I am a Jain by birth, but that doesn’t mean much other than dictating my food choices (no onion, no garlic). And I wasn’t even doing that until I got married – I decided it was much easier to order the same food with Bhavana rather than two different dishes! I do go to temples as needed, but it is not a part of daily life. Which brings me to the key question: do I believe in God? And the answer is, Yes. I don’t have to go to a temple to pray to God; I can do that anytime.
For me, God is a force beyond. It is perhaps an alter-ego, a voice within which ensures I stay on the right track. It is an entity that I can turn to when all else fails. Like I did later in 1995 when I had some significant challenges with IndiaWorld. It was perhaps the first time I went to a temple and asked God for help – to prevent yet another devastating failure in my life. The suggestion had come from Bhavana as I sat numb at home – unable to see a way out of the situation I had found myself in. And – call it God, call it luck, whatever – things turned for the better in a way that I could not have foreseen.
My relationship with God has been a selfish one. I invoke his intervention when things are not going well. In recent times, I also say a silent Thanks when things go well. It’s a more conversational relationship. It’s perhaps me talking to myself and attributing the inexplicable to a divine intervention.
Each of us has our own way to manage extreme situations. In my case, to ensure I stay on level ground in both extrema, I either ask God for help or say Thanks. I think of God as a friend, an ally I can talk to 24×7. I know it sounds weird but I think we all need such a friend. One who speaks to us from within (conscience?), one who keeps us straight, one who we fear when treading down a path we should not. God and religion should be an intensely personal thing for everyone. Most of the world’s problems start when they transcend the self.
I am not a believer in previous birth or future births, even though that is one of the tenets of Jainism. I believe that we have one life, and we must do the best we can while we are alive and while we have the strength and health. For me, entrepreneurship now and philanthropy later are my two ways. And having made these decisions, whether it is luck or God, I know there is a force outside of me that will help in my journey.