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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Conversions and Hinduism

 

Some religions like Islam or Chrstianity consider their religions to be very special, therefore preach/lure/force people belonging to other faiths to convert into their respective faiths. But Hinduism never believed in conversions, thus imposing on others its value systems and worship its God only.

Hinduism has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its own established faith and culture off its roots. Caste system has acted as a shield. It was a major force for the failure of Islam, Christianity and other religions to make headway in India even after mass conversion, even at the time when they ruled India.

All incoming groups into Hinduism on their own terms and legitimized their beliefs, behavior patterns and life styles with freedom to evolve and change according to their internal rhythm.

In the past thousands of years, Hinduism welcomed and co-opted them into itself at appropriate time. It has included smoothly numerous religious and social groups at different points of time, without annihilating their originality or its own internal order. Caste system provided a unique mechanism to do so. It assigned to each new group a separate caste identity allowing freedom to worship its own god or goddess, maintain its own rules/regulations/rituals, way of life and authority to control conduct of its members, and still made it an integral part of the social whole.

Hinduism has inspired to accommodate people of all faiths. It has preached people to have faith in an all pervading omnipresent god, multiplicity of god and goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being. It concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false. That is why there are so many castes and along with them so many god and goddesses in India. Hinduism never tried to destroy other faiths or sects. India provided enough space for all faiths to co-exist on the basis of mutual respect.
Within its fold all persons having different faiths are accommodated, ranging from atheists to monotheists and polytheists. That is why, all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without much hindrance. It allowed all religions to preserve their distinct identities, which came down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations.
 
 
 

 

 

September 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 4 Comments

Religious fundamentalism

     “Science without Religion is lame. Religion without science is blind”.

“I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world. .. They were at the bottom all one and were all helpful to one another.” Gandhi M. K.

“Religions differ in their external forms, but they are all alikein their fundamental principles. And it is just these fundamental principlesof all religions which constitute the true religion which alone today is natural to all men, and the acceptance of which can alone savemen from their calamities.     ‘ Tolstoy

 “There is no religion that is founded on intolerance – and no religion that does not value the sanctity of human life.”  Mohamed El Baradei

Shallow understanding of a religion leads to fundamentalism – All religions advocate human brotherhood and the unity of all creation. It has no geographic limits. Religion encompasses one’s relation with the whole universe, of which man constitute only a part. love and compassion is the channel through which humanness, trust and peace pave the way for world brotherhood and unity. All religions preach that do not be angry without cause, do not commit adultery, do not resist evil by violence or be good to them who hates you.

Stern religious approach confronts directly with secular values. Usually shallow understanding of a religion and its ideologies leads to fundamentalism.

Religion and politics – In politics, religious fundamentalism leads to appeasement. Basic/core issues are swept off. Politics on religion arouse emotions and sentiments of people. And then, in the name of religion, many people can go up-to any extent.  

Rise of scientific temper after Renaissance  – Religion played a crucial role at individual, social and political level during ancient and medieval societies. At that time, religion justified inequality and discrimination prevalent in political and social arena. During 14th-15th centuries, known as period of Renaissance, the spread of education and awareness rose scientific temper and wider broadened people’s vision.  With awareness and rational thinking, blind faith in religion gradually declined. Its influence in political and social areas, especially over state authorities and social etiquettes lessened. And now in modern societies, discriminatory or unequal treatment in social, political, economic life of people belonging to different race, religion or caste is now being regarded as inhuman and scientifically wrong.

More dependence on religion because of complexities of modern life – However, in the individual life, people’s dependence on religion is increasing day by day. The cult of nucleus families due to near absence of family support has made modern life stressful. Family support systems of traditional societies, which were earlier giving solid moral and physical support to people, had almost vanished. Workload on each family has increased tremendously. Sectarian and regional imbalances are adding fuel into fire, increasing social and psychological tensions. In such an atmosphere, dependence on religion gives them some solace.

Too much dependence on religion may lead to fundamentalism – Sometimes, too much dependence on religion for getting moral support and inner strength to face complexities of modern life pushes persons towards religious fundamentalism. Situation becomes worse, when religious ideologies get political support. Many political institutions almost in all the nations are inciting religious feelings of masses. They indirectly support communal activities of such sectional forces and pressures groups, which are more vocal and aggressive in attitude.

