IS RELIGION INFLUENCING US OR VICE-VERSA?

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    What religion intends to mean and how it is perceived?

    Religion is perceived differently by different people. For some it is the key to divinity, for some it is faith, for some it might be visiting places of worship, for some it might be finding the beauty of cosmos everywhere in everything. Some believe that God is one where as some believe in polytheism, some worship idols and there are others who practice different forms of expression and worship. What is common to everyone who practises religion is that they believe that there is something superior out there who is in controlling what they can’t, they believe in a powerful celestial existence. Basically, religion gives the affirmation, the satisfaction that by following certain ways we are living a better life.

    Religion like Dalai Lama said is kindness but somehow it has lost its meaning amongst the fights that intend to prove the superiority of one religion above the other. The sad reality is that instead of making our lives meaningful by the influence of religion, we are manipulating religion, playing with it and so more than acts of kindness and love, it has become a utility for selfish motives and the vice-versa is true.

    My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. – Dalai Lama

    India: an abode to several religions-

    India is a land where not only have religions been born but they have evolved. Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism find their roots engraved in India and share similarities as well as differences according to some Indologists. They have been influenced by other cultures and developed into new religions or sects altogether. In his book, ‘The History of British India’, James Mill distinctly demarcated the Hindu, Muslim and British civilisations as the three phases in India’s history. With a vast history of its own evolution of cultures and religions, it has been influenced by the invasions of Turks, Afghans, Britishers and many more. 

    How easy is it to understand the definition of religion?


    According to oxford dictionary religion means: “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods”. But religion isn’t as simple as it sounds; it brings along with itself complexities that go beyond the definitions of dictionaries. Where on one hand it is meant for people to have faith in a superior existence, on the other hand it is seen to be the reason of conflicts, riots, partition of countries and the fatal deaths of the innocent. There is no religion that preaches violence, mass murders or any form of activity that might bring pain to anyone who is gullible yet communal violence often finds its place in newspaper headlines. Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam precisely said “No religion has mandated killing others as a requirement for its sustenance or promotion.”

    How do they decide which religion is better?

    There is no religion superior to another and yet this is somehow the reason we see many brutal, inhumane things happening in our society. The purpose of every religion is to serve as a medium for a man to connect with the existence, with the Almighty, with the one who is in control. The only difference is the path that they choose to reach that point where the connection could be made. Then how come that journey from the same initial point to the same destination could be right for one and wrong for another? How do people believe that their path is better than somebody else’s? 

    Is it not the purpose of having faith in religion to help us transcend and see humanity and the way it functions from a broader perspective than the normality of human eyes? Then why transcendence is ethical for one and not another? Why are there stereotypes towards religions? For years conflicts and wars have been fought over religion when it is every individual’s right to practice whatever way it is that they think would make them reach their destiny.

    The destination is same –

    There are no multiple destinations. Be it Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism or any other religion; each in its own way puts forward ideas to make this world a better place to live in. But still somehow we humans being the most intelligent species on Earth instead of collaborating the ideas from all these religions, their texts, their writings and preaching into a resource to make this world a better, a more beautiful place to live in choose to fight over which writing or preaching is more condescending. In this process instead of reaching our destinations, we become spectators to honour killings, lynchings, mass shootings, religious conflicts and the list goes on and on. In worse case scenarios we might be the victim or worst the assailant.

    The consequence of the fight for religious superiority-
    The partition of India in 1947 is an exemplary example of how religion plays a role in matters that exceed our personal lives. It is an epitome of how humans disgrace the purest of what exists into issues of political concern for power. Religion which in general preaches unity, harmony, peace and love is the cause of the deaths of people who are guilty for being born in a family that practices a particular religion. The divide and rule policy of the British had left India in a state of conflict with no law and order in place. People were migrating in large numbers across the newly created borders but the incompetence and inadequacy of the government led to deaths of lakhs of people of all religions who were in search of safety and shelter.

    The Gujarat riot of 1969 is another story on the list of communal violence which shows the inhumanity that has colonized the hearts of people. The 1984 Anti-Sikh riots is a distinctive narrative of how religion becomes a tool in the hands of politics and the cause of death of thousands.

    FINDING MEANING-

    ‘I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use.’ -Galileo Galilei

    What could be a reason good enough for the lives of thousands and lakhs of innocents at stake?  Religion preaches peace and harmony and not violence and riots. Let the words of Galileo resonate and use the gifts of God for their intended purpose.

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