Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hindu students in Muslim madrasas


A madrasa in Mandsaur
Courtesy The Hindu
Hindus and Muslims still live together in India cooperating with each other.  Today’s Hindu newspaper carries a report on the front page with the headline ‘Mandsaur’s inclusive madrasas.’  Mandsaur is a district in Madhya Pradesh which has 128 madrasas with a total of 5500 students.  In 78 of these madrasas, Hindu students outnumber their Muslim friends, says the report.  630 of the 865 teachers are Hindus.  Images of goddess Saraswati and Ajmer Sharif coexist in peace and harmony on the walls of the classrooms. 

One must be thankful to The Hindu, I thought as I read the report, for highlighting such inclusiveness when far too many Indians are driven crazy by religious fundamentalism.  This blog post is my humble attempt to express my gratitude to the newspaper as much as for celebrating the inclusiveness. It is also an earnest plea.

One of the questions I have raised time and again in the classroom as a teacher is how many of my students have read any of their religious scriptures.  The answer has invariably been nil except for the comic strip versions of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.  Most students (all Hindus) had no idea about what the Vedas were all about.  Quite many of them had not even the faintest idea about the the Upanishads, let alone their profundity.  Yet some of these students today are staunch supporters of fundamentalist activities such as Ghar Vapasi. 

Ignorance is the primary breeding ground of fundamentalism of any sort.  Those who understand and internalise religion will never fight for it.  Those for whom religion is merely a tool for something (political power, social status, identity source, etc) wield it as precisely that: a tool.  It is such people who foment strife and violence in the name of religion. 

Religion is basically about a set of values and principles.  Gods and commandments, canons and rituals are only tools for helping the believer understand and internalise those values and principles.  Values and principles make an individual a pro-active person who makes meaningful contributions to the society.  Hatred and violence cannot find any place in their value system.

The 128 madrasas in Mandsaur should make us sit up and do some serious reflection and examination of our value system.

Let me conclude this with an email written in response to my last post by a friend who is a Catholic priest and a professor of philosophy. 

Dear Tomichan,
This might enlighten you.
Karl Rahner, the greatest Catholic theologian of 20th Century, and in many ways, turned the tide of Critical thinking, through Vatican II and beyond, was invited to lecture in Japan, on Religion. He had the view of Anonymous Christian/ity, which meant, in simple terms, that any human being was an Anonymous Christian, from a Christian's point of view. After the lecture was over, Suzuki, the Buddhist asked him, " Dr Rahner, if that is the case, would you mind being called by me, an " Anonymous Buddhist". Rahner shook hands with him and said, " Why not? Absolutely so."

Karl Rahner and Suzuki are persons who have internalised their religions.  My friend who wrote this letter is also one such person.  And he knows, I believe, that I am a person who has internalised my atheism.  

This post is a plea for such internalisations.  This post is a plea against ignorance and the strife caused by it.


30 comments:

  1. Let these type of things open the eyes of the blind (fanatics).
    Good post.
    None should extend any type of support to the terrorists.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Terrorism can never be religion.. Nor is fundamentalism. They are perversions. What India is witnessing in the present regime is a blatant political perversion of religion.

      Delete
  2. How lovely this all looks (the pictures on the wall). Can't there be such a peaceful world for real? Why, the heaven is here, after all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is possible to have such a world. We will have to throw out all the politicians!

      Delete
    2. Means you want 'Ramayan' without 'Ravan'?
      Abhijit Bangal

      Is it really possible, Have you be a peaceful person when life becomes hell?
      they are us, blaming other will bring no change.

      Delete
    3. No, it's not possible. Where 4 or 5 persons gather, there will be politics.

      Delete
  3. This should be highlighted so that all come to know about it.
    So glad to know about this. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish our newspapers and the electronic media focused more on this sort of happenings than on the opposite ones.

      Delete
  4. Its a really good post and most required in these times where unsavory elements are inciting hatred. we have to worry about the next generation which is growing up in fear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. More than fear, perversion. The next generation is being (has been) perverted by a nexus of politicians and religious leaders.

      Delete
  5. Tomichan, I am greatly impressed and inspired by your views on sensitive and current burning issues. I just nominated you for Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

    Keep sharing your insights and inspiring ideas.
    http://rekhaaa.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/1338/ :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obliged for the great honour, Rekha. I'm mighty pleased that you took much trouble to make sure that I do get this award :)

      Delete
  6. Beautifully written Sir! So very much agree wih . Am also thankful to Hindu newspaper for this article. Wish everyone could be so embracing of all religions. Why dnt ppl see others as people first??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Amrita, if the media changes its focus from hatred to love, cruelty to compassion, and the leaders change their strategies... we can have a better world. People are not necessarily evil, I think.

      Delete
  7. Internalization of beliefs. What a great thought is this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's nothing new, Namrata. A few decades back the eminent educationist Benjamin Bloom spoke about the necessity of internalising values in school. I borrowed the concept from him, in fact.

      Delete
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