Daily Prompt · Uncategorized

Is Life Meaningless Without a God?

As an atheist, you often come across believers of various faiths. Believers, who seem to hold the notion that life, without a god, without a deity to watch over you, is meaningless. Indeed, as a regular contributor on Quora, I have often been asked questions on similar lines which ultimately boil down to the following queries:

  • Without a god to watch over you, how do you live a fulfilling life?
  • How do you deal with the complexities of life without God?
  • As an atheist, what do you have to live for?

What do I have to live for?


Well… not actually everything, but certainly quite a lot.

I have a family to live for. I have a few very special friends to live for. In the face of the eventuality of finding a partner in the near future and sharing my life with her, I have a future to live for.

In order to live a happy, fulfilling life, gods are not all that necessary. True, it IS a big deal for a majority of the population. But for some of us, life, without a presiding deity, is far from meaningless. We are not sacks of meat. We are our own masters. We created our past, we create our future. We are not automatons. We are more than that. Much more than that. We are humans. We are the most advanced species on the planet. We certainly ought to give ourselves a little more credit.

Life, without gods, is far from meaningless.

via Daily Prompt: Meaningless


Faith in Humanity, Strengthened…

7 December, 2015

My belief in humanity got a new lease of life today.

The anecdote begins a few weeks prior to this. I have been appearing for some competitive exams for the past few months. Naturally, I’ve been frequently visiting the stationery store to get the print-outs of call letters.

Like any other time, I had taken a copy of a call letter on the USB thumb drive. As luck would have it, it started raining as I was about to get out of the shop, and without bothering to take the USB drive, I sped off towards home.

It was only a couple of weeks later, today, did I realise that the drive was missing. I had searched all the possible places, when I realised where it might be. Without any hope of recovering it, I took the copy of the document I needed, on a spare device, and reached the shop.

Imagine my surprise, when the shopkeeper, seeing me, hurries forward and hands me the very thing I had lost all hope of ever seeing again! He even goes as far as to assure me that he had had it in his pocket ever since day, hoping to return it to me as soon as he finds me. Words weren’t enough to express my gratitude. What’s interesting is that the shopkeeper is Muslim. Why is that relevant?

Just the previous night, I was talking with my mother over the phone. Discussions led to the topic of family, and we recalled that some members of my family are extremely prejudiced against people of other religions and castes. I particularly remember some nasty ones that seem to blame Muslims for converting the kingdom of Gandhar to Kandahar, in present day Afghanistan, or abusing migrants from Bihar for being of lower caste. Some hold the belief that they can never be honest with people who follow a religion other than their own, and will leave no stone unturned to inconvenience others.

Well… here’s an incident that proved it absolutely false.


Divide and Rule

Most, if not all of us, have studied history as one of the subjects during our schooling years. Being Indians, it is obvious that at least one part of the syllabus was dedicated to our Freedom Struggle. That’s where more or less each one of us came across the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’, used by our erstwhile colonial masters to prevent us from uniting against them. Reservation seems to be the newest form of this ages old ploy to keep the masses divided.

The other day, while talking with a friend about this latest fiasco to grip the headlines recently, I realised it and felt it first hand. I had a moment’s hesitation before I said what I was about to say, lest he too belonged to a community that already had, or was demanding for reservation.

This is what reservation has done to us. It has made it difficult to even speak about it freely with people around us, lest we incite trouble or offend them. And what better way to prevent the masses from speaking against injustice, than to make one group the sufferer, while promising uplift another?

There is a new rebel in the news these days, literally a random face in the crowd, who has suddenly become a face of the crowd, going by the name of Hardik Patel. This gentleman is seeking reservation for a community called ‘Patidars’ or ‘Patels’. What is the most ironic and laughable aspect of the cause is that the said community happens to amongst the wealthiest, most accomplished business minded individuals known in India, are the owners of commercial and residential properties worth crores, are significant stakeholders of the diamond business of Surat and property business of Mumbai, and happen to be able section of the Indian diaspora abroad, with almost each and every family in Gujarat having an uncle, a brother or a distant cousin based in the US of A.

