Op-Ed: Faith is the antithesis of rationalism

When something happens twice, it is coincidence. But when it happens, without fail, every single time on a dozen or so different occasions, there has to be something more than coincidence to explain it away.

A few years ago, I returned from a party late at night and went straight to bed. On waking up the next morning, I could not find my mobile phone. A frantic search of all probable – and several highly improbable – places at home yielded no result. I called up my number from my wife’s phone, but to no avail; the phone was switched off. I then called up the man, who had hosted the party the previous night, but that didn’t yield any result either. I reconciled myself to the loss of my mobile and decided to buy a new one, still wondering where the hell the phone could have vanished.

After an hour or so, my wife called from office on the land phone. She sounded pretty excited, “Kanti Apa says you will soon get your lost mobile.” Perplexed, I asked “How?” Pat came the reply; “She asked me to pledge a few rupees to Peer Baba and assured me you will get it soon.” “Are you crazy?” I admonished her, adding “And who the hell is this Peer Baba?” “There is a small shrine dedicated to Peer Baba just before the toll gate on the way to Cuttack. Frankly, even I don’t believe you will get the mobile back. But since she was insistent, I did pledge Rs. 20 to Peer Baba.” I didn’t know how to respond. The rationalist in me told me it was one of those cock and bull stories that keep doing the rounds among the believers.

But lo and behold! I traced my mobile barely five minutes after talking to my wife – tucked neatly inside a pillow cover of all places!! The phone was switched off since the battery had run out of power. My wife could hardly believe it when I conveyed the good news to her. Sure enough, we dropped the Rs. 20 we had pledged in the ‘hundi’ of the shrine on our next visit to Cuttack.

Thereafter, it became my wife’s standard operating procedure (SOP) every time something went missing at home. She would pledge a certain amount and sure enough, the article would be found in next to no time. My ‘rational’ mind would refuse to accept any divine intervention. But the fact that it brought the desired result every time left me wondering if there indeed could be some truth in this ‘blind faith’. I haven’t kept count the number of times it has happened, but the number must be close to – or, maybe even more than – a dozen. And not once did it fail!

Soon, my close relatives too got to know about this Peer Baba. Once, my Cuttack based uncle and aunt, on returning from a trip to Mumbai to see their daughter, found to their horror the key to the almirah missing. They called up their daughter, who told them it was not there either. My uncle called a man to break open the almirah lock when my aunt called up my wife to inform her about the loss of the keys. My wife, whose faith in Peer Baba was unshakeable by now, requested her to do what Kanti Apa had told her to do in a similar situation a couple of years ago. I couldn’t believe my ears when my aunt called up a few minutes later to inform that she had found the keys! The lock-breaker, who had arrived by then, was sent back without having to do anything!!

As a token of gratitude for all that Peer Baba had done for us, my wife pledged a ‘chadar’ the next time. I went to the mosque in Unit IV but found that none of the shops there sold the ‘chadars’ that are offered at mazaars. I was advised to go to the Unit I market instead. Since my busy schedule didn’t allow me to scour the ‘haat’ for the ‘chadar’, my wife took the pain to find out the shop that sold such ‘chadars’ while doing her Puja shopping at the Unit II Market Building on the other side of the road. The ‘chadar’ was duly offered to Peer Baba on Vijaya Dashami day on Friday. Unlike our previous visits, the shrine was open this time.

I must confess I am still unable to make up my mind about what to make of this. The rationalist in me tells me it’s all hoax. May be the occasion is just round the corner when this ‘tried and tested’ formula would fail for a change. But the believer in me tells me that may be there is something to it that cannot be explained away by reason.

Faith, after all, is the very anti-thesis of rationalism!

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)