Monday, August 09, 2010

'God is not an extra-cosmic personality'


By Shevlin Sebastian

Former Justice K. Narayana Kurup recounts an incident from history. The great 18th century French philosopher, Voltaire, an atheist, was on his deathbed. A priest entered the room. Volatire said, “Who asked you to be here?” The priest replied, “God.” Volatire asked, “What is the proof of His existence?” The priest gave no reply.

“If you ask me to prove the reality of God, there is no answer,” says Justice Kurup. “He exists, otherwise how do you explain the phenomena of the cosmos? There are billions of planets and stars, all of them massive in size. The sun, the moon, and the earth are just dots in the universe. What is space? Where does it begin and end? These are questions nobody can answer. It is mysterious and strange.”

The judge asks whether man can make a drop of water, a blade of grass or a leaf. “Of course, we are trying to play God by making test-tube babies,” he says. “But you still need a sperm and ovum, which is made by God. All that the scientists do is to fertilise the egg. Even in cloning, you need a cell created by God.”

Justice Kurup says that the divine exists within all of us. “God is not an extra-cosmic personality sitting somewhere in the universe, like a magistrate, putting us on trial for our sins and misdeeds and passing a sentence,” he says. “He is inside every human being. It is up to us to realise God.”

But Kurup says that mankind is living in darkness. He tells a story told by Advaita philosopher Adi Shankaracharya. “In the twilight, a man is walking down a road,” says Justice Kurup. There is a rope in front of him. The man concludes that it is a snake and fearfully steps back. But when a candle is brought close, he realises it is a rope. “Similarly, most of us don't know what God is, because we are in darkness,” he says. “There is a barrier between us and the soul. This can be removed through meditation, and benevolent acts. Then you will be able to know God.”

The judge, however, does not have an image of God. “God cannot be seen,” he says. “A great scientist once said, 'I have dissected the body, and scanned the skies, but I have not seen God or the soul.' Of course you will not see it. There is a Sanskrit saying: 'Tatwa masi' (God is a spirit within us).”

Kurup says that the God inside him has intervened many times in his life, so that he did not come to any harm. During his teenage years at Chalakudy, Kurup used to sleep in the drawing room of an old bungalow.

“One night I was about to go to sleep,” says Kurup. “Just then, my late brother-in-law, Raghavan Nair, came with a torch and flashed a light at all corners of the room. Suddenly we saw a viper on the bed. For me, this was a clear intercession of God through Raghavan.”

Despite his reverence for God, Kurup has no fixed times for prayer. “I pray when I am in the mood,” he says. “I ask God to protect me from illnesses, shield my family from bad events, and humanity from disasters.”

Sometimes, in his travels, when Kurup crosses the bridge over the river Periyar, at Aluva, he closes his eyes and says a prayer. “For me, the river is sacrosanct,” he says. “It is where the mortal remains of my forefathers have been immersed.”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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