I am not a Gujarati by birth. I have lived in multiple places. But I consider Gujarat to be my second home, because I was educated there, was brought up there and mostly because of the immense amount of warm heartedness I felt when I was growing up in the state. That’s why, Mr. Patel, your ‘agitation’ boils my blood, and pisses me off to no end! You are threatening to set fire to the state once again, that for so many years has been known to be one of the most peaceful and developed states in India, and as a citizen of this nation and once a resident of the same state, I must say it disturbs me.

While on one side, where a majority of the community strives to fly away to distant lands and settle down there, this particular youth still feels that it’s not enough. Now he wants even more sops and free meals in a system that has destroyed the lives of deserving people, all in the name of ‘equal opportunities’. I’m sorry but the quota system is anything but equal. A system where a student with 90% marks loses out to another with just 50%, just because the former had the misfortune of being born in the house of general category parents, is anything but equality. It’s the reason why we as a nation will never come out of the ‘developing nation’ tag, even after a hundred years of independence.

This system is the cause of resentment for a large part of our youth population, and may be one of the reasons for the phenomenon called ‘brain drain’. If I don’t get ample opportunities because somebody less deserving than me took it away, simply by the virtue of being born in a supposedly backward class than mine, what stops me from looking elsewhere?

What if tomorrow, another frustrated youth from presently a general category, feeling that the system is unfair, demands for a quota? Soon a day will come when there will be only quotas and no general category left.

Coming back to my original point, the existence of the quota system, and the deep resentment that many of us have towards it is like an exposed nerve, that we all fear to press. As a common man, I can hardly speak about it in public, not knowing whether I am in the presence of a person who belongs to a so called backward class, unsure if I might offend him/ her. This is what the quota system has done us. Afraid to speak, afraid to object, lest we touch a nerve. We have stopped being Indians, and remain only as Hindus, Muslims, Patels, Jats, Brahmins, Kshatriyas and what not! Once again, we are being effectively controlled by the same old policy of ‘Divide and Rule’.

Wake up, free-loaders! In the quest for ‘upliftment’ for your kin, you are dragging the nation backwards…..


Earth, Our Home, May Soon Have a Universal Identifier

There was a time long back when earth as we knew it didn’t exist. It was a steaming, boiling sphere of molten rock.

Then it slowly cooled down. It rained for ages and the water assimilated. Earth was divided into land and water.

Time passed by. Plants formed. Then the animals began crawling about. Cataclysmic level changes happened and the world as we know it today took shape.

Men divided the lands. Nations emerged. Within them, states; cities and villages began to grow. There are now private and public lands. Even the seas are claimed by nations. There are residential and commercial zones. Pieces of land are owned, bought, sold and leased out.

As time progressed, we got divided more and more.

Now, with the advent of the space age, sooner or later we were bound to unite again. Movies like Independence Day, the Marvel Universe or The Transformers series have shown us what could happen if we were to come in contact with alien races at a global level.

And what better way to unite than under a banner, a flag, if you will.


These days, any space expedition’s craft carries a flag of the country from which they originate. With the newly proposed flag of the earth, that could all change. Since they are representing the planet as a whole, doesn’t it make a better sense to carry a flag of the planet itself?

Just think about it! The planned Mars expedition, maybe an expedition to planets and celestial bodies like Europa, or Io, could solely be conducted under the flag of the earth, and not individual nations.

Artist's Rendition of a planned mission to Mars.
Artist’s Rendition of a planned mission to Mars.

According to the official website, the seven white form a flower – a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, is linked. The blue field represents water which is essential for life – also as the oceans cover most of our planet’s surface. The flower’s outer rings form a circle which could be seen as a symbol of Earth as a planet and the blue surface could represent the universe.

According to my own observation, the blue planet is represented on a blue flag, while the seven rings signify the seven continents.

It could not have been more accurate than this.

My only question is, what if some other alien race already has the design and may sue us for copyright infringement in the Universal Court of Law.


Official Website of the International Flag of Planet Earth (http://www.flagofplanetearth.com/)


Food: Diversity In The Dishes

Food. The means of sustenance for the countless species on planet Earth. It’s the source of energy to carry out daily activities. From the minute bacteria to the gigantic blue whale, each and every living creature lives on some or the other food source.

