Nandkumar M Kamat
When the feast of Saint Francis Xavier (SFX) approaches, I wonder whether the radically transformed, urbanised Goa and Goans of today deserve him, his presence and blessings.
In a nutshell what SFX expected from his Asian neo-converts was a simple, god fearing lifestyle anchored in true spirituality in service of the whole mankind. Goa is part of the international drug triangle. People in millions throng here to gamble away their black or hard-earned money. Alcohol is readily available here than milk or clean drinking water. You need to travel deep inside a forest to find a silent spot, free of any kind of garbage. There are more pimps, whores and gigolos than nurses and midwives. Wild animals and even pets have their time and season but now we must shut our eyes and look other way at vulgar displays of human sexual encounters in public spaces.
The culture of narcissism- of digital selfies, worship of self has taken the state by a storm. Goa is now a land of all types of physical, sensual and sexual pleasures. The market in these areas, the merchandise is booming. The altruism of SFX must be contrasted with hedonism of Goans. SFX would have been suffocated in society of today and could have uttered what he said 500 years ago- “the world is poisoned with erroneous theories, and needs to be taught sane doctrines, but it is difficult to straighten what has become crooked”.
SFX once remarked- “I travel, work, suffer my weak health, meet with a thousand difficulties, but all these are nothing, for this world is so small. To me, space is an imperceptible object, as I am accustomed to dwell in eternity”. SFX appeals to all the communities who throng the once prosperous and magnificent town of Old Goa on December 3.
Goa of 2018, on the 466th death anniversary of SFX is a remarkably distinct hedonist society. Hedonism is about satiation of human hormonal outbursts- various types of cravings for various types of sensual and physical pleasures. Consumerism is good for any economy, but hedonism is not. The rising number of HIV seropositive patients and deaths due to AIDS indicate the social costs of hedonism.
Having SFX in Goa has not made Goans better, more god fearing, more honest, more peaceful and freer of greed. In their personal and community life Goans have followed a contradictory path. Most of their functions are very noisy. SFX was a silent missionary. He found HIS voice in silence. Goans have completely drifted from SFX in past 466 years. First, they ravaged their own landscapes. Then they attacked their own water resources. Then they altered their social landscape and built a post modern hybrid of eastern and western lifestyles. We can see their new lifestyle and the accelerated speed of their lives and their lack of patience. Parents can’t wait till their kids grow naturally.
A five-year-old child is sent to a beauty parlour and made to look and behave like a young adult. Hedonism is clearly visible in annual social gatherings and cultural programmes of all educational institutions. It makes you wonder – is this really happening in the land of SFX? What you see around you is an explosion of religious and ritualistic fervour but notice a shocking famine of spirituality.
More places of worship have been built without any promise of social peace and elimination of corruption and crime. Cacophony has replaced culture of symphony. Noise has replaced culture of silence. Being a pioneer missionary in the east, SFX was an embodiment of the finest qualities of the new Jesuit order. Gullible Goans are now falling victims to fraudsters like the much-hyped South African pastor who has carved out a perfect business model of evangelization. SFX was not a preaching missionary. He was a man of action, a humble, down to earth serving missionary.
One can see in his life and work, the spirit of service and sacrifice and total surrender before the holy trinity and divinity. Goa had all the advantages after his remains were shifted here to get sustained spiritual inspiration to energise every generation and spread his spirit. Everyday you hear miraculous stories from people from all walks of life thanking him for small mercies or big favours. The basic, unpolluted goodness of Goans which we see, their sense of what is right and wrong, good and evil, their ability to understand truth and their concern for justice and fair play are traits all rooted in their traditional pilgrimage to Old Goa and the unique sense of communion that all Goans feel when they brush shoulders with each other on busy streets on the day of SFX feast, December 3. But later the spiritual magnetism vanishes as people soon embrace their hedonist lifestyle and forget the burden of pilgrimage.
The crisis of mounting moral garbage is haunting Goa. The full coastal belt is now unrecognisable. Hedonistic compulsions of Goans have neutralised their moral and spiritual convictions. But there are plentiful good Samaritans in this society and certainly their number is rising. Few days ago, in front of me a young woman riding a two-wheeler hit a bus which had halted suddenly. She fell on the ground and sustained injuries. Her screams were heart wrenching. As I frantically called 108, it was taking a long time.
In state of utter helplessness, I looked around as a passive crowd gathered and noticed a good Samaritan stopping his vehicle and prepared to lift and admit the injured young woman to GMC. Nobody knew who he was, but that act left a powerful imprint on my mind. He stopped and worked silently thus making it possible for that young woman to get quick medical attention and relief. I saw the spirit of SFX in his action that day and had mixed feelings.
People were simply taking photographs of the poor woman instead of lending her help. Students just had a glance and went their ways as the victim was screaming on the road. But all these negative impressions were erased by a good Samaritan. Religion after all is all about removing our fear of pain and death. But Goa is so much intoxicated with hedonism today that time has come to take another opinion poll in this state on whether we really deserve SFX?