MANSI AGRAWAL – BACHELORS IN FINANCIAL MARKET AND CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER , Persuing MBA at Thakur Institue of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

Swami Vivekananda has stated that all religions lead to the same God in essence, and that differences are in non-essentials. Religious harmony in a multi racial religious society of nations, all three elements are critical for integrated sustainable development of economy, social and environment.

Various factors divide mankind, such as, race, ethnicity, colour, language, nationality, ideology and religion. Among these, religion is most emotive. Scholars propound that religion is responsible for making man a civilized being, spiritual growth and for taking mankind nearer to God. But it is a sad fact that more people have been killed in religious conflicts and battles than in wars for conquest of territory. Religion has been misused for political and personal gain. Cruelty has been inflicted on millions of human beings and animals in the name of religion. Millions are being sacrificed even now. Politics divides people, and politics is in command in all nations.

Religion preaches ethics, good character, virtues and values. So Religions ought to unite. But in practice they divide due to lack of understanding of the purpose of religion. Also wrong interpretation by followers of the teachings of Prophets and founders result in tragic consequences. Politicians have always used religion to gain power and to acquire territory and followers

World population now stands at 6.2 billion. Christianity with 2400 millions is the majority religion in 100 countries, and Islam with 1200 million in 60 countries. Hinduism has 820 million followers who are the majority in INDIA and tiny Nepal. Buddhism has 600 million adherents who are majority in 10 countries in the East, who coexist with other cultures following the teachings of Confucius and Lao Tse.

Jews and Parsees came to India seeking refuge. Christianity came to India before it went to Europe, and they were given opportunity to preach and practice. Islam came to India as traders first and later as conquerors. They ruled over major parts of India for 800 years. At present, India has 820 m Hindus, 140 m Moslems, 40 m Christians, 10 m Sikhs, 2 million Jains and 1 million Buddhists. Parsees and Jews are very few in numbers. Thus India is a country of eight religions and people are highly religious. It is precisely here that Inter-religious harmony can be promoted by education.

The major reason for the requirement of religious harmony in 21st century is the on going communal fights between various religion and countries few of them are Hindu Muslim fight on Babri-masjid case and azad maidan case which resulted in losss of life and property.

The Palestinian Israel conflict can be viewed as an ethnic conflict, yet elements on both sides view it as a religious war as well.Religious tensions over the Wailing Wall led to the Palestine Riots including the Hebron and Safed massacres. Inter-ethnic conflict in Nigeria has generally had a religious element. Riots against Igbo in the north were said to be fired by religious conflict. The riots against Igbo in the north were said to have been inspired by radio reports of mistreatment of Muslims in the south

During the rule of the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem, the discrimination against the majority Buddhist population generated the growth of Buddhist institutions as they sought to participate in national politics and gain better treatment. The Buddhist Uprising of 1966 was a period of civil and military unrest in South Vietnam, largely focused in the I Corps area in the north of the country in central Vietnam.

In a country where the Buddhist majority was estimated to be between 70 and 90 percent, Diem ruled with a strong religious bias. As a member of the Catholic Vietnamese minority, he pursued pro-Catholic policies that antagonized many Buddhists.

The Nigerian war.

Despite people are talking more about globalization and liberalization and increasing education standard but are yet fighting over religious issues.

Steps to be taken to restore the religious harmony in 21st century

Religious Education To co-exist in peace and harmony in a multi-religious society, one should have a sound religious education with strong emphasis on moral and ethical values as the first positive step towards better understanding and mutual cooperation amongst all religionists. All religionists should unite and co-operate with one another to promote and institute a proper and systematic religious education Welfare activities The holding of fellowship meetings, the institution of community service programmes and other social and welfare activities where all religionists work hand-in-hand for a common humanitarian cause, to uplift the lot of the more unfortunate ones in society would serve as a mean for a common bond of friendship.leading to inter-religious peace and harmony.

Youth Organisation Another important area where religionists should seriously address themselves is in the field of youth organisations and related activities. The youths of today are the adults of tomorrow. They should not be allowed to stray into pitfalls of the present age. All the youthful energies and resources should be properly harnessed and directed towards constructive purposes. They should be apprised of all the fundamental teachings of religion in promoting a peaceful and harmonious society and not fed with venom decrying one faith against another. If properly guided through religious principles such as patience, tolerance and understanding, the youth of today would be the greatest religionists in the days to come.

Tolerance and respect Tolerance and respect are two vital words that should be borne in mind in a multi-religious society. One should not only preach tolerance but try, on every possible occasion, to put into practice the benign spirit of tolerance as this spirit would go a long way in creating an atmosphere leading to peace and harmony. We may not understand or appreciate the intrinsic values of certain religious rituals or practices carried out by certain co-religionists. Similarly, others may not be in a position to understand or appreciate our own rituals or practices. If we do not want others to ridicule our actions, we should not ridicule others. We should try to fathom or understand the practices which are foreign to us as it will help to create a better understanding, thus enhancing the spirit of tolerance amongst the followers of the multi-religious denominations.

 “Peace is more than the absence of war. Peace is accord. Harmony.” ― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone