Before you read this post I must repeat my disclaimer that this is entirely my point of view and it may offend conservatives and orthodoxly religious people. Rest are mature enough to understand what I’m trying to say. India is a land of festivals and all of them centered around some god/goddess or other. Today is Ganesh Chaturthi which marks the beginning of Lord Ganesh‘s festival of 10 days. Yesterday students had come to us lecturers, as they do each year, for monetary contribution to the festival. All of us contributed. But if it had been for Bihar Flood Relief Aid, most people would have been suspicious and hesitant to give money because they know their politicians and officials. But still my point is that our institution or the students didn’t even try to raise a fund for the aid, whereas they are ever eager to collect money and celebrate yet another religious festival. The question in my mind is what is the point of religion?
Imagine just for a minute that if there had been no religion since the time Homo Sapiens became civilized how would have the world turned out to be? By no religion I mean none at all!! I for one think the world we know today would have been free of a lot of problems, wars, strifes and hypocrisies. I understand Man felt the need to fall back on some higher authority, some mysterious force to provide him the strength and endurance…someone to put his faith on..some explanation to the happenings around him. So the concept of God entered. But why did it divide into so many different religions which I feel are nothing but different ways to please the same entity. Why the concept of God got mixed up with the concept of worshiping him/her/whatever? i mean that I believe in some entity but why is it required that I need to please him with flowers,incense and all the jazz instead of my activities? Why the right and moral things are defined by a code of mythological stories centered around God and in case of Hindus, so many gods? Can’t we humans being the most superior and intelligent species, behave and act out of our own conscience, judgment and discretion? Do you think if religion wasn’t there we wouldn’t know that its bad to kill other living beings or that its bad to disrespect one’s elders or that its bad to steal or to be greedy or to drink alcohol?
I mean if the right and wrong acts had been simply documented over ages,it would have served its purpose without the religious angle to it. What is the necessity of religion to define the code of living for humans? Why should religion dominate the way of living of a person? Why going to a temple or a mosque or church should label me as a good person? What is the necessity to belong to a religion, any religion to remember God, given one believes in the entity? Why should a particular method be specified to worship the entity? Why should there be a need to worship at all?
The people suffering right now in Bihar must have worshiped a lot but did the Vighnaharta (trouble-shooter) stop the floods from happening ? So many lakhs of people can’t be sinners of that extent!!! If there was no religion there would have been no Amarnath Shrine problem or Babri Masjid demolition or Crusades or Ram Setu controversy or the Partition of India or the terrorism that stemmed from it. If there was no religion it would not have been possible for the politicians to create vote bank out of the common man’s religious sentiments or self proclaimed god men to cheat thousands of people or some fundamentalist leader to misguide his people. If there was no religion, there would be no hypocrites who follow all the rituals and yet indulge in sins in name of religion. There would be no one to take advantage of people in name of religion and brainwash them to believe terrorism is a jihad. If there was no religion, so much money would not be wasted on constructing worship places or donations or polluting the environment. I mean what’s the use of celebrating Navratri if we kill the girl child in the same country?
For me, religion symbolizes nothing more than holidays, sweets and new clothes!! And if we didn’t have religion, we would have some other occasions to celebrate and declare as holidays. When I close my eyes in prayer in some difficult moment, I don’t address any Durga or Ram or Shiva or Allah or any other God. It just doesn’t strike me!! and I’m happy the way I am. And thankfully my life has been pretty good that way. Of course to please others and to conform to the marking system of society, I do visit temples and participate in festivals but I feel awkward as to what I may do wrong as I have never felt the need to know rituals or customs. I’m not an atheist but I don’t feel the need to belong to any religion or be religious to have faith in God or to prove to God that I believe. So tell me what is the point or usefulness of religion?
Some good quotes:-
“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” ~ Jonathan Swift
“All religions are the same: religion is basically guilt, with different holidays.” ~Cathy Ladman
“Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion – several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven.” ~Mark Twain
An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” “No,” said the priest, “not if you did not know.” “Then why,” asked the Inuit earnestly, “did you tell me?” ~Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek