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Religion and politics are meaningful only in a social system. They are both, essentially, methods of control
Posted On Friday, October 01, 2010 at 10:51:49 PM
Who would want one’s car to be burnt by religious fanatics? I can understand thieves or pyromaniacs. There’s sense in it. But my car for the Lord is plain stupid.
I pay for parking (20 bucks a day, which includes a ‘friendship’ discount as I park for more than four hours), knowing fully well that a dent is my headache. Ayodhya, in a weirdly metaphorical way, is like a parking lot.
Riots are our headache, not the attendants of that mosque or temple. If I get stabbed for being a bad Hindu, the priest will see it as karma. If I don’t, the fanatics will say people like me weaken the Hindu rashtra.
Religion is a curious thing. There has probably been more bloodshed in the name of God than for any other reason. Personally, I prefer wars fought for love.
Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships, and Sita launched Raavan’s flying chariot and an army of monkeys. That’s cute, if you ask Barbie.
Around 809,215,732 people (that’s around 810 million) were killed due to religious wars like the Crusades down the centuries. There are arguments that most religious wars were disguised political conflicts.
That’s probably true, but we need to understand the essence: to motivate people to slit the throats of their brothers, kings and politicians used the voice of the priests.
Hitler gassed, shot or killed by infecting with deadly STD germs around 11 million Jews. This act, according to me, was religious because the profile of the victim was simple: Jew.
While he was motivated by the desire to ensure the purity of the Aryan race, if you consider the psychology behind it, it has more to do with faith.
There has never been a foolproof way to determine what we mean by ‘purity’, hence the abstract nature of the thought puts it in the realm of religion.
Also, the hatred for Jews in the Europe of that time stemmed from an age-old view — that they killed Christ.
In modern India, some of the most violent crimes happened during communal riots. The worst probably was the massacre in Nellie, Assam, on February 18, 1983, when nearly 3,300 Muslims, including children, were slaughtered.
Add to that the casualties of the Anti-Sikh riots of 1984, Bhagalpur riots of 1989, Mumbai riots of 1992-93 and Gujarat riots of 2002, and a shiver will run down your spine.
The problem with religious violence is that it cannot be reasoned with. How do you question an act that has been ‘sanctioned’ by the Lord himself? Faith killers feel proud.
That is the reason why killings connected to faith are far more heinous because it ‘absolves’ the murderer of guilt. The law does not thrive because of the police. It takes its power by invoking the divine will — that murder is sin.
Most of us won’t consider murder because we wouldn’t be able to live with it. That is guilt, the inner voice. In a way, faith killers lose that voice to the priests.
In certain Islamic countries, stoning an adulteress to death would be seen as justice because the clerics have interpreted religion in a way that allows them to seize power.
To me, that is politics. In modern India, honour killings are examples of such interpretation. The belief that caste is a rigid system is so old that it has gone under our collective skin.
The hardliners used the methods of the politician to make us believe in it.
Many exclusively political killings were motivated by faith of some kind. Stalin massacred 20 million Russians to protect the ideal of collectivism. He took his ‘creator’ Lenin’s ideas to the extreme.
His intentions may have been good. Similarly, Mao took 40 million lives to make China ‘red’ during the Cultural Revolution (that I find ironic. What’s the culture in killing?).
If you consider the psychological weather under which the murders were committed, it’s an irrevocable belief in a system that excludes all other viewpoints. It’s all about faith.
Religion and politics are linked because they are meaningful only in a social system. They are both, essentially, methods of control. Hence, they will always be susceptible to corruption.
I think the calm after the Ayodhya verdict had nothing to do with religion or politics. It was just that people knew deep down it doesn’t really matter anymore.
The fear of riots was so pervasive, that the whole religious tangle appeared absurd. Instead of religion setting us free and making us fearless, it turned us into slaves. I think people understood that.
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