PK exposes insightfully the shenanigans of godmen and the gullibility of their followers. But in its negative stereotyping of religion. It mixes superstitions with meaningful spiritual practices and reduces God to an irrelevant cipher.
GK for PK! Responds to the issues raised in PK by drawing on logic, humor, scripture, science and common sense. Some of the questions answered are:
• Can we reject as wrong numbers the rituals that don’t make sense?
• Do people who are afraid go to temples?
• Are there two gods: the god who created man and the god whom man created?
• How can worshiping a cow get one a job?
• Does a stone smeared with colored power become God?
• Why are we not born with our religion stamped on us?
• Why does God not respond to our prayers?
Concise and penetrating, these twenty-five ansers illumine universal principles of living and loving that can help you see religion, God and life in a refreshingly new light.
Chaitanya Charan is a monk and spiritual author. He has done his Electronics & Telecommunications Engineering from the Government college of Engineering, Pune. He subsequently served as a software engineer in a prominent multinational software corporation. He also secured 2350 out of 2400 in GRE, gaining the top rank in Maharashtra.
Seeing the prevalent problems of street, depression, addiction and overall misdirection- all caused by a lack of spirituality- he left inspired to dedicate his life to the cause of sharing the spiritual wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita under the aegis of ISKCON.
He is a member of ISKCON’s leading intellectual body, the Shastric Advisory Council, and is the associate-editor of ISKCON’s global magazine, Back to Godhead.
He is the author of the world’s only Gita-daily feature, wherein he writes daily a 300-word inspirational reflection on a verse from the Bhagavad-Gita. Till now he has written over fourteen hundred Gita meditations that are posted on www.gitadaily.com and are read through daily feeds by thousands from all over the world. He also answers questions by seekers on his site www.thespiritualscientist.com, where his over two thousand audio answers and several hundred articles are available.
His articles have been published in many national newspapers including Indian Express, Economics Times and Times of India in the Speaking Tree column. His writings in English have been translated into several foreign languages including German, Chinese and Romanian and several Indian languages including Kannada, Telgu, Bengali, Hindi and Marathi.
He is the author of fourteen books: Energy – Your Sutra for positive Thinking; Science and Spirituality; The Spiritual Scientist series, volumes 1 and 2; Recession- Adversity or Opportunity?; Why do we need a temple?; Frequently Unanswered Question; Idol Worship or ideal Worship?; The Gita for Daily Enrichment; Oh My God! Re-answering the Questions; My Little Bhakti Companion; Timeless Insights on Today’s Issues; 10 Leadership Sutras from Bhagavad-gita and GK for PK.
I felt a sense of deja vu when I watched PK, being reminded of OMG as they shared a similar theme. But as PK progressed, the deja vu gave way to moments of delight thanks to the story-telling expertise of Rajkumar Hirani and the acting brilliance of Aamir Khan. The innocence of an extra-terrestrial PK trying to make sense of earthly customs was disarming and endearing. His confusion, for example, over the same white color worn by mourning widows and beaming brides was hilarious.
However, PK suffered from the same blemish as OMG - and to a greater degree. By dwelling on only one godman, the white-dressed Tapasvi with a black heart, PK portrayed all religious teachers in one color: black. At least, OMG featured one religious guru positively, though that positive depiction was just a springboard for casting him as a cheerleader of Kanjibhai. But PK didn't make any attempt whatsoever to depict any religious teacher positively. As its storyline progressed along the same stereotype of monochrome caricature of religious teachers, I couldn't but feel disappointed.
That there are godmen like Tapasvi is undeniable. That there are naive followers of such godmen is also undeniable. That much of what goes on in the name of religion is more for business' sake than for God's sake is also undeniable.
Yet to depict that there's nothing more to religion than this is to go beyond skepticism about religion to cynicism about humanity itself. After all, religion is a human activity. And to depict a human activity wholly in black is a condemnation of not that activity alone, but of humanity itself. PK exhorts us to challenge the stereotype of all Pakistanis as bad, yet it expects us to swallow a stereotype of all religious teachers as bad.
