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A CHALLENGE

From: KESHAVA PRASAD (103020.541_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Mon Sep 01 1997 - 21:23:23 PDT

Dear Bagavathothamas:

			I want to thank Murali for his quick review of the SDDS
sponsored Srivaishnava conference in Pomona NY which, I also had the privilege
to be a part of. I shall however defer posting my impressions until after Sri
A.R. has had a chance to publish the proceedings which, I think he is planning
on doing. 

			In the mean time, I have a challenge posed to me by a
young relative of mine whom I inadvertently provoked for a discussion on
religion. I don't believe that he is an athiest. But his question was a shocker
and I am still recovering from it, let alone try and answer it. I thought I had
an easy task of weaning some of these youth to Srivaishnaviam. But I don't think
that I am quite upto this task I can think of a couple of answers. However, I do
not want to jeopardize this only chance perhaps, of making the right argument to
get his life on track. And hence, I want to be doubly sure of my answer. I have
reproduced below our brief conversation that we have had so far. 

Invitation.................................

"....................... How is school ? You said that you didnt give much
importance to religion
. and its ways. If you have a few moments, can you tell me why. I would like to
. engage you in a dialog if you will, and try to learn about your perspective on
. such matters. That is, if you dont mind going into a discussion with me.
..................................."

Response
> 

"........................................I would love to have this dialog with
you. It will give me an opportunity to understand another perspective. As for
time, (what does a grad student do other than have his beauty sleep? )

My basic attitude is that I cant bring myself to believe that there is a "God"
whom we can look towards for guidance, comfort or to fear. All my experience has
been to suggest that there is no influence that can be attributed to this "God".
I am using the quotes as I am using God in the context most people understand as
- as someone who is in charge of the universe, who takes care of his "devotees"
and who punishes people who "sin". Let me know if we are on common terms here
when we refer to God or if you mean God in a more inclusive sense and if so what
it is.

I think of God in a more general sense as someone/something we dont know about
and because our minds need some explanations to the processes that go on around
us, we *need* somebody to be the cause of this. I cant crystallize the concept
beyond this.

However, I recognize that believing in a God in the conventional sense is very
satisfying to the human psyche to attribute the cause of all the weird processes
to this person and relieves the mind of excessive search for answers and brings
some semblance of order and purpose to this chaos we see around us. But this
benefit I reckon can be got only by total belief in the presence of God and I
cant bring myself to believe in this God for the simple reason that as soon as I
want to do this my mind asks: how do you know that there is this person?

As for religion, I can only appreciate the social benefits and nothing beyond
that.........................................................."

I have chosen to post this as a direct challenge to our members because we have
all signed on to an unwritten agreement to educate wherever ignorance is
encountered. Also I see some similarity here to a recent posting by Krishna
Praba which, curiously enough was not responded to if I remember correct. 
I am seeking help from the Bhagavatas in making the  right argument. Or I woud
like to hear if any of you thinks that any argument may be futile. Is there an
instance in our ithihasas or mythology which could throw some light in this
direction? Would Sri A. R., Mhan Sagar, Murali, P. Dileepan, Sampath Rengarajan
or any other Bhagavata care to comment? In order to keep the attention of some
of these restless minds, I suggest that if you care to answer, the answer be
rather brief and to the point. The last remark is made without any malice or
reference to any of the past transactions on this list, is definitely not
directed to anyone in particula and hence, shuld not offend anyone. If you
detect some arrogance and disrespect in the young man's note which I think may
even be considered an apacharam, hope the Bhagavatas will forgive him. 

Adiyen Dasan.

Keshava Prasad.