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taj1

Indians abroad face very silly and annoying questions about India! Next time you get asked an annoying question on India, answer it like this…read on, it’s funny!

Q. What does that red dot on women’s forehead mean?
A. Well, in ancient times, Indian men used to practice archery skills by target practicing by aiming at their wife’s red dot. In fact, that is one of the reasons why they had many wives. You see, once they mastered the art of archery and hit the target….

A2: In the olden days there were no traffic signals in India. So vehicles were supposed to stop the minute they saw a married women cross the road.

(And again the bindi is considered the prerogative of Hindu women. When I sport a Bindi, people keep on asking me if I have converted to Hinduism. “If Hinduism is ok with atheism, I wouldn’t mind,” I reply. Actually I think Hinduism is not too concerned about atheism…can’t catch hold of the exact quote…but its supposed to be only a “way of life” not organized religion)

Q. You’re from India, aren’t you? I have read so much about the country. All the wonderful places, the forests, the snake charmers, the elephants. Do you still use elephants for transportation?
A. Absolutely. In fact we used to have our own elephant in our house. But later, we started elephant-pooling with our neighbors, to save the air. You see elephants have an “emissions” problem…..

Q. Does India have cars?
A. No. We ride elephants to work. The government is trying to encourage ride-sharing schemes.

(This question is now replaced by “Do you always travel by hand-drawn rickshaws?” My answer: “Definitely not! Hand-drawn rickshaws were banned in Tamil Nadu as early as the 1970s. Its only in states like West Bengal, which constantly keeps harping on human rights and Left politics, can you find hand-drawn rickshaws or govt-approved prostitution in Sonagatchi.”  Ok, Before everyone hailing from WB is up in arms, I am not anti-WB or anything. Just teasing!)

Q. Does India have TV?
A. No. We only have cable.

Q. Are all Indians vegetarian?
A. Yes. Even tigers are vegetarian in India.

(They might really believe this one as the only Indian authors they can recognise are R K Narayanan and Salman Rushdie. It might prove dangerous if they really believed everything that A Tiger in Malgudi has to say about a tiger’s food habits)

Q. How come you speak English so well?
A. You see when the British were ruling India, they employed Indians as servants. It took too long for the Indians to learn English. So the British isolated an “English-language” gene and infused their servants’ babies with it and since then all babies born are born speaking English.

A variation to the above is a compliment —
“You speak very good English.”   Response: Thanks. So do you.

Q. Are you a Hindi?
A. Yes. I am spoken everyday in Northern India.

My variation on this question is: “Are you a Madrasi?” Answer: “Are you a Golti/Mallu/Firangi or whichever place the questioner is from?” I’d be the last person to fan sectarinism, but the Madrasi question has been asked too many times for it to fail to irritate. And another thing I don’t get is why people from Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh also have to be clubbed as Madrasis. Must be a hangover from the pre-Madras Presidency and pre-Chennai name change era.

taj21Q. Do you speak Hindu?
A. Yes, I also speak Jewish, Islam and Christianity.

Q. Is it true that everyone there is very corrupt?
A. Yes, in fact, I had to bribe my parents so that they would let me go to school.

Q. India is very hot, isn’t it?
A. It is so hot there that all the water boils spontaneously. That is why tea is such a popular drink in India.

Q. Are there any business companies in India?
A. No. All Indians live on the Gandhian prinicples of self-sufficiency. We all make our own clothes and grow our own food. That is why you see all these thin skinny Indians – it is a lot of hard work.

Q. Indians cannot eat beef, huh?
A. Cows provide milk which is a very essential part of Indian diet. So eating cows is forbidden. However in order to decrease the population of the country, the government is trying to encourage everyone to eat human meat.

Q. India is such a religious place. Do you meditate regularly?
A. Yes, sometimes I meditate for weeks without food and drink. But it is difficult to keep my job, because I have to miss work when I meditate like that. But the bosses there do the same thing. That is why things are so inefficient there.

Q. I saw on TV that people there walk on burning coals. Why do they do that?
A. We don’t have shoes. So we burn the bottom of our feet to make it hard so that we can walk.

Q. Why do you sometimes wear Indian clothes to work?
A. I prefer it to coming naked.

Someone once asked my friend, “Are women in India allowed to go to school?”

She replied: “No! They had to get a special dispensation for Indira Gandhi, so she could take over after Nehru died.”

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In defence!

Hi,

I have been mailed (plus left comments) questions from determined theists about my beliefs or disbelief. Rather than mailing them the same old answers to the same questions, I thought a post will help clarify things. I respect people’s religous sentiments, so please respect mine and do refrain from sending me hate mail, just because I’m an atheist.  On this blog, I have written less than 5 per cent on atheism. I don’t even want to promote it. If you practise a religion which doesn’t believe in killing other people, I’m happy for you. I am interested in lots of other things like journalism, pets, books, poetry, etc and my blog reflects that.

interfaith_dialog1

So rather than defend my own views I thought I’ll just post what Bhagat Singh said in 1930 (Again I have removed some of Bhagat Singh’s comments – like when he specifically names religions. I don’t want people next accusing me of being pro-RSS, pro-Bajrang Dal or pro-Christians):

not_religion11

As for the negative side. we ask a few questions from the ‘believers’.

