(This is a revised form of my response to a blog. Nothing original is these random reflections, but I still choose to post them, braving charges of mouthing platitudes and tinkering around with truisms. I do this ’cos we live in times when clichés need to be stated, defamiliarised. Familiarity breeds contempt, and when great truths are contemptuously dismissed as clichés, they need to be reinstated. Truth never becomes irrelevant simply because they are hackneyed. So here I go - - )
All religions are expressions of man’s search for the infinite. This search in not done in an ethereal vacuum - but down here, on the earth, on the ground, on the soil of our day to day life.
The first step towards the realization of the infinite is purging the mind of negative emotions and filling it with love - love of mankind.
If we negotiate our way through the peripherals of religions, we will arrive at the great truth that the core values of all religions are the same. There is no space in this core for violence and inequity. They are gross elements that adulterate the magnificent endeavour of mortals to reach out towards eternity. They can never be part of any religion, part of this search for the infinite. The presence of these elements with the label of religion attached to them can be ascribed to flawed interpretation and practice of religion.
A violent Christian should relinquish the label ‘Christian’. So should believers of other religions. The greatest disservice to religious teachers/teachings is to inflict injury on fellow human beings in the name of religion. Christians did it for a long period of time. The leaders have apologized several times for the crimes against humanity in the name of religion.
Indians too proselytized. Buddhism spread in the eastern part of Asia through the agency of Buddhist monks who took upon themselves the task of spreading the great man’s teachings. But how peacefully this religion was disseminated! Not a drop of blood was shed in the process. Buddha’s insistence on ahimsa was adhered to with great passion by his messengers.
Hinduism did not have a history of violence in the name of religion. Our ancestors were the ideal practitioners of religion. Religion was practiced as it truly should be – as a way of life. Hinduism was a way of life.
Alas! Those were glorious days. Hindus achieved long time back what followers of other religions are still striving to achieve. But, sadly, instead of perpetuating the great tradition of being model practitioners of religion, Hindus are now making the mistakes committed by the followers of other religions, mistakes which the rational and enlightened among the other religions are trying to rectify. What an irony!
And what a great disservice to Hinduism and to our proud, glorious tradition.