Real Freedom Of Religion

To help India, contemporary spiritualism must break the shackles on its own soul

Written by Swami Agnivesh | Published:June 9, 2017 12:10 am
India religion, religious freedom, religious diversity, contemporary spiritualism, indian express editorial page, latest news In a multi-religious society like India, it is dangerous to allow religious wheeler-dealers to wreak havoc.

Religion is our strength — and weakness. Religion serves as a beacon of light when it helps to make us better human beings. For that, religion has to be rational, and our practise of it, reasonable. Every religion, in its origin, was refreshingly rational. It is when class and group interests hijacked religious beliefs that dogma gained the upper hand.

Look at the religious issues uppermost in our national concerns now — cow vigilantism and strident orthodoxy that pretends the discriminatory custom of triple talaq is a pillar of Islam. Both camps are an embarrassment to their respective religions. Religions arose when people were deficient in their understanding of fundamental issues — the core function of religion is to set people free. But it is here that the merchants of religion play havoc. Blind faith is their passport to anti-people criminality.

Religion turns human beings towards God, so that they are led out of narrow-mindedness. Therefore, any religion which advocates divisive agendas is an insult to God and human beings. We must see through the games religious ventriloquists play.

From a constitutional angle, freedom of choice is basic to the practice of religion. This assumption is spiritually sound — but religious agents who claim protection under Article 25 flout this freedom. No religion respects the freedom of an individual to make free choices with respect to the religion he or she wishes to practice. All religions function on the basis of birth: You are born a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc. Christians and Muslims, who are keen to convert, will not allow, much less encourage, their flock to choose any other religion. Article 25 should, according to them, facilitate one-way traffic.

Every religious establishment is keen to focus on religious rituals: No one presents the philosophical core. It is surprising that Hindus don’t react when Hinduism is equated with caste, cows or a Ram mandir. Why don’t Christians feel troubled when church life is, in most respects, a contradiction of Jesus’s teachings? Jesus was passionate about justice and dignity. Where is that to be found in the agenda of the church?

In a multi-religious society like India, it is dangerous to allow religious wheeler-dealers to wreak havoc. Every religious agenda that promotes alienation among citizens should be disallowed. Religions need to be liberated from so-called places of worship. Temples, mosques, churches, gurudwaras and so on have nothing to do with godliness. They are centres of materialism, corruption and greed.

I would propose the following as priorities: First, the indoctrination of children from birth onwards regarding a single faith, so that their freedom of choice is virtually abolished, should stop. Second, children, through education, should be familiarised with world religions, so they can make informed choices. Third, every attempt should be made to promote a critical mind in children. The worst disservice religions do is that, by promoting orthodoxy, they kill free thinking, innovation and initiative, which despoils our potential. Religions, as agents of liberation, must promote free inquiry. The freedom of religion is meaningless without freedom from religion.

Next, the all-inclusive vision of our seers, vasudhaiva kutumbakam, is something all religious communities can endorse without feeling homogenised. Transcending division is a sign that we are truly godly — every discriminative custom should be eradicated.

Finally, the poor need to be seen as God’s equal children — Aryans, as the Vedas and Swami Dayanand taught us. Paying lip-service to them should stop. The poor as our priority must be reflected in our budgetary allocations and schemes. The poor should get full protection against exploitation.

A national confederation of religions, accredited by all communities, must beconstituted to speak on national issues, from a non-partisan perspective, on the lines of the National Integration Council.

The most important contribution that religions can make to India is by counterpointing expediency, which drives politics and statecraft with long-term wisdom. Total submission to expediency cheapens a nation. Time attains significance only under the aegis of eternity. Indeed, religions are meant to embody the intimations of eternity within the fleeting nature of man-made systems, structures and institutions.

The writer is president emeritus, World Council of Arya Samaj

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  1. G
    Gopal
    Jun 10, 2017 at 4:46 am
    A discredited charlatan and crook is lecturing about religion with proposals that make no sense. What did the editors of this paper see in this article that was worth publishing.
    Reply
    1. P
      pankaj
      Jun 10, 2017 at 4:42 am
      For Christians and Muslims there is only one way of religious freedom- converting to their religion, not the other way around. That is what they learn in their idea of freedom of religion. Freedom of opinion is even more constrained in these religions, we should do a national level debate on this. We need to question our lib-tards and vote bank politicians properly what they have to say about this double or triple standard of these religions and what society should do to handle it.
      Reply
      1. J
        Jay
        Jun 10, 2017 at 2:07 am
        This calls himself Swami and in fact is a paid troll of Congie. Did you forget he was kicked out of the Anna camp when he was spying and reporting every thing to Kapil Sibal from inside. He was caught red handed. What bothers me is that IE is loosing its re tion when it beings dubious spy corrupt character like Agnivwsh to write articles. It brings down the standards.
        Reply
        1. M
          MyTake
          Jun 9, 2017 at 11:52 pm
          Can someone explain what is contemporary spiritualism? Is that bottled spiritualism or putting on "spiritual" label while working for a political party??
          Reply
          1. L
            lucky
            Jun 9, 2017 at 11:49 pm
            Politics is threat to religion
            Reply
            1. S
              Sudish Puthalat
              Jun 9, 2017 at 9:56 pm
              Send Agnivesh to stan for preaching his b of spirituality
              Reply
              1. A
                Abu George
                Jun 9, 2017 at 9:50 pm
                Good article. But not at all practical. It may be possible with the Hinduism which is a flexible religion. In spite of so many Gods and Goddesses , Hinduism is monotheistic at its core and is an ever enquiring philosophy. It is just not possible with Islam and may not be possible with christianity also ( excepting many educated western Christians who are liberal and who have enquiring minds). Koran does not accept cal God by any name other than Allah...People who question Allah or pray by any other name deserve strict punishment. For Eg. read Sura 2 Al Khabr..Verse ( Ayath ) 6-7
                Reply
                1. C
                  Cylus Benjamin
                  Jun 9, 2017 at 9:14 pm
                  The jewels inside the somnath temple made ghazni Muhammed to p er the precious metals. When religion failed in Russia and China communism filled the void. Even today the jewels inside the padmanabhaswamy temple couldn't be auctioned. As the digitalisation of currency is done at least the government can ban the use of jewels as the pentecostal mission does. But the minorities are blamed for the wrongs of the government
                  Reply
                  1. J
                    Jay
                    Jun 10, 2017 at 2:01 am
                    There you go again. Typical Christian hatred rant. What hasn't this to do with Pentecostal when Bible clearly says that you can slave your daughter and sell her.
                    Reply
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