Cooped up in an Air India aircraft for 14 hours at a stretch between Newark and Bombay is not a delightful experience, but then the lure of the cheapest ticket scores over the temporary discomfort. Three movies and the chat with the neighbor did shorten the mental agony and the restlessness. English movies were a mixed bag, the one with Russel Crowe and Leonardo Di Caprio was good, though Air India scissors did snip the adult contents! Mohan an American Citizen was the neighborly occupant of the seat next to me. Middle aged mild mannered, well educated and owning several gas stations in various locations in New Jersey. We both got on well, our destination was the same, Hyderabad and he was all excited to be there after a lapse of five years or so. He was not returning to his ancestral home, nor did he plan to meet any relative; he looked cheerful and was looking forward to seek darshan of his Swamiji and listen to his discourses at a camp at the outskirts of the city. He had met and heard the Swamiji a year back in New Jersey and since then he had become his ardent fan. His eloquence on Swamiji’s persona and aura was no lesser than a teenager’s infatuation for Shah Rukh Khan and his movies. Out of curiosity I ventured to ascertain from him the substance of Swamiji’s pearls of wisdom. I had touched a no stop button! For the next half an hour or so Mohan made me wiser on spiritual essence, worldly avarice and pitfalls, human behavior, Karma and obedience and so on. When he paused, I reminded him that most that he had mentioned were in fact were inculcated in us by our parents and teachers during our formative years, for the rest especially the spiritual and religious knowledge, the books and scriptures were available in abundance. Now in the internet era, access to all these was there wherever the connectivity facilities existed and for most it was available in all cities and towns.

Mohan thought for a while and looked at me as if I was a complete oxymoron. With a sigh he explained,  the universe is vast, the world is very complicated, life is uncertain, there are so many things that we do not know, so many complications are there in life and it was Swamiji who had all the answers. My curiosity had increased, could Mohan be more specific and state the new and path breaking pouring filled in him by Swamiji that had made him his disciple. A silence pursued followed by vague inanities. There were so many issues and problems, so many unknown entities beyond human experience and so on; my query remained unanswered. Better sense prevailed and I refrained from mentioning to Mohan that he himself could get all the answers sitting in his home in New Jersey only if he applied his god gifted mind rationally. I went back to watching the movies!

The Yamuna Expressway impressed me tremendously as we sped towards Delhi from Aligarh; every bit of the road is world class. My companion was my brother in law, Nayar a very safe and calm driver. We are good friends ever since  his sister became my wife and he was only eight years old then. I was not surprised when he asked me in whose ‘Taqleed’ (under guidance of a Maulana from Iran) I was. This question was posed to me during Haj and at other gatherings and my reply has remained the same. I was not under any Maulana’s Taqleed and would never be. It is not that I had anything against them but my rationality forbids me. I need no agents or interlocutors to guide me or plead my case with the Almighty. I follow the holy Quran wherein God has instructed me to be one to one with him during my entire life. The Quran is in Arabic, a language unknown to me. For me to read its translation would suffice for no human in his senses would tinker with it in its translation. Moreover I have the choice to read from translations by many translators. For me following that is written in Quran and the Hadees ( the sayings and actions of the holy Prophet (PBUH)) are sufficient to live and prepare for the hereafter. Nayar remained in favor of Taqleed and so be it. I have no quarrels with him and neither can I afford it!

During our childhood we look up to someone to look after us and guide us, mainly parents and teachers. As we reach adolescence and as belief in ourselves develop we look more inwards and gain confidence towards self sustenance. It is perhaps in our middle age, engulfed with many commitments that we seek and search for help and care. We become religious. We pray and we follow and seek guidance of  those adept in rites and rituals and other nuances which we presume give us solace and hope. Some of them do have the honesty to listen and converse but the majority play on our emotions and sensibilities to achieve their own perceived goals. When an Engineer can construct the Yamuna Expressway, he could also spend some time on his own to read his scriptures, digest and introspect to make his life as smooth and beautiful. But then it is the ‘inertia’ that holds us back, the urge on account of many reasons to follow the shortcut, listen and follow blindly rather than read and apply rationally.

Is it possible to remove the ‘Inertia Veil’?