Shadow Boxing With The Gods: The Story of Mankind’s Beliefs

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Author: Vijay N Shankar;
Publisher: Celestial Books, Mumbai;
(Pp: 223; ISBN: 9789381836804; Rs 299)

Despite the fact that the world is attuned to scientific advents and cutting-edge technologies, mankind still depends, more or less, on ideas, beliefs and myths that are thousands of years old. This book is a fair attempt to divulge all these strong popular ideas or beliefs, which fetch both good and bad deeds. Conflicts between religious traditions, holy wars, riots born out of beliefs finally lead the mankind to barbaric acts and inhuman cruelties. It is enquired very precisely in this book that some of the strangest beliefs of mankind has developed on the basis of intellectual freedom, scientific tools and hindsight of more than 5,000 years of human civilization.

Since all beliefs come from the human mind, these mindsets eventually turn out to be something related to men of superior intelligence or even inspired. These facts are referred because mankind throughout the eras of civilizations has fought wars in the name of god. In this context, Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism in the 15th century, taught that naam or recitation of god’s name is something that established a connection to a divine force and the ‘name’ used in this purpose could be of any name of the god.

This book further signifies the fact that belief in God is obviously the man’s strongest and most universal belief. But not all the time beliefs lead towards a positive direction. Many beliefs of mankind have expressed as the lofty aspirations but also the most evil intents. Instances that have been picked up in this book include the religious beliefs of a certain kind causing women to be made into devadasis (temple dancers). And beliefs of another kind caused children to be murdered by their fathers to please the God. Even the beliefs in ancient Egypt ordered dictated men and women to be buried alive along with their dead pharaohs and nobles.

While many beliefs help people to find meaning to the great mysteries of life, they nevertheless carve to be understood in the context of modern environment. Precisely traced in this book are diverse strands of human beliefs in various civilizations, starting with fantasies and myths as well as ideas about life, divinity, nature and community. Enriched existence but the root cause of mayhem and tyranny in blind beliefs eventually leads to fundamentalism and terror. But today, more than ever before, mankind is equipped with science and reasons to understand about individual and collective co-existence.

–Jyaneswar Laishram

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