We could go on and on about the food habits of all the different species that exist on the planet. But let’s just focus on the humans for now. Following is a list of all the ‘arians’ I could find. Mind you, the list is not exhaustive and I might have missed out on a few obscure ones. Do feel free to enlighten me. So here goes:


The most basic of them all. Vegetarians abstain from meat and meat products of all kind, be it red and white meat, poultry, seafood and even derived products like gelatine. This lifestyle could stem more often from religious beliefs, but sometimes it’s an adopted choice of lifestyle. Even though eggs are considered as a non- vegetarian food, the same cannot be said for milk, which is consumed by vegetarians and non- vegetarians alike.



Veganism is a more refined form of vegetarianism. While some vegetarians do eat eggs, the diet followed by vegans is stricter. Apart from meat, vegans, also refrain from consuming milk and eggs, even avoiding other products in daily life that use animal matter. The American Vegan Society links the vegan philosophy the Jain tenet of ‘ahimsa’, or peace.


Jain Vegetarianism:

This kind of vegetarianism, is followed chiefly by the followers of Jainism in India, and is known to be one of the most rigorous vegetarian diets. This diet is similar to any other vegetarian diet, but the followers of this diet refrain from consuming onions, garlic, and other such fruits and vegetables which grow below the ground, considering them to be ‘tamasic’, believing them to have a quality of darkness and lethargy. Mushrooms, fungus and yeasts are also forbidden, as they are believed to be parasites, and grow in unhygienic environments.

The foods they have are what in Sanskrit are known as ‘sattvik’, or good and happy.


Non- Vegetarianism:

Non- vegetarians, apart from following the common diet that vegetarians have, also eat the meat and animal products mentioned above. However, there are subtle differences among several faiths. For instance, Hindus (even though some do eat meat), do not consume beef, considering cows to be holy; Muslims don’t consume pork, as pigs are unholy for them. Non- vegetarianism is further classified into several other branches.



It derives its name from the Latin ‘Piscis’, meaning fish. This kind of diet includes the meat of strictly aquatic animals, like fish, lobster, crabs, octopus etc., along with a normal vegetarian diet.


Seafood Diet:

This is an extension of Piscitarianism, and includes any form of food taken from the sea, like fish, lobsters, crabs, octopus etc. Historically, whales an dolphins were also a part of this diet. However, due to the efforts of conservation activites, this practice is limited to only a few small areas. Seafood also includes several seaweeds and microalgae.

It is an important source of proteins, minerals and minerals. Fish oil is also extracted to be marketed as capsules, most commonly, cod liver oil.Image


Eggetarianism or the more scientific Ovo- vegetarianism consists of the diet of the consumption of eggs as the only non- vegetarian component of a diet. ‘Ovo’ comes from the Latin word for ‘egg’.



A fruitarian diet consists of chiefly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. No animal or grain products are involved. It is an extension the vegan diet. In the true sense of fruitarianism, a person will only eat what has completely left contact with the plant or tree, for instance, a fruit fallen on the ground, believing that plucking the fruits amounts to physically hurting the tree. Grains and seeds are also avoided by some, as they are believed to hold the future plants, and consuming them would mean not giving a chance to these seeds to grow into plants.

Based on Genesis 1:29, Adam and Eve strictly followed this diet in the Garden of Eden, and thus it is considered by many to be the ideal way of life, based on simple living and a holistic diet.


Probiotic Diet:

A probiotic diet is one which includes a lot of probiotic foods. It is believed to be good for curing gastric disorders. Probiotics are living organisms which are commonly labelled as ‘good bacteria’, as they are beneficial to humans. The most common of them are the lactobacillus, which helps for curd; and yeast, which is an aid for baking.

This diet consists of ‘cultured’ foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, cheese etc.



The concept of ‘halaal’, or ‘permissible’ in Arabic, is predominantly a Muslim concept. It refers to not just food and drink, but everyday life. Pork is not consumed at all under this diet, as they consider pigs to be ‘haraam’, or ‘forbidden’, and there are rules that govern the consumption of other animal meat.

