has turned into a diabaling tool
has a powerful hold over most Indians. A survey conducted
in the 80's in non-communist countries revealed some surprising
facts about modern world. Japan, had the lowest proportion
of believers, and Britain ranked only next! India, with about
99% believers, was the most god-fearing, and the US was ranked
to what extent is religious belief translated into scocietal
good?. By all accounts, Japan and Britain are two of the most
orderly societies in the world. They don't need cops to maintain
order, or enforce decent behaviour in both those countries.
India, for long, has been characterised as a 'functioning
anarchy'! obviously, faith in god is no guarantee of proper
Gita, a literary master piece, and one of the greatest religious
discourses of all time, is all about Dharma, one's duty and
good conduct. For its time, it was remarkably progressive
probably have the largest number of godmen and godwomen per
unit population on earth. There are several of them whose
spiritual eminence, erudition and compassion are legendary.
But there are also many charlatans and outright cheats who
are masquerading as gurus. All they seek is money and adulation.
The gullible people with their insecurities and fears and
hopes and greed are their victims.
even the decent and well-meaning gurus are at best offering
personal salvation. Religion, instead of being an ennobling
tool, has become a disabling mechanism. Far too many are succumbing
to senseless superstition and mindless greed. The relationship
between a devotee and the Lord is more like a trade. We offer
prayers and money, and we get in return wealth and position.
religion need not be like that. Great men and women of religion
have always been a source of inspiration and strength to us.
The late Paramacharya of Kanchi, His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
Swami Ranganadhananda, Mother Teresa, and Moulvi Wahiduddiin
are among the most spiritual Indians of our generation. We
need to make religion a great tool to inspire people, and
promote genuine public good. Liberation Theology in Latin
America transformed many states, and undermined the power
and influence of cruel dictatorships. St. Nicholas Church
in Leipzig in the former GDR is a great example of what true
religion can do. For about a decade in the 80's it became
a symbol of freedom and resistance to state oppression. Every
Monday the devotees flocked to the church and used the occasion
as a means of defiance of tyranny. Suddenly, one day in September,
tens of thousands gathered outside the church, and people
simply started marching peacefully holding candles. This simple
act paralysed the city, and eventually the whole of east Germany,
and in one fell swoop the totalitarian regime collapsed. That
church is now a proud symbol of the human spirit, and a true
shrine for all lovers of liberty.
are a society deeply troubled. Many of our problems are amenable
to practical solutions. Over population, poverty, illiteracy,
hunger, drudgery, crime, corruption - all these are man-made,
and can be easily overcome with our resources and effort.
But it requires courage, confidence and collective will to
confront these challenges. In a deeply religious society,
spiritualism and devotion have a vital role in transforming
the nation. But that requires reinterpretation of religion
and redefinition of god. Most of all, it needs true spiritualism
and deep quest for promotion of human happiness. Will our
gurus and sects and godmen accept this challenge ? Will our
well-heeled devotees spare a thought to the condition of fellow
human beings? Then and only then, can they make religion truly
worthy of respect.