The beauty of rituals

  • PP Wangchuk
  • |
  • Updated: Jan 28, 2013 23:55 IST

It is true that rituals and rites are unscientific and "unsound", and yet we do indulge in them in some form or the other in our daily life. Even those who call themselves 'not religious' do have their own rituals to perform. Maybe, they are not aware of them because of having forgotten to do a 'look within'.

Ram S Ramanathan, in The Gift Within, says, "All religions prescribe rituals to absolve oneself of sins and related guilt. Religions control humanity through guilt; commandments have been laid down. No human being can live without violating one or the other of these commandments."

And to atone for these violations, there are other rituals to be done. Mantras and visiting temples are there to "relieve you" of your guilt feelings.

Ramanathan brings in Lord Shankar to say that such rituals are meaningless and have no value as absolute reality. And without such truth of reality, we merely pretend to walk the path of spirituality.

The Dhammapada too has this point of view laid out clearly, "Rather than a thousand rituals month after month for a hundred years, better to honour for a moment a man who has realised himself."

You may contest this and stress the importance of rituals. After all, all of us are not 'equipped' with the ways to be in a position to see reason and attain direct experience of liberation.

Michael Pollan says, "A successful ritual is one that addresses both aspects of our predicament, recalling us to the shamefulness of our deeds, and celebrates what the poet Frederick Turner calls the beauty we have paid for with our shame."


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