The slaughter must be performed by a Muslim, who must precede the slaughter by invoking the name of Allah, most commonly by saying ‘Bismillah’ (In the name of Allah) and then three times ‘Allah Hu Akbar’. The animal must be slaughtered with a sharp knife (so the animal does not feel pain, as it quickens the death) by cutting the throat, windpipe and the blood vessels in the neck, causing the animal’s death without cutting the spinal cord. Lastly, the blood from the veins must be drained. This final step is performed because blood can harbour harmful bacteria, and also to ensure that there are no blood clots, thus keeping the entire body safe and clean to be eaten.


Organic Diet:

An organic diet consists of food products that are grown strictly by organic means, i.e. without the use of pesticides or fertilisers. Also, no chemical preservatives, additives etc. should be used.

This kind of food is considered to be safer and healthier than the conventional food, and thus followed by a large number of health conscious individuals. Even with respect to taste, organic food fares far better than the Genetically Modified and processed foods.


Roadkill Cuisine:

Roadkill is any animal or animals that have been killed after being struck by moving vehicles. Roadkill cuisine is the preparation and consumption of these unfortunate animals. It is a practice in several small areas of the USA, Canada, UK and other contries, especially near roads that are close to forested areas.

The most common animals included under this diet are deer, rabbits, bear, moose and several species of birds.

Because it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the time of death, and there are concerns regarding the worms and maggots that might develop over time. The meat is thus well cooked.

Roadkill meat is typically a very cheap source of food, and rich in proteins and vitamins, additionally being free of additives and drug traces. Though quite common and sensible, Roadkill cuisine is often frowned upon and laughed at by opponents, who call it uncouth, unhygienic and unglamorous.


As mentioned earlier, this is not a complete list of diets. The purpose of this post is to make the reader realize that the concept of food may not be as simple as one might think.



Reading: The New (or Reinvented) Bonding Agent

The other day, I was at the Bangalore Comic Con.

What an experience it was! Collectibles from every possible genre and every possible fandom, cosplayers at their very best, celebrity guest appearance and so much more!!  There were fans and enthusiasts, right from 6 years old to 60 years old, all under one roof. From having myself photographed with Daniel Portman, the actor who plays the Squire, Podrick Payne, in the popular television series Game of Thrones, to interacting with other fans young and old, to shelling out a bomb (yeah, a little guilt tripping is warranted) for rare artefacts and collectibles, it was an experience that will be cherished for a lifetime. And I do plan to renew it every year henceforth.

The next incident occurred a couple of days later, when I was talking to my mother over the phone. While discussing about the experience, a thought suddenly hit me. We are the generation which invariably has much in common with the next one.

I personally, am from the Harry Potter generation, more commonly called the Potterheads. We grew up gobbling up the tales about the adventures and misadventures of the boy wizard, Harry Potter. JK Rowling, our queen, also gave us several add on stories like the Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and more recently, the interactive website Pottermore, where the user can live the life of a Hogwarts student virtually.

This brings me to the point at hand. Looking back on the event, I had noticed there were fans of every age and generation. There were kids dressed as Harry Potter, there were young women dressed as Anime characters, there were grown up men dressed as Khal Drogo (from GoT) and the Ghost Rider. On the internet, we read and hear stories everyday, how kids are being named after their parents’ favourite characters, the most popular being Harry, Khaleesi, Arya, and even Hermione. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days I hear a mother calling a young Sherlock to the dinner table. I myself would love to get a pair of big, bulky dogs and name them Sirius and Remus!


As I saw the other day, it is evident that kids barely out of the nursery are taking an active interest in popular, as well as obscure genres of pop culture. Parents old, and more importantly, young, are taking an active interest in inculcating the habit of reading in their progeny. This, I admit, was the norm even before, but this might be the first time in history that parents actually connect with what their children are reading and watching, and vice versa. I regularly suggest my parents new books to read, which they later on thank me profusely for. This trend, I’m positive, is here to stay, even in reverse.

In an age where shorthand SMS ‘lingo’ is the norm, reading novels, or even comics is a trend that we ought to be really pumped up about. It inculcates a habit of reading per se, improves grasp over the language and from personal experience, widens the horizons of the mind, and provides an escape hatch from a reality that may sometimes be mundane or even traumatic.

To end it before the topic itself gets too lengthy or mundane, here’s a quote I found quite apt for the point I’ve been trying to convey:

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.

–Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Image Source: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk