Thursday, September 12, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 37 (Vol # 7) Dated 12 Sept 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 37 (Vol # 7) Dated 12 Sept 2013

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are going ahead from page No 330 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated continually)

People of all Religions as a Community of Brothers & Sisters
362.            In matters such as protection and care of religions, more than the governments, it is the people who can do much.  They have to wake up others in their own religion to become more duty conscious.  This is required more so within the Hindu Religion, because people of other religious communities are very much awake to their responsibilities. But a universal problem all over the globe is that in all religions, there are more non-practicing followers only claiming that they belong to that particular religion, than ardent followers, though for some there are people ready to go to the extremes at the 'proverbial drop of a hat'!  This waking up of other followers has to be done within the respective religious communities.

363.            In addition to that, people from each religion should be able to tell each other their side of the argument in an acceptably civil manner to create more understanding of each other's point of views.  We must make an effort to get the approval of other religious communities too, especially for those actions which affect other people of the society because all are equal as citizens of the same country.  Instead if we are going to keep fighting amongst ourselves, the net result will be wasting of our life time and affect the peace of the locality and the country.  So, instead of firstly adopting an 'on-guard' attitude, putting up the protective cover all around, the moment the name of the other religion is mentioned; we should be able to approach each other with mutual love and respect.  We should develop the attitude of such easy accessibility and approach.  For this as the majority community, we should show the way.  Normally in other countries it is the minority community that will be somewhat humble and accommodative.  But here in India, it is the other way around because, at the best of times even, within Hinduism there is lack of cohesion as they do not have any central authority.  So they are majority only in name and not in practice!

The Peculiar State of Majority / Minority in India
364.            From ages past in India, the people from the majority religious community have been seen to be quietly tolerant and submissive while the minority religious communities have been offensively over dominating  it, as has been often noticed by many foreigners.  With that, the important Hindu leaders of the Independence Movement, for the sake of mutual peace and understanding, kept on accommodating and adjusting with such magnanimity that, other leaders of the same freedom movement from other religions started taking their magnanimity for granted, even when their demands were blatantly unwarranted!  This went to such an extent that those very Hindu national leaders had to sadly stand aside and watch while the Nation was divided in to Pakistan and India based on the very religious divide that they wished to avoid!  While the minority religions' leaders could gain so much of an upper hand in their harshness, the leaders of the majority religion had to fight hard for their just rights with the Governments before and after the independence!

365.            So, under the situation it is but natural for a certain percentage of people of the Hindu community to feel much offended that, 'despite being followers of the religion meant for this sub-continent from times immemorial and despite continuing to be the majority religion in this country till date; what is the need and logic that we have to get the approval from other religions for our rightful minimum'?  Still, our decision (PeriyavãL says) is that, whosoever it may be, keeping all other considerations aside, it is better for ourselves and for the nation that, firstly we should try and come to an understanding between each other.  Only when such efforts fail we may resort to other methods of forcing our views on others effectively.  Here the point I am making is that, for the growth of our religion, if we can get Government's support and aid, maximum such share must go to the Hinduism only and the logic of it we should tell other people of other religions with love and get their agreement and consensus for it.  Still, as the Government has to deal with all religions equally, to show that for other religions there should be a 'token' material and financial aid given to them also.

The Types of Aid and Support by Government
366.            What I wanted to say was that, the Governmental help may be extended to all religions to publish and spread their religious books and scriptures, for their preachers to talk and propagandize about their religious beliefs, for carrying out repair and refurbish their places of worship, and for constructing new temples in suitable places; the government should be extending proportionate help and grants.  The policy of the Government's Secularism should cater for these sorts of assistances and aids.

In Religious Matters Support by the People is the Capital
367.            Amongst these types of governmental help as mentioned above, I am saying that only a fraction of the overall expenses is to be borne by the Governments and not all.  Otherwise people will stop their contributions completely and lose all interest and that should not be permitted to happen because, in matters of religion people's contribution in services, materials, kinds and funds are the main capital, including contributions as physical labour and material sacrifice that have to be made.  So there is no question of it becoming a complete governmental project at all.  That is the sort of active and involved but impartial 'Secularism' that I recommend.

Religious Freedom and Conversions
368.            In this subject of support and assistance by the Government in the growth and sustenance of religions, I wish to clarify an issue of basic and main concern, in which all the points that I have so far spoken about are like so many branches.  That is, in our country which has political freedom, all the citizens should also have the freedom to follow and practice any religion of their choice and this freedom should be assured by the constitution of the country.  Such a freedom of choice will mostly be the religion to which one is born, as that of one's parents and brothers and sisters.  Though this choice is what is natural, there may be some who wish to follow some other religion or may also opt for 'nireaswara vãdam' – 'निरीस्वर वादं' that is, prefer to be an atheist.  Whatever it is, everyman as a citizen of this country should have the freedom of choice, in selecting his religion too.

369.            The act of reneging one's religion is considered a worse sin than even disowning one's own mother as per the Sãstrãs.  It is the duty of Heads of religious institutions like me to safe guard the rules of the Sãstrãs instead of allowing people to go every which way, just to adjust to the changed circumstances of this worldly life.  Still, in these days of intense emphasis on individual's liberties, officially our hands are tied as far as enforcing the rules of the Sãstrãs are concerned.  So we are under compulsion to reluctantly agree to this aspect of the individual's right to embrace any religion of his choice!  My further analysis of the situation may be read in that light.   At this juncture when every citizen has the freedom of opting for any religion, we as religious leaders and followers should have the constitutional rights to follow, practice and preach procedures of worship and individual practice legally.  That will enable us to gain deep involvement, experience and knowledge to practice and preach as well as mutually protect our religion and be protected by it.

370.            This matter of preaching, propaganda and publicity as related to the individual's right to select one's religion is intimately connected to another important aspect that is, 'dush prachãram' – 'दुष्-प्रचारं' meaning, unwarranted criticism of other religions' concepts, ideas and mythological stories so as to gain advantage for propaganda of one's own religion, thereby getting people to convert!  Doing propaganda for one's own religion in a fair and square manner would mean that you made a presentation of your beliefs with facts and figures, quoting from speeches by well-known saints of the past and representative books and scriptures; for information of the general public.  By such knowledge if people are going to be motivated and attracted by that religions' ways and methods, even to the extent of conversion, it is alright.  Such conversion should be based purely on one's personal wish and free will.

Embargo on Wrong Means for Conversion & Punishment
371.             Dharmam is for making the truth accessible for all as a right and enactment of laws is to keep Dharmam in force.  So, when the government is endeavouring to legally make religious freedom to all its citizens, it should also ensure that such conversion to a religion (from the one to which a person is born to), is based on an individual's free choice and that free choice has to be based on a clear and true understanding of that religion's avowed policies and practices.  So as to ensure that conversion is not based on reasons other than religious, there has to be enactment of laws.  Preaching of religion should be for enlightening its followers of its concepts and policies so that they may develop a strong attachment for the same.  This preaching and propaganda if done for the purpose of attracting people from other religions to convert, it is evil 'दुष्-प्रचारं' which is illegal and an offence.  So publicity and propaganda done so as to encourage conversion should be considered as a punishable offence and there should be laws enacted for this specific purpose.  To object to such laws on the grounds that we have been permitted to preach and publicise as part of religious freedom, will not stand scrutiny.  Because, preaching and publicising your religion could and should mean something like an information bureau or brochure highlighting the strong points, principles and concepts, achievements of the past, philosophical views and important events scheduled; by which people may get knowledge about your religion and practices and may get attracted to know more.  That may lead to eventual conversion purely on a voluntary basis by outsiders getting attracted by your ways and methods after years of exposure to your religious principles and views.  That is the religious freedom we are talking about and not conducting a recruitment drive like the Army does for enrolment in to its ranks!
(To be continued.)



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