Skip to main content

Say a little prayer for me in the language of love

Recently, I saw the blurb of a book which asked, "How many of you (Hindus) have seen the inside of a Muslim home and how many of you (Muslims) have seen the inside of a Hindu home?" The question provoked a spark of anger in me because I do not view relationships through the prism of caste, community or religion.

However, I understand what the distinguished writer was trying to say - we are so insulated in our ways that even when we talk about tolerance, we still don't dare step beyond the boundaries of our community, caste or religion. 

When I say this in North India, I am told, "You have only read about Partition. You haven't lost a family member or seen a tragedy unfold before your eyes - it's easy for you to talk like this." Maybe...

However, one of the many advantages of having grown up outside India and then during my teens, in Kerala, is that I never learned the social distinction between "Hindus"and "Muslims." There was never "we" versus "them" debate - it was always "we."  It didn't ever matter that we had different names for Gods or for our beliefs. 



My father is a doctor. A majority of his patients are from the Muslim community. Whenever there is an occasion in our home and prasad is distributed to everyone, no one refuses and if they have, my father would not take offence. Once I asked my father, "What is the saddest moment in your life which you wish you could change?" 

His reply was, "My best friend Dr. Moideen had to stand outside a temple for my marriage because he is a non Hindu and cannot enter - but I had told him to come in because it doesn't make a difference to me. He said no, this is not about you and me - it is about faith and I cannot disrespect or dishonor your faith."

Today, when I see my Facebook timelines filled with angry posts from Malayalis ranting for or against beef, hitting out at each other's religions and the beliefs, I find myself longing for the bygone era when a Dr. Raghu and a Dr. Moideen could eat their meals together, their wives could cook whatever they wanted without worrying about the different names of God or the beliefs they personally held on to. 

It was the same in Africa, where the Asian community always stood together. The Indians, the Pakistanis and the Sri Lankans were one people, alienated from their homes and cultures and therefore, more loving and welcoming in celebrating unity in diversity.

When my mother and I first joined my father in Africa, we were first welcomed to the new country by Mohammed uncle, a Pakistani. 

A lovely meal was prepared by his wife and we stayed there for a day till we could shift to our new home. Even after we shifted to our new home, the two families remained close and always invited one another to celebrate important occasions. This meant that Eid was celebrated in Mohammed uncle's home with his family and Onam and Vishu were celebrated in our home with his family. 

There was never a talk of "Hindus" or "Muslims" and yet there was always warm understanding. Aunty took care not to serve beef to my family when we were invited to their home and my mother took care to make sure there were several non vegetarian dishes when they were invited. 

In Africa, where we lived, I would head out to Kasim Uncle's home where I spent time with his daughter. Kasim uncle, a Pakistani, was one of our dearest friends till we left the country. 

That reminds me of something very tiny but significant. 

Months ago, I received a WhatsApp message from a friend who wrote to me from a Gulf nation. It read like this: " Just wanted to let you know that the gift you had sent is special to us. My mother uses the prayer mat daily, the one that you gifted. In our daily prayers, we pray for the well being of your family too."

This message warmed my heart and restores my faith in myself. 

Continents away, religions apart, there is a family that remembers me in their prayers. We have different paths that we believe in. Our gods have different names and so have the holy books we follow. 

Whenever I see angry posts on my Facebook timeline, people hitting out and accusing each other in the name of religion, I remember this friend, whose family prays to a different God in a different way but they find it in their hearts to include me in their prayers.

Can we look deep within ourselves, look beyond our prejudices, nurture love and trust each other despite our differences once again?

That, to me, is the essence of God, religion and prayer.

And when you do pray, say a little prayer for me.

Comments

Vishnu said…
I don't know if we can change society Swapna but we can each practice our own faith more, which means more love, less judgment and more compassion.
Rashmi Jain said…
This is my first great blog Shop For Heavenly Heart Thanks For The Sharing With Us Keep It Up.
Asha said…
This is such a beautiful post Swapna. the personal anecdotes you have written are so heart warming to read
@Vishnu: You are right, Vishnu, we can't change the society. But like you mentioned, we can practice our faith with more love, less judgment and more compassion. That's the best way.

