The author of this piece, Ayushi Srivastava, is a law student.

I had this episode recently on my way to Ujjain. My mom and dad wanted to visit the city for quite some time and although my father is in Railways, for the first time we had problem acquiring seats.

The issue wasn’t the paucity of seats, but that my parents chose to view this difficulty in a positive light, which for me was a troubling idea. All my parents kept saying was that this difficulty occurred because God wanted to test us, he wants to see how much we can gladly go through for finally getting to see him in Ujjain. A test of dedication? Tickets not getting reserved, a test of dedication?

Well, I think it was just a group of people who wanted to go home for Ramadan and got maximum of the seats booked in AC. What is this belief called? It is hard for me to understand. But the story doesn’t end here. We then went to the main temple (Mahakal) where the lingam is and it was being decorated. I heard that anyone from the crowd who comes to visit donates money for its decoration, a sum which isn’t supposed to be less than 7000.

Rs. 7000 for one time decorations? Do you imagine the amount of money being wasted every day? And all that milk, flower, sandalwood, honey and everything goes into waste, for what? What is religion teaching us? Giving 7000 for the decoration rather than giving it to someone who actually needs it. People are crushed in stampede just to have one look. The level of faith in religion and belief system we practice somewhere fails to appeal to me at all.

I was taught in school that God is omnipresent, everywhere and even inside every person. So why do we go searching for him in the world, and does anybody realize what they lose in the process? The human and material resources that go into it? I believe in God, I believe in the supreme force that commands us. And I would rather sit back in my room and pray with all my heart and feel more content than someone who donated all that money for the decorations. I don’t understand religion and all its divides, being a Hindu; I would rather go to a Gurdwara or a Church than going to a temple for once because it is too crowded and chaotic all the time.

How can I find peace at a place where I do not find myself comfortable? I am told by a lot of people that I am not religious. They call me an atheist but the definitions of being a theist are different for me. Spirituality is not participating in an organized religion. It is more personal and individualistic. It relates more on a level where a person discovers the intricacies of his soul. It isn’t supposed to be a certain way. It is everybody’s interpretation of an alleged immaterial reality. Spirituality is a way of channeling all the energies into modification of the soul. It is the exemplification of the religious implications of the idea of God for each individual.

India is probably the only country which is blinded by religion, what with the number of Gods that it worships for a number of reasons. I am not against the idea of God but as Richard Dawkins said, ‘I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied  with not understanding the world.

And as it is very well put across by the great Indian philosopher Chanakya that, ‘God is not present in idols, your feelings are your God. The soul is your temple.’