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“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”                      ~ H. P. Lovecraft

What is it that drives millions of people to pray before they embark on something really important in their lives? What is it that drives millions of people to pray for a better tomorrow? What is it that drives people to pray in their hour of crisis? What is it that drives millions of students to pray before they write an exam?

Fear. The Fear of the Unknown. Fear is what drives people to do unpredictable things. Fear is the root cause of all our superstitions. The Fear of the Unknown. Because it is unknown, because we are not sure about the outcome, because we don’t what’s going to happen, we not only find solace in the biggest unknown of it all, the God, but we also stop thinking rationally. You talk to anyone about anything and you will be confronted with, “How do you know it is true?” “Have you seen it?” “Stop spreading rumours” and what not. You talk about God, you subscribe anything and everything happening in this world to God and lo and behold all the heads nod in agreement; you wouldn’t hear a voice of disagreement, leave aside raising a question. That’s the power of God. And the irony is, even the concept of God fails to answer it all. “Why tsunamis?” “Why so many people need to suffer for no fault of theirs?” “Why the tyrants rules and the innocents suffer?” “Why someone dies so young and others live wishing they were dead?” The list is never ending. The frustration grows with every question. We need answers to all the questions and since there is no plausible answer, we just leave it to the biggest unknown, the God. Ever heard of big fish eating small fish.

All of a sudden, I find myself at crossroads, facing an uneasy question. Am I an atheist? No, I am not. I never was. Am I turning into an atheist? I don’t know. But since our son, Ankit, passed away, I haven’t ever prayed, nor gone to a temple. And the strangest thing is, I have never felt the need, the urge to pray or to go to a place of worship. I have come to accept that things happen, that there are certain things we don’t have control over, that it is futile to pray to God and hope that He will help. I haven’t looked for a God nor needed one ever since.

The need? May be ‘the need’ to have an answer to each and everything, every question is what make us subscribe to the concept of God. Life is what it is. A bit sweet, a bit sour. You try to live it to the best of your ability and whatever happens, happens. Only if we can just take the thing as they are or as they happen and not blame it to an extraneous factor, we would not need the so called God; if we can convince ourselves that tsunamis happen because of the reasons the scientist tell us to be; people die young, because of accidents or because of the failure of some body mechanism; there are tyrants because people are not willing to fight for their rights, we would not need the so called God. And we would not fear the unknown.

We just have to face our fears. For as long as there is this universe, for as long as we live, for as long as there is a tomorrow, there would be that ‘fear of the unknown’ we would need to face.

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