Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Equality of religions

"One should not kill in the name of religion."

"All religions say the same thing."

Does anyone notice what is wrong with the above two statements? Well, on the surface nothing seems wrong here, but then people will notice that Sanaatana Dharma is invariably included in the list of religions (generally first in the list for that matter).


Is Sanaatana Dharma a religion?

What book says so?

Do we in Bhaarat even have a word for religion?

Of course, these are just rhetorical questions. But these are just rhetorical questions. Not unjust. These are questions that every Sanaataneeya needs to ask himself from time to time.

There is a uniqueness about Sanaatana Dharma that is missing in other religions. It is the term "other religions"! It is a direct outcome of social and cultural evolution of Man in the subcontinent. In this sense Sanaatana Dharma is a "natural" phenomenon , not a "reactive" one-- something that was formed against an already existing order. We showed the world more than 1500 hundred years ago how to bind all the existing "internal" faiths (such as Shaivism, Shakti-ism, Vaishnavism, etc), and form a super-religion that is capable of
i) satisfying the spiritual, social, and cultural needs of all of its adherents (no matter how disjoint they be in their opinions),
ii) evolving continuously into future with many new developments, and most importantly
iii) fostering a strong national identity among Bhaarateeyas.

So when Sanaatana Dharma is not 'a religion' at all, how can one include it among the religions of the world? The mistake is not new in making. I am not sure when did it begin exactly, but the idea of "sarva-mata samabhaava" is definitely not new. Though the idea might have been used initially in relation to the internal faiths, it is entirely upto our discretion whether we still want to use selected quotes from rigveda such as "ekam sat, vipraaha bahudaa vadanti" (The truth is one! The learned say it in different ways) with respect to the world religions now.

And then, we have also continuously and consciously tried to assimilate even invading faiths into our super-system of Sanaatana Dharma and some were even ready to eschew some of our core beliefs (such as Vedas) and give the whole super-system a new shape. People such as Kabir Das, Shirdi Sai baba, etc had sought the very same thing. But in vain. To be assimilated would have been exactly opposite to what these religions aim to do. That would never work. These great men should have realised that.

But there is a greater grievance of mine against these great souls-- By equating, or comparing, or even juxtaposing Sanaatana Dharma with a religion means denigrating our entire super-system to the level of a mere "religion", a narrow word coined by the west. The ploy, though unknowingly set by us, works brilliantly against Sanaatana Dharma. The whole playing field is set where the rules are already biased against us since we dont even fit into their definition of a "religion". And naturally, its a losing game. And we have been losing since many centuries.

I plead to all my fellow Sanaataneeyas to
i) stop seeing our Sanaatana Dharma as just a religion, and
ii) stop comparing our Sanaatana Dharma with any religion.

Then you will realise that we, the Bhaarateeyas, are all one and the same.

You see, all religions may still be equal. But please dont include Sanaatana Dharma in the list. We have suffered enough because of this "unfair equality".

Please point out any grammatical errors and other factual mistakes. It is your duty. Disagreements, of course, are always open to discussion.


shrivathsa said...

nice post bandho. pl read:

Gandaragolaka said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I know this Surasa site. Nice collection of classical music. I will go through the link that you have posted.

I also like this passage quoted from K.M.Munshi's Krishnavatara: