Kasturi Gaur – B.Sc Chemistry , Persuing MBA at Thakur Institue of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

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. 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. Religion has always been with us. As we think all the way back to the dawn of human consciousness, we find religion everywhere we turn.

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. 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 giving rise to various religions.

THE PEACE MAKING PROCESS:

Religion can bring social, moral, and spiritual resources to the peace building process. For instance, the Yogic and Buddhist spiritual traditions provide tools such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and the cultivation of equanimity and compassion for becoming more centered peace builders who can embody peacefulness in personal and work contexts. This has manifold benefits, not least of which is an increased sense of centeredness and inner peace for individuals who work in the field of peace building.

Peace and reconciliation in the world’s most prevalent religious teachings:

Hinduism: Hinduism followers constantly reflect inward and make a commitment to achieve subjugation of desire, renunciation of petty desires and personal motives, upholding of practical interests, tranquility, self-control, patience, peace of mind, and movement towards liberation from the concerns of this world. Hinduism teaches its followers to practice truth seeking, and upholds moral purification as a constant practice in renewing ones conduct and behavior.

Buddhism: Buddhism exhorts followers to seek enlightenment. Enlightenment is found through exercising right view, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right endeavor, right sound-fullness, and right contemplation. This calls upon a person’s decisions to emanate from informed judgment and deep reflection. Extremism is discouraged in Buddhism; instead, Buddhists strive to find the middle way in conflict resolution.

 Christianity: According to Christianity, reconciliation is an act of God and was initiated by Him through the death of Jesus Christ. God is reconciling the world to Himself. All Christians are children of God. God has written the law in their hearts and they are commanded to love God and their fellow humans.

Islam: Islam connotes the attainment of peace through submission to Allah or through conformity of his Will. The Quran teaches order, orderliness, morality and human betterment. The power for people to reconcile comes from God and can thus be achieved. Muslims should keep and promote peace and justice with all, including enemy, keep the greeting peace be unto you, and exercise tolerance. Thus, the teachings of the various above mentioned religions clearly depict that each religion has a unique bouquet of love, harmony, and beauty. Taken all together, these varied bouquets bring a powerful healing fragrance to our world.

RELIGIOUS HARMONY IN INDIA:

Amity between the communities in the country and absence of friction and tension among them is known as communal harmony. In countries like India, it is very important, being a Precondition to internal peace, which is essential for progress and development of the country.

India has got multiplicity of religions and very nature of the culture is composite. But earlier religion had never been a source of conflict between the communities in Indian society. However, the vested interests have always been active to create disharmony between them.

Religious harmony dates back to “HISTORY”:

If we look back at Indian history we find that for the sake of maintaining communal harmony, Akbar the started a new religion “Din-e-Iiahi”. He made a Rajput lady his wife gave equal respect is Hindu religion. During the time of Bahadur Zafar, the last king of Mugal dynasty, a function named “Foolwalon-ki- Sai” which used to be organized regularly in Delhi, were people of both the religion worshipped in temples and mosques together.

COMMUNAL DISHARMONY: A SOCIAL PROBLEM WITH ECONOMIC CAUSES

The civilized society has continued to face social disharmony, particularly resulted by the communal unrest. Religious fundamentalism is one of the reasons for persistence of this problem. Politics of religion practiced by the political parties for political gains may be another reason. But many feel that though this is a social problem, the causes for this are mainly economic in nature. ·

  •  Even after decades of economic planning, over millions of people in the world are still living below poverty line. This high incidence of economic deprivation is one important reason for social and religious unrest.
  •  Yet another serious socio-economic problem is the growing incidence of unemployment. Increasing unemployment is raising social tension and the idle and unemployed youth is being misdirected to communal riots across the globe. ·
  •  Some of the religious communities are economically backward while some are educationally backward. The youth of such communities fall easy prey to anti-social elements who do not want the country to grow faster and want the communal tensions to dominate the socio-economic scene of the country.

 

RELIGIOUS ACTOR’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE PEACEMAKING PHASE:

History presents cases of mediation and peacemaking by religious leaders and institutions. Religious leaders and faith-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) playing prominent roles as mediators.

Conceptualizing the role of religion and religious actors in peace building:

A three-fold analysis can help practitioners capture and analyze the multiple ways religion and religious actors can contribute in peace building processes:

  •   Religious beliefs may offer crucial intangible components of peace building;
  •   Religious actors traditionally perform a certain number of social functions in the society that can be all the more important at the peace building phase; and
  •   Religious actors play an important role as members of local civil society. It is crucial to remember that “there is variety in all religion, in its forms, interpretations, practices, authorities; also in the existing religions in each country.

RELIGIOUS HARMONY IN 21ST CENTURY:

We are now in the twenty first century. The quality of research on both the inner and physical world has reached quite high levels, thanks to the tremendous stride in technological advancement and human intelligence.

While addressing a gathering Dalai Lama once mentioned that he knew a physicist from Chile who told him that it is not appropriate for a scientist to be biased towards science because of his love and passion for it. Similarly, if we mix our love for and attachment to our religion, then our mind shall be biased towards it. A biased mind, which never sees the complete picture, cannot grasp the reality. And any action that results from such a state of mind will not be in tune with reality. As such it causes a lot of problems.

Technology has brought peoples of the world together. MNCs are operating in many nations where their managers are drawn from all over the world. Narrow loyalties to nationality, race and religions are waning. 200 million tourists leave their home and travel all over the globe every year. They see for themselves how others think and live. Finally, education levels are going up which removes rigidity and opens up the mind. The need to separate religion from politics is being recognized. These are favorable factors which promote inter-religious understanding and harmony.

 CONCLUSION:

Whatever be our religious affiliation, we have to live in amity with others who belong to other religions. All of us belong to the same human species. Man is only one among one million animal species, and therefore, a human birth is a rare privilege and a gift of God. In order to show our gratitude to the one God, known by various names, such as Father in heaven by Christians, Allah by Muslims, Ahura Mazda by Parsees and Brahman by Hindus, we should behave as HIS children.

Einstein has stated that “Religion without Science is blind and that Science without religion is lame”. Rationality, rather than blind faith and superstition ought to guide mankind. Slowly over time, Spirituality and Ethics, Science and Rationality would triumph over narrow sectarianism, and make the Planet shine with Love and Brotherhood.

Lastly, would like to conclude by quoting lines said by Swami Vivekananda– “As so many rivers, having their source in different mountains, roll down, crooked or straight, and at last come into the ocean — so, all these various creeds and religions, taking their start from different standpoints and running through crooked or straight courses, at last come unto Thee”.