Name: Tejas Indukumar Mehta
Educational Qualification: B.E. , pursuing MBA at AMSIMR – Aruna Manharlal Shah Institute Of Management and Research, Ghatkopar West, Mumbai , INDIA

India-The Land of Religious Harmony

“Truth is one, though the sages know it as many. God is one, though different religions approach Him differently Call Him Shiva, Vishnu, Allah, Jesus or any other form of God that you believe in. Our paths may be different. Our destination is the same.”

“VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM-The World is one family” Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened his historic United Nations General Assembly speech with a tribute to India’s ancient civilization traditions, telling a packed Assembly hall of delegates that India’s philosophy, which was not an ideology, was the Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, or world family, and this has guided the nation since Vedic times.

India is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religious traditions; namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. India is a land of various religions and their sub – castes. India has been home for centuries to all great religions of the world. Religion is an organized collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. It is, in general sense, the basis on which a person connects to his/her God, sets his/her principles and leads his/her life accordingly.

We are the biggest democracy in the world. We are a nation with 1.252 billion population and still have a completely secular structure. The Constitution of India declares the nation to be a secular republic that must uphold the right of citizens to freely worship and propagate any religion or faith.

When we talk of religious harmony in India, the world points to the Gujarat riots, the Muzaffarnagar riots or the riots of Mumbai. Well accepted. But we don’t fight like the Israel Palestine does. We do not create Terrorists in our nation. We create soldiers, who despite of any caste or religion, only live or die serving the nation.

There is a beautiful side of India wherein people from various religion stay together, live in peace and accept each other’s religion. From ancient times, India has witnessed love and harmony among its citizens. Remember the freedom struggle movement of India: there was no Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain or any other religion that mattered, but Indian. The freedom struggle of India had the contribution of each individual as an Indian. Though we had to see the division of our country, India still has almost equal number of Muslims as Pakistan has.

Though we had many unfortunate events in the past, but that’s very few compared to the population and diversity of India. We are the nation where we see a lady of catholic origin stepping aside for a Sikh to be sworn in as the Prime Minister, by a Muslim President to run a nation that has over 80 percent Hindus. We are the biggest democracy, where the leader is not selected by his religion but by his work. We have recently witnessed a Hindu leader supported and selected by majority of Indians, irrespective of their caste or religion, due to his development works.

Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, says that India, where different religious traditions “live harmoniously”, is a model to other parts of world, and should continue to keep this tradition. According to him, India is a model. Different religious traditions live peacefully and harmoniously. Please keep this tradition. Describing India as ‘Arya Bhumi’, the Nobel Laureate feels that this country spiritually very, very important. In the last 2000-3000 years, different religious traditions, including Buddhism, Jainism, flourished here. He further added that 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. 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.” These are the words from such a prominent religious leader for India.

Let me share a very beautiful story of a professor who was very busy with his home work. His little child of five years went to him and tried to catch his attention for playing with him. The professor found out a short cut to keep the child engaged elsewhere for one hour so that the Professor could concentrate on his homework without being disturbed by the child. He took out a world map and tore it into different pieces and gave them to his child and asked him to reunite them on the glass frame. Before the professor could spend any time on his homework, the child completed the map. The professor found that the world map was very properly reconstructed He then asked the child ‘my dear son’ how did you make it?” The child answered, “Papa, look at the other side of the map, there was the big sketch of man. I only looked at that sketch and reunited the pieces”. A great philosophy flashed through the mind of the professor. He realized that if we can succeed in re-uniting the human being, we can reconstruct the world. Religious harmony is the cement by which such a reconstruction is possible. This is the relevance of religious harmony in a secular republic, India

Now let’s shift the focus to micro level. India is a place of festivals. We observe people from all walks of society celebrating Diwali as well as Eid. We may not celebrate World Peace day or Science day, but we definitely celebrate 15th August and 26th January as Indians. Be it the Shraavan or Ramzan, Navratri or Paryushan, we celebrate each festival despite being a Hindu or Muslim or a Jain. It does not matter if Christianity is a minority; Christmas and New Year are celebrated with equal enthusiasm.
India is also a nation of temples, mosques, mandirs, gurudwaras and churches. Every individual visiting Goa definitely visits and prays in the beautiful churches of Goa. Similarly, the golden temple is visited by every individual visiting Amritsar. The Siddhi Vinayak temple is visited by thousands of devotees, who are not just Hindus. The Dargah of Ajmer has its devotees from all the religions and not just Muslims. Sai baba, the saint of Shirdi, is worshipped equally by everyone, be it a Hindu or a Muslim.

We Indians may fight over small issues, have differences over religious beliefs, believe in various God, but we are “Indiavale”. Today’s India is young and focuses on development. Friends are not made on the basis of religion anymore. Help is offered to the needy, not just to the one of the same religion. Religion may still be the most important aspect of one’s life, but people have started respecting and accepting other religions as well.