How can faith be explained? We glibly talk of faith just like we talk of love – mere words; shallow and meaningless till we experience for ourselves the power which they signify. As a teen, people often talked to me about faith but I never could comprehend what faith was. I had no personal experience of the phenomenon and perhaps neither did those people who tried to explain the same to me. Without experience the explanations remained a void. Perhaps faith is a lot like love; something to be experienced, but difficult to explain.
Hailing from a scientific background, faith to me seemed like a myth. My hot teenage rebellious blood perhaps also contributed to my disdain for all teachings on the above lines by my parents and elders. Such talk to me was futile, something which lacked credible and verifiable proof. But my life changed when I experienced the power of faith. This is why I am compelled to tell my story.
After passing my 12th board exams, I appeared for the competitive examination for entrance to the engineering institutes in Punjab. Based in Faridabad, I had given Delhi, Chandigarh and Ludhiana as my choice centers for the examination. As I had applied on time I was certain that I would get my first choice but was rather surprised when I got Ludhiana instead.
Nothing could be done about the venue and I started preparing for the travel. My father was in Hyderabad for some work and my maternal uncle offered to accompany me. He suggested a visit to Amritsar on the return journey to pay obeisance at ‘Harmandir Sahib’, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, also called ‘The Golden Temple’. I immediately agreed. I felt this could be an opportunity for me to come to some conclusion about my skepticism on the question of faith. I did not want to linger in the middle anymore!
We reached Ludhiana a day before the examination and put up with some family friends. The next day, after I was through with my exam we started on our journey towards the Holy City of Amritsar.
In the two hour train journey from Ludhiana to Amritsar, my mind went through a multitude of emotions- anxiety, curiosity, excitement, doubt… My head was filled with questions and a welter of conflicting emotions erupted within me, a sort of defiant rebellion waiting to be released. It felt like a volcano was simmering inside me, ready to explode. When we arrived at Harmandir Sahib, I gazed at the temple with ignorance and conceit. The thought continually running through me was, ‘how can an inanimate object be a symbol of faith’? Perhaps I was destined to be a non-believer, placed firmly in the camp of the skeptics.
And then as I stood there, defiant and proud, staring at the structure… it happened. From right under my feet, I lost all my arguments and my indecisiveness. I surrendered to ‘Faith’.
In that instant, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the ‘Holy Shrine’. It was shining as if in a divine and eternal light. It emanated a calm energy which unarmed my defiance and cooled the magma within me. I felt a serenity that I had never experienced before.
I wondered what was happening to me. I was confused but at peace. My hot blooded rebellion and defiance had been replaced by calmness and a new understanding. The beauty of what I felt rendered me speechless and I could not hold back the stinging tears flowing through my eyes. Time stopped and I wanted to stay there for eternity.
I discovered the purity and power of faith. I no longer thought of it as a hypothetical proposition, used by weak people to justify their actions. From that day onwards, it became for me a way of live. I now believe that faith probably is the only thing that can preserve the sanity of an individual and thus the culture, tradition and respect of the nation.
Though the incident happened in 1994 I still cherish the day when in my mind, logic and scientific principles came into conflict with faith and faith won. There are some things which cannot be understood, whose explanation only lies in the realm of faith. Had I not had that experience early in life I may not have been the person that I am today. Calmer and stronger, it is my faith that has made me whole and gets me through the trials and tribulations of life.