Religion is becoming a numbers game and another disguise for politics: Sadhguru
There is sufficient intellect on the planet right now for us to reconsider the fundamentals of religion on this planet. Religion is an inward step. It is something intimate that a human being does within oneself. It is not something that you organise and do on the street. It is a step towards your creator.
India has always been a land of absolute freedom when it comes to matters beyond material. It is from this context that the culture evolved. This is a culture with a multiplicity of thought, belief and seeking. We call this sanatana dharma, which means an eternal law that will always be relevant. You can choose your own god – a man god, woman god, animal god, tree god – whatever you want. This is known as Ishta Devata, a god of your own choice. This is the only culture which allows you this freedom.
There are seven billion people, so we can have seven billion religions. Every individual is free to see what he or she can relate to best at a certain time in their lives. And they can create a god of their own and give themselves to that process – because it is not about god. It is about bringing a certain quality in you to make you worshipful and reverential towards life. The very reason religion was created was to bring this quality within you. So you worship a monkey, and I worship an elephant. What is the problem? It is fine. And tomorrow, if we want to exchange our gods, we can do that too. You can choose god with form, without form or even no god is all right. It is not rigid, it can change – that is why it is referred to as an eternal religion. Only that which is formless and sans a rigid boundary can be eternal as it can absorb any amount of change.
There is sufficient intellect on the planet right now for us to reconsider the fundamentals of religion on this planet. Religion is an inward step. It is something intimate that a human being does within oneself. It is not something that you organise and do on the street. It is a step towards your creator. If you just observe your own body, you can see that the source of creation is within you. A step towards your creator is naturally an inward step, which you can only take by yourself. You cannot take a crowd of people inward.
Because religion has become systematised and organised, what should have been a beautiful process has become fanaticism. The moment you identify yourself with a doctrine whose fundamental ambition is to conquer the whole world someday, or you assume that your way is the only way, then you are a fanatic. You may act in civilised ways, but as long as you nurture this thought, you are a fanatic.
In indigenous cultures, religion was never juxtaposed against the State. In the past, religion was far more important to people than it is now, but still there were no theocratic states; the ruler had his religion and the subjects had the freedom to follow theirs. There was no conflict because people did not look at religion as an organised process. Unfortunately, today it has begun to get organised and reached a point where electoral politics and national interests are poised to oppose each other.
We have a situation where politicians are openly and proudly calling themselves as ‘Hindu leaders’ or ‘Muslim leaders’ or ‘Christian leaders.’ Religion is becoming a numbers game and another disguise for politics. If this is encouraged or even allowed, there will be organised and unnatural attempts to change the demographic complexion of the nation. Whenever there are such attempts to change the dynamics of the nation’s demographics – religious or otherwise – large-scale violence will erupt. This is threatening our very nationhood.
We must understand that nationhood is just an idea. If we want to make this into a living reality, we need to work sufficiently on inculcating the sense of citizenship at all levels of the population. We must realise that we are citizens of a nation first, and religion comes later. Only then will we have the agility to respond to any challenging situation. Otherwise, every time we are challenged as a nation, people will not know which way to go. If we fail to handle this without the needed balance, polarisation of the nation on religious grounds will become a widespread and ugly reality, for which we as a nation will pay a heavy price. It is very important that the administration and society at large, particularly the religious and spiritual movements, approach this with sensitivity and long-term vision.
May all of us have the necessary sense and wisdom to prevent our beautiful, vibrant and inclusive culture from succumbing to mayhem caused by divisive forces.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is a spiritual leader and author
The views expressed are personal