Being Religion-ist: Good or Bad?

Religion is a strong belief in supernatural power that controls destiny. It serves as an institution to express belief in divine power. According to Wikipedia, it encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices that lead to the ultimate power, God. It also includes ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience.

India is a country where different religions grow together. It has been the originator of many religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism etc. Several non- Indian religions are also practiced here like Islam, Christianity and many more. It must be admitted that although spirituality is the soul of India, its manifestation on the surface has been varied, diffused and often distorted. Numerous experiences and explorations in religions have resulted in the formation of a variety of schools and cults, each one tending to grow rigid for the sake of its stability and longevity. Here people are attached to a religion at the time of their birth. They are forced to follow a particular religion. Although now people can switch to other religions if they don’t agree with the teachings of their own religion.

Despite India being the world’s largest democracy, the problem in India is that people are extremely religionist. They blindly follow the path without even realizing the pros and cons. Religions consolidate with them a lot of superstitions. Like in earlier times and even today in some places, untouchables were not allowed to enter temple and even women were not allowed to enter during menstruation as they are considered impure. Isn’t that ridiculous? God is the creator of all living beings. How then will he discriminate and allow only a particular section of people to worship him. In his eyes, all are equal. Not only this, many other superstitions are linked with religions. For example, spilling salt causes misfortune, walking under a ladder is assumed to bring bad luck, finding a four leaved clover brings good luck etc. Also protection from the evil eye is a very common belief in various religions. It is believed that some people might be envious of your success, so if they stare for unusually long time that signifies bad luck. In order to protect loved ones from evil eye lot of practices are being followed. Like many Tantriks and sadhus, mislead people to do sinful acts in order to bring good luck in the family. The worst part is that people believe them. This is mainly due to ignorance and blind faith. Nowadays, political parties have started using religion as a way to fill their vote banks. Religious parties are coming up which inturn create religious divide in the country. Moreover, terrorists claim to fight in the name of religion. They say they are being guided by their God. How can God ever instruct anyone to kill innocent people when he, himself has created them? Even in our country many internal wars are fought over religions. One of the most terrible ones was the Ram Mandir – Babri Masjid Conflict. This is how religion is leading us all into pitfall. We have forgotten the true essence of religion.

So, I believe instead of being religionist, we should be followers of spirituality. Spirituality is a more general term that includes religion but that also encompasses the general human impulse to reach out towards the greater whole of which we all are a part. The difference between religion and spirituality is simply that most religions offer a specific set of beliefs and structures to help people to attune to their innate spirituality. Without Spirituality, Religion cannot survive. Spirituality can survive without Religion. Moreover, we should believe in the fact that there is one divine power and there are various ways to reach them. The ultimate destination is the same. God is one. So why fight. In India, some organizations are coming up that try to teach wisdom to live life peacefully, without stress and not being swayed by the vices of society. Some of them are Art of Living, Brahma Kumaris etc. which do not preach a particular religion but talk about leading a contented life. There is nothing wrong in going to temples, mosques etc. but trying to please God to fulfil material wants is something which is incorrect. The Almighty always showers his blessings on one and all; there is no need to fight for them.

Sakshi Dhingra

[Image courtesy: