Knowing something about Egypt, a country which is far away and boasts one of the ancient civilizations of this world was always on my mind. Recently, I found an anthology of essays written by an Egyptian author of a best seller, ‘Cairo trilogy’ and a Nobel laureate, Naguib Mahfouz. This Anthology, “The meaning of civilization” comprises essays on culture, religion and politics.
One quote in particular, “Religion is neither a science nor a branch of knowledge, it is a spiritual teaching whose essence becomes manifest through social intercourse, behaviour and vision.” is from the essay published on 8th June 1974, ‘Religion and school.’ Even though, this essay particularly talks about the way schools in Egypt were engaged in teaching the Holy Quran in the 70s, this sentence resonated with me.
Drawing a parallel between the religious journeys of Egypt and the Indian sub continent, both have witnessed multifarious changes in religion and philosophy throughout their respective histories. In the case of the Indian sub continent, there were witnessed the glorious ages of Hinduism during the Vedic era, the rise of new ways of life in the form of Buddhism and Jainism, the integration of Parsis and sustained Islamic rule. Not to mention the deep impact the Colonial era also had on the religious equation of this country.
In today’s world, we witness the madness happening around the globe in the name of religion. Religious fanaticism raises its ugly head in every part of the world with various such groups preaching their own brand of extreme religion. Consequently the less fanatic or hardlined individual is clueless as to what his/her religion is all about. We are witnessing a total disconnect from spirituality as we lack a vision as a religious person, religion has now been reduced to a few rituals. The social intercourse through which religions evolved and provided individuals with the opportunity of a fulfilling and spiritual journey, has now halted. This blind ritual-centric behaviour has turned us away from this journey.
I agree with what Mr. Mahfouz is saying, religion is not a subject to be taught at school. It should be handed over to a child from his/her family with proper care and the freedom to be a theologist. One needs to study the religion and their personal relationship with the idea of God. Religion is not something absolute like 2+2 = 4. There is always a study involved, following the interpretation which leads to realisation. I remember the verse from a Marathi abhang by Sant Sohirobanath (18th century saint of Nath Sampraday, from the Sawantwadi area of Southern Konkan, Maharashtra)
संत संगतीने समज, आणून मनी पुरते उमज,
अनुभवावीण मान हालवू नको रे।।
It literally means “first you learn from someone knowledgeable, ponder upon those learnings and don’t accept unless and until you experience the truth behind those thoughts.”
One should follow these steps to understand and believe in something. Religion is not a thing which you should accept blindly. The attitude, “बाबा वाक्यम् प्रमाणं।” (The words of the elders are the ultimate truth) will lead to a disastrous life. So let all of us start being observant, think about the teachings of our elders, meditate and ponder the meaning with a fine tooth comb and then accept whatever is agreeable to you. Let’s try to make religion a spiritual again.
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41 thoughts on “On religion”
Lovely read!! The right concept of religion needs to be taught to the next generation to avoid the issues that come with it now!!! Very interesting post!!
I am happy you liked. Yes, right concept of religion needs to be taught but i think preaching and mindless recitals in schools is not the way to do it.
I agree. There is one section that wants to be an atheist and a non follower of religion. Then there is he other section that’s fanatic. People in between try to preserve some aspects of their religion handed down to them from their ancestors but who are laughed at. Nice write up.
Good. My view is that any religion that fails to touch the heart of the believer is as useless as the treasure that lies hidden in one’s backyard.
But the believer should not be a blind believer, right? One who is a true believer, he will not accept anything which doesn’t touch his/her heart
I fear the present form of religion invading everything from school to politics and life is actually a major minus. It no longer is about finding the best parts of religion to be the best person. It is more about showcasing what’s wrong with every one else
Exactly, everyone is trying to muscle everyone else
I think religion and dharma should not be mixed up. I also think anything that we call science must be proven by experiment. When Swami Vivekananda asked Sri Rama Krishna, have you seen god? Master responded not only I have seen, I can show you also. This is experiment. Follow a path, conduct your experiment and get your result. Your teacher or guru will tell if you are going on the correct path or not. What we need is scientific temper, ability to ask right question and experiment to find the answer. Unless we follow and enquire, I don’t think we have any right to question if religion is scientific or not.
I agree. Religion doesn’t have anything in white or black. It’s about one’s own beliefs and spirituality.
Yes, the aspect of theology, to study and test my own god has to be there…
Loved your post. I too agree with “religion is not a subject to be taught at school. It should be handed over to a child from his/her family with proper care and the freedom to be a theologist.”. Religion should be something personal. Force feeding it in school is not the way to go.
I will go one step ahead now. Force fed religion at home by family is also not the way to go. In short, it’s not a thing to be forced on someone
Very deep and thought provoking post…interesting read!
Hope you will enjoy reading my blog in future too ?
Religion is an intensely personal experience. Some aspects of it are congregational yet the personal is paramount. Your essay helped me concretise these thoughts!
You have a valid point, even though there are some events which are congregational in nature, but being part of those is really a personal thing.
Well said one should not be a blind follower. I strongly believe in the above post and every thing told should have a detailed explanation or reason.
I am happy to know a like-minded person. Welcome to club ?
Religion is a controversial topic and I like your thought process and the way you have expressed yourself. I feel that the world would be a better place if religion did not exist, but well that’s my personal opinion.
See, religion does help for masses to stick to moral code. The fanatics who preach their version of religion for their vested interests is a problem.
I agree…I believe religion is all about faith and its a personal choice.
I liked your view and opinion. Nicely described your thoughts.
Thank you Swarnali… Hope you will enjoy my writing in future too!!
Such a timely post in these tumultuous times. We’ve made religion into a hydra that has lost all meaning. The terrors we perpetrate in the name of religion must make the Gods grimace in horror. Increasingly I’m reminded of Jim Morrison, who said religion is opium for the masses. The masses have gone crazy and the very fabric of society and civilisation as we know it is being torn.
I seriously hope somehow we manage to stitch it back together.
I believe religion was made to bind Hans with certain rules for everyone’s benefit.. but sadly it is not what it was supposed to be now…. Loved ur essay… Exactly my thoughts
Religion needs some revamp now. It is a hard truth that religion lacks to raise good human beings these days. Anything that is forced should be dropped from the the syllabus of the religion.
Religion has many facets, it’s upto a person what to understand about it. Liked the quotes which summs up the meaning of the religion and thought behind it.
Religion is a part of any individual’s own belief system. I stray away from such discussions. Having said that, I enjoyed reading your point of view. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
With so much happening all around, it is imperative to have the right conceopt of religion and pass on teh right thoughts to our kids as well… the world peace, and progress depends on the right mindsets and perspectives… Enjoyed reading your post
Religion, according to me, is a system of beliefs that have been followed from one generation to the next. Now, when questions are asked, answers are not logically explained because they are lost in transit. Now it is up to the new generation how to take it forward, how much to preserve. Your post was pretty informative
My religion is very personal to me and is unquestionable because I’m raised that way to believe in it. But the only religion that I’m teaching my son is to be a good human being. And he can choose whatever religion he likes to when he grows up. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing. #MyFriendAlexa #CloudandSunshineReads
This is a lovely read
Very subtle take on this sensitive topic.. good work
This is 2 way concept. A religion must have solidarity and the follower must have true belief.
The post makes sense and I hope people try to follow this, and not just blindly follow religion.
this is true, Marathi literature is amazing. I am glad to know more about Marathi Language #MyFriendAlexa Hemareads
Hope I will do the justice to the legacy
This is a fantastic post… I hope I get sufficiently motivated! Keep it up. Superb..