Name: Tejeshwini Modekar
Qualification: B.B.I. , pursuing MBA at AMSIMR – Aruna Manharlal Shah Institute Of Management and Research, Ghatkopar West, Mumbai , INDIA

INDIA: THE LAND OF RELIGIOUS HARMONY

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.
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. 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.Sarva Dharma Sambhava, the notion given by Swami Vivekananda, can be used aptly describe the Indian Civilization. The Constitution recognizes all the religions as true. Around the world as well there are more than 50 religions to which more than 80% of the world population can associate with. Thus, religion forms a large part of our lives, especially we Indians, where more than 93% of the population associates with a particular religion.
Religious Harmony relates to the peaceful coexistence of religions in the world. India as a country has been proclaimed as model for religious harmony by none other His Holiness Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of Tibetans currently taking shelter in Dharamshala, India.

Religion should act as a catalyst for harmonious and peaceful co-existence of people in the world. But, that does not seem to be the case. People are fighting over religion in all parts of the world. Whether it be India or the Israel v/s Palestine war and others.
In this the importance of the roles played by leaders and religious figures in solving various conflicts taking place across the country.

Religious harmony is a must. Religious harmony comes about where there is understanding between followers of various faiths. For a country like a India, as well as to the World, religious harmony is important as religious harmony is the need of the hour to make this world a happy place to live.
Conflicts over religion related issues have bogged the country as well as the world since the start of the 21st century. This could be thoroughly seen in the Godhra Riots in Gujarat or the bombings of the WTC in United States. For India especially, religious harmony plays an important part. Various countries in the world use law as tool for prevailing religious harmony in India. The Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act of Singapore is one of them. The statutean important part of the Singapore government’s large and extensive arsenal of legal instruments to regulate inter-ethnic-religious relations in the country.

According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, most conflicts in the name of religion are actually not based on religious faith but because of power and money. All religions promoted the same practice of love, forgiveness, tolerance, self-discipline, moral principle, truth and justice. The very purpose of religion was to create inner peace. His Holiness said there was a close connection between people’s mental wellbeing with their physical health. He said that too much fear and anger were bad for people’s health. He said researches have shown that patients who are mentally happy recover faster. Thus, religion plays an important role.

In this ever-shrinking global village called the world, there is increasing interaction between adherents of various faiths. The most common problem in inter-religious dialogue is disagreement on perspectives of Truth. There is a diversity of religious beliefs in our world simply because there is a corresponding diversity of mindsets. Religious harmony is important in respect to the growth of the country. Any issue, including political, economic and religious activities human beings pursue in this world, should be fully understood before we pass our judgment. Therefore, it is very important to know the causes.

However, in today’s close and inter-connected world there are so many differences amongst various religions. We must obviously resolve these problems. For example, there have been a lot of religions in India for the past thousand years. Some of them were imported from outside whereas some have grown in India itself. Despite this, the fact is that these religions have been able to coexist with each other, and the principle of Ahimsa has really flourished in this country. Even today, this principle has a strong bearing on every religion. This is very precious and India should really take pride in it.
If a harmonious relationship is established amongst societies and religious beliefs in today’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural world, then it will surely set a very good example for others. In order to sustain this harmony, both sides should not take lightly the sensitive issues between themselves.

Religious harmony is important because if there is no religious tolerance it leads to series of conflict and in varying severity. There is growing disparity between different castes and creed in the world. This is mainly because of economic challenges in the country as well as world. There are great challenges which India as a country needs to tackle to become a superpower. These cannot be tackled when the whole country is divided and fighting each other. There is a need for being a single, undivided population that can take on the challenges for a better tomorrow. Thus, Religious Tolerance is important not only for economic stability as well as for social life stability because neither can exist without each other. They are all dependent on religion as such to take the country forward.

In UN Documents Cooperation Circles – Gathering a Body of Global Agreements a public education initiative ‘Foundations for a Sustainable Common Future’ it is mentioned about Our Planet & Our Common Future that “Until recently, the planet was a large world in which human activities and their effects were neatly compartmentalized within nations, within sectors (energy, agriculture, trade) and within broad areas of concern (environmental, economic, social). These compartments have begun to dissolve. This applies particularly to the various global crises that have seized public concern, particularly over the past decade. These are not separate crises: an environmental crisis, a development crisis, an energy crisis. They are all one.”

