Religion And Politics In India

 Some years back, we were living in a mofussil town, very close to the geographical heart of India. Within  under- arm stone-throwing distance of our house, was a temple. It was small and unprepossessing, bereft of the usual trappings of religious abodes. An employee of the local Ordnance Factory looked after it. In the pre-dawn hours, he would be there busily sweeping the courtyard and attending to other small chores. Come hail or rain. No power game, no quest for material gain, no self-serving interest. Just a simple, strong faith. In an hour, labour of love complete, he would mount his cycle and pedal off to work.

As the morning sun bathed the courtyard, a pretty-looking girl who lived in the outhouse of the Collector’s Bungalow nearby, would come and perform the “aarti”. Through my bedroom window would waft the gentle sound of her voice and the accompanying cymbals. “Om Jai Jagdish Hare…..” There could not have been a more soothing start to the day. People would trickle in, pay obeisance and receive prasad. After sunset, amid the ringing of bells, the temple would be closed.

The Meenakshi Temple at Madurai Courtesy   http://pressengine.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/madurai_meenakshi_temple1.jpg
The Meenakshi Temple at Madurai Courtesy http://pressengine.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/madurai_meenakshi_temple1.jpg

 Those were the days, unfortunately, when some political parties were trying to gain  mileage by making bedfellows out of religion and politics. As a consequence, one morning, I noticed that the cycle was missing and the girl had not come to perform the puja. On enquiry, I was told that some nominee of the local Member of Parliament had taken control of the temple. Soon enough, there appeared a rotund figure clad in a chaddar which had “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” prominently if shabbily printed – a wolf in Ram’s clothing as it were.

A microphone was quickly installed, its huge, crocodile-like speakers poised menacingly atop the branches of the tree that gave shade to the temple. Had the Gods suddenly gone deaf that only with the help of loudspeakers could they hear the prayers of their devotees? Next to be erected was a shamiana which happily encroached on public and private property alike, without either hindrance from or regard to the law. And to crown it all, on festival days, artistes from the local radio station would be called to sing songs from Indian movies to attract the crowds. A beautiful, serene ceremony had sadly been converted into an ugly, vulgar display of supposedly religious fervor.

 What had been achieved in those days was not simply the takeover of a religious place. It was a precursor of what was to become of the nation within a few years. Politics was to find in religion, a mistress through whom could be attained power and wealth. Accompanied by a gullible, pliant, vastly illiterate populace and a national consciousness that showed complete lack of empathy for the “other”, the stage was set for the suborning of the state.

This phenomenon – of the politicization of religion – is not limited to any one religion and its aim is simple – to seize political control and talibanise the country. Today’s leaders appear to be unaware of the dark, sinister forces they are unleashing in their mindless bid for power.  There is an inevitability to the act of riding a tiger – that of ending up in the carnivore’s stomach. And we could very easily in our lifetimes, see a Swami sitting in South Block – India’s own Ayatollah Khomeini.

Image courtesy  Image Courtesy http://www.unp.co.in/
Image courtesy Image Courtesy http://www.unp.co.in/

 But is that the extent of vision of a young, modern nation-state at the beginning of the 21st Century? Do we deserve or need leaders who are busy, like Don Quixote, jousting with windmills? Who are more concerned with resurrecting and avenging the happenings of the 11th Century, ignoring in the meantime, the very real and critical issues facing the people? It is easier after all to sell the opiate of religion than solving problems of clean drinking water and homes for the homeless.

Image Courtesy http://thelastpostofsanity.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/religion-and-politcs-larger1.jpg
Image Courtesy http://thelastpostofsanity.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/religion-and-politcs-larger1.jpg

These leaders must be thrown into the dustbin of history. And not only that – they should be made to feel what it is like to be the “other” – as have Muslims in Gujarat, North and South Indians in Maharashtra, Hindus in rural Punjab, Sikhs in Delhi, Christians in Orissa, Bengalis in Assam, Tamils in Karnataka, Kannadigas in Tamil Nadu ….. the list goes on. Except perhaps for the Communist-ruled state of West Bengal, virtually every part of the country has been subject to communal violence.

If it is at all possible now, let us put the genie of communalism back in the bottle. Let us put religion back where it belongs – in the homes, hearts and minds of people.

GLOSSARY
Aarti – a Hindu ritual during a religious ceremony
Om Jai Jagdish Hare – a popular prayer
Chaddar – a shawl-like covering of cotton
Hare Rama Hare Krishna – in this context a printing of God's name on the chaddar
Shamiana – a temporary tent made of canvas


More by this Author


Comments 21 comments

Jaspal profile image

Jaspal 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

I couldn't agree with you more Sabu... it's scary to think where we could be heading.

And yet we blame other nations for being racist. I think when it comes to caste, community, religion, we can be the most bigoted of all.

Instead of pouring oil over troubled waters and helping people see reason and sense, the politicians tend to fuel and fan such intolerance. The media, of course feeds on such stories and relishes spicing them up, further aggravating feelings of hatred and vendatta ... it's a vicious unending cycle that could destroy our nation. Who's going to stem the rot? How?


