On Religion and Morality

Religion seems to have become a bone of contention in the intellectual circles of today; everyone has some or the other opinion on it. The...

Religion seems to have become a bone of contention in the intellectual circles of today; everyone has some or the other opinion on it. The debate on ethics and morality has not proved to be a laggard and is discussed as ferociously as is religion- its twin brother, with which it is clearly intertwined. In a new India that is witnessing the advent of pan-India saffronization, it is pertinent that questions are raised on either of these issues- issues which are influential enough to alter the course of a nation state in the postmodern world.

It is the malady of our age that the word 'religion' brings to mind bouts of violence, unrest, and bloodshed when in actuality the definitions of religions contradict these images of gore.  Every religion on this planet implores man to go on the quest of eternal knowledge, to seek his inner self and find God within himself. A popular couplet conveys the idea that one may traverse the entire universe in search of the divine, but at the end, he finds God within himself. However, it is indeed appalling to learn that more and more people are getting brainwashed into believing their religion reigns supreme over others. This is the root cause of communal disharmony. Fanatics gulp down each and every word proclaimed by their spiritual mentors, without adequately checking the veracity of statements made. Such observers of blind faith are on the continuous lookout for an association; and they cling onto the flimsy veil of nationalism. How on earth otherwise can we even attempt to explain such condemnable acts as was perpetrated in the Dadri lynching, or the Muzzafarnagar riots?
While pretentious nature can still be dealt with, any sane-headed rational being cannot tolerate hyper-nationalistic jingoism.

This brings to limelight the grim reality: people essentially have a false notion of religion, the belief of religious supremacy and the fact that it can be used as a tool of dominance. Here is where morality comes in- while blind belief can degrade one's morality, having the right notion of religion tends to make man more compassionate and magnanimous. Morality begins to corrode the moment we seek shelter in the idea of "I, me, and myself".

How intricate and delicately weaved is the link between morality and religion! In contemporary times, the ones who 'claim' Godly associations and who view religion from the diseased eye are the most morally corrupt. Instead, the common man who preserves his own brand of faith and belief in karma (and without any ornamental, showy grandiloquence) is bound to have a righteous character. Despite rising acts of intolerance and religious polarization, it will be long before humanitarian values are wiped away. It is indeed heartening to learn that an 'autowala' in Mumbai asks his passengers to pay the fare they think is justified so that the total fund can ensure the education of a child. Take for example the people of the North-East, who despite years of racial subjugation by mainstream India continue to treat every tourist as a homely guest, with smiles that remain unparalleled. Consider the case of that honest taxi driver who reports your lost valuables to the local police station. Or, take the case of the devout Sikhs for whom humanity precedes religion- offering free food in langars at the Golden Temple in unimaginable volumes per day. Or, the beggar who returned an expensive engagement ring after it slipped from the fingers into his begging bowl. The number of such acts that restore our belief in humanity is rising by the day, and this on all accounts is a positive trend!

In a world that is clearly right-thinking, and in an India where firebrand politics is still played to secure vote banks, such pools of positivity are alike oases amidst a barren desert of religious and moral misconvictions. I would agree that the general trend does not correlate with the view optimists harbour, but with faith in ourselves and a desire to change, we can steer India out of any religious or moral discordance.

Together we can, one day at a time.

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