, when I tried to sit on the grinding stone (ammi) quoting the superstition 'Sitting on the ammi is like sitting on your mother (amma)'. My grandfather, a rational thinker, explained to me that the reason for this prohibition (and proverb) is simple: if the bare and soft nether end of the kid was to come in contact with the stone fresh from grinding green chillies for the chutney to go with the idlis, the results could be disastrous!

    It was he who also told me the story of a priest wanting a black cat to be caught and tied to the post of the pandal when a puja was to be conducted. This was because his guru had a black cat for a pet and to prevent it from lapping up the milk reserved for the puja, the guru used to tie it up before the preliminaries began. The young disciple earnestly thought that tying the animal to the post was a part of the ritual!

    That superstitions and practices originate when the actions/words of rational/thinking people are copied unthinkingly by irrational people was the burden of his argument.


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