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Religious fundamentalism

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

“We remember the wisdom of Gandhi…that different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden… branches of the same majestic tree.”   President Obama

Introduction – J. Krishnamurti comments: When you call yourself an Indian, Christian, European or anything else, you are being violent. Because you are separating yourself – by belief, by nationality, by tradition – from the rest of mankind. This breeds violence.”

Fundamentalism, one of the main reasons behind violence – No society  is immune from the darkest impulses of men and sometimes it crosses all the limits. Religious fundamentalism has already led the splitting of world into two watertight compartments – Muslims and Non-Muslims. Continuing terror attacks here and there, happening now and then, are the result fundamentalist mindset. Recent Peshawar gruesome and brutal terror Attack on Sainik school children on 16th of Dec. 2014, by Talibans, killing 148 people, including 132 innocent school children and injuring many has shocked the whole world.  

Spread of terrorism – People and the governments of various nations once again resolved to continue war against terrorism till the last terrorist is eliminated. those ‘others’ deserve to be punished.

Shallow understanding of a religion leads to fundamentalism –Stern religious approach conflonts directly with secular values. Usually shallow understanding of a religion and its ideologies leads to fundamentalism. Usually fundamentalism makes people believe that their sufferings derives from ‘others’, therefore   It is a crime that offended humanity. Lakhvi, the brain behind these killings and main architect of 26/11 is reported to be saying, “You are Muslims. You have to get rid of poverty. Look at India. They have raced ahead of us. You have to wage ‘Jihad against India. ( P. 1, TOI,19.12 2014)  

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 gradully 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 enflaming 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 – Any nation can succeed so long as it is not splintered on sectarian lines.  Everyone has right to practice one’s own faith. 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.’

Latasinha's Weblog

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

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 gradully 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…

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December 18, 2014 - Posted by | Social and political values and systems |

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