Monday, January 5, 2015

Religion and political power


Babri Masjid destruction 22 years ago
Religion benefitted immensely whenever political power became its handmaiden.  Christianity, for example, was a suppressed religion until Emperor Constantine (r 307-337) was converted to it after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. As Paul K. Davis, scholar of military history, writes, "Constantine’s victory gave him total control of the Western Roman Empire paving the way for Christianity to become the dominant religion for the Roman Empire and ultimately for Europe."

Buddhism spread far and wide after Emperor Ashoka became its votary.   Later some Shaiva kings ordered the destruction of Buddhist monasteries and the killing of monks in north-western India in the mid first millennium A.D.  Later still, Muslim rulers in India destroyed many Hindu temples or converted them into mosques.

Christian church destroyed in Delhi on 2 Dec 2014
More recently, in our own times, the Babri Masjid was destroyed by the knights of our own emperors who stood at a distance and watched the destruction even as Nero watched Rome burning in allegedly less civilised times.  Now, Christian churches are under attack in India.  A month after a church in Dilshad Garden, Delhi was gutted, the crib of a church in Rohini, Delhi was found burnt down in the morning of 3 Jan 2015.

Can’t political power wean itself from religion?  That’s not easy is the plain answer.  Reason: religion is a shortcut to political power.  People can be manipulated easily in the name of gods.  This is just what the Modi government and the numerous organisations that have sprung up like grotesque mushrooms are doing: manipulating people in the name of gods.

Destruction of religious places was not always motivated by religious animosity, as historian Romila Thapar said in a speech she delivered in Delhi on 3 Dec 2014.  “There was also a greed for wealth and a desire to assert power,” she said.  Both these motives are evident in the acts of India’s contemporary knights in shining armour. 

Crib burnt down in a Christian church in Delhi on 3 Jan 2015
The only solution to this sort of problems lies with the people themselves.  If they are ready to open their eyes and see what really motivates the religious warriors, if people are ready to broaden and deepen their consciousness, if they are ready to learn from history, if they are willing to cultivate their intellect a little more, then there is a solution to the mindless violence and wanton destruction engendered by religions throughout human history.  Otherwise history will continue to repeat itself ad infinitum, ad nauseam.



PS: When the Garden needed blood for its survival, it was our throats that were first slit. Yet people in the Garden tell us/ This garden belongs to us not to you.  [Source]

14 comments:

  1. oh I so totally agree with this. Religion and politics have been bedfellows for centuries and it has never ever worked out happily. Instead of learning from our mistakes, we seem destined to repeat though now, aren't we?

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    1. Exactly, we keep repeating the mistakes. It seems we are condemned to do just that. Evolution stopped long ago!

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  2. This is the whole reason why I am anti religion and pro spirituality. That the unscrupulous will use religion to manipulate. There was a very interesting article in the Hindustan Times on Saturday about the rise of rationalists http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/no-moral-policing-no-communal-violence-please-are-indians-going-the-good-without-god-way/article1-1303180.aspx Do read it. Cheers

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    1. Thanks for the link, Kalpana. Just read it. I'm encouraged by the statement, "According to rough estimates, there has been a tenfold increase in the number of atheists and rationalists in the country in the past ten years,"

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  3. This exposes man's persistent ignorance his continued response to his ignorance century after century down the ages...Yet man believes he is civilized.... from the caveman stage to the robotec hitec man....Is it that ignornance, religion and science blinded him paralyzed him and destroyed the humanity

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    1. My plea is precisely that we, the people, should strive to rise above our ignorance. We should begin to question a lot of things. We are now ruled by goons and thugs because we refuse to understand the truths.

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  4. There is culture and there is spirituality - religion conveniently takes from both and politicizes it. In my opinion, it is impossible to separate the two, for they're two sides of a coin - as we can see from the history you have mentioned. Very good read this is :)

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  5. Sir, when it comes to religion most people are blind. Religion is a powerful tool in the hands of these so called powerful people. Sad to know about such acts of violence. Wonder when will people change.

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    1. That's just what I wonder too, Saru. See what these people are doing at the Indian Science Congress in Mumbai. It's ridiculous to mix science with myths.

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  6. Very true , sir ! Religion is a powerful tool in the hand of bigoted politicians. But what is sad is the ready willingness of a large section of the crowd to be brainwashed by these harbingers of hatred. Just the other day, I had a tough time explaining to a friend that good Muslims also exist.
    When will we ever learn?

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    1. The present style of governance (which is ironically being celebrated as "good governance") won't ever help to change the mindset. Rather, it is reinforcing blind beliefs, prejudices and hatred.

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  7. I agree with you.It really troubles me the thought process of current government and their stand regarding religion

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    1. It is becoming alarming, Avinash. See what's happening in the Indian Science Congress. Please read my today's blog in case you haven't read reports about the Congress.

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