However, the dark depiction of godmen was not the main cause of my disappointment. I felt sorry for PK - not because he couldn't get Jaggu, but because he couldn't get answers to his questions. PK was such a likeable guy. It was so sad to see him living and preaching the gospel of answerlessness - all numbers are wrong, so just stop dialing.
I knew that disappointment for PK was far from a typical reaction in religious circles. Most religiously inclined people who ask me questions on my website www.thespiritualscientist.com expressed concern about the issues raised by the movie. Some were confused - they felt that the movie's critique of religion was sensible, even irrefutable. Some were angry, deeming the movie "an anti-Hindu conspiracy by a Muslim actor." Though I didn't agree with them and I explain why in this book, I could understand where they were coming from. But much more difficult to understand was the vandalism done by some religious extremists to protest against PK. Their actions reminded me of an insightful observation that one of my online Muslim friends had shared with me: "It's easier for me to communicate with moderates of other traditions than with extremists of my own tradition."
As I contemplated these various reactions to PK, I couldn't but be struck by the contrast between those feelings and my feelings. When I looked deeper within myself, I realized that my disappointment came from a correlation with my own life.
PK's questioning spirit reminded me of myself some twenty years ago when I too was filled with questions. Of course, I still have many questions, and I expect to have them till the end of my life - they keep my life intellectually stimulating. Still, I have been fortunate enough to find answers to many of life's big questions - and I felt disappointed that PK couldn't find any of those answers.
Of course, my questions were not exactly of the same nature as PK's, though the answers eventually pointed in the same general direction that PK was seeking, as depicted in his song, "Bhagawan hai kahan re tu."
Since my childhood, I liked questions. Among the first quotes that I made my own was this gem from Rudyard Kipling: "I keep six honest serving-men, (They taught me all I knew); their names are what and Why and When and How and Where and who." While my friends watched movies, I preferred reading books seeking answers to all kinds of questions from general knowledge to space research to whodunit stories. But soon after I passed my matriculation exam and our family was still celebrating my being felicitated by the Nasik district collector for my performance, my mother suddenly passed away due to leukemia. That shock changed the nature of my questions - they became more existential, and I started reading the works of various philosophers, Indian and Western. Illuminating as these works were, they still didn't give me any clear, coherent answers.
After a search of over half a decade, a search that went along with my academic pursuits as an engineering student, I finally met a Bhagavad-gita teacher who could answer my many questions. He was as far removed from PK's Tapasvi as you can get. Young and unassuming, he was by education an engineer and by profession a manager in a multi-national corporation. Studying and sharing the Gita's wisdom was not his profession - it was his pure passion pursued in addition to his profession.
I still clearly remember our first meeting one evening in 1996. After he finished his hour-long talk at 8.30 pm, I bombarded him with questions. He answered them, one by one, patiently and competently. I was so thrilled by the many answers I was getting that I forgot about dinner - as did my kind teacher. Our QA session went on past midnight till 2.30 am.
To my great surprise and delight, I soon discovered that he was just one among many other similarly erudite Gita teachers. Not that it made him less special, rather, it made them all special. They were part of a youth group that lived and shared the wisdom of the Gita.
More importantly, they connected me with a tradition that went back hundreds if not thousands of years. As I found persuasive answers to many of my questions in my discussions with them, I felt inspired to connect with the source from which they had got so much knowledge. As I read the Gita and various books based on the Gita, and as I found more and more of my questions getting answered, I realized that I had stumbled upon a river of wisdom about whose existence I hadn't had the slightest idea. As I drank deep from that river, month after month, year after year, I felt so enriched that I decided to join that living tradition for studying and sharing its wisdom. In sharp contrast with PK's trajectory - asking questions alienated him from tradition - I found that asking questions brought me closer to the Gita wisdom tra dition, increasing my appreciation for its coherence and relevance.
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