The Politics of Religion

Justice AB Pal, Former Judge of the Gauhati High Court

Philip Neri Pherao, the Arch Bishop of Goa and Daman has recently written a 15 page letter to his fellow Christians in India telling them that the Indian constitution is in deep crisis. Attacking the Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly he said the Namo-culture had been forced upon the people everywhere in the country causing thereby immense sufferings to the poor and the minorities. He called upon them to consider this situation at the time of Parliament election 2019 (Aajkal 5th June 2018). In other words he was asking them to vote against BJP.

Clerics in Politics :

This is a clean and unabashed involvement of Church in politics which is not possible in any country in the west including the country of origin of this alien religion. The Pope had long back issued a clear direction that the Church should nowhere involve itself in politics. The Arch Bishop violated that direction obviously at the behest of certain political party to wean away Christian voters from the ruling party. India is perhaps the only country in the world where freedom of speech has been misconceived, distorted and abused frequently with impunity. Not only the Arch Bishop, the clerics and godmen of other faiths also have often been found to in politics by influencing their followers to vote for or against any political party (godman Ram Rahim for instance). Separating religion from politics is a fundamental principle of democracy. But India is really a peculiar country. Try to impose here similar ban on religion like Western Countries the fake and pseudo intellectuals, Lazy and hungry as they are, shall start shouting, criticizing and attacking the government to be- fool and mislead the people.

The position in ancient and medieval period :- The situation was completely different in ancient and medieval period when kings were the absolute rulers and democracy was an unknown concept. The religious leaders had no political ambition. But their wisdom and command over spirituality brought them tremendous respect of the people and held them very high. The rulers, more often than not, used to seek their advice on important matters touching interest of the people in general obviously to enlist their support. Rrishi and sages of ancient India did not propagate any religion except the truth they had seen and known. They advised the kings on right conduct, right path and right thought. However, in England and some other countries in the west, the church gradually became very powerful. Even the king did not dare to disobey the pontiff. The power-struggle between the king and the church continued for a long period. At the end of the day the church lost the battle and had to confine itself within the domain of spirituality. But the rulers helped to spread their religion in the countries they conquered by means of torture, threat and humiliation. Islam and Christianity made inroads in other countries riding on the horseback and sword of the invaders. Buddhism, the great religion, however spread to other countries during emperor Ashoka’s time by peaceful means only. Hinduism never practiced violence for expansion in and out of the country.

India’s Priceless heritage :- In the mad pursuit for political power none today seems to be serious enough to protect and preserve India’s priceless heritage-- the Vedic civilization and culture, the teachings of Vedanta- which has been facing serious challenges from the alien-religions and cultures. It has been wiped out from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir,Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim where once it had sway. If the present danger of annexing territory continues it would not be very far when the Indian heritage will extinct from the Indian soil for ever.

In his small book “India’s priceless heritage” N.A. Palkhivala has written:-

“It would be hard to improve upon the sense of values which made ancient India so great. Our old sages judged the greatness of a state not by the extent of its empire or by the size of its wealth, but by the degree of righteousness and justice which marked the public administration and the private lives of the citizens. Their time less teaching was that man’s true progress is to be judged by moral and spiritual standards, and not by material or physical standards. Sacrifice was far more important than success; and renunciation was regarded as the crowning achievement.”

The sansrit word ‘Dharma’ has within it elements from different concept of the law, reightousness, duty and basic morality. Swami Vevekanda observed. ‘‘The highest truth is this: God is present in all beings. They are his multiple forms. There is no other god to seek. The first of all worships is the worship of those all around us. He alone serves God who serves all other beings”.

About the ideal of a universal religion ingrained in Vedanta he said.

“Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest their divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal.

Do this either by work or woship or psychic control or philosophy-by one or more or all of these- and be free.

This is the whole of religion. Doctrines or dogmas or rituals or books or temples or forms are but secondary details.”

Teaching of Vedanta:

In the words of Palkhivala Vedanta taught the technique of self development. The ultimate destiny of man is to discover within himself the true self as the changeless behind the changing, the external behind the ephemeral, and the infinite behind the finite. Greater wisdom was never compressed into three words than by the Chandogya Upanishad which proclaimed the true self of man as part of the infinite spirit- tat-tvam-asi. That thou art. In the beautiful words of Vedanta:

‘‘Sambit or pure consciousness and non-dual is ever self luminous and does not rise or set in months and years and aeons, past or future.’’ Vedanta emphasises one object of realisation of divinity but accept diverse method of reaching it. The essence of this divinity is a unity underlying the entire creation. Brahman is the ultimate and all pervading reality. Emerson was fascinated by the concept of Brahman and observed :

‘‘All science is transcendental or passes away. Botany is now acquiring the right theory- The avatars of Brahman will presently be the text books of natural history.’’

