Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is Tendulkar really that controversial God person?

Part II, or the much more impressive "finale," of my two-post Tendulkar series. But unlike Part I, or the also-very-impressive-sounding-but-wildly-inaccurate "overture," I'll get right down to it. No scene-setting. Brisk and businesslike, it will be.

Since the late nineties, allusions to Tendulkar's divinity have been bountiful. The subject matter for today's post is this disturbing tendency several wise people, me included, have noticed in the change in tone of these from the playful to the earnest. Apart from the unsavoury sight of normally sober people calling a sportsman "God" with passionate fervour; apart from the fact that the appeal of sport lies not in some deity performing the inevitable but in fallible men and women, under the scrutiny of millions, defying probabilities and expectations; apart from the fact that these references aren't even being used for purposes that has my approval, such as mocking the aggravatingly religious; what irritates me most is that it demonstrates further how everything human about Tendulkar is being stripped away, how he's being reduced to a symbol.

Besides, aren't we selling him a little short here?

Tendulkar has never struck me as the sort who'd unleash plagues of locusts on the Egyptians or kill first-borns on a genocidal scale because of differences with the local Pharaoh. Nor, given the methodical way he goes about his business, is he likely to moan that everything's just so screwed up, go for a reformat, and then rely on a truly hare-brained species-recovery plan*. No wars in his name, either: the English are unlikely to launch crusades to reclaim Bombay, nor was he the one who allegedly told Bush to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. His name has been used neither as an excuse for terrorism nor for the subjugation of women. Never have his followers shamed a nation by bringing down a centuries-old mosque to make space for a shrine in his name, nor has anyone been burnt to death (along with their little children) just because they tried to convert Tendulkar fans into Lara ones.

The thing is, Tendulkar's no jealous God. He's quite happy for you to be both his fan as well as a Lara one; in fact, many Tendulkar fans do indeed have other cricketers before him, with not a word of complaint from the Little Master. He hasn't, to my knowledge, dissuaded anyone from coveting the neighbour's pretty wife - all he asks is that you move your feet decisively, and that you keep your head still and your elbow high (all of which are grounded not in some obscure code of "moral" behaviour, but in the laws of physics). He has no known problems with condoms or abortions, nor does he demand any particular fashion or dietary restrictions of you - except perhaps "go easy on those biryanis during an innings break" or "spring for an abdomen guard that does not require dozens of adjustments on live TV."

He even adopts and improves on some of the nifty stuff from popular religions. Why show the other cheek, for instance, when you can just offer the full face to begin with? Through his various charities, he's fed a hell of a lot more than 5000. He's been forsaken by his followers, pronounced dead**, and then experienced a glorious rebirth. He's carried the cross of insane, unfair expectations for 21 years with not one reproving word. And he also, with the same perfect grace, subjects himself to interruptions when having a quiet breakfast with a friend, to oblige a stranger who asks him to speak to her cricket-mad friend on the phone (a true story: I was her cricket-mad friend). On one of the rare occasions he's made a political remark, it was to speak out against divisiveness - very un-God-like.

There's much more evidence that he's the anti-God. Every innings of his is a plea to cricket fans everywhere to shirk studies, work and their families, to leave aside all thought of what is right and what ought to be for what is. Also, he'd never draw a giant, no-no-type X on the juicy-half-volley length right outside the off-stump, on pain of banishment from Eden Gardens; for he wouldn't let one go himself without an attempt at an exquisite caress through the covers. The promise of eternal bliss is a poor substitute for life's pleasures - which is why his career has been one that's stretched out the nows and staved off the laters: that mastery over Time is not just for giving himself an age to get into position, but for all who watch, conferring on us all an eternity carved out in the present.

There's a part of me, for instance, still stuck in one particular instant - no more than half a second, in standard time - of 2003***, when a backfoot drive off Akram ensnared me and countless other millions. I already have my heaven, my promised land; what more can any religion offer me? As that particular Tendulkar bubble joins the other thousands he alone has set afloat in the river of time, are we unjustified in asking whether this universe of ours might also not be one such bubble created by a Tendulkar equivalent (a much less perfect specimen than Sachin, of course, given our trouble-ridden world) of another dimension playing a backfoot-drive equivalent off an Akram equivalent? Are we getting a headache? I am.

*How many sysadmins do you know whose data-backup plan in its entirety is "save the first two files of every folder"?

**The link to that "Endulkar" caption of yours (circa 2006 - I hear you've switched to the Almighty bandwagon these days) is awfully hard to find, Times of India.

***At 3:31 of this video.

P.S. - Happy birthday, Sachin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You obviously haven’t done a serious study on the bible, which is evident in this well written article.
Since this is not a venue for a debate i am not even starting to talk on the wrong understanding you have.
But i somehow am not able to leave this page without teaching you a lil something abt jealous God.
God is NOT "jealous of you"..
he is "jealous for you"
I guess your tendulkar is not jealous for you :)
Dude...i don’t know who,may be your church,gave you a very wront representation of God.
Do an impartial study.God will emerge.