If you are online, log on to god. God lives in cyber cafes and he downloads real fast. Chat with god, pray to god and like Radha, if you want, date god, too!
It is all just a click away whether you are in India or abroad.
Religiosity has acquired a new electronic connotation these days and the youth are clearly tuned in.
There are many ways to reach god on the Internet. Temples, too, are willing to facilitate live darshans and aartis. Here are a few tips to get up close and personal with God online.
The text message, a dominant method of communication, has become a valuable religious tool. BPL Mobile lets customers SMS prayers to a temple in Mumbai where they are offered to Lord Ganesh.
Shree Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai has tied up with a mobile content provider for a service where people can send their prayers via SMS in the same wonderful mobile language where "great" is written "gr8". The SMS prayers are compiled and kept in a "wish box" inside the temple.
This is perhaps the first time in the country that technology has been used to make worship convenient. This sort of SMS prayer is convenient for those who are so devout that they have only god on their minds but just do not seem to be able to make it to the temple.
Companies such as LG Electronics make phones that aid Muslims by indicating the direction of Mecca, providing the call to prayer or even incorporating the Quran within the phone.
e-darshan [Visit Us @ wwww.MumbaiHangOut.Org] Feeling guilty about not being able to visit a temple, mosque, church or gurdwara often enough is pass€ ¢Ã’£Â©. Don't. Try an e-temple instead. With a plethora of websites, god is now just a click away.
Paid sites offering to do pujas on behalf of the Indian expat community (mostly) have been there for a while now. Some popular temples (read sites) are: www.siddhivinayak.org , www.e-darshanas.com , www.balaji.net , www.tirupati.org , www.merimaiya.com , www.eprarthana.com , www.saranam.com , www.eprayer.com , and www. unityonline.com .
Muslims can read translations of the Quran on www.islamonline.net .
Jesus can be found on www. churchesinindia.com .
Through www.sgpc.net , people can listen to the Guru Granth Sahib through live radio, offer prayers or make online donations.
Buddhist Pitakas can be read on www.buddhanet.net , which also teaches meditation and gives information on retreat centres.
An all-faith meeting is on at www.beliefnet.com
which gives people of all religions comfort, hope, clarity, strength and happiness. It provides inspiring devotional tools, access to spiritual teachers in the world (though not beyond it).
It also has a prayer circle where, if you feel you need someone to pray for you or your family, you can post your requests and people from across the world will be able to help carry your burden. Application developers obviously knew these reasons existed.
Then, there's Lawerence, a 46-year-old from UK (who is also learning the sitar in Varanasi) who has developed the application called Jesus. "Jesus told us to preach the truth. With this application, I feel I am a Facebook messenger," he says.
"Internet has made it easy to study religions, look at authentic texts, and thus help dialogue. I found that the Mahabharat shares stories with the Quran, such as the incident about the floor in the palace of illusions, which is similar to the incident of Queen Sheba when she came to Solomon's palace. The more texts are read, the more their relevance," feels Shafeeq.
The good thing about eprayers is that they can always be offered. In www.chantsvedic.com , for instance, the free online section allows you to pray for whoever you want to.
Enter the mantra section and you can not only enjoy the sound of mantras, you can also chant. The yantra section has symbols that you can concentrate on and let the cosmic energy do its bit.
Chat with god
Feeling bored. Why not chat with god? Give him your list of requests and he replies.
Isn't that intresting? There are a couple of sites such as www.titane.ca/igod , which are interesting.
On one, you can choose a skin for your chat window. Afterwards, an angel will connect you to god. So if ever you happen to be bored at home or in the office, why not have a small conversation with the supreme power? It might really solve that seat-in-the-corner situation in office.
The site also says igod is meant to be used for fun. A sense of humour is recommended.
Have you read the Bhagvad Gita? A common answer to this question is "No, I want to, but don't have the time to read such a long discourse?" However, if you have the will, you will find the way.
Puja working with an MNC in Delhi, has uploaded the verses of the Gita because her job leaves little time or energy for her to read the holy book. Now, she browses through it on a social networking site, thus keeping in touch with friends and god at the same time.
"Even as I am networking with my friends online, I can read a verse from the Gita, which I otherwise am not able to. As the verse appears on my profile page, anybody visiting my profile can also read it. That way, I pocket a share of their reward from god. Facebooking, thus, can also become an act of worship," she says.
The reasons for adding the applications are as varied as the people who add them.
"Spirituality is a basic human need. Just as social-networking sites fulfill the human need to socialise, religious applications satisfy another kind of need. The Internet offers an easy, relatively inexpensive way for people to explore religious options,"
"These days, people frequently go online from their homes. That's a comfortable place and can make people feel more at ease in trying to get answers to religious questions (though many philosophers are yet to find the answers),"
One can perform virtual puja, ring the bell, offer garland and flowers to the deity.
You can also choose a poojari, a temple and the prasadam will also be sent to you at the click of a mouse. All you need to do is shell out some money! (Even faith has a price.)
Does spiritual networking imply that faith can be practised anytime, anywhere?
Not quite. That ability belongs to the mobile phone. The pious services offered by service providers have opened new horizons.
The affinity for religious music downloads is growing rapidly in India. The reasons for popularity are obvious in a country as spiritual as ours.
People can offer poojas through mobile phone, watch live aartis from Siddhivinayak Temple and download their favourite bhajans. Music downloads are most popular among various value-added services available.
"Hanuman Chalisa has always been among the top downloads followed by Gayatri Mantra and bhajans," Mobile manufacturers are tapping into the electronic spirituality market. Samsung's Guru series phones and Motorola's Yuva series handsets come with wallpapers of Hindu mythological heroes and also play a hymn.
Electronic worship is plugged into reality. Last Christmas, for instance, Reliance subscribers could enlist themselves for lighting a candle at Tamil Nadu's famous Velankanni Church. A candle would then actually be lit in the church on the user's behalf.
However, caller tunes, ring tones and religious boxes on profile pages are not always spirituality per se. Quite often, they are used only for symbolic effect. If you are a Hindu, for instance, you would want to wear Hinduism on your sleeve, just as you would flaunt other aspects that define you, like age, occupation or ethnicity.
Can technology replace real-life worship? "There's nothing like going to the temple, ringing the bell and relishing the prasad. Technology cannot bring such joy.
The easy-to-use formula has kept up the flow of visitors. You can offer prayers for many occasions. You may want to pray for your cricket team, or do a community prayer for the navratras. What's more, you can customise the prayer room.
How about burning a Ravana on the Internet during Dussherra? Technology will ensure this and much more.
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