When the colonial British were leaving India after gifting Pakistan to Muslims, they were convinced that India a conglomerate of 565 princely States would never stay united as one nation for long; it would fragment into several pieces within next few years. Most Western leaders held the same opinion. Clearly, the myriad diversity – lingual, cultural, traditional, and geographical – was beyond their rational comprehension shaped by the monotheist Christian philosophy that discourages diverse opinions. In fact, they had seen no prior example of such highly diversified but united entity anywhere in the world. But history post-1947 suggests that they needed some extra learning to justify their ‘expert’ title – the Indian ‘unity in diversity’ is still going strong at the age of 70.
Let’s look at the recent history of fragmentations.
End of the First World War gave birth to several new nations – Finland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungry, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia etc.
The mono-cultural Islamic State of Pakistan could not stay intact even for a quarter century; in 1971 the East Pakistan wing became sovereign Bangladesh. It is still battling to keep together the Balochs, Pakhtuns and Sindhis. Yet, its vengeful jihadi ideology keeps it busy trying to break India! The Muslim Middle East is highly divided and turbulent despite common faith, culture and traditions; it is weird to see Shia Iran standing aloof from rest of the Sunni states as if there are two separate Islams! The Kurd’s are restless for a separate nation. The dream nation of global jihadis, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was born and gone already despite the hallucination of forming global Caliphate!!
Europeans who lecture the world on democracy and liberalism can’t stay united as one “European Union” despite the common Christian cultural monorail. After Brexit many more nations are likely to leave the EU. In Spain, Catalonians are restless for a divorce. Between 1989 and 1992 Yugoslavia broke into seven pieces. In 1991, the USSR gave birth to 15 nations. Chechnyans are still demanding separation from Russia.
Creation of Israel in 1948 brought misery for the Palestinians. Very recently in 2011, Sudan broke into two pieces.
It is clear, religions can hardly keep united their own “believers” – they can only divide the humanity!! Why is that so? That’s because they have degenerated to the level of rigid and spiritless ‘faiths’ and ‘beliefs.’
In major democracies like the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia arrival of people from across the world has brought diversities over the decades. Now they are discovering new challenges of heterogeneity and multi-cultural social setup despite the romantic ideal of ‘secularism’ to accommodate different “faiths.” They have much to learn about managing diversities beyond their so-called “secularism.” Many people foolishly think that “secularism” unites people of different “faiths.” It is utter ignorance to think that a Bible Believer will not have a discriminating mindset against say a Quran Believer because that discrimination is inherent in his “belief.” The same goes with the Quran believer.
Why Religions Fail, But Dharma Succeeds!
Starting from 1000 AD, Mohammadan barbarians repeatedly plundered and destroyed the Somnath temple over several centuries; and it got built that many times! Looters often indulged in mass slaughter and slave taking. But Hindus never lost trust in power of goodness; this is the resilience of trust in Dharma!! Dharma does not live in temples, costumes or rituals – it lives people’s understanding and not in the words of some special Book. In the 14th century, philosopher Amir Khusro wrote that Gujarati Muslims used to first visit the Somnath temple to pay their respect before departing for Hajj pilgrimage. These unfortunate ex-Hindus had retained the Dharma wisdom despite label change under fear!
Most globe watchers wonder how India has managed to assimilate so much diverse forces into one national mainstream. If they really want to find out the unifying force behind Indian unity, they need to understand the essence of Indian culture (that goes far beyond their superficial ‘secularism’ to downplay religious monoculture) where diversity is a natural part of life.
However, before doing that they first need to understand the limits of their invention called ‘religion.’ Religion fails primarily because it tries to erase the human diversity which is natural – by forcing a uniform mindset on all “believers.” It ignores the natural reality that no two people have the same fingerprints; in fact, no two people can have even the same mindset or the same thinking. Therefore, diversity or dissimilarity is already built-in the humanity at the individual level – as a natural trait. It can’t be erased by inventing artificial god philosophies and forcing them on people.
On the contrary, recognition of this human diversity and its respect is an inherent part of Indian ethos which directly comes from its ancient Vedic philosophy that revolves around “Dharma.” Dharma is easily the most important Sanskrit word of Vedic literature pointing out to the profound idea of truth or reality. In fact, the Reality of nature is the Truth! Unfortunately, foreign languages have no equivalent words to convey the meaning of Dharma. Even in India misguided foreign educated left leaning people have wrongly translated Dharma in English as “religion.” That’s absolutely absurd.
For the lay people, the Vedic science deals with how the universe or existence is governed by nature’s laws; and how everything happens according to the laws already existing in the nature. If human life is led as per these laws life is good, and going against them automatically brings pain and suffering. For instance, you can’t hurt someone without hurting yourself in some way – it’s a nature’s law. “Dharma” points to such natural order, the right ethics and adopting them in personal conduct. It is all about right human values and morality, and their practice in life. Thus, all India-born different philosophies of life like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc stress the right human conduct in their own ways. But they all translate into practice of non-violence, non-greed, and understanding the natural law of Karma which means doing good deeds bring good fruits in future and harming others invite pain and misery. Equating these philosophies with what is called ‘religion’ in English Language is sheer ignorance and deceptive as well.
