Dec 02, 2023
Dec 02, 2023
Arjuna's question to Krishna, 'What is the language of a stable mind?'
The practice of dividing religions as Abrahamic and Oriental is of doubtful value. Among the currently practiced religions, one can correlate their major premises to the histories, outcomes and the fate of nations practicing them.
Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism to a great extent negate or devalue current existence in favor of a better afterlife or total freedom from rebirth. They emphasize renunciation, condemn desire and thus lead to stagnation of thought and progress, with obsession for the hereafter. Adventure, innovation and material benefits are neglected and such nations fall prey to ignorance, backwardness, subjugation, colonization and exploitation.
Christianity is equally obsessed with afterlife. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to attain heaven! The difference is that after the Reformation and Enlightenment and the writings of Hobbes and Spinoza, great emphasis was placed on a betterment of this life. The fanatically zealous belief in Christianity without understanding its meaning, message or philosophy (a widespread malady of all religions across the earth) led to channeling the energies of the common idiot to enslave, exploit and hold in disdain other believers even as the priests extolled the righteousness and virtues of this despicable and immoral behavior. The misapplication of Darwin's theory to espouse their cultural superiority was another convenient twisting of truth for malevolent economic purposes.
Islam while also concerned with afterlife laid down stringent practices for the current one and being a mishmash of other faiths concocted by an unintelligent person for unintelligent persons allowed butchering, looting, ruling and forcibly converting other people. The rewards of plunder and ravishing in this life and the carnal rewards of heaven in death were enough to let it conquer and spread like a wildfire in the seventh to the seventeenth century but its backward looking attitudes led to stagnation of countries where it was the prevailing faith.
Judaism, while dominated by a cruel, possessive and even unjust god (Read the Old Testament), laid down no burden of hair shirts and no clear mandates of afterlife and has led to the success of its adherents by seeking knowledge, innovation, discovery and material wealth.
The Parsis of India, who show scant reverence for the bodies of their dead, as proven by the amazing custom of letting the vultures feast on them, yet have a strong belief in good and evil have had similar success in this life, in spite of being a small minority in India.
The Chinese who were the dominant nation for a millennium emphasized order and though they accepted Buddhism, they never practiced it sincerely and put much greater emphasis on Confucian order. In this way they emulated the hypocrisy of the Christians. Their downfall was arrogance, which stifled progress and led to self-imposed isolation and eventual deterioration, humiliation and exploitation.
The lesson to be learnt is best exemplified by a remark of Mark Twain when asked about how his schooling was progressing? He quipped, 'I am doing alright in school, but I don't let it interfere with my education'.
We should all not let our religion prevent material well being in this life and while I cannot justify lack of integrity, honesty and humanity, it is crucial not to be hoodwinked and duped by the high sounding statements of others, especially if their practice, does not follow their preaching.
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD