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


Aman Kumar said...

Nice beginning. But I think, like most of the other religious enthusiasts you went into the mode "my religion is better than theirs". And into a denial mode regarding presence of false perceptions and escapism in Hinduism.

First, when Marx says that "Religion is opium of masses", he means that as opium provides false relief to a person in distress and mental pain, religion does the same thing. A person in distress, when prays to god, gets an instant relief by assuming that god is with him and would help him. Instead of finding root cause of the issues that he is facing he finds a short cut, which gives him instant mental relief but does not solve his actual problems but actually increases them (no need talk about substantial rise of hindu extremism in the last 2 decades and roits)

Second, the concept of god in hinduism, that most people believe, is "parmatma" which is quiet different from aatma that normal people/living beings have. So we can not conclude that god and human are one in hinduism. There are so many belief systems and schools of thoughts in hinduism and the so called eastern religions that its very hard to reason and micro-examine it as a whole. We can only examine it from 50,000 feet view. And most people in these "eastern religions" turn towards gods in the hour of distress and agony. And expect magical solution to their problems and super natural intervention. The very basic of hinduism is that one has taken human form not just to live, eat and die but to achieve salvation by following religious way of life and confirm ones ticket to heaven so that there is no suffering in subsequent incarnations. And this escapism. And is no different from Islam and Christianity.

I would wait for your response.

Kamini said...

Hi i have taken a view of your write up it is ausem but i think there is something which forsed me to tell that why people dont think about humanity only religion is given priority .Every one is just engaged in rasing there religon up and up this the the main cause of sepration. As Karl Mars related relogion and opium throgh this he only wants to alert us that as opium is mere a time pass relif just like that these religious conflicts are also same .WE should not discriminate one on the basis of religion it is a blunder mistake .We should follow "Unity in Diversity" and only from this we can achieve our goal .

At last i will only like to say

every religon is great in itself and every person to so we should not compere them from each oter .Every sole is unique and beautiful.


kuldip said...

Thanks Kamini
There are only two religuions in the world. One that spreads Love and other that spreads hate.
All other labels are superficial.
Let us all believe in the first religion and try to be more Humane.

Rmtea said...

I do believe in what karl marx had mentioned ~ Religion is the opium of the masses` but why all of us tried to gain the sympathy of god always by discussing this type of nonsense! why we are all engaged in this type of discussion when there are no true gods. People never discuss the well made face of mine. Hope u catch

Pablo Antuna said...

Nice article, but I don't think that you prove your point. Maybe a little. If you define Hinduism as the belief in the unity of Brahman and Atman, maybe you are right, but if Hinduism is only that, maybe it is more than a religion.

I think most Hindus think of their religion as worship to a particular god, not a belief in the unity Brahman. This kind of "worshipping" and "ritualistic" religion is what Marx was talking about, I think, not the higher philosophy of the Upanishads, which maybe he didn't know.

I have a post in my blog about what really is Hinduism, you may be interested in reading it:
What is Hinduism

mumbi said...

thanx aman for your well thought article/comment. i had an assignment to do on karl marx and am sure i will get some tidy marks!! thanx