It’s a funny thing. Almost all mainstream religions and religious-minded glorify the afterlife and vouch for hell and heavens, but don’t really believe it. If they did they would not go hurting fellow beings and amass wealth they can’t take to anywhere beyond the planet.
The recent violence in the City that caused injuries to many and loss of property to dozens made me think. Is our life for living or for fighting? What do we fight for? Alexander conquered the world, Napoleon did the same, most of our kings and emperors spent their whole life fighting. At the end where are they?
Lack of philosophy in life makes one drift. Drifting flotsams become easy fodder for crafty ministers of religions and rituals. It is sad that everything in this country is weighed on the scale of party politics which is sick to the core. What is the electoral gain or monetary gain for me is the question ruling in leaders’ minds.
While the fact remains that faith is basically personal, institutionalising it has resulted in much injury to human race for ages. Shouldn’t we make appropriate amends to our beliefs and rituals according to the changing times?
India has all the religions in the world. No country on Earth can claim such a plurality as India does. And, among the major religions — Hindu-Muslim-Christian — alone have 30 sects and Hindus have 300 sub-sects. Aside from this, there are 12 or more birth anniversaries of leaders past. Thus it becomes clear that we will have 1 ‘holy day’ throughout the year. If we begin to take to the street on every occasion, we will have 365 days of processions of one kind or another. When do we work? When do we earn? When do we live and love? Where do we drive or walk? What of the millions of business people, big and small, who must earn their bread?
That massive rallies through narrow old city streets, whether it is in Lucknow or Ahmedabad or Hyderabad, have been the major cause of trouble all these years is a fact. After every trouble we dress the wound and get out again, repeating the same folly.
Secularism is equal respect to all faiths or indifference to religious faiths. In a country with endless social mosaics, is it not time we banned processions on public roads? The judiciary has pronounced bandh as unconstitutional; why not discontinue religious processions along streets?
Each procession, we all know, is not a sign of devotion but a show of strength — either political or social. Devotion is a matter involving mind or heart, not physical.
Tailend: A hotel in Coimbatore run by a Palakkad Patter (Brahmin) came out with a brilliant business idea. His customers comprised, in almost equal proportion, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. So he put up a signage of aum, a cross and a crescent moon and star behind his cash counter and lit an agarbatti every morning. Patter had no inkling of the trouble he was courting. First, a testy Muslim customer asked if the Patter believed in all, why is his fare only vegetarian? Didn’t he know meat and fish are mainstay in the menu of Christians and Muslims? Patter was aghast. He stuttered, “What! How can I?” The customer insisted that the cross and crescent be removed. Patter but persisted. Then came a day when a dozen or more Jains got posted to the city and became his customers. One of them told Patter to keep a photo of Mahaveer. The hotelier gladly obliged, then came Buddhists, and Buddha got added, Sikhs came in and Guru Gobind Singh joined in and slowly many Babas followed suit. There came a day when the gallery was full and the wall protested. Unable to bear any longer, Patter did the only thing possible. He removed all and put up a mirror instead. Trouble subsided. Everywhere peace, because looking at one’s own reflection, no customer could become angry or testy.
PK Surendran works for Postnoon.
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PK Surendran is senior editor at Postnoon.