Pratik S. Tiwari –  Perusing MBA at Thakur Institute of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

“We must respect other religions, even as we respect our own. Mere tolerance thereof is not enough.” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

The quote above of the father of our nation shows the importance of religious harmony in today’s world.

Most of the unrest in today’s world is due to the conflicts between people thinking that their religion is better than that of others. In international level we have the war between the Muslims and the Christians both believing that their religion is better than that of the other. In India and Pakistan we have a conflict going on between the two countries where the latter represents Muslims whereas India represents a lot of religions like Hinduism, Muslim, Christianity, Sikhism, Parsi etc. Even in India, we have unrest between different religions which leads to mobs creating riots killing people, damaging public property, creating loss of life and money to the nation.

India home to the Indus Valley Civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here, while Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region’s diverse culture. This brought in a lot of cultural diversity in India which enhanced the beauty of this nation. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early eighteenth century and colonized by the United Kingdom from the mid-nineteenth century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by widespread non-violent resistance. This independence struggle was also marked by the divide and rule policy of the British people which in the end led to the partition of India and creation of a new country called Pakistan. Since then, there has been religious harmony in India.

This beautiful world has enough resources to nurture all its children. It has the resources and the quality of talented and dedicated people to draw the world ahead. But, the religious unrests happening at many places has been acting as a hindrance to this development.

The lack of religious harmony is like the body working without a soul. We cannot reach our destination if we proceed in a half-hearted manner and so our world needs its soul, its needs religious harmony.

In present scenario we see that religion is again and again dividing us but to attain religious harmony one has to understand that the basic teachings of all religions are same. Religion is rather a moral code; it teaches its followers the right conduct and the way in which he should live his life. Religions as we practice them now, are the result of our habits taught us at the age of 4-5 years and we just follow it. None of the religious book or literature tells its individual to kill people or traumatize others. Ask any follower of any religion and the answer would be that his religion is the greatest and this is what has been taught to him by his parents or some relative or his friend in his childhood not mentioned or said in any religious book. Now this is an idea inculcated in us when our mental faculties were not developed. Over a period of time it becomes our habit and a part of our ego. This feeling that my religion is the greatest and other religions are subordinate to my religion leads to the religious disharmonies in the world, as it has happened in the Indian subcontinent, between the Western Christian countries and the Muslim countries, between Israel, a Country with 76% Jewish population and Palestine with a major Muslim population.

The countries which have conflicts between them are mostly not of the same religion, we never see people of the same religion fighting between themselves with so much of hatred for each other in their hearts. This hatred for other religions is eating the world and separating the people from each other, dividing the world into various pieces.

We need religious harmony in this world to progress and to make this world a better place to live. Where there is no bloodshed, no killing just to prove your religion as superior.

Children have to be taught to respect other religions in the same way as they respect their own religion. Even if in primary level schools from US to India, and from Pakistan to Iran, if the syllabus could be made of students in such a way that they can learn and understand other religions so that they respect other religions as well.

Conclusion: In the end I would like to add that 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.

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.

It is well known that faith infuses energy and grit, without which no worthwhile progress in any field of activity is possible. Today we all are at the verge of atomic destruction and when everybody 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 mankind. 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 shows the need for religious harmony.