P Lakhani in UK
Recently I had been invited to speak on the theme of ?Interfaith? at quite a few meetings held in London. Let me share my thoughts on some of the key issues I touched on.
In the last century we witnessed strife in the name of political ideology. We had two World Wars, with millions of people getting killed. The challenge we face in the new century is perhaps even more worrying. This time we are seeing strife in the name of religion. This is a far more contentious issue. Religions are far more emotive subjects and can generate much stronger passions. There is a reason why this happens. Religions have a habit of telling us, ?Carry out this much finite activity here on earth and we offer you infinite rewards in the hereafter.? The risk/reward ratio is skewed to the extreme. If we kill in the name of religion or be killed in the name of religion, surely, that is a small price to pay for an infinite reward in the hereafter!
One can see how the emotive aspects of religions enter the arena. How can we diffuse the situation?
We see the politicians and diplomats working away frantically. We may say that, ?Surely these issues will get resolved by diplomatic manoeuvring; or by a bit of political haggling! Surely, all this is a matter of economics and the control of the oil fields! Or maybe we need to show greater justice to some disadvantaged people.? Our American friends think that the situation can easily be resolved through military action.
The resolution of a problem that arises in the name of religion lies firmly in the field of religion. It is wholesome spirituality that can tackle the issues thrown up in the name of religion.
Firstly, pluralism suggests that we do not have to water down our own faith or beliefs. In fact pluralism suggests that our faith is perhaps the most suited to our requirements so there is no need to shop around or change direction. We do not have to emulate other faiths, as that may not be our way. We should hang on to our own path with full confidence and greater vigour. We can see what pluralism thinks of ?conversion? from one faith to another. It is best described as ?perversion?.
Secondly, pluralism says that the validity of other faiths should not be taken as a compromise of our own faith. Do we not know that God is infinite? If he is present in other faiths that does not reduce his presence in our own faith!
(The writer is Chairman, Education Executive, Hindu Council UK, www.hinducounciluk.org)