Dr Arnold Toynbee observed :

‘‘At this supremely dangerous moment of inhuman history, the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way- Emperor Asoka’s and Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of non-violence and Sri Ramkrishna’s testimony to the harmony of religious. Here we have an attitude and spirit that can make it possible for human race to grow together into a single family- and in the Atomic Age, this is the only alternative to destroying ourselves.’’

He thus echoed the ideal of India’s ancient Rishis-Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam -The world is one family.

Indian Religious Teachings : This priceless heritage did not belong to any particular religious community but to all Indians irrespective of their faith or way of life. The foreign invaders like Bactrians, shakas or Kushans did not pose any danger to Indian civilization, culture and faith. Shakas became converts to Buddhism and Hinduism. Some of the Kushanas became converts to Hindu faith, but most of them became Buddhist. Before advent of Islam and Christianity there was no religious persecution by foreign invaders. They did not bring any religion to impose on the Indians. They themselves got absorbed in Indian religion and culture. Buddhism and Jainism are hundred percent Indian product and represent Indian civilisation and culture only. Mahajana variety of Buddhism is very much akin to many ways of Hinduism. Peace and non violence prevailed. Man professing Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism did not learn to cut his brother’s throat because of difference in faith. He did not deluge the world in blood. Because he believed in the truth propagated by Rishis and sages that what exists is one; sages call it by different names. ‘‘Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti’’. Swami Vivekananda in a speech on Vedic religious ideals said--

‘‘Some of you perhaps are surprised to think that India is the only country where there never has been a religious persecution, where never was any man disturbed for his religious faiths. Theists or atheists,’’ monists, dualists, monotheists are there and always live unmolested. Materialists were allowed to preach from the steps of Brahmmanical temples against the gods and against the God himself; they went preaching all over the land that the idea of god was a mere superstition and the gods and Vedas and religions were simply superstitions invented by the priests for their own benefit. Before Mohammedan wave came into India it was never known what religious persecution was. Moslem and Christian invaders mixed religion with politics and wherever they captured political power they resorted to religious persecution. The Moslem population in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir and other parts of India and the Christian population in the northeast and other parts are all converts by persecution. But they do not allow to preach Vedic religion, culture and civilisation in places under their control. It is almost impossible to profess any religion other than Islam in Kashmir and other than Christianity in the North-East. The Indian virtues like non violence, tolerance, mutual respects, live and let live and feeling of oneness of all people have vanished in places where these two communities are majority .

Distorted secularism and Religious Persecution : Muslims are very much aggressive, intolerant and militant people. M.V Kamath, the famous journalist and former editor of the Illustrated weekly of India writes :- The concept of secularism is foreign to India. Like many other concepts, political and social, this too came to India from the west where over the centuries the need was felt to separate the state from the church. In India there has never been a ‘church’ in the sense in which that concept is understood in the west. Until the Islamic invasions of India, beginning from around 1000 AD, the country was Hindu. Hindus were ruled by the concept of Dharma, which emphasised duty and rightness of conduct. Max Weber paid rich tribute to the religious freedom in ancient India, calling it ‘nearly absolute’ and noting that there was no parallel in the West.

That freedom was rudely disturbed by the entry of Christianity and Islam into India. It was to affect the Hindu psyche more profoundly than has ever been acknowledged. With the invasion of Portuguese and conquest of Goa came the Christian church with a vengeance and the religious intolerance began.’’

The Christian rulers gave two options to the Indians in Goa, either convert to Christianity or leave Goa. The catholic church let loose terror. Hinduism was decried. Contempt for Hindu rituals and religious practices was often expressed. Islamic contempt for the Hindu idol-worshippers was open, virulent and vicious, writes Kamath. He quotes R.C. Majumder, the distinguished historian, who said:-

‘‘The worship of images which formed the most cherished element in the religious beliefs of Hindus was an anathema in the eyes of the Muslim and the long tradition of ruthless desecration of temples by them for nearly a thousand years formed a wide gulf between the two. The method of congregational prayers among the Muslims was a thing unknown to the Hindus and ceremonial worship of the Hindus to the accompaniment of music, both vocal and instrumental, was not only alien to the Muslims, but positively distasteful and irksome to them.’’ Hindus began to hate Muslims because they found in Islam a religion which is militant and aggressive in its behavioural pattern and aimed at controlling the entire area of human activity. The vandalism of Sultan Mahmud and Malik Kafur destroying Hindu temples, idols and monuments has been recorded by the historians of that time such as Mohammed Habib, Alberuni and others.

In their own country the Hindus had suddenly lost the right to live with dignity if not converted to alien religion. Humiliation and discrimination in different forms had been imposed on Hindus.

