Similarly that day in the hospital, I started sounding off key, while discussing religion with a colleague. She was telling me how her wedding had cost next to nothing, because she is an atheist and had just had a registrar wedding followed by a holiday.
I found that very interesting and asked her what she had against religion. She said she did not like the fatalistic view which people who believe in religion have, and how they seem to have no control over their own lives as everything is blamed on God's will.
The karmayogi in me, jumped to religion's rescue. I asked her if she knew what karma meant (she didn't, she thought it was something to do with mood) and went on to elaborate how in the story of what is like Bible to us i.e. The Holy Geeta, two sets of brothers are at war and one of the brothers refuses to fight against his brothers and other family. I explained how that seemed to be the starting point of the discourse by God, the charioteer. God askes the brother to do his duty (the doing one's duty being karma) and shoot his brother.....
Well, may be I could have put it better, but the words from my mouth like the arrows from the quiver, had left their abode and I realized when I saw her shocked face- "So God asked him to shoot his brother?? I thought Hinduism was a non violent religion, so what happens, who wins the war, now I am really curious....?"
The confusion and perplexity was writ large on her face. I tried to make amends and she was pacified by having learnt what "karma" meant...a word so loosely used by the English like guru, mantra, pucca apart from garam masala, bhaji, naan, pilao, korma etc.
Quite perturbed, I then confessed to an Indian colleague about the incident and hoping to gather empathy and sympathy I complained about how wrong it sounded that Geeta was all about Lord Krishna asking Arjun to shoot his brothers. My Indian colleague then thoughtfully said that this seemed to be so only because it was not in context. Maybe I should gift a Mahabharat to our colleague.
You must be joking! I thought to myself, what with all the questions about the legitimacy of the birth of the Pandavas, a woman having five husbands, men losing their one and only wife to cousins in a game of poker....no I think her view of Hinduism is good the way it is without reading the context of the Holy Book.
After all Geeta's teachings are relevant today because it was written in Kalyug, the modern age. Excerpts are often quoted in management and self help books. That is because our Lord Krishna is God incarnated as a contemporary man. He is as cute as Brad Pitt, has twinkling eyes, is a huge flirt, is allowed to steal beautiful young women's clothes while they are bathing (Krishna karen to leela, hum karen to paap), is allowed to steal butter from the kitchen, is a cunning strategist in the war, is all powerful and last but not the least he is a favourite with women. His legendary devotees are beautiful young women....Now that is how every man would wish his facebook profile to be.
Lord Krishna would like us to live life to the full, never holding back and enjoying all the emotions, colours, seasons, tastes, smells and sounds, while maintaining the right direction. None of our Gods are saints. The saints are not Gods, either, but they help people realize their potential and thus come closer to God.
On a separate note, this incident has taught me how to make sure I talk about cricket, taxes and the British weather! So long!