There are a variety of religions in the world formulated by different propounders. But instead of enhancing the spirit of unity in the human society, these religions have actually increased disunity and mutual conflict. How many wars have been fought in the name of religion? So, far from being a unifying force, religion should be seen as a cause of disharmony.
One thing should be remembered: Dharma and religion – or “Imán” and “majhab” in Arabic – are not synonymous. Throughout the ages, Dharma or Imán has been propagating teachings to unite humanity. Religions are many, but Dharma is one, and that Dharma is Manava [[Human]] Dharma – a system for the attainment of the Supreme.
Based on practical wisdom and logical faith, Dharma is a rational approach for the realization of Absolute Truth. External paraphernalia are not required for the practice of Dharma: the only prerequisite is a unit mind. Within Dharma there is no room for exploiting people entrapped in the snare of blind faith, and no scope for self-aggrandisement or the pursuit of group interests. Love, freedom and equality are its foundation stones.
As Dharma is beyond time, space and person, there is no scope for Svajátiiya [[differences within a species]], Vijátiiya [[differences between species]] or Svagata [[differences within the same unit being]]. Dharma is inchangeable.
Religion is the exact opposite, being based on 3factors:
- Physico-ritualistic observance
Behind the origin of a religion lies the inborn fear psychology of human beings. Human beings started religious practice to appease the different natural phenomena – the hills and mountains, the rivers and oceans, the forests, thunder and lightening, the morning and evening, and so on.
Such religious practice was based on the instinct for self-preservation: the only intention being to propitiate the gods and goddesses of diverse moods. Some kind of imaginary faith worked in the back of people’s minds. Such psycho-sentiments arose after human beings came in contact with the different natural phenomena. The roots of most religions lie in the worship of a particular natural phenomenon. Some religions centered around the moon, some the sun, and others a stone image.
Later on people created an improvised philosophy to support the worship of that physical phenomenon. They advanced the philosophical argument that it was possible to attain the unlimited by worshipping its limited form. They declared their temples, mosques and churches made of bricks as sacred places. A strong sentiment developed for the worship of different deities. So blind were their sentiments that they refused to listen to rationality. Take the case of cows: Hindus worship cows as something holy, apparently because they give us milk. But if cows are revered as mothers for giving us milk, shouldn’t buffaloes be given a similar status?
Actually, buffaloes give more milk than cows. Unfortunately, the blind religious followers refuse to listed to logic as their religious sentiment for cows has taken root deep in their minds. People are fed these ideas since childhood, so later on it becomes impossible for them to discard them. Science students understand the reason for a lunar or solar eclipse. They know that the eclipse does not occur because the sun or moon has been devoured by the mythological demons Ráhu and Ketu (Umbra and Penumbra). Yet due to the deep rooted Saḿskaras in the mind, they rush to take a holy bath in the Ganges during the eclipse. This is the result of blind faith.
When the wave of physical sentiment becomes stronger than the wave of logic, we call it blind faith or religious bigotry. This leads to the view: [[ Vishváse miláy vastu tarke bahu dúr. [In faith you get something substantial, but in logical arguments it is far away.] ]] Majhabme ákkál ká dakhal nehi hyey. [In religion there is no room for logical argument.]
India did not see the frenzied expression of religious bigotry evident in other religions, which was the cause of intense religious feuding. How many lives were sacrificed over a single strand of hair? It is very difficult to persuade religious bigots to follow the path of logic because according to them even to listen to others is a sinful act. This is nothing but mere sentiment. According to some religions beef eating is forbidden but the killing of deer and goats is permissible. This is totally irrational.
Out of sentiment arose different ritualistic observances such as the way a lamp should be lit and held and the way one should kneel down in prayer. No logical arguments can be found to substantiate these rituals. Moreover, during the rituals, the mind always remains preoccupied with diverse objects. If it remains obsessively associated with such objects, how can it move towards Parama Puruśa?
