A debate that will continue forever with no conclusive solution is whether or not reason and faith are compatible. Either side has logic in its favor, but nothing is foolproof, and we always look for answers to the nagging questions. At some point in our lives, a situation might arise when we are in a dilemma to take a stand and believe one over the other, just as it happened to me several years ago.
One of the most worshipped gods in the Hindu pantheon, Lord Ganesh or Ganapati is honored as the remover of obstacles and the powerful owner of intellect and wisdom.
As a child, when I really didn’t know what religion meant, I was drawn towards Ganesh after reading a children’s edition of an anthology of mythological stories my father got. The elephant-headed baby Ganesh with a rounded belly and a chubby face looked very endearing and adorable. The bigger version of the deity seated on a mouse with trays of sweetmeats before Him always portrayed the image of a God calm and contented, readily willing to grant His devotees their wishes. As the years passed by, my reverence grew, and it became a part of my existence not only to pour out my thoughts to Ganapati when troubled with worries, but also to share my moments of happiness.
Ganesh apparently rules the Lost and Found Department. Over time, I have heard stories about lost items being found again by devotees after a lamp was lit before Ganesh with faith and sincerity. A friend known for her carelessness in keeping valuables, be it documents or anything else, had so much trust in this immense power that she never cared to improve her habits. She was confident that Lord Ganesh would help her find her lost stuff every time, much to the consternation of the rest of her family members who spelled out in not so very kind words that she needed to work on her lack of organization and not misuse divine power!
I am not fond of jewelry, and except for my wedding band, I rarely wear other rings on my fingers. After a visit to the supermarket one evening, I discovered upon reaching home that my ring was missing. I knew at once that I could not have lost it anywhere else except in the store. Despite knowing that it would most probably be a futile effort, I rushed back to the supermarket. I was clueless where to look for a small ring in a store that almost averaged close to half a mile with all the aisles and walkways! Nevertheless, I went to customer service to let them know about my loss.
The issue was not so much about the value of a gold ring than about the sentimental attachment to a band I had been wearing since my wedding day. So once I returned home, it was my moment to seek refuge in Lord Ganesh, to light a lamp and pray that the ring be found. I visited the supermarket after three days. Not entertaining high hopes, I enquired at the customer service if they had found a lost ring. The lady at the counter asked me to describe it. Once I did, she reached out and handed me back my ring.
A cold chill ran down my spine. I had questions that perplexed me. Was it because of the efficiency of the supermarket staff that I had found my ring, or was it the intervention of Lord Ganesh? Was I rational to think of divine help in such a trivial situation?
I reflected if I was being illogical and utterly stupid. But then, do logic and rationale always write life’s story? Faith and devotion give us the courage to face trials and tribulations, miracles do happen to batter adversities, and prayers and blessings help us sail through the storms we encounter. I tried to grapple for quite some time to decide between reason and faith. I may not have arrived at a wise conclusion, but in the end, belief won, and I happily drove back home with an even further strengthening of my faith in the benevolent Lord Ganesh.