Most of us in India are born theists. We are genetically theists, because generation after generation our fore fathers were theists and our mothers were also theists. Most of us when we were unaware of existence or non-existence of God, we used to go to the temples (or churches or mosques etc) to worship God. We are habituated to God-worship. If I say we are addicted to God-worship, I think I am not wrong. If we quit God-worship we may get withdrawal symptoms of God-fear.
Most of us are told by our parents, teachers and elders etc that God is the Creator of man, animals, plants, land, mountains and water etc. When we grew still older we were told that God is the creator of the Earth, Moon, Sun, the Planets and the Universe. Then gradually we came to know that whatever we perceive through our sensory organs are nothing but God’s creation.
Before we could realize whether what we have been told is truth or untruth, we started worshiping God. God became part and parcel of our life. In the Indian society we not only worship one God, but worship multiple gods. To overcome the obstacles and to earn knowledge we worship Lord Ganesh. To earn wealth we worship Goddess Laxmi. To escape from dangerous and troublesome situations (sankat) we worship the troubleshooter (sankat mochan) Lord Hanuman. We in India have different gods for different purposes. The Indian mythological scriptures have mentioned that there are 33 crores of such gods headed by three Super Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar. It is a matter of great consolation for the Indians that the number of gods have not increased after that.
These Indian gods are designated as Hindu gods. However there was no religion called Hinduism before non-Indians ruled over India. There was only one religion in India known as Sanatan Vaidic Dharma. India went through many foreign rules during which other religions entered into India. To distinguish themselves from the original Indian religion the non-Indians designated the Sanatan Vaidic Dharma as Hinduism. Therefore against my wish I will mention these Indian gods as Hindu gods hence forwards.
Now India is a secular country. All the religions in India are given equal opportunity in every respect. But to me it appears that most of the Indians do not have minimum knowledge about their religion. I am not telling that it is applicable to only Hindu religion. In fact it is almost equally applicable to all religions.
At present religion in India means going to the temples or churches or mosques on certain festival days, attend the functions there and make some prayers to fulfill worldly desires. This happens mostly in Hindu religion. Praying God for fulfillment of one’s own selfish desires also happens in other religions most probably to a lesser extent. But what is most amusing is that the Hindu gods are becoming more and more popular even with the people of other religions in India and nonresidential Indians abroad. Some of the non-Hindu non-Indians are also attracted towards the Hindu Gods especially the Avatars like Rama and Krishna etc.
The increasing popularity of Hindu gods with the people of Hindu and non-Hindu religions in India and to some extent abroad is most probably due to the notion that they are capable of fulling the selfish personal desires of the worshipers.
How far the Hindu gods fulfill the desires of the worshipers and how they fulfill is mysterious and a matter of strong debate and dispute. But the fact remains that the worshipers achieve fulfillment of their desires more often than not.
Whereas in other religions God-worship is performed only in some fixed devotional places (like Church, Mosque etc) and ceremonial festivals are observed mostly on some specific occasions (like Christmas, Id etc), in Hindu religion gods are worshiped even outside the temples all over India on some special occasions like Durga Pooja, Ganesh Pooja, Diwali (Kali Pooja), Vishwakarma Pooja etc. On these festive occasions even some non-Hindu people (of course a few) also take part in the observations. Similarly some Hindus (of course very few) observe Christmas and Id etc in India.
How far these festive occasions speak of religion is also a matter of strong debate and dispute. But one thing is obvious that these festivals provide a lot of entertainment to the public.
In addition to the above-mentioned festivals there are a lot of ashrams in India and a lot of people (devotees) go to these and listen to the spiritual speeches from the spiritual personalities. The famous spiritual leaders also arrange spiritual meetings and deliver spiritual speeches outside their ashrams inside India and also abroad. Devotees go in large numbers to listen to them.
Since long India has been acclaimed as the spiritually leading country in the world. Spiritual leaders of India are very popular in India as well as abroad. Achievement of independence of India through a non-violent revolution under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi is regarded as unique in the world. We feel proud as Indians so far as spiritualism is concerned. Here in India even an illiterate uneducated common man speaks of God. Some people in India as well as outside India sometimes (sarcastically?) remark “Every Indian is a philosopher.”
Despite all the above facts the cruel truth is that most of the Indians do not have minimum knowledge about their religion. This happens because in a secular country people can give equal respect to all religions of the world, but can never acquire equal knowledge in all religions of the world.
If we show 100% respect to all the religions of the world, we are showing equal respect. If we show 0% respect to all the religions, then also we are showing equal respect to all the religions. In between, a man cannot calculate different percentages of his respect and distribute equal percentage of his respect to each and every religion.
To maintain secularism one cannot show total disrespect (0% respect) to each and every religion. So the only alternative is to show 100% respect to each and every religion. The Indians show 100% respect to each and every religion, because they know very well that to live happily and peacefully in a secular country they have to show proper respect to their own religion as well as to all other religions.
Showing respect to all religions is easy. But acquiring knowledge about all religions is extremely difficult, which one cannot do even-if he wants to do. What to speak of all religions, to acquire knowledge about one religion is also very difficult.
Generally we send our children to schools, colleges and universities to gain knowledge. Most of our children are brilliant. Indian students have proven their brilliancy through stiff competition in each and every sphere of knowledge in India and abroad. But we will be highly disappointed if we inquire about their moral, spiritual and religious knowledge. In schools and colleges and universities of India (and most probably also abroad) everything is taught except spirituality and morality.
If Hinduism will be taught in the teaching institutions, other religion people will strongly oppose. Similarly if any one religion is taught, all other religion people will strongly oppose. As a result, none of the religions are taught in schools or colleges. Alternatively to please all religions, all religions cannot be taught in the class. This will be an almost impossible task. Even-if somehow or other such a project be implemented it will create more confusion than wisdom.
Are so many religions really necessary to boost up the morality of the mankind? If that be so why immorality, corruption, violence, terrorism etc are on the increasing trend not only in India, but throughout the world? This obviously indicates that all the religions have failed in achieving the purpose for which they have been created.
On the other hand there is violence based on religion. There is terrorism based on religion. This clearly indicates that all the religions are working in the opposite direction for which they have been created.
Gandhiji once said “God has no religion”. If God has no religion, why man must have a religion? The concept of God can continue without religion. Religion can also exist without God. Morality can exist without God and religion. But God and religion cannot exist without morality. Man also cannot exist without morality. Man without morality is equivalent to a beast. Science may provide many comforts, but cannot provide peace of mind. Without peace of mind man will feel as if he is in the midst of utter scarcity even in the midst of the plenty.
Time has come we should boost up the morality of the mankind irrespective of God and religion, because God and religion have now been monopolized by a group of people who claim themselves to be men of wisdom. They are also acclaimed by the general public as men of wisdom. Such men of wisdom in the modern era are surprisingly studded with plenty of riches. How plenty of money comes to them is a matter of surprise, but mostly it is due to the offers made by the devotees from India and abroad. Most of us know “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. But it is also a fact that “Money corrupts and plenty of money corrupts opulently”. As a result the so called spiritual people become corrupted. Some are exposed and arrested. Those who are not exposed we cannot say that they are free from corruption behind the scene. This does not mean that all are corrupted. But a general notion has been created in India amongst general public that the so called holy personalities may not be free from unholy deeds.
Such things happen more in India and most probably to a lesser extent outside India, because religion and spiritualism in India has become a profitable profession instead of a path to salvation.
This is a problem under the disguise of no problem, which is more dangerous than any burning problem. This problem is the most dangerous, because it cannot be readily solved by a mere slogan of “Bhrastachar door karo”. Whenever such a slogan is openly and publicly given, many join with the slogan. But how many of them are themselves free from immorality and corruption? Those, who are most corrupted, sometimes take more active part in the procession giving the slogan in a louder voice lest they will be distinguished as more corrupt people.
I have seen some small children of about 10 years and teenager boys and girls taking part in such processions. If young mass are involved in such revolution, it creates high and long lasting hopes within us. But do these children and teenagers have minimum knowledge about morality, immorality, corruption etc? Obviously they do not know. How can they know? There is no moral teaching in schools, colleges and universities. To know about immorality and corruption they should at first have knowledge about morality. Having no basic fundamental knowledge about morality and immorality, but giving slogan against corruption is ridiculous.
If a procession constitutes of corrupted people and youngsters who are ignorant of morality, immorality and corruption, their slogan against corruption will never be effective. It seems their slogan is against the corrupted leaders and corrupted personalities who are exposed in the media like Newspapers and TV etc. But corruption can never be eradicated, if people want to remove corruption from others without removing corruption from within themselves. Now-a-days in India each and every sensible person desires that others should quit corruption, but he/she himself/herself does not want to quit corruption at all. If such be the intention of the Indians a drop of corruption will not be reduced, what to speak of drying up of the ocean of corruption?
The only solution to this problem is to impart compulsory moral teaching from grass root level in the schools, colleges and universities. The students are now-a-days so much burdened with study materials from the very beginning of the primary school level that it is a pitiable sight to see small boys and girls carrying bags (full of books and note books) almost equal to their height and weight. It will be further punishment to them if they carry some more books and note books on morality, immorality and corruption etc. So the best thing for them would be to impart verbal moral teaching classes for which they need not have to carry any books or note books. All the moral teaching should be rehearsed only in the classes right from primary school up to the university. No examinations. No home tasks. But they have to attend the minimum number of classes failing which they will not be allowed to appear in other examinations.