If, as you believe, there is an almighty, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent God-who created the earth or world, please let me know why did he create it ? This world of woes and miseries, a veritable, eternal combination of numberless tragedies: Not a single soul being perfectly satisfied.

Pray, don’t say that it is His Law: If he is bound by any law, he is not omnipotent. He is another slave like ourselves. Please don’t say that it is his enjoyment. Nero burnt one Rome. He killed a very limited number of people. He created very few tragedies, all to his perfect enjoyment. And what is his place in History? By what names do the historians mention him? All the venomous epithets are showered upon him. Pages are blackened with invective diatribes condemning Nero, the tyrant, the heartless, the wicked.

priorities11

One Changezkhan sacrificed a few thousand lives to seek pleasure in it and we hate the very name. Then how are you going to justify your almighty, eternal Nero, who has been, and is still causing numberless tragedies every day, every hour and every minute? How do you think to support his misdoings which surpass those of Changez every single moment? I say why did he create this world – a veritable hell, a place of constant and bitter unrest? Why did the Almighty create man when he had the power not to do it? What is the justification for all this ? Do you say to award the innocent sufferers hereafter and to punish the wrong-doers as well? Well, well: How far shall you justify a man who may dare to inflict wounds upon your body to apply a very soft and soothing liniment upon it afterwards? How far the supporters and organizers of the Gladiator Institution were justified in throwing men

scam11

before the half starved furious lions to be cared for and well looked after if they could survive and could manage to escape death by the wild beasts? That is why I ask, ‘Why did the conscious supreme being created this world and man in it? To seek pleasure? Where then is the difference between him and Nero’?

For people who don’t believe in previous birth, you cannot advance the argument of previous misdoings of the apparently quite innocent sufferers? I ask you why did the omnipotent labor for six days to create the world through word and each day to say that all was well. Call him today. Show him the past history. Make him study the present situation. Let us see if he dares to say, “All is well”.

simple_faith1

From the dungeons of prisons, from the stores of starvation consuming millions upon millions of human beings in slums and huts, from the exploited laborers, and the wastage of human energy that will make a man with the least common sense shiver with horror, and from the preference of throwing the surplus of production in oceans rather than to distribute amongst the needy producers…to the palaces of kings built upon the foundation laid with human bones…. let him see all this and let him say “All is well”.

Why and wherefore? That is my question. You are silent.

All right then, I proceed. Well, there are those who say all the present sufferers belong to the class of sinners of the previous births. Good. You say the present oppressors were saintly people in their previous births, hence they enjoy power. Let me admit that your ancestors were very shrewd people, they tried to find out theories strong enough to hammer down all the efforts of reason and disbelief. But let us analyze how far this argument can really stand.

understanding1

From the point of view of the most famous jurists punishment can be justified only from three or four ends to meet which it is inflicted upon the wrongdoer. They are retributive, reformative and deterrent. The retributive theory is now being condemned by all the advanced thinkers. Deterrent theory is also following the same fate. Reformative theory is the only one which is essential, and indispensable for human progress. It aims at returning the offender as a most competent and a peace-loving citizen to the society. But what is the nature of punishment inflicted by God upon men even if we suppose them to be offenders. You say he sends them to be born as a cow, a cat, a tree, a herb or a best. You enumerate these punishments to be 84 lakhs. I ask you what is its reformative effect upon man? How many men have met you who say that they were born as a donkey in previous birth for having committed any sin? None. Don’t quote your Puranas. I have no scope to touch your mythologies. Moreover do you know that the greatest sin in this world is to be poor. Poverty is a sin, it is a punishment.

santa_and_god1

I ask you how far would you appreciate a criminologist, a jurist or a legislator who proposes such measures of punishment which shall inevitably force man to commit more offences? Had not your God thought of this or he also had to learn these things by experience, but at the cost of untold sufferings to be borne by humanity? What do you think shall be the fate of a man who has been born in a poor and illiterate family of say a chamar or a sweeper. He is poor, hence he cannot study. He is hated and shunned by his fellow human beings who think themselves to be his superiors having been born in say a higher caste. His ignorance, his poverty and the treatment meted out to him shall harden his heart towards society. Suppose he commits a sin, who shall bear the consequences? God, he or the learned ones of, the society?

