Name – SHRIYA MITHBAVKAR
Qualification – B.com. , pursuing MBA at AMSIMR – Aruna Manharlal Shah Institute Of Management and Research, Ghatkopar West, Mumbai , INDIA
“INDIA – The land of Religious Harmony”.
India is one of the most diverse places in the world geographically, religiously, culturally, and lingually. Religiously, Hinduism, the largest religion in India accounts for 80% of the population; Islam, the second largest religion, accounts for 13% of the population; Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism taken together account for 3% of the population; and Christianity accounts for 2% of the population. Other religions such as Zoroastrianism and Judaism, have a centuries long history in India.
Constitutionally, India is a secular and in practice the religious diversity of India extends to highest levels of government. Currently, the Prime Minister of India is a Sikh, the President of India is a Hindu, Vice President of India is a Muslim and the chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is a Christian.
Indian social structure is very pleural in nature. Religious harmony and amity between different cultures in India has been observed.
India is the place of origin of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. So, co-existence has been a part of faith in India. Hinduism, the largest Indian faith by population, is itself pleuralistic and polytheist which gives each individual enough space to practice ones faith. Also, Buddha has been considered as one of the incarnations of Vishnu and worshipped by Hindus for years.
The importance of freedom of worship in India was encapsulated in an inscription of Asoka: Religious freedom and the right to worship freely was a practice that had been appreciated and promoted by most ancient India dynasties. This had been the underlying attitude of most rulers of India since this period from before 300 B.C. until 1200 AD. The initial entry of Islam into South Asia came in the first century after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. When around 1210 AD the Islamic Sultanates invaded India from the north-east, gradually the principle of freedom of religion deteriorated in this part of the world. They were subsequently replaced by another Islamic invader in the form of Babur. The Mughal empire was founded by the Mongol leader Babur in 1526, when he defeated Ibrahim Lodi, the last of the Delhi Sultans at the First Battle of Panipat. The word “Mughal” is the Indo-Iranian version of Mongol
India is a model. Different religious traditions live peacefully and harmoniously. Please keep this tradition,” Dalai Lama said at the valedictory of the year-long celebration of the 1,960 year-old Malankara Orthodox Syrian church in Kochi.
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.”
“India has great heritage. There is harmony among different religious traditions. India is a land where people of different religious faiths can live peacefully and harmoniously here. India’s tradition is very relevant in today’s world,” he said.
For thousands of years, India carried the message of ‘Ahimsa’ which was relevant even today, he said, adding, “We should ourselves create inner peace by practicing love and compassion in daily life.”
Former President A P J Abdul Kalam said there is need for a combination of economic prosperity and spiritual way of life.
Sri Aurobindo through his writings helps us see that human nature is very complex and this complexity also explains why different people need different ways or paths on their spiritual journey. Each religion has captured some essential aspect of the Great Truth and each has made some important contribution to the overall march of humanity. The Supreme Being and Nature will not want any uniformity; diversity is the principle of Truth. So there will always be diverse paths, diverse religions and diverse teachers of the Truth showing different ways to the Truth. Sri Aurobindo has explained that this multiplicity is also the truth of the Overmind, and because before the advent of Sri Aurobindo that had been the highest Truth established on the earth, the result is that at present we see an even greater diversity of paths and ways to God. As we begin our analysis about the necessity for a healthy co-existence of diverse religions, it might be intellectually satisfying and also liberating to know some of these deeper reasons for the necessity of diverse religions.
Humanity’s response to a diversity of religions has either involved a sense of disharmony and conflict, or in recent times, a somewhat more tolerant but often aimless, postmodern religious-moral relativism resulting in an ethical void. Sri Aurobindo tells us that the truth of the Supermind will surely and gradually compel more and more sections of humanity—and signs of this awakening are already there all across the world—to strive toward a greater harmony between the diverse religions and spiritual paths. This may be accomplished either through something like a world-religion which will include the truths emphasized by different religions but harmonized in the light of a greater supramental truth that has not been a part of any religion so far, or through something that is sort of an a-religious spirituality that transcends all religions. In fact the first may be a beginning step for the second. But regardless, a diversity of paths and ways will be there.
“Religions are based on creeds which are spiritual experiences brought down to a level where they become more easy to grasp, but at the cost of their integral purity and truth. The time of religions is over.
We have entered the age of universal spirituality, of spiritual experience in its initial purity.”
“Religious teaching belongs to the past and halts progress.
Spiritual teaching is the teaching of the future—it illumines the consciousness and prepares it for future realization.
Spiritual teaching is above religions and strives towards a global Truth.
It teaches us to enter into direct relation with the Divine.”
The children in India are not trained on how to practice secularism. Each religion has tried to teach its children that their religion provides the correct way to God. What they further teach is that there is the only correct religion. Very often, they also teach that other religions are wrong. If our children are brought up in this way, they maintain the mental segregation that their religion is the only true religion whereas other religions are all fake.
All religions teach the same thing and it is only selfish and power hungry and mischievous people who create differences. Religious harmony has been badly impaired on account of the ambitions of those in India who created vote banks as shortcuts to reach power. People are basically happy and common without the barriers of religions, but the skill of the politicians unfortunately keeps them segregated.
Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads, so long as we reach the same goal.
Let us make a beginning. Opening our circle of friendship to people of all faiths can be a good starting point. Everyone, all Indians, need to embrace a rational approach to civil life and try to understand each other better.