Almost anyone who is religious must have discovered that his religion, if it does not impose, recommends a period of abstinence and abnegation. The reasons attributed for such abstinence could be depending on your vocation/temperament/erudition/inveterate belief. Even though there is nothing in the NEW TESTAMENT directly stating that one should FAST or deprive oneself of food and good living at any point of time, CHRISTIANITY has competed with other religions and has prescribed through the Church establishment that the period from ASH WEDNESDAY till EASTER, every year, should be observed as a period of SELF-DENIAL, called THE LENT.
Coming to the NEW TESTAMENT averment made by me, Jesus was once asked by someone as to why, “when the Pharisees fasted often, why his disciples did not fast and observe the “regulations” imposed by the Jewish ecclesiastical regulations?, Jesus answered, ‘When the bridegroom is with them, where is the need for them to fast?” So the inference drawn is that there is no hard and fast rule regarding ABSTINENCE (do not mistake it for ABSTENTION which is what the legislators do to ensure that some bills are passed without having to take the blame for the passage of the bill!). However the same Jesus when asked, why his disciples were not able to drive out the evil spirit which possessed a boy brought to them for healing says, “Except through prayer and fasting it is not possible to drive out such an evil spirit.” So the counter inference is that YOU ARE AT LIBERTY TO FAST OR NOT TO FAST, BUT IF YOU WANT TO DO POWERFUL DEEDS, YOU BETTER FAST!
So stuck between these inference and counter-inference I stand as a Religious Christian, confused at the fork and letting my own interpretation take its course. But my mind has to be placated and subjugated to a line of reasoning which would give me the benefits of the “powerful deeds” yet not “clamp me down with any hard and fast rule”. So i follow ABSTINENCE not as a religious compulsion but as a religious compliance. But repeated compliance can make even oneself believe that THAT HAS TO BE DONE, COME WHAT MAY. But I believe that MIND was given to man, for his welfare just as EVE was given as a helper to ADAM, and not to be led by a MIND which is prone to habits and routine, therefore i make my own concessions to my LENTEN ABSTINENCE. Which i call as LENTEN MISCHIEF!
My idea of LENTEN MISCHIEF does not include binge drinking or for that matter drinking at all, as i am not tempted by drinks- i mean LIQUOR! And before the reader falls into slotting me as a teetotaler, i’d like to state that i have had it and i discovered that i was not REPRESSED enough to need liquor to UNLOCK my mental treasures hidden deeply in my sub-conscious! I discovered that LIQUOR has no effect on me and consequently, i prefer not to force myself to “ACQUIRE” a taste for the obnoxious peaty flavors emanating from those liquids preserved in oaken casks, for decades!
So my LENTEN MISCHIEF includes, but not limited to (ha ha aha!), forays into eating NON-VEGETARIAN food during the LENT. I have some convenient excuses, in that some of my close relatives’ birthdays fall during this period and i am “compelled” into making exceptions to my LENTEN ATTEMPTS!
So yesterday, i was asked by my friend to accompany him to a restaurant where non-vegetarian items, of almost all on flight except kites (not the bird, but the ones which are flown during festivals and windy seasons in India!) and anything on the run – except wheels-, were available on the menu. So he ordered for a slew of non-veg items and i ordered for appam and vegetable stew. I saw my friend have a hearty meal, surprisingly i found myself not tempted at the spread at all. I recalled that statement from Blake, which goes something like this : we control our passions not be cause we are strong, but because our passions are weak.
I came out of the restaurant crest-fallen, now I am not even tempted enough to breach and feel guilty! So i have decided to have the best of the non-vegetarian spread today. If the food has lost its temptation, what sacrifice am i doing? I am sure ……………i’ve found one more reason to break free! LENTEN MISCHIEF!