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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Humour is God's gift - HT inner voice

Humorist Jaspal Bhatti has said that religion is the greatest enemy of humour.
He might have spoken the truth but the problem lies not so much with any religion but with the attitude of self-appointed leaders of different faiths.

Of all living creatures, only human beings are gifted with the capacity to laugh. Humour is a special gift of God. Sense of humour is all about tolerance and the capacity to take oneself lightly. But tolerance for fellow human beings and other living creatures is also the first and foremost quality that any religion should aim at to inculcate among its followers. Then, where is the contradiction?
Well, the problem arises when some people take their religion too seriously and humour too lightly.
Hindu texts have many references when gods and their followers are shown as targets of humour. Vishnu's most ardent devotee, Narada, is the butt of so many humourous tales.
Listen to any preacher and you will find that they make good use of humour to put across their religious or spiritual message.

Can any religious conviction be true if it is threatened by so innocuous a thing as a laugh? In fact, the pure spirit of a religion is strengthened when someone pokes fun at the unnecessary ritualistic practises that come to be associated with religions. Kabir did it when he said, "Kankar pathar jod ke masjid layee banai. Ta chadh mulla bang dey, kya bahar hua khudaye? (By collecting some stones and rubble a mosque was made from which the mullah gives the call to God as if He were deaf).

Nor did he spare the Brahmins. Lampooning them he said, "Pothi padh padh jag mua pandit bhaya na koi, Dhai akshar prem ka padhe so pandit hoi". (The world died reading tomes of scriptures but no one became a pandit. Pandit is that who internalised the two and half letters of the word love).

Those who seek to curb the freedom to laugh should realise that a carefree laughter is one of the most sublime spiritual experiences.

Satish K. Sharma

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