“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 practising love and compassion in daily life.”In the 21st century, people everywhere talk about money and material value. That is also important. Material wealth provides physical comfort. Mental comfort is possible only by faith, he said.

“A disturbed mind is very bad for health, while a healthy mind and health body go together. Material wealth alone will not bring happiness,” the spiritual leader said.Former President A P J Abdul Kalam said there is need for a combination of economic prosperity and spiritual way of life. Religious harmony in India is a concept that indicates that there is love, affection in between different religions in India. The Indian constitution supports and encourages religious harmony.[1] In India, every citizen has a right to choose and practice any religion.[2] There are examples of Muslims and Sikhs building temples.[3] In India, different religious traditions “live harmoniously. Seers of religions call for religious harmony in India.[4] For popular film stars in India like Salman Khan, festivals of Hindus and Muslims are equal.[5] According to Dalai Lama, India is a model for religious harmony. He mentions that “In the last 2000-3000 years, different religious traditions, including Buddhism, Jainism, flourished here.”

Swami Vive Kananda, the much talked of Hindoo monk, spoke to a small but deeply interested audience last evening at the academy of music on “The Harmony of Religions”. He was dressed in oriental costume and received an extremely cordial reception. Hon. Rowland Connor gracefully introduced the speaker, who devoted the first portion of his lecture to an explanation of the different religions of India and of the theory of transmigration of souls. The first invaders of India, the Aryans, did not try to exterminate the population of India as the Christians have done when they went into a new land, but the endeavor was made to elevate persons of brutish habits. The Hindoo is disgusted with those people of his own country who do not bathe and who eat dead animals. The Northern people of India have not tried to force their customs on the southern, but the latter gradually adopted many ways of the former class. In southernmost portions of India there are a few persons who are Christians and who have been so for thousands of years. The Spaniards came to Ceylon with Christianity. The Spaniards thought that their God commanded them to kill and murder and to tear down heathen temples.
If there were not different religions no one religion would survive. The Christian needs his selfish religion. The Hindoo needs his own creed. Those which were founded on a book still stand. Why could not the Christian convert the Jew? Why could they not make the Persians Christians? Why not so with the Mohammedans? Why cannot any impression be made upon China or Japan? The Buddhists, the first missionary religion, have double the number of converts of any other religion and they did not use the sword. The Mohammedans used the most force, and they number the least of the three great missionary, religions. The Mohammedans have had their day. Every day you read of Christian nations acquiring land by bloodshed. What missionaries preach against this? Why should the most bloodthirsty nations exalt an alleged religion which is not the religion of Christ? The Jews and the Arabs were the fathers of Christianity, and how have they been persecuted by the Christians! The Christians have been weighed in the balance in India and found wanting.

The speaker did not wish to be unkind, but he wanted to show Christians how they looked in other eyes. The Missionaries who preach the burning pit are regarded with horror. The Mohammedans rolled wave after wave over India, waving the sword, and today where are they? The farthest that all religions can see is the existence of a spiritual entity. So no religion can teach beyond this point. In every religion there is the essential truth and nonessential casket in which this jewel lies. The believing in the Jewish book or the Hindoo book is non-essential. Circumstances change, the receptacle is different; but the central truth remains. The essentials being the same, the educated people of every community retain the essentials. The shell of the oyster is not attractive, but the pearls are within. Before a small fraction of the world is converted Christianity will be divided into many creeds. That is the law of nature. Why take a single instrument from the great religious orchestras of the earth? Let the grand symphony go on. Be pure, urged the speaker, give up superstition and see the wonderful harmony of nature. Superstition gets the better of religion. All the religions are good since the essentials are the same. Each man should have the perfect exercise of his individuality but these individualities form a perfect whole. This marvelous condition is already in existence. Each creed has had something to add to the wonderful structure.

The speaker sought throughout to vindicate the religions of his country and said that it had been proven that the entire system of the Roman Catholic Church had been taken from the books of Buddhism. He dilated at some length on the high code of morality and purity of life that the ethics of Buddha taught but allowed that as far as the belief in the personality of God was concerned, agnosticism prevailed, the main thing being to follow out Buddha’s precepts which were, “Be good, be moral, be perfect.”