luke

What about the punishment of those people who were deliberately kept ignorant by the haughty and egotist Brahmans and who had to pay the penalty by bearing the stream of being led (not lead) in their ears for having heard a few sentences of your Sacred Books of learning-the Vedas? If they committed any offence-who was to be responsible for them and who was to bear the brunt? My dear friends: These theories are the inventions of the privileged ones: They justify their usurped power, riches and superiority by the help of these theories. Yes: It was perhaps Upton Sinclair, that wrote at some place, that just make a man a believer in immortality and then rob him of all his riches, and possessions. He shall help you even in that ungrudgingly. The coalition amongst the religious preachers and possessors of power brought forth jails, gallows, knouts and these theories.

military_chaplain

I ask why your omnipotent God, does not stop every man when he is committing any sin or offence? He can do it quite easily. Why did he not kill war lords or kill the fury of war in them and thus avoid the catastrophe hurled down on the head of humanity by the Great War? Why does he not just produce a certain sentiment in the mind of the British people to liberate India? Why does he not infuse the altruistic enthusiasm in the hearts of all capitalists to forgo their rights of personal possessions of means of production and thus redeem the whole laboring community – nay the whole human society from the bondage of Capitalism. You want to reason out the practicability of socialist theory, I leave it for your almighty to enforce it.

new_tack

People recognize the merits of socialism in as much as the general welfare is concerned. They oppose it under the pretext of its being impracticable. Let the Almighty step in and arrange everything in an orderly fashion. Now don’t try to advance round about arguments, they are out of order. Let me tell you, British rule is here not because God wills it but because they possess power and we do not dare to oppose them. Not that it is with the help of God that they are keeping us under their subjection but it is with the help of guns and rifles, bomb and bullets, police and millitia and our apathy that they are successfully committing the most deplorable sin against society- the outrageous exploitation of one nation by another. Where is God ? What is he doing? Is he enjoying all I these woes of human race ? A Nero; A Changez : Down with him.

parallel_universe

Do you ask me how I explain the origin of this world and origin of man? Alright I tell you. Charles Darwin has tried to throw some light on the subject. Study him. Read Soham Swami’s “Commonsense”. It shall answer your question to some extent. This is a phenomenon of nature. The accidental mixture of different substances in the shape of nebulae produced this earth. When? Consult history. The same process produced animals and in the long run man. Read Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’. And all the later progress is due to man’s constant conflict with nature and his efforts to override it. This is the briefest possible explanation of this phenomenon.

playing_god

Your other argument may be just to ask why a child is born blind or lame if not due to his deeds committed in the previous birth? This problem has been explained away by biologists as a more biological phenomenon. According to them the whole burden rests upon the shoulders of the parents who may be conscious or ignorant of their own deeds led to mutilation of the child previous to its birth.

Naturally you may ask another question though it is quite childish in essence. If no God existed, how did the people come to believe in him? My answer is clear and brief. As they came to believe in ghosts, and evil spirits; the only difference is that belief in God is almost universal and the philosophy well developed. Unlike certain of the radicals I would not attribute its origin to the ingenuity of the exploiters who wanted to keep the people under their subjection by preaching the existence of a supreme being and then claiming an authority and sanction from him for their privileged positions. Though I do not differ with them on the essential point that all faiths, religions, creeds and such other institutions became in turn the mere supporters of the tyrannical and exploiting institutions, men and classes. Rebellion against king is always a sin according to every religion.turning_grave

As regards the origin of God my own idea is that having realized the limitations of man, his weaknesses and shortcoming having been taken into consideration, God was brought into imaginary existence to encourage man to face boldly all the trying circumstances, to meet all dangers manfully and to check and restrain his outbursts in prosperity and affluence. God both with his private laws and parental generosity was imagined and painted in greater details. He was to serve as a deterrent factor when his fury and private laws were discussed so that man may not become a danger to society. He was to serve as a father, mother, sister and brother, friend and helpers when his parental qualifications were to be explained. So that when man be in great distress having been betrayed and deserted by all friends he may find consolation in the idea that an ever true friend was still there to help him, to support him and that He was almighty and could do anything. Really that was useful to the society in the primitive age.

truth_in_ad

The idea of God is helpful to man in distress.

Society has to fight out this belief as well as was fought the idol worship and the narrow conception of religion. Similarly, when man tries to stand on his own legs, and become a realist he shall have to throw the faith aside, and to face manfully all the distress, trouble, in which the circumstances may throw him. That is exactly my state of affairs. It is not my vanity, my friends. It is my mode of thinking that has made me an atheist. I don’t know whether in my case belief in God and offering of daily prayers which I consider to be most selfish and degraded act on the part of man, whether these prayers can prove to be helpful or they shall make my case worse still. I have read of atheists facing all troubles quite boldly, so am I trying to stand like a man with an erect head to the last; even on the gallows.

school_prayer

Let us see how I carry on : one friend asked me to pray. When informed of my atheism, he said, “During your last days you will begin to believe”. I said, No, dear Sir, it shall not be. I will think that to be an act of degradation and demoralization on my part. For selfish motives I am not going to pray. Readers and friends, “Is this vanity”? If it is, I stand for it.

(Pictures courtesy atheistcartoons )

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