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

Well said Jaspal. What you have written reminds me of a young Kenyan woman who worked with me when I was in Kenya. She had studied in Allahabad and used to tell me how she used to feel being racially taunted when she used to go to the Allahabad market. Used to make me feel really small and ashamed.

What you say is true and yet somehow, our people show immense maturity as in the last election. There is hope yet


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

Excellent hub sabu. Religion and politics make dangerous bedfellows, and never the twain should meet. Unfortunately, despite the strong case for the distinction between 'church' and 'state', the two continue to work hand in glove for their own nefarious purposes.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

So true FP. The only thing is India is not unique in this respect. History is replete with such shenanigans


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

History the world over - yes, I guess it's more human nature than anything else - power is the common denominator - both politics and religion can wield it so well!


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

Absolutely right Shalini - thanks


kiran8 profile image

kiran8 7 years ago from Mangalore, India

I agree with you whloeheartedly !Politicians in India have taken over everything including Religion, Educational institutes ,Sports and Crime...


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

So true Kiran. When you think of it, Religion is huge business - sorry for soundng cynical but that's how it is

Another thought - do you know who the richest person in the world is? Not any of the Bill Gates' of the world. It has to be a politician in India - the only problem is, the wealth is all in black money so it never surfaces

Thanks for reading


kasanova 7 years ago

nice hub...different


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

Thank you kasanova. Glad you enjoyed it


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 6 years ago from Jaipur

Hi Sabu,

This hub is selected in Hubbers India.

Thanks,

Jyoti Kothari


H P Roychoudhury profile image

H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

Religion & Politics should not run together and confused the the common people.


Naveen V 5 years ago

I too agree that manny politicians mix up with religion. Saying that one neither should hate his faith nor other persons' faith.


D.Hazarika 4 years ago

I too agree that the politicians who use religion for their political gains should be thrown to the dustbin.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 4 years ago Author

Thank you for reading and your comment, D Hazarika.


JAFAR KATARIA 4 years ago

I agree with you that the religion is used by the politicians and the common man is exploited through the use, this is not only the problem in India but i think its the issue for the whole south Asian region as in our country Pakistan there are number of so called religious-political parties who messed the things in the way that the common man usually confused himself.


Souvik Kar 4 years ago

I am a 15 year old boy I was given a topic for debate which was "religion and politics should not be mixed". I was in a fix that whether this type of situation could be in our country where 6 of the major religions exist peacefully. But as I read your article I saw that I was mistaken and indeed the recipe of disaster is politics and religion. But what is going to be solution of these sort of problems, the common man being confused not knowing which side to be followed end up in the epicenter of the explosion which was to be averted by our dear sweet politicians but who lit the torch which caused the explosion.


rajuji 4 years ago

Mr Singh the topic is religion and politics and we claim it brought a havoc in our lives.

There must have been a point in human history when man was scientifically advanced .Studying the almighty's creation and the precise instrumentation and the clockwork of nature, eco systems and the whole universe, he realized how small he was and called the unknown force GOD. Yet he must have realized that God keeps a hand of mercy as well for all of us, considering the might he must have...over everything. I believe these scientific people were the first to adopt the idea of God from a scientific view and then the idea got passed to the general population and human history and philosophy got added all along the way. Finally man accepted the moral authority of God and accepted he is all merciful as well. Religions was born.

The whole idea of the man was to produce a population that would be just and fair as God is and be creative in the same way to produce things through hard work and get paid for.Create people of strong character and high moral values --- through religion. These people would go further to make communities that are fair and just and would create fair laws to govern.

The laws would hold an equity in the sense that punishment would have to balanced against crime and humanity, just like the merciful hand of God. Now we can raise our children who will grow to be great citizens. The true wealth of a country is not it's natural resources but

in the character and justness of it's people. Countries and societies that are not just find themselves in depth's of blackholes and they never ...

These days there is an omnipresent and a philosophical god every where. Unless God's scientific creation is proven and an acceptance is granted to the master engineer, the philosophical God alone, means nothing more than a visit to the local shrine. Religions acceptance must come from the acceptance of scientific God first. Good citizens of moral character, good politicians and good democracy is a virtue of that. It's all a virtue of God and how much you really knew him.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 4 years ago Author

For a 15 year old, Souvik, you are very mature. More strength to you my young friend.


AbhijeetMohapatra profile image

AbhijeetMohapatra 2 years ago from Bhubaneswar, India

Dear Sir,

Thanks for writing the hubs in much details. I have gone through each of your blogs and found it extremely helpful. We are a group from IIT and we have developed a Political and social site. We want to make a one stop destination for both the causes. We would be extremely happy if you can also contribute some of your time or blogs to the site.

We are just a start up. If you want to contribute then we would tell you how can you register and input your blogs.

We would also be happy if you can erase some of your old blogs and contribute to our web. For the time we cannot support you by providing wealth but we can grantee you better popularity than this web.

Thanks in advance.

Sincerely Yours

Young Team


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 2 years ago Author

Thank you Abhijeet. The truth is I have not been writing for some time now but do hope to get back to it soon. Meanwhile could you please send your details to sabusingh2003@yahoo.com.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working