What does the phrase “God-fearing” really mean? I have heard these in a number of different contexts – in the devoted religious sense of the word, in the parents telling children how to behave situations and how I can miss, the ubiquitous Indian matrimonial advertisements that typically starts with something like “We prefer proposals from God fearing professionals of good families…”
The reason for this sudden philosophical reflection is once again my little one, Smera. During our recent trip to
to see her G.Pa and
G.Ma, she developed a particular fondness to the Barbie-doll-sized idol of
Ganeshji (one of Hindu deities) that was sat in our living room. She would at first touch his nose and
playfully hold his hand. Later, when she musters enough courage, she would put
her arms around and lift him up and go for a stroll. Delhi
Being the dutiful grandma, fearing that Smera would break the idol, and risk the God’s wrath, my mother tactfully took possession of the deity and placed it in our more secure puja-room (prayer-room). This of course was followed by a fitting grandmotherly advice on respect for all religions and fear of God. We left it at that and moved on with our lives.
A few days later, Smera got her first chance to get in to the puja-room when she tagged along with her Grandma for her early morning prayers. I am sure she must have found the setting of the room itself amusing – walls plastered with murals of deities, lingering aroma of the incense and soft lighting from the flickering diyas (oil-lamps).
Then she spotted the idol of Ganeshji who was earlier moved to safer grounds. And in no time, her face lit up in excitement as if she had bumped into a long lost friend. Leaping from her Grandma’s lap and cutting through the consonance of the prayer hymns she said “Hi!” She then continued with her mono-syllabic conversation with the God throughout the duration of the prayer.
God-fearing? I don’t think so. But something tells me (or should I say my little one taught me) befriending someone is better than being fearful, be it mere mortals or the God. Don’t you think?