It was supposed to have been a rallying point for people. It was supposed to have been a tool to get the common man to believe, and to discipline them, to get them off the ‘wrong’ path. Religion seems to have gone the opposite direction. At least individual religions have. In my opinion, the time to restructure these religions is already past, but better late than never, eh?
Let’s start with my own religion, Hinduism. It’s an ancient religion, that has been fragmented and ‘revised’ to such an extent that it’s practices in one part of the country is almost unrecognisably different from another part! While many temples dedicated to Goddess Kali in some parts of India still see animal sacrifices and the offering of the sacrificial meat to the deity, at other parts even the mere mention of a non-vegetarian food is a sin.
Now, I am never against someone choosing a vegetarian diet and sticking to it, but I am definitely opposed to people justifying the eating of pure vegetarian food with religion. And that’s because they try to use guilt to make their point.
More often that not have I heard the argument that the stomachs of non-vegetarians are actually cemeteries for dead animals. If that’s true, then by the same logic, the stomachs of vegetarians are also cemeteries for plants, and the latter practice is crueller, because while animals can make a noise or try to resist, plants can’t even do that!
Then there are those who say that certain animals are our gods or mothers, and should not be eaten, or even slaughtered. Yes, I am talking about cattle, or more specifically, cows here. These people should start avoiding sugar, because it is crystallised using bone charcoal. They should also avoid all sorts of leather clothing and accessories! Isn’t that the ideal way around?
Honestly, I am not trying to convert anyone to non-vegetarianism. All I am asking of you is to stop badgering us in the name of religion or any other thing. There are more religious connotations to this discussion than you can even imagine!
For one, meat-eating has been an integral part of Hinduism long before vegetarianism become fashionable. There are accounts in the Mahabharata of people devouring meat in copious amounts. This is especially true of Bheem, the second Pandav, who was brought fresh meat regularly by a group of ‘lower-caste’ hunters. Even Balaram, elder brother of Lord Krishna, was a devourer of meat of all sorts.
There are other aspects of Hinduism that seem to be utterly ignored these days. I wish someone pointed more of them out.
Then there’s the hugely misunderstood and even more hugely misinterpreted Islam. I once attended a conference on the teachings of Islam, and it had some very learned scholars. I heard them as they explained how Islam says that a true Muslim should always seek his neighbour’s permission before building another storey above his roof, because he needs to be mindful that he is not cutting off his neighbour’s supply of fresh air and sunlight.
How can such an accommodating religion permit the killing of people? The Sharia laws that exist today are derivatives, and the products of a time when they were perfect. Those times have gone, and so is the need to cut off someone’s hand or give someone else a public lashing for some crime they may or may not have committed.
I also believe that it’s time to abolish the religious law that allows a man to take more than one wife. It is a byproduct of the time when men went to battles at a large scale and were killed in large numbers, thereby leaving a lot of unmarried or widowed women around. If it were up to me, I would up change the talaaq laws too, giving the divorced woman more power to access her husband’s wealth, or just a section of it. I have been told that, as of now, if a wife from a financially backward Muslim family is divorced, she has little or no way to eke out a living.
Despite all this, I have immense respect for Islam, more so after reading about the messages that Allah has given through Prophet Mohammed, as written by Khalil Gibran in The Prophet. I believe that any Muslim man should be allowed choose to keep his beard and every Muslim woman should be allowed to choose to wear her Hijab, just as every Sikh man should be given the choice to wear his kachchha, kada, kanga, kesh and kirpan.
Thus it is that we come to the furiously religious and even more misunderstood Sikhs. In the USA, they are often mistaken for Muslims, and in their own country, they are the butt of a lot of jokes. However, there is something inherently resilient about the followers of this religion. Never have I seen a Sikh beggar, because they prefer to live on their hard-earned money.
And last, but definitely not the least, is Christianity. I have studied in both a Catholic and a Protestant school, and I say that both branches of the religion have been given a bad rep by residents of Europe and the USA, more so from the latter.
Christianity, as described and preached by Jesus Christ, must have been fascinating for those contemporary to it. Not any more. Where is Christ’s message of love? Looks like it’s all lost in the race of power! Christ once kicked off the tables outside a house of worship because, according to Him, the merchants had turned it into a marketplace. Can He do it once again, please? Can He please teach a certain section of Christians that merely foaming at the mouth at the slightest attack on their religion is not what He had taught them?
And then there’s Judaism, a religion that most remember as the one that believes in only the First Testament of the Bible. I, however, remember it as probably the only religion in the world that orders it’s male followers to make love to their wives on a certain day of the week! Of course, the needs of a woman are much more, but what other religion provides even this much?
Modern-day Islam, in some of its forms, is probably the most brutal in its history! Despite that, it holds no candle to the times when Christian priests killed of thousands of women by just branding them witches! No wonder then, that those were the Dark Ages! Present-day Christianity may be much more liberal, but not so the present-day Christians, many of whom still look to other religions with disgust.
Modern-day Hinduism is no better. Only recently have I come to know of a girl not being able to marry the love of her life because he had been ‘convinced’ by his parents that they were incompatible when it came to their astrological charts! Incidents such as these prompt me to call for the restructuring of all religions, which have become the refuge of many criminals. As they say in Bengali, “Oti bhokti chore-er lokkhon. (an excess of piety is the sign of a thief.)”
I eagerly await your comments, folks. Leave them here, on this blog, please.