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Dec 3, 2014

True religion

First appeared in The Kathmandu Post, 2009-03-17 

At a time when the original meanings and significance of things are eroding at an ever increasing pace, the fate of religion has been no different. Observe closely around you and you'll have to wait for no Sunday to find the self-styled religious men and women. Yes, they wake up early in the morning, take baths, go to temples, perform prayers and meditation, but my question is: Do these alone suffice for one to be an truly religious person? Are karmakandas and rituals sole prerequisites to certify oneself as a religious being? Certainly not, and if you further scrutinise our self-styled religious fellows, you'll find that they are vain, boastful and have no qualms promoting deplorable social evils like untouchability, gender discrimination and a host of other ills falsely associated with religion. They are not interested in following the good that their religion teaches. 

Little wonder, then, the the youths of today are exhibiting the legacy they got from the older generation, especially during festivals like Shivaratri and Holi. The festivals are supposed to be an occasion when all enmity is forgiven and forgotten and friendship is renewed, but the modern day youths behave the other way round. They take these occasions to take ganja and bhang and tease young girls, which consequently lead to brawls and gang-fights. What is the point of celebrating festivals if it is only to trouble others and end up spoiling your own mood?

Indeed, there is no need to visit temples and pay lip-service to god, for god is within you if you have the ability to feel it. God is, as William Blake says, in a grain of sand and in a flower. And as S. Radhakrishnan puts it in another context, "Religion is seeing God face to face. If anyone achieves that, he is an authentically religious man." But in order to achieve that, or say, to catch a glimpse of that Supreme Being, one has to go through self purification and sacrifice. Prayer and meditation may be necessary at one point, but they should not be merely for outward display, as is the case with us today. It ought to rather serve to discipline our body, mind and heart. Above all, we must learn to discard the vile deeds we commit in the name of religion. 

I want to plead one and all to follow what Paulo Coelho says, that religion is a way of having discipline and collective worship with persons who share the same mystery. Let us all embrace true religion by strengthening our spirit and learning to love and forgive those around us.


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