Monday, September 26, 2011

Faceless Space

In describing his bhakti, Sant Sevanand gave a list of things that cannot separate him from the love of God, however his list is not exhaustive. We can add more things to his list according to the needs and demands of our time. If I were to add anything that is relevant for our time, I would include ‘neither mobile phone, nor internet or T.V.’ will separate me from the love of God.

These modern gadgets are necessary evils and we cannot avoid their role and service in our lives, but anything that serves our need should remain only as our servant and should never become our master. Of course, even if we do allow them to separate us from the love of God, as the merciful one, She will forgive us and wait patiently us to return to Her.

These modern gadgets can also separate us from one another. We have gone wrong by allowing these devices to control us and to separate us from one another in relationship—within the home and outside of the home.

After the modern word ‘tension’ came into our vocabulary (which we never heard as young people back in the 1960s and 1970s) came the word ‘SPACE’. We all demand our own space in order to have a personal and private life. The reality, however, is that being a social animal, we cannot have a private life. Giving such ‘space’ to individuals will help us to have smoother and better cooperation in our corporate lives, but the cost that we pay for that space is very high. The demand for ‘space’ has been met with acceptance by big companies, which have created separate ‘cabins’ for every individual in the office. Where we went wrong was bringing the same ‘cabin’ back to our home—if not physically at least mentally.

The individuals in many homes, once they return from the outside world, sit before their own cabin—the children before the computer, the father before the TV watching Cricket, and the mother in the kitchen. After dinner they exchange their cabins—now the mother before a ‘mega’ serial, the children with their mobile or homework, and the father with the computer. The worst scene is a (newly married) couple without children and living separate from their elders; these individuals can combine many of these cabins at one time. While browsing the Internet, they will watch T.V. (some match) and meanwhile will talk with others by wearing an earphone connected to the mobile (and also giving commentary about the match). I came to know that one can now watch matches on one side of the computer screen and in another half one can work; this will further aggravate the problem as they need not interfere in the ‘space’ of others who watch TV. Women can watch their mega serials or children their cartoon and elders can happily live in their ‘computer cum TV cabin’. All these are done in the name of giving and respecting other’s ‘space’.

But this space, instead of helping us live a better life, creates mental walls that separate us from each other. Gone are the days where life is lived together. Soon a day will come when the mother will give a call to the children to come for the dinner and the children will send an SMS or email to their father to join—all under one roof. The typewriter replaced the art of letter writing by hand, which carried along with it a human touch. Now email has completely wiped out the art of letter writing. Human touch—physical touch with flesh and blood—is so vital to have a healthy mental life. This modern trend of giving ‘space’ is depriving many of that legitimate need. Babies lose much needed physical contact with their parents, particularly that of the mother. Even couples need external stimulants and visuals aids to have romance. We need not talk about elders—who have no space in many people’s lives.

We fail to realize that by giving such ‘space’ we lose our ‘face’ as human beings (as a father, mother, husband, wife, child, parent and friend). We need to celebrate our relationship with each other both at home and outside.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, May 28, 2011

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