Religion and Politics: A Battleground?

Who doesn’t believe in a superior force? As Einstein once said, “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.”


Religion is not idol worshipping, rituals or ceremonies. It is, in fact, a reason for righteousness, for doing good and leading an honest life. So it can be said that religion instills a certain fear of penalty and punishment if the person strays from the right path. However, I do believe that each one is entitled to their own interpretation of religion. Thus, if a person coerces another to pray and participate in the rituals by threatening about the ramifications for not wanting to do so, I feel sadly that it brings religion under the ambit of superstition.


Applying Freud’s psycho-analytical theory on consciousness about the id,ego and superego, we can place religion as a stimulating factor in superego. It’s the silent whisper in our head that helps us distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad, truth from lies and violence from non-violence.


Religion and spirituality are not two completely different concepts. ‘True religion’ propagates truth, peace, harmony and non-violence. Spirituality is no different. However, the term religion has now come to have several connotations, leading us to believe that rituals and ceremonies, shlokas and chants are an essential feature. Religion is simply a ‘way of life’. It is a means by which those who practice it derive energy, confidence hope and faith. There are times in a person’s life when one feels that matters have gone beyond human control. One feels that complete surrender to a supreme being shall give hope and assurance.


It is extremely heart wrenching to see that even though we, as Indians, call ourselves a rapidly developing country, we are still unable to segregate religion from politics. Our decisions regarding elections and political parties still revolve around religious differences and vested interests. There have been divisions on the basis of religions which lead us to even judge people solely by the religion they practice.


In a country where there are so many people below poverty line, many are dying of diseases and pollution is reaching suffocating levels, we are still entangled in our meaningless and futile Hindu-Muslim debates. Our politicians are treating us as an imbecilic species, who are fed with their grossly distorted reflections on religion. Sadly, we do lap it up and stray from the unity that so defines secularism in this country.


In the name of religion and Jihad, our grossly misinterpreted concepts have led to a battlefield where two religions are required to fight against each other. In reality, it is not religions that fight; it is the vested interests of politicians and other unscrupulous persons who encourage and instigate young, impressionable and closed minds to do ‘God’s bidding’, which fight. Terrorism is led not only by religious fanaticism, but also greed and corruption.


Politics and religion should be kept away from each other and it is realized by those who exploit religion, that it is a very personal choice.


Smita Rajmohan

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