@Asha: So glad that you liked this post. And yes, I wrote it from the heart. Thank you, dear Asha.
Haddock said…
In each one's life there are a few Dr. Raghu and a Dr. Moideen who always stand out for the person he/she is.
We never forget them.
Himani Gaur said…
A beautiful post Swapna. I have had such incidents in life wherein i felt that this divide between Hindu and Muslims is deepened by people with narrow mentalities.There is no bigger religion than humanity. Even i share my views on hinduism through my blog on http://www.kalyanpuja.com

Most Popular Posts

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

Many years ago, when I wrote this post on Kerala's caste system, I had not considered that I would receive such online abuse for writing this or that I would be seen as some one who was trying to insult other castes. The intention of writing is always to share an experience or a perspective, not to insult others.  My experience of motherhood and marriage would be different from yours. When I write about my experience, it is illogical to abuse me because our journeys are entirely different narratives. My life and yours are not the same at any given point of time.

My question is - why do you ABUSE any caste or person here? You are free to disagree but why do you ABUSE? How does that reflect on YOU?

In my article, I shared what trials I went through, without any intention to insult any community.A new book 'Ants among Elephants' written by Sujatha Gidla, who writes about herself as being born 'an untouchable in India' teaches you everything you probably want to know abo…

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

Mahadmrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra nee

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. Do read my post: Does Mahamrityunajaya mantra really work?Of course, it does but you need to undertstand the meaning and significance of the mantra first.
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. [ Do READ: THE POWER OF LOVE]
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he becam…

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! 

[DO READ: The POWER OF LOVE]

Earth Angels have amazing superpowers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions and  becoming invisible at will.
[MUST READ: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter He loves]
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in …

The Amazing Tale of Peddabottu: How she battled all odds, took leadership roles and defied conventional norms in a unique way

When we first come into the world, we mark our entry with a big cry.  The wise ones say that we loathe to leave the safety of the mother's womb. As we grow up, we learn to seek happiness in the things we do. We find different ways to be happy. The wise ones says, ''Pain makes you strong.'' [READ: Feeling depressed and low?]

The truth about happiness is that it teaches us nothing, whereas pain nudges out of our complacent comfort zones.  It teaches us to reflect, look within and find the answers from a zone that we are not usually familiar dealing with.





Pain and sorrow manifest in our lives differently and across different phases but how we react to it defines our the direction of our life. A newborn child undergoes pain when vaccinated but will a mother stop her child from being vaccinated simply because she doesn't want her child to undergo pain?
[Must Read: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter He loves]

So, there is pain that both protects and gives strength though…

Top 10 Skincare tips for Summer

Come summer, and we women worry a lot about how the sun lashes out on our skin. True, skincare tips for the summer are plenty but what about the hushed secrets - yes, those tried and tested family secrets that are passed on from mother to daughters? [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

FOLLOW MY BOARDS ON PINTEREST

Here are some that are totally easy to do. Best of all, these are effective and bring on a feel-good factor in the peak of summer.

1. Replace water with rosewater. It keeps your skin luminous and fragrant throughout the day. It's a good toner too.

2. Cleanse your skin by combining these ingredients - honey, milk, rosewater/rosepetals and turmeric. Add a dash of olive oil and yes, it feels wonderful.

3. Almond oil body baths are a must-have! You will smell delicious all day. This summer, skip all those body lotions & moisturizers! You will love the way almond oil pampers your skin all day!

