DO WE NEED RELIGION?-2 (Post No.8695)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8695

Date uploaded in London – – – –17 SEPTEMBER 2020   

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R. Nanjappa

Hinduism – is it a religion at all?

All religions other than Hinduism [and other ancient religions] owe their origin to a person. All religions other than Hinduism are based on faith in doctrines /dogma interpreted and enforced by a hierarchy. Hinduism alone is free from all doctrines! Not that there are no doctrines- but belief in them is not binding on everyone.. There is no one version, authorised by a Pope or a mulla. Thus one may believe in a God, any number of Gods, any kind of God or no God at all, and yet be a Hindu! There is no Pope or other authority to enforce anything or punish the deviants.

Hinduism alone says in the end that all that one holds with the mind- doctrines, beliefs, philosophies- are unreal and merely mental phantoms= matam i.e. held with mati or mind. Anything held by the mind is not real. Reality has to be experienced in the here and now, not believed.

Does anyone have to ‘believe ‘ himself to be a man or woman? He or she simply knows that he or she is a man or woman. Likewise, one has to realise one’s Reality- not simply believe that he or she is something. What does one achieve by thinking that one is Brahman instead of man or woman? This is just a game. That is why ultimately, even so-called meditation is useless, because it forces you to visualise an image or think of an idea- an exercise of the mind..It is a mind game. Reality  is that when the mind itself ceases to function. Usually we say ” the mind does not reach there ” or the mind  returns unable to reach there: yato vacho nivartante aprapya manasa saha 

त्व्यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते। अप्राप्य मनसा सह

Religion and Morality: Dos and Don’ts

We can immediately see that not everyone is capable of reaching this level of understanding immediately. Most people need graded steps to discipline the mind and emotions, before they can think of ‘higher’ things. This is the real purpose of religion- the area of ethics and morality. It can be seen by any one who is not a bigot and who is not blind and mentally closed that every religion insists on basic /common ethics and morality among its adherents. The best example known in the West is the famed Ten Commandments. The first four are specific to the community to whom they were given, while the other six are universal moral prescriptions:

Ten Commandments 

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall make no idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
  10. You shall not covet.(your neighbour’s house, property, etc.]

1768 Parchment at Amsterdam Synagogue.

Just Dos and Don’ts! We can easily see that unless these Commandments are kept, civilised social life is not possible. The first four may entitle one to heaven, but life on earth requires the other six. Yet these same Christians went round the world killing [millions of people [Spaniards and Portuguese especially in Latin America] and stealing their property [the Europeans in America, Africa and India ]. Of course, Marxists who denied God and denounced religion killed more people in history than many religions.

Reason and Christianity

As the Age of Science dawned, Christianity became the prime target as its doctrines were shown to be false: God created the world in 6 days, that it was created in 4004 BC, that the universe was earth-centred, that the earth was flat, etc. However, one cannot jump from this to the conclusion that religion in general is against reason or science! 

 The French Enlightenment philosophers in the 18th century taught that Reason made religion irrelevant or unnecessary. But some of them found a practical use for it. Since the common man was not endowed with enough reason, religion served to discipline him and prevent mischief! Thus Voltaire said that religion “must be destroyed among respectable people and left to the canaille large and small for whom it was made.”

“I want my lawyer, my tailor, my servants, even my wife to believe in God, because it means that I shall be cheated and robbed and cuckolded less often… If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”

[ Quoted in Gertrude Himmelfarb : The Roads to Modernity, Vintage Books, 2008. page 155]

That is, the idea of God was ‘useful’ in practice, whether God really existed or not! This is an echo of what Edward Gibbon wrote about the value of religion in the Roman Empire:

The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.” 

― The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

             *    to be continued

 tags- need, religion-2

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