Sunday, 4 September 2016

Religion and our Days

Two iconic judgments were passed when Islamic and Hindu women were granted the right to enter their respective places of worship. These days many academicians are opposing what they call the “saffronisation of education”. These somewhat disconnected issues raise this crucial question- where is religion in the dream of a modern life?

Religion is thought to be backward and anti-modern. It is something that holds one back to regressive ideas. Basically, religion is imagined in a world of slow paced life where traditions reign. It is a part of a life of submission to authority, no possibility of social mobility and an unquestioned faith in the values of the community. In short somewhere hardly anyone born in last two centuries would like to be. It is a life that seems to promise no adventure or choices rather stifle them out of you.

But is that really so? Then how can we account for the reinvention and comeback registered by religion in our lives? Even in places called “modern” and “progressive” like the West are reeling under birth of militant activities under the banner of religion. Be it Islamic forces or radical Christian groups various dissident groups are adamant on bringing the failure of “modernity” in its birthplace itself. How ironic!

Forget the West, what about the world? In many parts of Africa and Asia, religion is being interpreted in false and distorted ways. In India beef was banned after a supposed interpretation of ancient Hindu texts. Women are forced to let go of “western clothing” and gadgets. Boko Haram, which literally means that Western Education is haram or un-Islamic, recently murdered primary school children. Khap Panchayats kill consenting adults for marrying. Homosexuality is a “crime” according to many.

You may be wondering that how has religion turned to be so grotesquely seen and interpreted by - those who use religion for nefarious reasons and those who reject it. For the first camp which includes self-proclaimed guardians of a religion, they grossly misrepresent the holy books to fool the masses. And the second camp usually feeds on to the activities of the first one and thus denounces religion.

Thus, you see, it is a vicious cycle. So “religion” technically is never going away because of the first group and its continued critique by the second party. Does that mean that religion is inherently like that? Does it sanction the killing of children or single meaning of classical texts and death if you differ? Would religion, if judged on its fundamental and basic precepts, allow ‘men of religion’ to rule our lives? Would it justify mindless wars and destruction of all the beauty in the world?

See that what is taught to you by the propagandists of religion and modernity alike. Even you cannot question the pundits of modernity on building dams, cutting forests or the best way a life should be lived. The difference is only in the names. Let us use our minds and reason and see for ourselves what we want, a religion of our choice or modernity or none.

Written by Rishya Dharmani
"Life is not a mystery, as they say, rather it is simplicity itself. Unlearn, fail and realize the true joy."

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