NITESH SINGH –  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.

India, where different religious traditions “live harmoniously”, is a model to other parts of world, and should continue to keep this tradition.

Describing India as ‘Arya Bhumi’, the Nobel Laureate said “we consider this country spiritually very, very important.” In the last 2000-3000 years, different religious traditions, including Buddhism, Jainism, flourished here.”

the world is divided into narrow domestic walls. Hardly a day passes without a terrorist killing an innocent person and somebody murders a person out of revenge. Every country wants to display her power by going in for atomic bombs. In this trouble torn world, we need peace and harmony. This is not possible by changing our religious faiths or declaring a war against a country on flimsy causes and excuses. If we try to study the essence of all religions, we should come to the conclusion that no religion professes hatred and violence. If some people are labeled as terrorists, the religion does not owe responsibility for them. Terrorists do not belong to any religion. They are a separate entity.

In this huge and gigantic world, we can’t think of a single religion and faith. There are bound to be many cultural and religious differences. The people need to live in a state of peace and harmony despite their religious and cultural idiosyncrasies. Like “The impossibility of having just one medicine for all illnesses. Different illnesses needing different medicine and even the same illness needing different medicines based on the patient’s condition.”

Even though all religions proclaim the universal brotherhood of man, history is full of bloody, violent conflicts between members of different religions. Many battles were fought between Muslims and Christians, Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Muslims and so on in the past. Many such struggles are going on even now like the conflict between Muslims and Jews in Palestine. A deeper analysis of the causative factors of these conflicts shows that in all these situations non-religious, often political and economic interests were instrumental to these problems. Religious identity was used as a mask to cover up the vested interests of the conflicting parties.

I would conclude by saying that at least 90 percent of the world’s conflicts are directly or indirectly related to a single establishment: Organized religion.

Some will say that’s idiotic. Implausible, perhaps, but not idiotic. Without organized religions, people could still adhere to divine beliefs of their choice and worship to their hearts content. But the concept of “organized” religions, which are essentially sub-governments consisting of rules designed to regulate behavior, would be rendered obsolete. Therefore, without a pope, or a high rabbi, or an ayatollah, we wouldn’t have to worry about conflict, war, death and destruction. Maybe…just maybe, people would start getting along.

For all the good we like to think religion has brought the human race over the centuries, it has probably served to thin the world’s population more than old age and more than epidemic disease, thanks to wars and killing.

I wonder how many Jews there would be today, if there hadn’t been a holocaust or an Inquisition, when they were forced by the millions to convert to Christianity or face death. I wonder how many more Christians there would be if rival faiths hadn’t slaughtered them by the millions, starting with early Rome, until now with radical Islamics.

What I see, is three thousand years of people fighting over whose God is the right God. What I see is a vast history of church leadership who have not been so much bathed in the love of God, but intoxicated with power and an obsession to control the masses. The edicts have often been clear: Believe as we believe, or you’re dead. No wonder there were so many converts.

And just when we thought the world had modernized with the threat of Nazism crushed, and a United Nations that had convened to keep peace on earth, along comes a sect of power mongers within radical Islam telling us their God is best, and if we don’t conform to their beliefs, we are all going to die. And…they mean it.

The world has 1.3 billion Muslims and two billion Christians, plus hundreds of million Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist, Jew, and whatever. Many think that the adherents to religion is a matter of choice. Except in rare cases, that’s simply not true. The overwhelming majority of Muslims and Christians, Jews and Hindu are born and brainwashed from birth by family and culture as to what they must believe and how they must worship. Kids born into religious families do not have an option. By the time they reach adulthood, they’re loaded up with divine convictions and all the guilt associated with conformity and non-conformity.

In my growing up, there was no right God or wrong God. No denunciations. No prejudice. I never felt a pang of guilt for failing to pray, failing to attend church, or failing to light candles on a Friday night, or to acknowledge what others acknowledged — just to belong. My mother had set me spiritually free, but not free of spirit.

I am aware that these thoughts will not be welcomed by all and the tongue-incheek concept of abolishing organized religion is completely unrealistic. But if the world did adopt such an idea, wars would become obsolete and we would get overpopulated pretty quick.