For a lot of people, the answer to this question is almost as effortless as a reflex. A “yes” or a “no” is perhaps the easiest thing to say. However for me, this question has no easy answer, merely becauseI am not sure. My best attempt would be: “I don’t know.”
Time and again different people have asked me this and I’d have to say it’s been a rather strenuous exercise, obviously because you never know who feels bad about what you say or don’t. Also each time I begin to answer this I have to be 200% cautious about what I say or I am sure to be labeled as “an atheist or agnostic or a deist ” or some other complicated term. I certainly do not intend to hurt/offend any one’s sentiments and beliefs, (even though most of the time people end up offending me and laughing at me when I say I’m not sure) but I do wish to be honest about the way I feel.
In order to believe in anything, doesn’t one, first need clarity on what it is? Which means to be able to say I believe in god, don’t I first need to question what is god? I do. But I don’t think I have an answer to that, yet.
However what I do know is that, one has to believe in something. I don’t know if it can be labeled “god” or not but I do know that everything is not in our hands. People call it destiny, fate, luck, god, faith etc. There are things beyond our control and there is something much bigger, much more powerful and way more superior than you and me. We need to acknowledge that and remember it.
I think that’s what praying is all about. But I don’t see why there should be a time or place set to do this. I am not saying one must not visit a temple, church, mosque, gurudwara, an agyari or any other holy place to pray. But go on Sunday and not on Tuesday and pray five times a day facing the north or south, offer fifty one rupees in so and so temple, do it like this and not like that, stand and pray don’t sit etc etc etc. Why all this? Apart from the usual unpleasant instances of shoes being stolen and beggars harassing people, we have numerous examples of how these places of worship are becoming increasingly commercial. We hear strange stories every now and then- large donations being given, lavish offerings being made to deities with no accountability of the money, pedophiles and the list goes on.
There are certainly other ways of acknowledging the bigger/superior power that exists such as helping, doing good, being humble, not disregarding or disrespecting others. I agree doing all this is in no way the same as going to a temple, church etc but it is in a way showing that, you have regard for the life you lead, and you are grateful for it and the person/power who has given it to you.
The statement “God is one” has been reiterated all the time. The problem is I don’t think people understand what it truly means, which is why we had the Babri Masjid dispute. Everyone has originated from different places and has understood the term “God” differently and named it something. So the concept of “god” is the same across castes/races/continents but different groups of people have different images of the very same “god”. Now it is a little silly to disregard the other group’s images just because they are not the same as yours, because in the end the idea of “god” is one. All those images are of the same god. Religion creates divide, only because we do not understand this very basic notion, and even if we do we refuse to implement it.