Thursday, August 23, 2007

Religion is the Opium of Masses

Communism, Christianity and Religion

The Most Famous quote of communists is ‘Religion is the opium of Masses’ attributed to the principal architect of communism that is Karl Marx. Hence seemingly there could be only matters of discord in these two subjects.
Communism rejects all concepts of God and religion. It says that only oppressed people believe in religion. When they do not see any reprieve in their day to day life they seek an illusory solace in Religion and God. Communism wishes to remove those distressful conditions and make religion and God irrelevant.
Christianity in its original form must had started in around Jesus or immediately thereafter as one of the scores of ism’s trying to bring solace to the oppressed and desolate. It was a natural corollary to the Roman empire and its lack of human concern. Roman Empire had made landlords into tillers, slaves out of citizens and peasants out of noble. The onslaught of cruel Roman empire had subjected people to extreme physical and emotional hardship.
The time was ripe for people who could claim to be Gods messenger and talk about salvation. There must had been dozens of saints of the likes of Jesus Christ (if he ever existed) competing with each other trying to give comfort to troubled and defeated souls.
Its only a matter of coincidence and the strength of its followers viz., John that Christianity today can certainly be acclaimed as one of the greatest revolutions of the last Few Milleniums of human written history.
Very much like Communism it also promised salvation to the oppressed and desolate. The distinction was that it promised salvation and riches after death and Communism before death.
There is one major fallacy in the statement of Marx when he says that ‘Religion is the opium of Masses’ and goes on to talk about Christianity alone, as if it was the only religion existing on the earth in the nineteenth century.
Hinduism unlike Christianity did not believe in any other God beyond Human Being.The four Mahavakyas Prajnanam Brahm or Tat Twam Asi or Aham Brahmasmi or Ayamatma Brahma principally do not distinguish Man from God. It believes in the innate Godhood in Man. It replaces Gods Idol from the altar and puts human bust there. So when Ludwig Feurbach one of the major Guru’s of Karl Marx says that God is the merely outward projection of inward human nature, in Hinduism we do not find any dichotomy. The four Mahavakyas said something similar at least four millenniums back.
Hinduism was beyond comprehension of the west in days of Marx. There was a major language barrier as most of the works i.e., Upanishads (due to close door attitude of Brahmins) existed only in Sanskrit.
Hinduism believed in re birth yet it did lay due stress on the acts and deeds during ones life time. The Grihasth or the common family man leading a responsible life was placed higher then Saints. The famous tale of Lord Vishnu and Narad went on to exemplify this. The responsibilities towards ones family and society were to be maintained and fulfilled by all.
Lords work, social service, was always complimenting it never substituting it.
So Religion per se Hinduism was never to be opiated with. It was the religion that Lord Krishna described in the midst of most intense human activity i.e., a WAR. It teaches that you fight. If you win you enjoy the riches of earth and if you lose you enjoy the fruits of heaven. But battle is an essential activity. Don’t shy away from it. If you shy away from Battle you would be committing the most grave impious act. Opium is related with stupor and escapism. Far from that Hinduism teaches intense struggle and bravery. Opium is Tamas , and it has no place in Hinduism

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Independance Day

Independance Day
I remember the media made 31st December 1999 into a major event. It was heralded as turn of millenium and accordingly major celebrations took place all over India (actually all over the world, but I am concerned about India in this blog).
Anyone with a little bit of sense could comprehend that the turn of millenium on 31st December 1999 was deceptive. It was actually on 31st Dec 2000. However thats not important. A change of year or a millenium is a GROSS NON EVENT. The gregorian saints decided to initiate a calender from a particular date. It does not bear any significance. The time or the Earth existed much before that. Yet millions of Indians rejoiced and participated in this celebration without giving any second thought.
I frequently ask people if they remeber 15th August 1997. The 50th aniversary of our independance. Invariably they have to be reminded of the fact that it was the 50th aniversary of our independance a real milestone in Indian History. When I ask them how they celebrated it, I get blank stares. None did. Except for customary flag hoisting in schools and offices it was an absolute NON EVENT.
I would like to share how I celebrated it. I did do something different or special that qualifies me to ask the question from people as to what did they do on the said date.
Ours is a joint family of four brothers. I was 44 then.We live in Kolkata. I packed six kids of our family in our newly purchased SUV and hit the road at around 11 PM. We were carrying about 100 paper tricolour flags. We accosted strangers on the road , handed them a flag each and requested them to hold the flag aloft and say JAIHIND loudly. We must had done so with about 60 to 70 persons in the two to three hours that we roamed the streets. The experience was quite revealing.
No FOUR WHEEL vehicle passenger responded.We met several police persons, non responded.We met half a dozen Journalists hanging out near the All India Radio building. None responded.The children of lesser God that is the the TWO WHEELER passengers, mostly did respond.
My effort had a single motive of making this date the 50 th aniversay a memorable date in the lives of the young children of our family. Or else they would never remember that they had witnessed such an important event, in their life.My mission was a GRAND success.The Children remember it vivdly even today after a lapse of TEN years.
I percieve unless we start elebrating 15th August instead of 31st December we shall not understand the significance of the Independance.