Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Is religion to blame?

The Mumbai terror attacks have once again brought the spotlight on Muslims in India and abroad. Yesterday, on a private English news channel, one guest,during a discussion on whether tighter terror laws would help, said that he was very glad he did not have a muslim surname, for he feared what he might have been subjected to if that was the case.

Why blame religion, and a particular one at that, for the evils of today? Blame the interpreters, the so called 'custodians' or the self appointed keepers of these religions. In the same manner that we said 'NO taxes", can we also say "no mullahs, no priests, no pundits?"

We have been blessed with sound intellect, reasoning ability and logical skills. We have elders in our homes, who have a wealth of experience of life. Then why do we give more importance to rituals, ceremonies, God men than common sense?

Religion, to me, is actually a particular community's combined wisdom, there for the next generations to benefit from, so that they may go farther and do better than the previous ones.

Wisdom can be shared but never compared. In fact, like the English language, it can borrow from each other to become richer and more relevant. Exclusion always denies knowledge. Imagine if each religion studied others and borrowed from each other to enhance their own!

Can any of the terrorists claim to have read even one of the holy books? The fourth standard pass Kasab may not have read even the Koran in its original state, forget about the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. How many non-Muslims could claim to have read the Koran? How many non Christians would have read the Bible? Maybe the few sane voices that we hear belong to this tiny minority!

Since most of these texts are written in languages long forgotten, they are interpreted at will by manipulative people. The real terrorists are these people who manipulate the meanings of these old texts to suit their gory purposes.

When we logical beings always ask for proof for even the smallest of things, how do we accept opinions that have such a huge consequence without checking out for ourselves?

Also, are we brave enough to stand up and say that since some of these texts were written for a different time, they may not all be relevant today in totality? It does not mean that we are debunking an entire way of thinking, but adapting it to suit the times. Its like how we use a constitution or a school curriculum, constantly amending and reframing it to keep it relevant.

A knife is not evil by itself. It depends on the user and the use it is put to. In a chef's hands it is perfectly harmless, but becomes lethal in the hands of a killer. The intent of religion by itself is not bad. But in the hands of wrong and negative people it can bring in the end of the world.

The fault is ours, who persist in looking outside ourselves for a religious experience. All religious texts like the Koran, the Ramayan, the Bible, and others, were the result of deep meditation and introspection, and observation of the way of life. Religion was supposed to guide us to a more fulfilling and enriched life, not become slaves to it.If we allow our minds to follow our instints without insecurity, we can sense religion and spirituality deep within us, without the aid of texts, priests, mullahs and god men.

The trouble starts when our insecurities and fears, rather than a deep happiness at being born, make us seek religion. This makes us doubt our own ability to find it, and we turn to supposedly 'learned custodians.'


  1. All of your thinking is very right and true.I too strongly stand by your ideas of religion.The point now is no matter how much we discuss or talk about it,the major problem is how to make these mullas,priests and pundits understand that they are sowing hatred instead of love!This can only harvest bloodshed.

  2. You're right, the time for discussion is over.I suppose its time we left our armchairs and went out there and spoke the language of the masses. I am not a politically inclined person, but if I meet anyone who shares a similar philosophy, I will wholeheartedly support him or her.

  3. i can only stand up salute you...this is great writing,it is not the mullas, priests or the pundits who sow the seeds of hatred,it is the politician who flare this passion in the minds of the common man,just for the sake of votes.
    mumbai incidence has united the people of india,this was evident in the recent outburst of emotions across india against the politicians,but it is sad that we the people of india need this kind of incidence to unite & express our anger...i wish & i pray people like you will ignite people's you come from the teaching background, i hope you will impart your knowlegde with your is not far to see india be governed by intellects like you , let us sincerely work towards this goal,it is when you see the real INDIA shining...

  4. I couldn't agree with u more Smita..most certainly AlL relig of their indiviualions have been hi-jacked by the so called "custodians"..
    I'm reproducing a post i put on another friend's blog.....

    /Hi georg, here on Vinod's recommendation and have been reading all ur commentaries with great interest and admiration....

    When we are not able to comprehend or explain incidents/phenomena, we start thinking of that unknown entity we call God, Allah, Bhagwan...

    The unknown is always looked upon with awe and sometimes fear....

    To my mind...the genesis of all religions are rooted in the exploitation of this "awe n fear" that exists in the minds of ordinary ill informed masses by the few powerful intellectual elite of the times...

    What better way to get a whole mass of humanity to do something than by proclaiming it as the word of that "god"

    Stories and myths were probably put forth and propogated as Gospel

    Muslims must bathe on friday, grow a beard in those hot deserts, eat out of the same plate.... because "allah" said so?

    I for one think not...! The wise guys of those times probably thought that in the desert one needs to save and use less does one enforce the practice?...go back to "god"

    We laugh and deride Muhammed Atta's misplaced and diabolical, but passionate committment to his cause and even his anticipation of 72 virgins...

