Sharir to nashwar hai, iska kya moh. Sharir ke sukh ki chinta na karke hamein aatma ki puja karni chahiye.
Every morning we get to hear some version of the above. It would not be too off the mark to say that the human body has always been the favourite ‘whipping boy’ of most of the real and wannabe spiritual or religious gurus.
But does our body, which stands for everything that we are and which allows us to stand (metaphorically speaking) in this world, deserve this kind of tongue-lashing?
To know the truth, ask those gurus if they can willingly, at that moment, leave their body and talk to you through their souls!
Jokes apart, the human soul needs a home to survive in this world. That home is human body. If there were no ‘body’, the soul would have simply spread across the whole universe, quite like air. But isn’t it the virtue of only God to be present everywhere?
Clearly, however much the spiritual and religious gurus downplay the role of body in the big picture, the truth of the matter is that just as body without soul is a dead body, soul without body is actually a dead soul.
Funnily, hedonism with body as its epicenter is increasing just as fast in India (the average age of losing virginity is decreasing the passage of every year) as the pursuit of the ‘higher’, spiritual existence sans the role of body! It seems to be becoming increasingly fashionable to talk of soul as an entity that needs the most attention. And so is the belief that its all about the soul. “Mind over matter”, is what goes around. But never comes around, if you allow me to add so.
So where did all this contempt for body come in a country that had given the world the whole idea of Kamasutra?
Though there are of course many references in old Hindu scriptures (and also in holy books of other religions) about the ‘ultimate task’ of leaving the body and being one with the supreme (attaining Moksha or Nirvana), those references can hardly be ‘blamed’ for the modern day fetish for running down the body. Simply because very few amongst us have read those scriptures anyway!
I always like to talk of more recent times. Times that are documented by neutral agencies’ and which can be related to our present times. Going by that, I think, one can partly blame India’s struggle to retain its character in the face of ‘alien’ onslaught for the entry of tirade against body in our daily subconscious.
It is a common knowledge that socio-politico-religious leaders (including Mahatma Gandhiji) used to frequently exhort their followers to give up ‘bodily happiness’ in order to not only put up a spirited fight against the ‘pollution / dilution of the original culture’ but also to attain a higher form of life for all.
How wrong can an approach – if it were as above – be? Because, while on one hand you are depriving your body of the pampering that requires, on the other your body sees its opposite number putting itself under no such compulsion.
The greater the contrast became, the harder the stances got. And now, it has almost become the Body Vs. Soul scenario.
But think about it, a body without soul is called a dead body and a soul without a body is called the soul of a dead person. So, is there a lesser one?