The recent series of violent attacks on Hindu homes, women, temples, shops, etc. increased religious radicalization in India’s immediate neighborhood, but also of the self-organized belief system, fueling such dangerous development across the world.
Other recent events like the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and the terror unleashed by Islamist groups like Al Shabab, Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc., do not inspire confidence either.
Of course, this is not about denigrating organized religions or hurting the feelings of their followers, but it is certainly time that the roots of the growing radicalization in society were identified. In fact, recent events in Bangladesh are just one of the long list of such events that plagued almost every Muslim country where minority communities have been systematically persecuted by state and non-state actors. And not just in Muslim countries, which are a recent phenomenon.
The same religious extremism and the same intolerance towards followers of other faiths was displayed by many Western countries while aggressively promoting Christianity, mainly through persecution, in the territories colonized centuries earlier in the name of modernity. So much so that the natives of every continent – from the Americas to Australia to Africa – were either wiped out or forced to abandon their traditional faith and customs. Many ancient cultures and civilizations have thus been erased from the face of the earth.
Sadly, the same zeal for proselytizing continues to this day and has even spawned a multi-billion dollar transcontinental conversion industry. This poses a serious threat to the remaining ancient cultures and civilizations across the world, including Sanatan Dharma aka Hinduism. Therefore, the recent incidents in Bangladesh should not be viewed in isolation or in isolation, but in a broader context.
The aggressive pursuit of religious conversion has resulted in death and destruction in all societies. Countless wars of religion – the Crusades then and jihad today – have been fought around the world since the dawn of organized religions. While there is nothing wrong with organized monotheistic religions, what has sounded the death knell for humanity is the sense of entitlement – divine and political – that they seem to give to their followers. So much so that some even consider that shedding the blood of innocent people is part of their religious commitment. No wonder terrorist groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda attract their cadres from different corners of the world in the name of religion.
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On the other hand, practiced since ancient times by people all over the world, Dharma is beyond God or faith. It is about the human soul and a heritage in phase with Mother Nature and society, and therefore democratic, scientific, timeless and universal. As it recognizes the diversity of society, Dharma does not insist on believing only in a particular god, or addressing and worshiping the god in a particular way. He does not discriminate on the basis of faith, nor does he seek to build a world empire based on any particular belief.
No wonder, some see Dharma as the future of human civilization because it does not pit humanity against each other on the basis of faith. Besides Sanatan Dharma, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, etc., the various indigenous religions still practiced by aborigines in many parts of the globe can all be referred to as Dharmic traditions.
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These dharmic traditions, however, are in direct conflict with the basic fundamentals of organized religions – believing in a particular god and their assertion that only they are true. It turned most religions into unmistakable organized dogmas. The growing radicalization and the resulting intolerance among the followers of organized religions are direct consequences of this dogma. They never recognize or allow individuals to practice their personal beliefs.
But, unfortunately, a consequence of the relentless assault on old traditional beliefs and cultures has been that a sense of insecurity seems to have gripped some of the surviving followers of the dharmic tradition, who are suspicious of anything they consider. as not in accordance with their traditions. They too acquire religious traits and thus lose their dharmic essence. But with the increasing radicalization of large corporations across the world, it would be naïve to expect there to be no domino effect elsewhere. Unfortunately, this has brought the world dangerously to the brink of collapse.
In such a context, it is in the interest of mankind that dharmic traditions around the world are understood and respected. Because, they have not only been misunderstood, but deliberately distorted for centuries. Even now there is a clear contempt in the intellectual space and in popular speeches, with a tendency to present them as superstitions.
But, these dharmic traditions hold the future of human civilization. The use of fire, water, clay (idols), flowers, grains, animals, etc., in most dharmic rituals is symbolic and represents Nature and the elements. Every organized religion advocates peace, but there can be no real peace if diversity is not recognized. It is not a question of defending the cause of a particular dharmic tradition to the detriment of monotheistic religions, but it is crucial to imbibe the spirit of pluralism and universalism of the former. Unless there is space for individual belief and Nature, the survival of humanity is at stake.
So, it is heartwarming to note that in recent times, few theocratic states have shown tolerance in appreciating diversity and even allowing the establishment of places of worship by followers of other faiths, while harshly suppressing extremism. religious.
For example, in the context of recent attacks on Hindus, Bangladesh has already publicly announced its intention to remove the “Islam” world from its constitution to make it “secular”. Hindu temples have also sprung up in the Middle East, Central Asia, Russia, etc., in recent years, reflecting the growing tolerance and popular respect for other faiths in these societies.
(The author, Anirban Choudhury, can be reached at [email protected])