MY RELIGION

What is it that everybody wants? Even among all the differences and similarities of mankind, what is the one common trait you find in everyone? At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I say that it is the quest for happiness, to be happy or to make someone happy, that keeps all of us going. In this quest for happiness, man has been through a lot. Let us journey with him as he does.

Let us begin with, say, 20,000 years ago. Spoken language hadn't yet been invented so all communication was necessarily visual. In a world unexplored, all the elements and forces of nature must have astounded the prehistoric man. It is thus believed that most of the inscriptions and portraits depicting the sun and lightning, for example, as supernatural beings or “Gods” must have risen out of a mixture of fear and respect for their awesome power.

Let us move forward in time. About 5000 years ago which is generally assumed to be the mature period of the Harappan Civilization. Try and imagine what it would have been like to be an early man. The wonder of civilization had just sprung up. Man was becoming more of what makes him the most successful organism in the history of the world, a social animal. As the sheer size of the society man lived in grew, it became evident that there was a necessity for order. Order, so that man, in his ultimate quest for happiness, would not be hindered by his own people. Order, for peace.

Order is not something that is explained, taught or learned. Order had to be imbibed into the minds of people. It had to be such that when doing anything circumstantially right or for the benefit of society, man would be happy. The converse too should be true, that whenever man was about to do something generally perceived as the wrong thing to do, he would be scared to do it.

Now, no human power could continually create such feelings in men. The age old saying that necessity is the mother of invention naturally applied here and hence was born Religion, originally a set of ideals or a way of thinking that used both myth and reality as a means to provide the necessary reason for mankind to exercise control over itself.

As man became more involved in society, his outlook on life must have changed. Naturally, The Questions must have started bothering him. Why are we here? Do we have a purpose here? Where do we go when we die? I will not even try to answer them, it just isn't what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the idea of Religion.

Religion essentially is a way of thinking. I want to make it clear that Ram, Allah, the Bible, the Koran or the Mahabharata are just a part of their respective religions. The ideas they propound though, make the backbone of their religions.

The ' Encyclopedia of Religion' has this to say about religion,
“ a push, whether ill-defined or conscious, toward some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life.”

Even Atheism is a religion in its own right. Atheism is by definition the belief of disbelief in an ultimate power ruling over everybody. My point being that religion as an idea is very necessary in our life.

Let us hold that thought for a while. Time traveling again (Einstein was wrong, the mind can travel wherever it wants to :p), we find ourselves in the Dark Ages, which was a time for enlightening and delightful events such as the crusades and the witch hunts. The atrocities committed in the name of religion are so numerous that the mind boggles to even try and picture them. It is true that those were times that we never want to go back to. Times that both shook and took the lives of many an innocent man. Yet it is our responsibility to look at the events as they unfolded through time and not just at the present situation.


I say this because most people I talk to about religion seem to be under the impression aptly portrayed in the latest movie Slumdog Millionaire. “ If it wasn't for Ram and Allah, I'd still have a mother”, says the protagonist. It is this false notion that is both disturbing and misleading to the youth of not only our country but the world over.

The notion that it is because of religion itself that we are in troubled times is obviously false if one chooses to see that religion is not a force behind any action, it is the human mind that is. Anything and everything done by a man is his own responsibility. Religion is not to blame because even the apparently docile teachings of any religion have to pass through the human brain and are subject to interpretation. Is it the teacher's fault that the student understands “you should safeguard your family” as “ kill anyone who might threaten it” ?

Religions of the day gone by might not be of much use to you and me; the literate, intelligent and open-minded youth of our nation; but it is the foundation upon which much of our country is built and survives. To respect that is our duty.

At the same time, change is now the necessity. Many of the rules once the need of the hour are not applicable anymore. It is time that we, the future of our nation, strive to understand and put forth our own religion as a way of thinking. Let us think for the future, let us strive to make it better, let us live for peace, let us make our great nation an example that the whole world looks up to, let us find happiness in helping the needy, let us live every moment like there are no more, let us learn to change the world not only because we have to but we want to. That my friends is my religion. What is yours?

Comments

praveen goud said…
interesting...good direction to think on
Anonymous said…
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