He quoted Bimal Prasad, the esteemed historian and renowed author:

‘’The generally inferior position of a Hindu witness in a criminal case as compared to his Muslim counterpart in a law court was another reminder of the inferior status of a Hindu in a state ruled over by a Muslim monarch. Thus if the accused was Muslim he could be convicted only on the testimony of a Muslim. No such safeguard applied to a Hindu who could be convicted on the testimony of anyone.’’

Bimal Prasad noted the view of famous Sufi saint expressed in one of his letter :

‘’The honour of Islam lies in insulting Kaffirs, one who respects Kaffirs dishonours the Muslims’’

Wilhelm Von Pochhamer wrote in his classic work India’s Road to Nationhood-

‘’The Hindus were separated from the Muslim ruling class by arrogance and racial haughtiness. Two ways were open to the Hindus; converting to Islam or retiring into their shell and living as it were in a ghetto, avoiding contact of any sort with the hated oppressor. What the Brahmin protectors of their culture achieved in those days has never been properly recorded probably because a considerable number of this class had been slaughtered.’’

Modern Politicians and Indian values:

The degree of religious persecution of Hindus under Moslem and Christian rulers depended on the policy of the foreign rulers. while Islamic tyranny had full and active support of the rulers, as was the Christian tyranny under the Portugese rulers in Goa, in the rest of India under British rule it was different. Though the British rulers gave all support to the Christian missionary activities for conversion, they did not exercise religious tyranny over the Hindus who were vast majority and they knew their support was necessary to firmly establish British rule in India. They rescued Hindus from Islamic tyranny. Thus Islam and Christianity could take roots by conversion of a large number of Hindus by exercising all means including torture, fear harassment and allurement. This was possible only because the alien political force had strong support behind these religious leaders. Surprisingly,these Hindus after conversion and their posterity fed and reared with anti Hindu feelings in their psyche gradually became Hindu haters. Though their ancestors were Hindus they discarded their past and forgot India’s glorious heritage. They developed oneness with Islamic world not with Hindus and everything Indians are proud of. Most of them could not reconcile to Hindu dominance and Hindu rule after independence. Even today in certain areas in India where Muslims are absolute majority it is difficult to practice and preach Vedic religion and culture of tolerance, non-violence, universal brother hood and peace which should be the virtues for people of all faiths. Today politicians never try to teach and preach these Indian values to all Indians irrespective of religious faith which is the only way to forge strong unity in diversity. They are more busy to divide people on lines of religion, caste and creed. Shri. Aurobindo, one of the greatest men that ever lived wrote that the modern politicians do not represent the soul of the people or their aspirations. What they do represent is all the average pettiness, selfishness, egoism and self deception. In 1947 Dr. B.R Ambedkar cautioned that there would be precipitous fall in qualities of politicians who will represent caste, creed and petty regional interests only to grab power.

Secular and Tolerant Hindu Religion:

Hindu tolerance is proverbial- Hindu religion is a secular religion. It is necessary to restore to Hindus their self respect. In the words of MV Kamath ‘‘If only the Muslim community had the grace and the wit to see the issue in its proper prospective, there would have been no communal riot in India. But the Muslim community has steadfastly and repeatedly failed to do this. And the intransigence of the Muslims had had the backing-for pure selfish, political reasons- of the. Congress party and a few others. This is the tragedy of India.’’

Conclusion : What is today required is a strong leadership to (i) ruthlessly eradicate all sorts of intransigence (ii) Systematic measures to indianise people of all faiths (iii) total ban by on all conversions and (iv) oppressive measures against traitors, anti Indian activists and fake, hungry, pseudo intelligent class to save India and India’s priceless heritage.

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27/06/2018 14:30:15Ramlal sarkarramlalsarkarscout@gmail.comSir, in this article, you describe the religion and politics in a descriptive way. It is really appreciated. Thanks sir share your Valuable Thought
27/06/2018 14:31:13Gouri Duttaduttagouri86@gmail.comThis article talks about the greatness of Dharma and politics, and it is well-known in this article. Great article sir thanks
29/06/2018 13:25:24Sumitra Dassumitradas.sagar@gmail.comNice article sir, keep writing.
01/07/2018 11:46:54SUBHAJIT PAULspauldeeep@gmail.comthe reasons for most of the riots and violence in India are religion and politics. I HATE BOTH
02/07/2018 11:34:19Tasmita Ghosh123agartala@gmail.comFrom this article you discuss Modern Politicians and Indian values and got to know some more.Well written sir...
03/07/2018 07:33:13Trinabhtg2018@gmail.comIn your article, there are many topics related to political discussions. this after a lot of details, I know a lot.Thank you giving us about information.

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