4. Use a mixture of almond oil and olive oil for your fe…

Why chant Ramayana during the month of Karkidakam

For Keralites across the world who follow the Malayalam calendar, today marks the beginning of the month of Karkidakam. This month, which, decades ago, was known and slightly feared for its torrential rains and negative impact on the health, wealth and well being of Kerala's rural community. 
Why chant Ramayana during Karkidakam To ward off the negative energy unleashed by Nature and its possible repercussions on one's family's overall well being, the wise elders introduced the timeless tradition of every family reading the Ramayana as an oral, spiritual tradition. Thus, it goes without saying that for Keralites who embrace these traditions, the act of reading the Ramayana is as much a spiritual cleansing as it is a kind of tradition they can pass on to bond with their loved family members, particularly children.
In the Ramayana, there is no 'preaching of principles' but you are taken through the Avatar's journey as a human being. Lord Rama depicts how a man shoul…

Why Om is powerful and important

Summers are here and I love to bask in the sunshine. We all do, don't we, especially after a brief spell of gloomy, dark winters? The last three months have been challenging for me on the path of Sadhana - many slip ups that I am not proud of. These are gentle reminders to maintain steadfast self-discipline. 

You may wonder, ''Why should one be disciplined on the spiritual path?"



FOLLOW MY BOARDS ON PINTEREST


Can you study any subject and master it without exercising discipline? Whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, a stock exchange broker or a blogger, can you accomplish important milestones without sticking to a certain level of discipline in the way you work? The most successful people across all spheres of life are known to be highly disciplined.

As Swami often points out, even sports, which is meant for enjoyment, cannot have champions unless they are highly disciplined. If you are a blogger, don't you ensure a certain degree of discipline in your approach to findi…

A Book Review: The Test of my Life by Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj Singh’s book ‘The Test of My Life’ has been summed up accurately by ‘Master Blaster’ Sachin Tendulkar in two words – ‘Pure Inspiration.’ I can’t think of a better word for this book.
Yuvraj Singh’s ‘The Test of My Life’ takes us through a tumultuous, personal account of Yuvraj’s life as a cricketer and cancer survivor. The best and most interesting part is where Yuvraj talks about his ‘deal with God.’ He told God something on the lines of ‘Take my life but give us the World Cup’ and it almost became true in his life, according to Yuvraj. All of this is just an icing on the cake. There’s so much to learn and look forward to in Yuvraj’s book. You should buy the book - it's pure inspiration. ABSOLUTE HONESTY Throughout the book, you will marvel at Yuvraj’s honesty. It isn’t easy to write so openly about a difficult childhood because of parents who couldn’t get along with each other. It isn’t easy to confess how one’s parent would throw ice cold bucket of water on an early winter m…

Balanced diet for ladies: Eat according to your body’s age

Experts say that as years roll by, your body’s ability to absorb nutrients decline, so it is even more important to formulate a balanced diet and eat according to one’s age.

The following age-specific information (excluding the details given under ‘Expectant Mothers’) is a summary from an article I read in the popular UK food magazine called Delicious and the article is titled “Eat your age: Wise up to your changing needs.” It is written by Anna Montague and published in  March 2011. 

[READ: Why Salad is Good for you ]


FOLLOW MY BOARDS ON PINTEREST

Balanced Diet during Teen Years Iron deficiency is seen as a predominant condition in most teenage girls and this trend is increasing. Teenage girls are not getting enough iron from their diet.

200gm of low fat yoghurt every dayLean meat, fish, pulses and eggsDried fruitsLeafy vegetablesFresh fruitsSay no to sugary drinksHaving a daily sufficient calcium intake is important for girls as it is like having ‘bone in the bank’ for the future.
Balanced…

Gayatri Mantra as Panchamukhi: Get it right or let it go

Most people do not understand the importance of chanting the Gayatri mantra because they are not aware of its power. It is only when I began to read Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings that I learned how sacred and powerful the chanting of the Gayatri mantra is.
The Vedas represent the breath of God. The Gayatri mantra is the very basis of the Vedas. Try not to undertake chanting the Gayatri mantra as a light endeavor or as a hobby. It has to be chanted with faith, discipline and purity of mind and body. Be steady with your sadhana if you want to reap the spiritual dividend associated with the Gayatri mantra  and never once hesitate once you decide to do it.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba said that the Gayatri Mantra is referred to as Pancha Mukhi, the Goddess with five faces that represent the five pranas or life forces. Here's more on it.


Chant the Gayatri Mantra correctly: Pause Five Times Here are some important things to keep in mind while chanting the Gayatri mantra:

1. Wh…