Many people consider their temple to be the only sacred place of worship. But the funny thing is that the builders who construct temples are unholy people or untouchables, and are thus barred from entering their premises. Each religion has its own scriptures. Some scriptures are worshipped with such reverence that they are treated as deities. But the paper on which the scripture was written, and the printing and binding of the book were perhaps done by people of other religions. But once the book is complete it is transformed into a holy scripture and those who made it will not have the right to even touch it.
In fact, not only the holy scriptures, but all books are considered as a symbol of the goddess of learning. To pay obeisance to the book by repeatedly touching the forehead with it is apart of religious observance. Many people spend huge sums of money to make an idol of clay only to immerse it in a river with pomp and ceremony to conclude the religious festival. But if the people of other religions happen to break even a finger of that idol terrible bloodshed will ensue. Thus, those who advocate the formation of countries on the basis of religious faith will cause irreparable damage by fragmenting human society.
Human beings readily accept traditions without seeking the reasons behind them. Since ancient days the semitic people have been observing the practice of circumcision. Moses and Mohammed accepted this system which today has become tradition. The ancient Austrics used to worship the Sun. Their purpose was to please the Sun God and be blessed with heavy rainfall and bumper harvests. In the social system of the Austrics, women had a predominant role. Thus, in the system of worship and other religious ceremonies, the priest had no significant role. Even the Sun God was looked upon as a female deity and the Moon was a male God.
The Sun God was addressed as “mother” and the worship done in her honour was called “Chat Puja”. Even today in Magadh Chat Puja is held twice a year during the harvest time. The sentiment of Chat Puja was so deeply rooted in Magadh that their system of worship is in vogue even today even after such tremendous Aryan, Buddhist and Moslem influence. Of course, in the external rituals of worship some changes have taken place, but the system of worship has not yet become extinct. Even the Moslems participate in the Chat Puja. In some areas they themselves organize the ritual and in other places they get the puja performed through the Hindus. This Chat Puja has now become a tradition. There was a time in Bengal when the Moslems used to worship Satyanáráyańa or the Oláicánd.
From the above discussion it is apparent that religions engender hatred for others, blind faith, etc. in the minds of their followers. Through such religions it is next to impossible to establish unity in the society. Religious differences should be minimized as much as possible, but it should be remembered that blind faith in a religion cannot be forcibly eliminated. To strike at any type of sentiment will only cause that sentiment to grow stronger.
Psychological methods will have to be employed to make people realize the irrational nature of blind religious faith. This requires a rational interpretation of philosophy through enlightened intellect. When the human mind is gripped by the fear psychology it gives indulgence to blind faith rather than logic and reason.
If human fear is removed through logic and reason, the very basis for blind faith will be weakened. That is why human beings will have to be taught philosophical doctrines in a rational way. Furthermore, to remove the psycho-sentiment for a particular physical object, either the object itself should be removed or, by changing the very outlook through scientific and humanitarian reasoning, the person concerned should be separated from that sentimental object. For example, those who perform religious ceremonies in worship of the moon will find it difficult to continue their practice once, due to scientific advancement, they actually get the opportunity to walk on the moon. Blind faith must be removed through the application of science and humanistic appeals. People will have to be united under the common banner of one religion.
In the absence of knowledge of common psychology, people of different religions try to destroy other religions. This has resulted in the spilling of rivers of blood. In ancient India the Aryans tried to impose their own Vedic religion on the Austric community. In the Buddhist era, particularly during the reign of King Bimbisára, Buddhism was imposed on other religions. Later, the followers of the Sanátana Hindus forcibly converted the Buddhist and Jains into Hinduism.
During Moslem rule Islam was imposed on India, Persia and Egypt. Similarly, countless Jews were converted into Christianity. During the British period attempts were made by Christian missionaries to subvert Hinduism and impose Christianity on the indigenous population. All this led to mutual animosity in the world of religion.
Those who indulged in vain criticism and slandering instead of trying to remove the factors diving the human race, created even more problems for society. That’s why there is more disunity than unity in the human society today.
It is the Sadvipras who must take most of the responsibility to remove the disunity. Sadvipras will not give any importance to the points of difference, but will continuously inspire and encourage the common bonds of unity and thus strengthen humanity. Only then will the human society become one and indivisible. Only then will it be worthy of being called a “human society”.