I watched Angels and Demons a couple of weeks back. Good movie – no more, no less. Ditto with DaVinci Code. And what about the books by the same names? Entirely different matter. When I had read these books (DaVinci Code and Angels and Demos) 4 years back, I was truly and completely hooked!
But this post is obviously not about books or movies, is it? These books and movies are all about the conflict between science and religion. Though both books and movies conclude by finding the middle path, it is sad that both books have given rise to controversies. I don't comprehend this. Because for me, religion is science.
I am a Hindu and proud to be one. Having said that, I am compelled to make a strong statement - I hardly see anyone following the religion in its true spirit these days. Let me explain.
Every ritual that we follow has a reason. I know the logic behind some of the rituals – hence I have no qualms in following them. Most of this information has been preached to me by elders; while quite a bit of it also came from a PDF book I received a couple of years back which details the rational behind several of the rituals and practices that we Hindus follow. It is amazing – how what we think is religion, is in fact just a way of encouraging people to live a scientific life! Religion is Science.
There are other practices which I feel are either rudimentary or pure superstition. Perhaps, there may .. just may be some reason behind those; but until I know this reason, I find it very difficult to follow those practices (I do end up following some of them just in order to not appear as an “outcast” but that's a different topic). On the other hand, I see people everywhere blindly follow superstitions. This is also true of people who are otherwise very reasonable. Which is again difficult to comprehend. How do people who are considerate and reasonable suddenly undergo a transformation when it comes to religion?
One sad point in the the whole matter is the perversion of the religion in the name of customs. There needs to be a clear distinction between “religion” and “custom”. Many of the atrocities which we pass off as “religious customs” have nothing to do with religion at all! Dowry, female infanticide, Sati, ostracization of widows – I do not believe any of these are looked upon favourably by Hinduism (or any religion for that matter). All the sins which are ostensibly committed in the name of family honour, I am sure, are nowhere promoted by the religion. These are just customs which came about for selfish purposes – for people who wanted to dominate over others – for example when man wanted to dominate women; or when people of a certain profession wanted to keep those of others “in check” (that's what must have led to the utterly despicable caste system).
The final point which I want to make is about another characteristic of Hinduism which has been diluted these days at the hands of self-appointed custodians (Mr. Pramod Muthalik and co. for example) – the absence of force. Religion is a guideline for people on how to lead their lives. The moment someone claims that my religion mandates something – the credibility is lost. In my opinion, many of the practices suggested by Hinduism might have been relevant to a certain period of time – but the contributors to the religion would have foreseen that the world might not stay the same forever. That is the reason I believe nothing was enforced in the religion. Just like science, religion too has space to accommodate for change. Religion is science!
I originally intended to put forth dozens of points in this post – but I think I'll stop at this. More on this topic another day. I conclude, as usual, with a hope – I Hope that people start following religion in spirit rather than by the word. Half of the problems of the world (well, India at least) would be solved if this hope sees the light of day!