May I Humbly Ask the Religious and Spiritual Leaders of All Communities – Is it OK to do Politics in the name of Religion?

Reacting to President Barack Obama‘s statement on Thursday that ‘acts of intolerance’ experienced by religious faiths of all types in India in the past few years would have shocked Mahatma Gandhi, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that isolated incidents didn’t mean India was intolerant. This scribe is fully agreed with the comments of Sri Sri.

obama speech mahatma gandhi Spiritual Leaders, Politics and Religion

The majority of Indians are tolerant, peace-loving and sagacious human beings. Sri Sri also said that Prez Obama should have met religious leaders while in India for better understanding. I don’t think Sri Sri meant Sakshis, Sadhwis and Yogis type! Swami Pramod Krishnan or Swami Agnivesh could have been the better choice.

I’ve but to respectfully disagree with the later part of his comment.  Sri Sri added that assault on an individual or place of worship was a crime but politicising it was an even greater crime.

Sri Sri never told us how to react when a holy place of one community is desecrated, razed or burnt down by the hooligans of the other community.

SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR Spiritual Leaders, Politics and Religion

In 2001, Buddha’s statues were destroyed by Taleban Government

India and West have led the global condemnation of the Taleban’s destruction of two ancient statues of the Buddha in Afghanistan. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee described the demolition of the Buddhas in central Bamiyan province as “an act of barbarism”. In Bangladesh, a rally was held in the capital, Dhaka, to protest against the destruction. Muslim nations from Malaysia to the Middle East queued up to stress the attacks on the statues had nothing to do with Islam.

Earlier UNESCO Director-general Koichiro Matsuura said in a statement he was distressed to learn about the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas.

The point I’m trying to understand is – What is the difference between such protests and politics that Sri Sri mentioned?

 Recently, the Christians protested at the incident of burning of the interior of St. Sebastian’s Church in New Delhi on Dec1, 2014.  The entire interior of the church building, including the altar, a Bible and a cross, were reduced to ashes. “The church was discovered burnt in the early hours of Monday morning,” said Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council. “The congregation of the church worshipped in the building the previous Sunday, welcoming the season of Advent.” Christian leaders said police response was lax. Attorney Jenis Francis, president of the Federation of Catholic Associations of Delhi, told media that the Station House Officer (SHO) of Dilshad Garden police station was dismissive. “The SHO didn’t record any statements of the people present, and before we could press for more details, he went away,” Francis said. “The ACP later declared that it was not a short circuit, but indeed, clearly a case of mischief.”

shr shri ravi shankar Spiritual Leaders, Politics and Religion

Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, calling on them to urgently order a judicial enquiry.

“The arson in St. Sebastian’s church was condemnable not just because it was an act of sacrilege and hate against the community and its faith, but that it could happen in the national capital which is just recovering from a series of communal incidents,” Cuoto wrote.

The Delhi Catholic Archdiocese later that day issued a statement: “The burning of the church has created a sense of insecurity, and the government has to show by its action that it is concerned and will ensure security of all minorities in their motherland, especially the small Christian community which has been living peacefully for 2,000 years.”

Was it all politics?

May I Humbly Ask the Religious Leaders of All Communities – Is it OK to do Politics in the name of Religion?

It reminds me an old report appeared on April 9, 2014, referring the complaint by AICC legal department secretary K C Mittal against RSS, Baba Ram Dev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. According to the complaint, the RSS and spiritual leaders like Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravishankar are “conducting political activities” for the BJP “without being registered as a political party.” He asked the Election Commission to monitor their activities relating to the election campaign and include the expenditure incurred by them in the poll expenses of the respective candidate of the party in the constituency.

In its complaint, the Congress claimed that Ramdev is using his yoga camp platform for political activity and cited the presence of BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s presence at one such camp in Delhi. “They may have created their aura in their respective fields and as long as they confine their activities to discharge the aims and objects of their institution, it would not come within the meaning of political activities and their apolitical character will be respected.

Modi With Ramdev Spiritual Leaders, Politics and Religion

Unfortunately, all of them are indulging in political activities without following the norms laid down by the Election Commission of India for conduct of fair and proper elections. All the activities and movements, relating to election campaign by all such persons/ organisations/ groups/ associations should be monitored, video-graphed and checked in each of the constituency.” Besides, it demanded that action be taken against them if they “seek votes in the name of religion, caste or community, directly or indirectly.

Congress was decimated. And it seems that a longer hibernation period has fallen in its lot. However, the issue then raised is still relevant and the parochial pollution spread over by the RSS juggernaut since Lok Sabha election 2014, makes it germane to talk about.

Two wrongs don’t make one right. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

 Desecration, Physical threats and Intimidation must be stopped and be condemned. It is not politics.

By: Naim Naqvi

Image Source: 1, 2, 3

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