The highly profound Vedic literature and Upnishads resulted from the experience of countless Yogis and sages of the past; they were adept scientists exploring the inner world through meditational techniques. They discovered that everything is interconnected through some divine force that pervades everything and every being – this reality has been also often called God, although not necessary. Thus, Indians respect all forms of life as well as nature’s rivers and mountains; and see humanity as one big family (vasudeva Kutumbakam) – disregarding diversities. This knowledge permeates throughout India, right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Meghalaya to Maharashtra.
In fact, in ancient times when the boundaries extended to most of East Asia and to Afghanistan and beyond in the West, the Western and Chinese travelers saw just “One India” everywhere, despite so much diversities. Even early Christians and Muslims who had to escape their homeland to avoid religious persecution and found shelter on the Indian soil merged among congenial Hindus effortlessly despite their foreign appearance and ‘faith’.
Indians practice such a lifestyle in various ways “regardless of their beliefs” – using their own wisdom, knowledge and rationality. They remain their own master, have full freedom to explore and are responsible for everything they do or don’t do. They don’t have to surrender to some specially invented god or his special son or messenger and then robotically indulge in some pre-specified set of “beliefs” and ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ given by unknown strangers.
For the programmed minds of Muslims and Christians such an unstructured and open art of living with absolute freedom of thinking and believing is certainly very uncomfortable and confusing – and certainly a big responsibility. But this is what human freedom is all about – taking responsibility to live without imposed alien ideas of others!!
What the West called “Religions” – whether say, Christianity or Islam – initially evolved around teachings of saintly people, like Jesus or Mohammad, to help people lead virtuous life with right moral values – pointing to the same nature’s laws described more elaborately in the ancient Indian scriptures. But the clergy classes turned “religions” into political philosophies of dominance. For the masses, religions degenerated to mere ossified “faith” and “belief” as the basic purpose was lost. Therefore, all we see today is the my-god-better-than-your-god type of scenario.
Religions are Inherently Divisive
Surely, the most basic defect in religions is their “divisive nature.” By design, a religion can’t unite the humanity – it can only divide people into ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’ with a rock-solid dividing line. Comically, the force of fragmentation continues even among the so-called “believers” of a common ideology. Thus, today there are 73 different sects of Islam and 146 subdivisions of Christianity! If each of these cults has its own “truth” and “God” there must be 219 different “truths” and “Gods” which is hilarious and a comedy of collective irrationality!!
Another serious defect in religions is the centrality of some invented ‘god’ – and YOU must BELIEVE in it and then believe the ‘whole package’ given in the so-called holy-book without questioning!! Nothing can get more irrational and restrictive than this. Someone has rightly described ‘religion’ – a religion is just a fiction created around a fictional god. So, religions create yet another division: theist vs atheist. It’s another useless and silly debate. Buddha’s teaching is devoid of god but his followers are among the most peaceful people in the world. Just think of Tibet; although devoured by communist China Tibetans don’t indulge in vengefulness or terrorism. And, all that the Buddha taught was pure ‘Dharma’ – not ‘religion’!!
Yet, another distortion is that a ‘conversion industry’ invariably follows the “faith” to increase the number of ‘believers.’ Thus, there are various types of Muslim and Christian “conversion industries” funded liberally by their respective charities. So quite naturally, thinkers of the Christian West are worried about losing the number race to Muslims in next 25-30 years – due to their rather high fertility rate and pre-Islamic practices of child marriage and polygamy.
Further, in the hands of fanatics or deranged people, “faith” is highly dangerous – it can be more fatal than the deadly cholera or ebola viruses!! On the flipside, it is also true that excessive indulgence in “faith” can also trap people into permanent hallucination. Jihadi terrorism that we see today is a good example of that – religion has turned them into self-destructive “humanoids.” In the past two millenniums, insane “believers” have killed more people in their so-called holy-crusades or holy-jihads than all other wars of the history combined. The history of Islamic expansion since the 7th century AD is nothing but a repetitive tale of human genocide and terror “in the glory of Allah.” For example, explore: 1000 Years of Islamic Jihad in India.
It is fair to say that today there are very few people who really understand the very purpose of their ‘religion’ – which is to establish them in right human values and conduct; the vast majority is just the crowd of ‘believers’ or ‘faithists’ lost in rituals and costumes.
Wise Indian Muslims as well as Indian Christians feel safe in India because the majority Hindu community is inherently tolerant and accommodative by nature and their philosophy is unifying, unlike their own divisive “faith.” They feel further safe because there is no “Hindu conversion industry” with “manipulative sharks” scheming to change their “faith” label. And they are absolutely right!!
Indian Christians and Muslims have the golden chance to re-board the Dharma expressway, from where their ancestors were forced out in the past! Don’t let the ‘imposed foreign faith’ become a barrier for national integration.
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