By M.S.N. Menon
Religions divide men. Politics divide men. Economics divide men. And culture divides men. Then, what is it that brings them together? The instinct of the herd?
Religions, the God-men tell us, are engaged in saving souls, in guiding men to salvation. But, how can these ?men of God?, who denounce the faith of others every day of their life, ever be a guide to mankind?
So, is there no hope for mankind? There is. But it has to begin with by making religion a personal affair, by banning the politicisation of religion.
Here are two religions?Christianity and Islam?which do not believe in the brotherhood of man. How can they, when they denounce men of other faiths?
?Religion, which was meant to make us better and nobler,? says Nehru, ?has made people behave like beasts.? They still behave like beasts, when seized with religious frenzy.
The point is: If religions turn human beings into beasts, what have the humanity done in the last thousands of years to prevent these beasts from usurping the power of the state to promote their beastliness? Very little. I think it is time to contain the beasts among us. And it is time to put religion on a new course.
For about 1500 years, Europe lived in the ?Age of Darkness?. This was the work of the beasts. They made it a felony to question the veracity and ?supernatural authority? of the Christian scriptures. In Islam, the punishment for apostasy was death.
The Reformation, the Renaissance and the Age of Reason finally broke the Christian spell over Europe. They brought light and reason. No such reform came the way of Islam to rescue it from the ulemas and mullahs. The mullahs still rule the world of Islam. In fact, Islam has remained impervious to every reform. ?How can we change the Word of God???this is the argument. True, the ?Word? has not changed, but the acts have changed. Read the fatwas?that is where the action takes place. They show the alarming extent of the distortions that have taken place in Islam.
If we have thus found no way to control the beasts in our times, it is largely because the beasts are under the protection and patronage of the rulers?the new priests of our times. They want the votes of the beasts.
Today the whole fraternity of evil men?the beasts, politicians, criminals?are in a league. They help each other to stay in power. Did we anticipate this? No. We were told that the disciples of Mahatma Gandhi could do no wrong. We believed it. But such things were said before?that the disciples of Jesus Christ could do no wrong, that disciples of Prophet Mohammed could do no wrong. We know the consequences of such naivety. But did it prevent us from believing the claim of the Marxists? No. We believed their claims too!
Where men have failed, the Law should have spoken. But the makers of the Indian Constitution did not ban the men of religion from politics after the horrendous experience of India'sPartition. But that is to assume that they were sensitive to the tragedy. They were not. Here was the most terrible and traumatic event in the history of India and it passed by our Constitution makers and academia without making the least impression on them! Did they try to control the beasts through constitutional measures? They did not. In fact, they tried to protect the beasts. We are all paying the price for this folly. And our academic community has remained a mute witness of this continuing folly.
Religion and politics have for long been separate among Hindus. Why? Because Hinduism is the most mature of all religions. But our Constitution makers were not aware of it. Which explains why they did not insist on the separation of religion and politics. What is worse, they allowed Islam to control every aspect of a Muslim'slife, thus introducing a theocracy within the larger framework of our democracy. An act of subversion of our Constitution? Yes.
The beasts are thus trying to drag mankind to the days of tribal wars, with their tribal gods egging on the tribes to destroy each other. We cannot allow this perversion to continue. Religions are of no use to us today to understand the universe we live in. If it serves any other purpose, it is time to say so. The religious impulse is no doubt a powerful social force. It can promote the ideal of a socialised state. But that is not the goal the ?men of God? are pursuing today. Some have gone to the extent of terrorising the humanity!