The discussion between Dipankar Sengupta and Naz Zagar and the various writers on The Times of India article of Kancha Ilaiah is interesting.All are taking their views according to their religious beliefs.
Seeing the troubles created by the different religions of the world would drive any sane person to become an atheist. But that is not a solution for an atheist denies the existence of God.Of course the atheist cannot explain how the universe and our earth and the various species in the plant & animal kingdom came into existence. However, if you accept the existence of God, all this is explained beautifully.
Chronologically, the different religions, as they developed are:-
Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) - 2000 - 3000 BCE
Judaism - Abraham 1800 BCE and Moses - 1392 BCE.
Jainism - Mahavir 599 BCE.
Buddhism - Gautam buddha 563 BCE.
Confucianism - Confucius 555 BCE.
Christianity - Jesus Christ Ad 27-29,
Islam - Mohammed 572 to 632 AD
Sikhism - Guru Nanak 1469-1539.
Jesus actually did not preach Christianity. He followed Judaism and its rituals and so did his disciples
It was only in the fourth century that Emperor Constantine initiated the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, to sanction a unified Christian Church.
All world religions except Hinduism have been formed by a personality.
Hinduism is not a religion.
It is a guide as how to live life and is Sanatan, meaning Eternal.
It is a code of ethics, a way of living through which one may achieve moksha (enlightenment, liberation). It is the world's most ancient culture and the socio, spiritual, and religious tradition of almost one billion of the earth's inhabitants. Sanatana Dharma represents much more than just a religion; rather, it provides its followers with an entire worldview, way of life and with a coherent and rational view of reality.
Every person is born into this dharma and also dies in it unless he changes it by conversion to some other religion.
Hindusim does not believe in any fixed rules or dogmas.
You don't have to pray 5 times a day but if you do, it is OK.
You don't have to go to a temple every Friday or Sunday but if you want, you can go every day or don't go at all. You can bring the Murtis (images) of gods to your home.
You can worship the Sun, Moon, Earth, Rivers, Oceans, the stars, the wind, the rain, fire, trees, animals. However, when you worship these, you actually worship the Power which has made these.
We try to accommodate everyone and welcome our guests (Athithi Devo Bhava). A guest is god for the Hindu. I suppose that has been our fault from the time of Alexander, down the ages to the Muslim, Mughal and British invaders.
We have never invaded any country although many have invaded us. Yes, we have invaded other countries like China and Sri Lanka with our Spiritual knowledge and message of Peace.Ironically, even when China was invading India in 1962, Nehru was just shouting "Hindi-Cheeni Bhai Bhai"
In all other religions one has to be converted.
A Muslim has to have Khitan or Khatna (circumcision) performed before he can become a Muslim.
A Christian has to be Baptised by either a complete immersion in holy water or sprinkled with holy water before he can become a Christian.
A non-Jewish person can be converted on to Judaism when, after a period of study and immersion into Jewish life overseen by a rabbi,a religious panel formally determines that a non-Jewish person has met the requirements for conversion to Judaism by demonstrating a sincere commitment to Jewish beliefs and practices and acceptance of the Jewish community, culture, and history.
To follow Jainism, you do not require any rituals. You just have to believe and follow their faith and principal.
Confucius did not form a religion but he taught a way of life which was practiced in China. This was overtaken by Buddhism after Buddhist monks from India visited China in the 200 - 300 BCE and after Chinese scholars visited India in AD 627-643.
All religions talk about God and give rituals to be performed or not performed, certain actions to be done or not be done. Certain foods to be taken or not to taken. Certain type of clothes to be worn or not worn and how you make your get up.
All these have come down through the ages and are the result of Geography, weather conditions of the place and physical landscape of the area where the religion originated or caught on.
Followers of the religion do not like to think out of the hat. They prefer to do what was done by the previous generation and do not go into the reasons why certain rituals were initiated or not initiated.
They follow old customs dogmatically.
The womenfolk in the household maintain the rituals. Male members, although they may not agree to the rituals, follow them just so that there is peace in the house.
Thus Muslims continue to sport a beard, under arm and pubic hairs even 1600 years after Mohammed advised them. They forget that in Saudi Arabia there has always been water shortage and shaving kits were not available to facilitate shaving.
They continue to practice polygamy although Mohammed advised them then as a solution to look after the widows who were left behind after the men died in continuous warfare during his time.