Sounds to be a very nice idea. But innumerable obstacles will be there which will be encountered if at all such a program is introduced into the educational curriculum. But the most difficult obstacle will be the multiple religions in India and throughout the world.
Although morality can be taught without any reference to religion, but from time immemorial morality has been taught by the religious personalities of India and also throughout the world. If most of the people will be morally sound who will care for the religious personalities?
The best thing is that all the great spiritual personalities of the wold should hold one international conference on religion and announce that all the religions of the world would be abolished from thence forwards. Similarly the concept of God may also be abolished from human mind from that day onwards.
When most of the people do not bother for morality, what is the necessity of religion and God? After all, concept of God and religion have been created by conscientious human beings with the chief purpose of teaching and preaching morality.
However although few people bother for God and religion, once it is declared that all the religions and the concept of God are abolished from the world, the very next moment there will be great revolution against such idea all over the world. This revolution may take the form of brutal violence. Instead of causing welfare to mankind it will cause severe damage to the human civilization. We are so much attached to God and religion that we cannot breathe without them. It is more so in India (non-Indians are also not free). Most of the Indians are addicted to God and religion. They can not exist without God and religion, although God is never perceived, true religion is never observed and God and religion are not absolute necessity for existence of human civilization.
On the other hand if an international conference is made and it is declared that morality is abolished and immorality and corruption are legalized, most of the Indians (and also most of the people of the world) would most probably be happy internally, but show displeasure externally, because most of the Indians love immorality and corruption in the core of their heart. However they show love for morality, and hatred for immorality and corruption outwardly. Such mentality more or less exists also throughout the world. If morality is abolished, either there will be no revolution or only a superficial revolution. My opinion in this regard is based on the fact the concept on God and religion remaining almost unaltered, immorality is replacing morality in an insidious manner into the civilization. People gladly accept immorality without raising even soft voice against it. What to speak of revolution? Things which were accepted as immorality in ancient India have now been gladly accepted as morality without any objection.
For example the beautiful characters of Seeta, Savitree, Satee Anusooya are no more ideals for Indian girls and ladies. Similarly the noble character of Rama is no more ideal for Indian boys. However the Indians should not be blamed for this. It seems that the morality needs revision and modification in the present context.
Better than the best is to hold one international conference on religions by all the great spiritual leaders of the world where they would unanimously decide to blend all the religions of the world into one religion. No new religion is necessary. Only a perfect and healthy blending of all religions is required. To this religion which will contain the basic moral principles of all religions of the world, only a new name may be given. After all, all the religions contain almost similar basic principles. Why not all the religions be under one banner of “International Humanitarian Religion”? One God, one religion and one set moral principles for the entire world. Human beings are almost similar throughout the world. Why then there be different religions and different moral principles for people in different regions of the world? Even in the same country?
God needs no revision. He is the eternal and unchangeable. But religion and morality need revision and modification with changing trend of time. It is better if it is done at least once in a decade. Otherwise the religion and morality will remain only in books. Sometimes people laugh at the moralities of the past, although they are unaware of any definite moral principles of the present. Obviously the result is that there is only a hair line difference between morality and immorality at present. Many examples can be cited from the present life style in India and abroad. But I feel ashamed to cite these examples.
Then of course it will be easy to implement moral teaching classes in the schools, colleges and universities. Immorality and corruption can be rooted out from India and from the world. Of course it will be a prolonged and gradual process, but a definite process.
Immorality and corruption have grown into a large banyan tree at present in India and abroad. Processions and slogans against immorality and corruption is just like cutting its branches. If only the branches are severed, then it will again flourish more and more. Only if the the roots are severed from deep beneath the ground it can be rooted out. For rooting out immorality and corruption moral teaching in schools, colleges and universities is the only solution. To achieve this “Uni-Religion-Ism” instead of “Secularism” is the basic necessity. Once this is achieved other obstacles can be easily tackled in course time.
But we should not forget that immorality and corruption are more than a banyan tree. These have existed since the beginning of human civilization and are increasing with the advancement of civilization. Most probably they will never be rooted out. If I speak of rooting out immorality and corruption in the state in which they are especially in India (and also in the world) at present, people will call me a day dreamer. Immorality and corruption may not be rooted out. But with proper efforts these can definitely be reduced to the minimum.
However I should not be sorry if I am called a day-dreamer, because day dreaming is the beginning of all ideologies. If the leaders of the world day-dream of “Uni-Religion-Ism in stead of Secularism” today, who knows it may come into reality one day!
By: Dr Narayan Udgata