The Supreme Court verdict on Instant Triple Talaq has once again raised eyebrows over the “Freedom of Religion” and of course the “Future of Religions”. The ruling has less to do with Triple Talaq and more with “Freedom of Religion.” These kinds of acts by the holy and highest institutions of justice make it clear that religion is no more personal but it is controlled by governments not even sparing secular countries.
Instant Triple Talaq isn’t the first case. Recently, the Supreme Court challenged the custom of banning women from entering the Sabrimala temple and pronounced this practice as unconstitutional as it promotes social inequality. Before independence Britain colonialists found Hindu religion anti-social and started reformation of the religion in India and post-independence, the successive governments continued the reforms. Government first reformed Hindu personal laws in 1950s through Hindu code Bill and then The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 to make Hindu religion socially acceptable. As the world advances, religions too have to modernize and get with the pace so as to make themselves socially acceptable. However, this also points towards the clash between the religious norms or the sentiments attached with them and the government’s policy to make religions socially acceptable. It is not the government itself but these reforms have been induced by the followers and the practitioners of these very religions. Out of the blue, some people rebel against rituals and laws and question their legality and credibility, ultimately these issues land in the lap of court. Ironically some people even question the conduct of their Gods and sue them in the court. Last year a man from Bihar sued Lord Ram in the court for cruelty towards wife Sita arguing that Ram had banished his wife Sita to live a life in exile without a valid reason and should be brought to the books for the same. These kinds of things are now common in our society. Questioning each and everything has become order of the day.
It isn’t only here in India but this is going on in the whole world. China has heavily cracked down on religions and recently banned the members of its Communist party from practicing or supporting any religion. China also banned some Islamic names for Muslim babies and banned people from using veils and having long beard. It also banned civil servants, students and teachers in Xinjiang- a Muslim majority region from fasting during Ramadan. Surprisingly the reaction of people especially youth who welcome such reforms is a food for thought. Today people not only believe in equality but they also seek reasons to believe. They seek reformation of the society and want a severe blow to all such laws that discriminate on the basis of gender or caste. Even inter religious marriages have now become common and there are large number of newspapers and matrimonial sites that promote inter religious marriages. Faith is no more belief in the unbelievable. We now live in a disorienting world in which all the traditions have been called into question. Young minds question everything under sun. Yeah they want to know “why” for “what they do”.
PK Movie which reflected on the religious practices that are irrational too was welcomed and larger part of the society endorsed the issues highlighted by the movie. People began to question the practices of spilling buckets of milk over Shiv Ling and lighting lamps and fires with packets of full-fat ghee. With India being a country of poor people where millions of families suffer from malnutrition and sleep with rumbling tummies every night under the open sky, the movie was more appealing. It also forced people to question the multitude of fruits placed beside idols left to rot instead of being given to beggars outside temples. The movie made us ponder over the issues of wasting food in the name of ‘offerings to God’. Today some people and organisations are also against the immersion of painted statues for Ganesh-Chaturthi, as it leads to environmental pollution. People have now stopped being touchy about the religion and the weight put behind by the government is encouraging the questioning of these rituals, regardless of how rooted they may be in a religion. It has made us to apply logic to beliefs.
Well, recently a girl from Nepal hit the news. She was left to sleep with cows in a cow-shed during her periods and unfortunately got killed of a snake bite. It is a part of the religion of Hindus there and this practice is called Chhaupadi – banishment to a cattle shed or makeshift hut – because of so-called “impurity” during menstruation or just after childbirth. . The beliefs behind Chhaupadi – which are linked to Hindu religion decree that a woman who disobeys these diktats can bring destruction and death to her family. If she touches a crop, it wilts; if she fetches water, the well dries up; if she picks fruit, it doesn’t ripen. People all over the world raised their voice against this practice. Menstruation has been recognized as a taboo especially in the realm of religion, regarding it as unclean and impure, and barring menstruating women from holy rites or shrines. The clash between religion and gender equality in reference to impositions on ‘menstruating women’ is an age old myth.
There is no doubt that the largest aggregates of humanity receive guidance, draw their norms and values from their religions. With the spread of secular political ideology and exposure to science and critical thinking, the influence and impact of the religions of the world is gradually subsidising and even this is likely that these are to vanish from the face of this earth in due course of time. As people question their own ideas, try to understand others, live with an independent mindset and live life their own way as long as it doesn’t jeopardize the welfare of humanity, religions are loosing their ground. Security, capitalism, technology and education also seem to corrode religiosity in people. People who live a secured life are less into religion. They are less scared what might befall them.
Today, we don’t treat religions as divisive force but we treat them as a resource for ensuring greater harmony. Today our religious practices shouldn’t harm anyone and should be socially acceptable. Recently Sonu Nigam questioned the Azaan and there are more people who argue, for example, that religious rituals should not be done publicly because it might somehow offend those of other religions or of no religion. By merely reducing our beliefs to a system of dos and don’ts, we have made it an institution based on rites and rules eroding its philosophical structure. There exist two kinds of people in every religion- the extremists and the moderate. The extremists have reduced their religions to violence and want to establish the supremacy of the same while the moderates are proving that their religion is based on harmony and peacefully coexist with other religions. Politicians and businessmen also exploit the religion to turn waves in their own favour which further frustrates people. Violence in the name of Religion is actually more that of political violence and the business of corporates and less about Religions. Amid this all contemporary trend, the actual aim of religion is lost and philosophy of a religion which leads to spiritual attainment gathers dust. The purpose of the religions is to accompany people looking for the meaning of life and to bring them into a meaningful relationship with the Divine for inner enlightenment and happiness. This has today led more people to be globalist, and the globalists are absolutely convinced that this planet could be transformed into some sort of great progressive utopia if they could just get humanity to unite.
Philosophy too is a sacred religion but its marks are nowhere today. Actually it is the philosophy which leads to spiritual attainment and purity of inner self which ultimately leads to enlightenment.
Rizwan Rasheed is Student at Department of Mathematics,University of Kashmir, and can be mailed at Rizwanrr89@gmail.com
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position of Oracle Opinions.