Deepak Jagdish Vasu  –  B.Sc Biotechnology , Perusing MBA at Thakur Institute of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

What is religion? George Bernard Shaw says ‘Religion is a great force – the only real motive force in the world’. There is a common misconception that religion means ritualistic religion and nothing else. The word religion actually means laws, both natural and moral, that ensure right living .Religion stands for an integral development of the personality, a comprehensive view of life.

Only human species has the ability to transmit information and knowledge from one generation to the next. This ability has given man his cherished civilization and culture. An enquiring mind naturally seeks for an order, for a unifying principal behind the apparent diversity. It is well known that faith infuses energy and grit, without which no worth while progress in any field of activity is possible. Today we all are at the verge of atomic destruction and when every body is busy in the mad rat race of materialistic pursuit, religious harmony will be a relief .We should make an effort to peep into the prominent religions of the world and find out a secular message for the man kind .Our aim should be to enlighten and educate the masses about all the religions, so that the message of universal brotherhood is spread throughout the world. This is where schools, colleges and B-schools can play an important role.

Incarnations, Saints, Prophets and Sages have appeared in different parts of the world from time to time in order to teach men how to live in harmony. These great souls, on the basis of personal experience explained the essential ideals and values in life and taught how they can be achieved. In addition to their moral and spiritual teachings, almost all the religious teachers and reformers of the world gave out a plan and a system of their own on which human society would best be organized .It was thus that every faith helped to establish customs and conventions, with rites and rituals, amongst the communities of mankind and gave birth to a particular type of civilization and culture which naturally differed from others. This is how different religions came into existence.

The concept of religious harmony is not new but they were first coined by emperor Akbar and Ashoka. Though illiterate, Akbar realized that every religion in his kingdom, in essence, taught the same moral values. Yet every religion due to it’s different name and identity for the Almighty, struggled to portray itself as distinct and superior. A man of great wisdom, Akbar realized the disharmony that religion sowed in the lives of men and devoted himself in the evolution of a new religion that would unite the discordant elements of the world in one harmonious whole. This eventually resulted in him promulgating a new religion, the Din-I-Ilahi.

Any unrest in religion anywhere in the world has direct impact on Trade, National integration, inflation, Globalization, increase in number of poor people, Destruction of property and life. As all major religions of the world derive from the same root source, it is importance to realize the significance of mutual respect that has been advocated in all religions. Furthermore, with globalization of free flow of information via high technology and the movement of peoples cross borders can only positively help religious tolerance to increase. This religious unity is mentioned in all religious doctrines but unfortunately, the events of history up until the present day has unfolded with the emphasis on differences than that of similarities. But if we are to revert to that which has been stated in all the following Holy verses, perhaps we can shift from religious harmony as a conception and materialize it into a reality.

The Holy Quran states:

‘O Mankind, we have created you male and female, and have made you races and tribes, that you may know each other’ (Al Quran 49:13).

In Judaism, it is states:

“Seek peace and pursue it…. Seek it where you are and pursue it in other places as well.” (Psalm34: 15)

In the Old Testament, it states:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44)

“May God…grant you to be of the same mind with one another” (Romans 15: 5-6)

In Hinduism, Swami Vivekananda states:

“Help and not fight, assimilation and not destruction, harmony and peace and not dissension are the substance of my faith”

Present Era of Globalization

Although a brief summary of the history between the relationship of religion and globalization has been presented, the term globalization became a topic of much discussion after the collapse of the bi-polar world and Communism. Nonetheless, with recent political climax of the past several years and especially in light of the events of President Bush’s war against terror and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, religion has been once again been evaluated from a political standpoint, whereby it has often been correlated with the effects of globalization upon it. Therefore, it is crucial to discuss and bring forth the impact of one another in a time where the two can no longer be seen as separate entities, but rather, the strong effects of globalization on religion and vice versa

Negative Aspects of Globalization on Religion and Religious Ethics

Given the previous stated definitions of globalization by various scholars, it can be noted that the global dominance of globalization has affected religious and cultural values, whereby its process is seen as a threat to these traditions. For reasons such as diversity and its threat to the religious traditional values, globalization is seen as a polarization factor within these defined religious identity and its practice. The Economic and Political Weekly on March 27, 2004 stated the following arguments on the major interface between religion and globalization in India: (1) the major consequences of globalization have been the transmogrification of traditional religions and belief systems and (2) the beginning of the disintegration of the traditional social fabrics and shared norms by the invasion of consumerism, cyber culture, newfangled religions, social fads, and changing work ethics and work rhythms, (3) allowing people to fall back on religion for moral and social support, attributing to religion the creation and acceleration of extremist, fundamentalist, and terrorist tendencies in the third world countries, which are intended to destabilize them, and strike at the root of their civilization, and multicultural and pluralistic nature.

As the political scientist Samuel Huntington stated “money becomes evil not when it is used to buy power… economic inequalities become evil when they are translated into political inequalities.” This misuse of power acquired though economic dominance has been a pattern that has increased with globalization

Positive Aspects of Globalization on Religion

Thus far, the negative repercussions and complexities of globalization and its infringement on religion and culture and its attribution to class differences have been presented. That is not to say that globalization is all negative. It has also brought about a culture of pluralism, which is so prevalent in all religious teachings. With globalization, we have seen the emergence of global human rights and environmentalist groups that protect the interests of those often victimized by globalization. Furthermore, with the creation of Organizations such as the United Nation, World Health Organization and World Bank, etc., whether effective or not, has increased means of transparency and security. In this regard, the creation of a peaceful ‘global village’ has allowed the issues of poverty, war, and environment to have a global consensus and participation. This integration has allowed the erosion of cultural, ethnic and religious differences that often pertained as ideologies that divided in the past. Therefore, with the free movement of populations and the immigration, we have seen the development of multiculturalism and perhaps mutual understanding and respect.

Conclusion:

Global Peace & Oneness of Humanity:

World peace starts with peace in self, in family, in our society, in our cities and extends beyond all political borders. We must teach our children and ourselves Peace & value education for creating peace in ourselves and in the minds of the children. World peace is possible and a natural part of mankind’s evolution and it can be achieved only through Peace values.

The basis for Global Peace is ‘self-transformation’ and ‘self-transformation leads to world transformation.’

Doctrine of Non-violence

Non-violence, tolerance and peaceful existence are the essential ingredients for creating world peace & human unity. Ahimsa reduces the conflicts & violence; and creates the peace & harmony in the world

Doctrine of Non-absolutist teaches tolerance, listening to view points of others & ponder over in our quest for truth..

doctrine of non-possession

is the absence of feelings of possession, attachment, bondage, expectation, desire, etc., which helps in reducing the poverty & creates the nonviolent sustainable society.

Doctrine of non-possessions is a significant and unique contribution of lord Mahāvīra to the world. It generates peace and harmony in the society; equanimity in the nation and sense of belonging in the family. Its practice in letter and spirit only can result in the welfare of humanity