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Sunday, December 24, 2000
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Giving old beliefs a brand new face

"Is religion relevant today?" by Amarnath Wadehra and Randeep Wadehra (December 10) was a thought-provoking article.

Goethe had different views on the subject," To have a positive religion is not necessary. To be in harmony with yourself and the universe is what counts, and this is possible without positive and specific formulation in words."

Today the essence of religion is cloaked in rituals and fanaticism. Shorn of them, one discovers that insaniyat or humanity is the true spirit of all religious, which few practice.

These lines of Makhnoor instantly come to oneís mind:

"Na Hindu say mila hai na

Mussulman say mila hai,

Dil jab bhi mila hai, insaan

say mila hai".

Despite our pretensions to modernity and education, we are still clinging on to old decadent and irrelevant rituals. Religious customs must change with times, even though fundamentalists may disagree.

Roshni Johar
Shimla

 


II

The most important force we must mobilise today in the interest of survival is that of religion. Both Benjamin Kidd, a generation ago, and Henri Borzson, in our own time, interpreted religion as a self-preservative effort on the part of life, to guard man against the discouraging effects of his own achievements in knowledge. There is a profound truth in these interpretations. Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, even

Mohammedanism, have sought to curb manís impulses to distruction and disintegration : each of them condemns random killing, each of them encourages procreation, each of them has sought to foster love.

Religionís function, indeed, is to redress manís pride in his intellect, to reduce his conceit and his complacence so that he will be better fortified to face the order of reality. Modern man, proud of his fearless investigation of every part of the universe, conscious of his increasing powers to control his circumstances, has shown something less than forbearance to those primitive cultures whose daily acts are limited by taboos. But in throwing off the irrational object of most taboos, modern man has also forfeited the very habit of inhibition that the taboos imposed. He has, thus, forgotten one of the most essential secrets of manís advance : the practice of restraint.

It is time for the religion of the common man to turn its attention a little from faith to knowledge; from worship by thoughts and words to worship by deeds; from supernatural powers to super excellence in oneís profession. From individual salvation to general good, from the far distant and almost unattainable goals to practical and immediately beneficial steps ; from mystic experiences and super-conscious states to personal goodness.

K.M.VASHISHT
Mansa

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