Religion above everything else for a Fundamentalist – Fundamentalist attitude places one’s own religion above everything else, even above the nation. Priests/leaders usually exercise control over the behavior of masses. It is easier for religious gurus to mobilize their followers more successfully than others and force them to observe different kind of inflexible rules, rituals, terms and conditions without raising a voice. Counter argument/opposition is just not tolerated. They justify on the basis of religious ideologies all rational or irrational behaviour/activities of their followers. The strength of religious gurus comes from populism.

Spirit of tolerance in India -Spirit of tolerance and firm belief in the principle, ‘Live and let live’ has always been the part of ethos in India. Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion. Hindu faith believes in an all pervading infinite-omnipresent Supreme Being. Multiplicity of god and goddesses is there as each one represents some portion of that infinite Supreme Being. It inspires people to accommodate people of all faiths.

Hinduism concedes validity to all the religions Hindu religion concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false. does not believe in conversion, imposing its God-Goddesses, religious scriptures, beliefs, practices or rituals on others. People are basically tolerant and accommodate people of all faiths. Hinduism teaches them to give all the faiths due regards and opportunity to develop within their own parameters. It neither believes in repulsing any trend vehemently nor allows others to sweep its own established culture off its roots. That is why, all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without much hindrance.

Scenario in India, as far as religion is concerned – Following faiths co-exists within the land of India –

  •  Faiths originated in India like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
  •  People, who migrated to India due to persecution or oppression in their homeland, like Jews, Bahais, Zoroastrians, or Tibetans.
  •  Converted to alien religion like Christianity and Islam, the religion of the conquerors.

Long history of living together in India – People of different religions have been living side by side ever since Seventh century, when Muslims came and settled down here. In national movement, all communities participated and fought against Imperial rule together. There is mutual understanding amongst people. Muslims allover India and Christians in southern India lead a social life hardly distinguishable from that of Hindus. While preserving their social identity in local community, there is a lot of give-and- take between people of all communities. They are bonded by language, culture and commerce. Most of the times, there is communal harmony. Communal harmony can be clearly seen in celebration of major festivals of various religions and in important local festivities. Dr Radhakrishnan says, ‘Secularism here ….. proclaims that it lays stress on the universality of spiritual values, which may be attained by variety of ways’.

Electoral politics inflaming communal intolerance – However, recently the country is witnessing increasingly a divide between majority and minority communities and recurrence of communal violence from time to time. Mostly communal disturbances that occur in India are not based on inveterate hatred or feeling of enmity amongst masses. It happens because politicians and their parties enflame communal feelings of the masses in order to serve their own vested interests of and retain power in their hands until it is possible.

Divide and rule – A handful of Individuals and groups, with political, money or muscle power desire to control destiny of millions and have a say in almost every walk of national life. In order to have hold on power, they follow the dictum of ‘divide and rule’. It is easier for them to divide people along caste and communal lines rather than to solve people’s problems and earn their respect. Attempts of authorities to serve sectional interests have made a virtue of narrow loyalties of caste and religion. It has generated sub-cultures like favoritism, chase for materialism based on ruthless competition, nepotism, violence, corruption and in-discipline in the society.

Rejection of knowledge and greed for power at the base of fundamentalism – If religious fundamentalism or caste differences are allowed to be used in politics and authorities do not give priority to take care of real issues, It would adversely effect the progress of nation and would lead the nation towards crimes, violence and bloodshed. At present, on one hand some communities are really backwards in matter of modern callings, as their religious fundamentalism tends them to reject modern education. Rejection of any form of knowledge based on science and reason leads to loss of scientific temper, ignorance and inability to fight for their human rights. On the other hand, greed of many politicians has already drained out much of nation’s wealth to foreign land and left millions of people bleeding from poverty.

Conclusion

Rekindle spirit of tolerance – How to bring back communal harmony and the spirit of tolerance once again- is the most important task for the government of the day. Even today, advices of two emperors in Indian history – Asoka and Akbar in this matter is relevant in daily life as well as in governance. Asoka in his rock edict proclaimed: ‘One who reverences one’s own religion and disparages that of another… does injury to one’s own religion. Centuries later, Akbar affirmed: “The various religious communities are divine treasures entrusted to us by God. We must love them as such. It should be our firm faith that every religion is blessed by Him.’

September 23, 2008 Posted by | General | , | 3 Comments

   

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