Sunday, 17 August 2014

Peace And Tolerance

Let Love And Peace Prevail


by: Arun Kumar Suri




One of the most serious threats to world peace today is religious fundamentalism arising out of intolerance to religions other than one’s own. In fact this is no less dangerous than weapons of mass destruction. Unless we can combat this menace there is no hope for this world.


It is both tragic and paradoxical that religion, which is supposed to uplift mankind morally and spiritually, is itself responsible for so much of violence. The word region is derived from re-ligare, which means uniting oneself with the universal spirit. All religions believe in the existence of human soul and that of a higher power whatever one may call it, which is responsible for the creation of this world. Perhaps the word God is acceptable to all. All religions preach that the ultimate purpose of human life is to reach that higher power or to feel the presence of that power within oneself. Every religion exhorts the followers to eschew evil qualities and cultivate love for all. Then why do we have so many religions?


Every person is born with some unique traits. We all have our likes and dislikes. Each one has his favorite color, food, music, beverage and so on. The most important question is does anyone have a right to impose his belief and fancies on others. If I like a particular dish I have every right to eat it but have no business to force others to eat it. The same fundamental principle applies to religious faith.


In India people have been worshipping God in various ways and pray to different names of God. There are people who


English: Religious symbols from the top nine o...

English: Religious symbols from the top nine organised faiths of the world according to Major world religions From left to right: 1st Row: Christian Cross, Jewish Star of David, Hindu Aumkar 2nd Row: Islamic Star and crescent, Buddhist Wheel of Dharma, Shinto Torii 3rd Row: Sikh Khanda, Bahá’í star, Jain Ahimsa Symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



believe that God is nameless and formless. Almost every place has a unique name and form for God. God is worshipped as both father and mother. There are people who regularly visit temples while others never bother to visit one. All these people have lived together for centuries. People respect the religious faith of others and do not force anyone to worship a particular form of God.


Unfortunately there are some people in this world who think that only their faith is right and try to impose their faith on others. Some of them even go the extent of trying to eliminate others who do not accept their faith. This attitude is resulting in the death of countless number of people all over the world-all in the name of a compassionate, merciful, loving, forgiving and omniscient God! What a pity! Those people who do not follow their own religion try to force others to do so.


Wise people of every country and religion have been pointing out that no religion advocates violence and killing of innocent people. How can God be happy when small children are killed in bomb blasts? How can we counter this madness?


Religious faith is a powerful force and like any other force can be misused. Many people are using religion for selfish purposes. What is required today is strong and sincere political will on a global scale. Religion fundamentalism has spread like cancer to every nook and corner of this world. No country can single handedly tackle this problem. But some countries indulge in double game. They run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. If terrorists serve their purpose they clandestinely support them. When terrorists target them they shout from the rooftops that they are waging a war on terrorism. This political hypocrisy is posing a serious problem to the fight against terrorism.


A peculiar problem related to this issue is mixing religion with nationality. Should a person professing a particular religion live only in a particular country or a group of countries? To put it in a different way should all the people living in a country follow the same religion? How can we possibly ensure that? Is it not as absurd as saying that all the people of a country should eat the same dish? Some countries claim to be secular while others swear by a particular religion. What about atheists and agnostics? We may have to create separate countries for them. The matter becomes too complicated. Why can’t an American like Italian dish and vice versa? It is utterly foolish to expect all the people in the world to follow only one religion. It goes against the very basic principle of creation-which is variety. In today’s world no country can insulate itself from the rest of the world. Any incident in any part of the world will have its repercussions in other parts. Hence it is very important for every citizen of every country to respect every other religious faith. Making derogatory remarks in any way is totally unacceptable. No country should talk of wiping out another country from the world map. No human being created this earth and hence none of us has any right to decide who should live on it and who should not. To co-exist is the only way to exist.


Some over zealous people think that they are ordained to work for the salvation of others, assume that only they know what God is and try to change the religious beliefs of others. God is beyond human comprehension. Man cannot fathom God but only lose himself in God. Every man has to save his soul. Others cannot do it for him. Attempt to change a person’s religion will cause a rift between followers of different religions. If one group wants to increase its numbers there is no reason why the other group should not try to maintain its flock intact.


It is inconceivable that God who has created so much of variety in this world expects all his children to reach him through the same road. Will it not result in unnecessary traffic jam! Even though there are different holy places for followers of different religions many people die due to stampede in large religious gatherings. It very hard to imagine what would have happened had there been only one holy place for all the six billion people of the world! Which garden do you like to visit-a garden that has hundreds and hundreds of flowers of the same type and color or a garden containing flowers of every kind and hue? The answer is obvious. Let this world be a multi-colored, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious place. Let the different religions exist. Let everyone worship and adore God in any way he likes. It is foolish to believe that God will accept a person simply because he changes his name and goes to a different place of worship no matter how wicked he is. How can such a God be called omniscient? There are both good and bad people among followers of every religion. Does God reject good people of any particular religion? How can such a God be described as fair? It is better to be an atheist than believe in such a God.


Many Indian Gurus have visited and preached in several countries. None of them has told anybody to change his religion. They all stressed the fact that the ultimate goal of every religion is the same-to experience God within oneself. Their message is loud and clear. There is only one God but people call him by different names. This has been the clarion call of India since time immemorial. If this call is ignored the world will face the risk of annihilation. Let the following words be firmly etched on your memory.


My God loves you as much as he loves me.

Your God loves me as much as he loves you.

My God loves your God.

Your God loves my God.

Why then can’t we love each other?


It is not enough to merely live and let live. Let us love and let live. The time has come to bury religious intolerance forever. Let love and peace prevail on earth.


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