    How different is it from the belief of millions ( George Bush included ) of Christians that the son of God was born to a Virgin??

    And if it can motivate him to fly into an iconic building and convert a plane into a humungous bomb...well more power to the 72 virgins...we all know who had the last laugh.

    God, poor guy....i'm sure wants no part of all this..we don't even know who he is..whether he is really here or not??
    10 December 2008 10:01/

  5. I completely resonate your thoughts Rati. Most religions use fear as the basis for mass control. The mantra is something like, "Keep them afraid, hungry, illiterate and divided, and we will continue to rule." The whole point is that we have enlightenment in pockets, which are easily diffused and no big threat to these control freaks...we can only watch helplessly, unless a blogging revolution can change things....

  6. You are right Smita. All religions have become tools of manipulation for greater worldly power. Fear and lure are the two tools universally used to make the faithful fall in line.

    Religion is to blame. I find it difficult to believe that God, call him by whatever name you like, did not know the horrendous things men were going to do to His Word...if He knew, why did He do what He did?

  7. Hi Vinod. You have made a very interesting point. Intersting because it opens up several new lines of debate, and I'm not sure whether even the most broadminded will treat it as one(a debate) or take offense. I'll put it in as delicate a manner as possible. When i was doing my M.A. in Psychology, one of the students in my class asked our professor, "Sir, do you believe in God?" He took some time to reply, and what he said was, "This is my personal opinion only. No I don't believe in God, BUT," and before the whole room could erupt in indignation, "a belief in God is crucial and essential for the positive development of the human race." I neither support this view nor do I condemn it. Ever since, it has made me examine religion very very closely. Once again, I feel that the user of the object rather than the object itself is the real culprit. Its like when I write something, I own the piece only till the time I have not hit the 'enter' button to submit it. Once I do, I have to disown it from that point of time. Thereafter the shape it takes depends on the readers(not a very good analogy, but couldn't come up with a better one just now). Similarly, God has made all of us, but once he infuses the ability to reason in us, our destinies are our business. And religion is a creation of mankind....

  8. Smita, if all men came to believe that religion is a creation of mankind, as you have rightly said, so much of nonsense that goes in all religions, without exception, in the name of God will stop. The 'thekedars' of religion know that too... that is why the threats and the instilling of fear.

    No matter what you and I might say, this is not going to change in a hurry.

  9. that's very true, vinod. Its the price to pay for ideas before their time. I don't see the change happening in my lifetime

  10. hai,
    i have left my comments on my blog please read it..

  11. Smita Great Post, I do agree that its not the religion which teachs hate but yes its their so called scholars who twist every things and teaches hate to many vulnarable youths. I do belive if human start following religion from pure mind and heart than we will never ever have any sort of terrorist attack. But guess people has left the road of true religion and started following new religion Hate and More hate..


  12. Hi Winrock, thanks for your comments. The force that gives birth to us also gives us the means to live it successfully. The microchip of religion, like you mention, in its purest form is already embedded in us from the time we are born. All we have to do is to listen carefully to our mind and body, and we discover it by and by. NO other person can take us to this except we ourselves. If only people reposed more faith in themselves than in others!

  13. "A knife is not evil by itself. It depends on the user and the use it is put to. In a chef's hands it is perfectly harmless, but becomes lethal in the hands of a killer. The intent of religion by itself is not bad. But in the hands of wrong and negative people it can bring in the end of the world.

    Had expressed very similar thoughts recently in blog-

    It appears we get ideas from the collective consciousness. As if thought waves are transmitted by people, that are received and sometimes re-transmitted/amplified, the waves continuing to travel all over the world...

    Good post, however, you haven't really gone through Koran and Hadiths, have you ?

    Read them well, before classifying Ramayana with Koran and Bible.

    If you find it is justified to still put the three on par, please let me know.


  14. Hello Incognito,
    I understand what you mean ('collective consciousness). I really liked your post on motives, thank you for mentioning the link here. Yes, we are all arriving at the same conclusions, depending on our experiences, at the same or different is when we have not arrived at the conclusions designed for us that our experiences are repeated, sometimes in the same life, and sometimes spread out over several lives!
    You're right, I haven't gone through the Koran, or the Hadiths. A way of life that has existed for centuries, been tried and tested, adapted and adopted willingly and without fear by its followers, covers any circumstance or situation that a human being may be faced with at any stage of his life, is no competition for others that are merely a few hundred years old. But religion and holy books are like parents to people who believe in them. It is difficult for any one to take any insult to one's parents, so I feel, drawing attention to the natural goodness in any one's hearts is a surer way of ensuring peace, than quoting ancient passages from texts written for a different time, age and people. I know its now considered a naive viewpoint, but its important to me to explore all possibilities of peaceful means, because aggression will only ensure there is no winner, only losers...

  15. Rajiv Malhotra's take on religions and the cause of strife, in two parts-

  16. Suggested reading-

    Also Deuteronomy part of Bible