Wednesday, October 10, 2007

By God!!

(Today while having lunch Anil, one of my colleagues, mentioned about the idea of God’s as Brands. This seemed to be an interesting idea to write on, so here I am. All credits to Anil for this very interesting idea, but all brickbats on its implementation are strictly mine.)
Ever since childhood we have been exposed to God and their tales by our elders. We have been told how to pray and why it is necessary. This has been ingratiated to such an extent into the fabric of our psyche that when in difficulty, inadvertently we end up remembering god.
They say knowledge is for good as it prompts questions. Sometimes these questions become difficult to answer and hence lead to frustrations. And that is exactly what happens when I take my poker face to my parents and compare gods to brands. But nosey that I am, and patient that my folks have become, I decided to write on it and clarify myself to a larger audience.
I feel gods are the best examples of brands. So before I go further, let me define brands for the uninitiated.
As per Wikipedia, a brand includes a name, logo, slogan, and/or design scheme associated with a product or service . Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the use of the product or service and through the influence of reinforcements like advertising, design, and media commentary. A brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to the product and serves to create associations and expectations around it.
Having said that let us now look at gods of any religion. There is a story associated with each of them, along with a set of values and features. There is extensive positive reinforcement through religious music, paintings and idols, and of course commentary in terms of mythological and new age texts / translations.
These reinforcements play a critical role in building up the overall persona. There is celebration of every small reason; more and more disciples are trained, along with having ever increasing places of worship. This is where brands and Gods merge together.
In the case gods, just like as in a brand, the concept of its absence makes one insecure. And it feeds on this insecurity.
I am not against the idea of God and do not lay much belief/credibility on just the Big Bang theory to be the reason for the existence of the solar system. There must have been some force or reason which made all this happen. Beyond the realms of science, there are some things which cannot be explained. And in such realms is where god exists. And in this single source of all creation I believe in.
If god is the solitary creator, then how do we explain the ranging multiplicity of gods across various religions? There are gods for every moment, reason, cause and what not. And this is what makes me believe, they are nothing but brands; actually the best brands of all times.
If you look more recently there has been a surge in the count of god men and reincarnations. I feel all these are feeding on a basic human trait. In reality there is nothing right or wrong. What may be right for me may be wrong for someone else. But there are some certainties like respecting your elders, treating all humans with respect etc. In our daily lives there are chances that we might miss them, and hence when a good orator says them, he is automatically placed on a higher pedestal. And if the reinforcements are proper, soon the orator becomes a Guru.
I have seen many new age gurus are qualified and educated and use the best of electronic, print and online media to promote their ideologies, all in the name of God. They build up big followings which in turn donate more money to this multimedia machinery. Their birthdays, and sometimes even their parents’ birthdays and anniversary’s are made as festivals and promoted. This builds up a myth around these people.
All such new age gurus, propagating anything from yoga to sex, have in themselves become brand franchise’s as they enjoy a critical mass of positive sentiment in the market place. I sometimes wonder if we are seeing the emergence of future Gods in these gurus.
After reading all this some may feel I have gone insane while others might blame pop culture. Whatever be it, I stay a firm believer in the oneness of god and his role as the creator. Instead of listening to the right certainties from others it’s always better to listen to our own souls. Whatever we go out to listen and imbibe is already inside us, it’s for us to explore and utilize.