The path towards greater religious tolerance and social harmony

Context: In the words of K M Munshi: “Indian culture is a living force. It absorbs alien elements when necessary but transmutes them into a new pattern of homogeneous richness. It has made us what we are in the world today; and will make us what we want to be in the world tomorrow.” 

Nature of Indian Society

India is the beloved home for practitioners of all major religions in the world. Indian culture accepts diversity of faiths and beliefs.

Chhatrapati Shivaji once wrote to Emperor Aurangzeb that Islam and Hinduism appear to be contrasted terms. But they are nothing but diverse pigments used by the divine painter (the god) to fill in his picture of the whole human race. If men try to draw new lines on a picture, this is not the fault of the painter.”

Importance of harmony and cohesion

Religious harmony and social cohesion are two core elements for progress and development. They are the core requirements for global peace.

What are some worrisome developments emerging on sustaining religious amity?

From time immemorial, the societies have been facing divisiveness on the ground of religion, colour, race, caste, untouchability etc.

Over the last three decades, the most sufferings were inflicted on humanity in the name of religion.

Nani Palkhivala wrote: “A man may study or practice religion. But if he is a fanatical fundamentalist, he deserves to rank as a religious illiterate, whatever his formal education may be”.

Hatred and violence against other religions is generated and created through misinterpretations and misinformation by some ill-equipped minds who could be called religion illiterates. Such persons are severely devoid of that basic human instinct of compassion.

In case of India, the external elements are pursuing the policy of inflicting a thousand cuts on India. They are active and exploiting vulnerable elements like religious divisiveness.

Way Forward

The ultimate goal of all religions is the same. The only differences lie in the paths which have been articulated in varied ways.

Compassion is at the heart of every religion. For example, Dalai Lama refers to his mother as his teacher of compassion.

All practices of separation are a consequence of ignorance. Therefore, expansion of education is important to vanish it.

The basics tenet of Indian culture is that every temple and mosque deserve equal respect and should get it.

True scholars of every religion must rise to the occasion; go to people, and educate them on essential unity of all religions.

We, the people of India, must strive hard to generate compassion, strength, sincerity and commitment to ensure the safety and security of India. Further, there is a need for rejuvenation of the great dialogic tradition

Source: The post is based on an article “The path towards greater religious tolerance and social harmony” published in the Indian Express on 8th June 2022.

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