People from Rajasthan still eat Sangri, Phali and other food items during Holi & Diwali in Kolkata. These are available only in Rajasthan and was eaten there during these festivals.Thus Rajasthanis and Gujaratis are basically vegetarian, wherever they go, because in their native places which was arid, they kept livestock for milk purpose only.
Bengalis and people living is coastal areas are basically fish eaters because of water resources nearby and will carry the custom, wherever they go.
I am sure there are many such customs prevalent in different parts of India, which has been brought from the places where people lived before migration to cities.
Rituals are OK and should be performed as it continues tradition but that should not disturb other people's rights.We may be followers of Rama, Krishna, Abraham, Moses, Mahavira, Buddha, Christ, Mohammed or Guru Nanak but we should remember that we are all from that ONE and all of us are part of that ONE. Different religions call that POWER by different names but IT is the same. Once we realize that, the need for conversion does not arise and everyone could live in peace.
In our Hindu scriptures, certain rituals are performed during birth, death, marriages etc etc. But these have been started by the Brahmins of that time to enrich themselves. What day you can shave, which direction you should face to do puja, what is the best time of day or month or year to do certain activities like starting a new business or laying the foundation or entering a house or marriage of your children are all controlled by Brahmins. People visiting the Brahmins for consultation were supposed to give Dakshna or token payment.
Initially, the caste system was based on professional competence and people were allowed to move up or down the caste hierarchy based on their Gunas. Every individual had a mixture of the three Gunas, Satvik, Rajas and Tamas which gave him his personality. The Brahmins had the highest Satvik Gunas, less Rajas and even less Tamas. In Kshatriya, the Satvik decreased, Rajas increased substantially and Tamas increased slightly. In Vaisya, The Satvik decreased even more, Rajas decreased slightly and Tamas increased more. In Sudra, the Satvik and Rajas decreased substantially and Tamas increased even more. The Gunas themselves were dependent on the Vasnas or unmanifest desires carried forward by the person from his previous life. Thus we see, two children of the same parents can have completely different natures, right from birth.
The Brahmins, who enjoyed privileges bestowed on them by society because of their Satvik Gunas, wanted those privileges transferred to their children although the children did not qualify for the same. Hence, they made the caste system hereditary. They even gave themselves the privilege of wearing the sacred thread (Poita in Bengali and Janeo in Hindi) at a very early age. No other caste people were permitted to wear this.
The son of a Brahmin, may be a janitor in the BMC, but he will remain a Brahmin and the son of a Sudra may become an IAS officer, but he will remain a Sudra. Profession was completely wiped out in the new system.
But why is it that people in the two lower caste, although in the majority, cannot rise. Here again politics plays its part. Their leaders, Mayawati, Ramvilas Pawan, Mulayam Singh Yadav,Lalu Yadav and the rest, too numerous to name, are supposed to look after their welfare but instead just look after their own interests. Thus all the above leaders build vast mansions and wealth but leave their followers on the lurch. These leaders children do not require any reservations but continue to enjoy the benefits of reservation although there are more deserving candidates who are poor.people who are in government service do not require reservations but continue to enjoy it.
These are the CREAMY LAYERS, who should give up their reservation but will not do so just as the Brahmins of yore. Even the government is not willing to disturb them for their vote banks.
AND THIS HAS BEEN THE ILLS WHICH INDIA IS NOW SUFFERING
To my Muslim friends, I would say that it was wrong for the Muslim invaders like Babar to have looted and destroyed Hindu temples and built mosques in their place.
To my BJP/Sangh friends I would like to say that Babar and the other Muslim looters, looted India as that was prevalent at that time and they were uneducated. But we in this age are educated with knowledge of scriptures.
What was the need for Advani to pull down the Babari Masjid but for vote bank politics?
What did he gain from it?
It caused immense bllodshed.
He could not even become the Prime Minister and has been put in a corner as a Marg Darshak. If you look at it, he is partly to blame for the Gujarat Holocaust besides Modi and Amit Shah.
Further, a temple is a place of worship where we do Murti Puja, a Murti made by man. You are giving more importance to a man-made Murti than a God made one, the human being, when you kill one for the temple.
To both my Muslim and Christian friends I would like to say that we all worship the ONE God, so what is the need for conversions. Yes, practice your religions in the privacy of your homes but DO NOT convert the illiterate and poor by threats and incentives.
To my BJP/Hindu friends, I would say remove the cobwebs in your own religion by treating everyone as equal and stop the discrimination based on caste. This can best be done by removing all SURNAMES and having just yours and your fathers names as is done in South India.
Will Modi accept the challenge?