The God(less) People: Death, Riots and Religion

If we look at the origin of every major religion, a common theme one finds is the desire to unite people. Unite them against the atrocities being faced by them, through love and peace. We take pride in associating with the religion we follow, for the divine principles that it teaches us. Religion covers up for the human emotions that education isn’t able to impart. While we might follow different religions and have different beliefs, one thing that is common amongst us all is the respect for life and an aim to create a peaceful world. So, where were these qualities that form the foundation stone of every religion when mobs of angry devotees lashed out across the nation, when the head of the spiritual group Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was convicted of rape and sexual exploitation of two of his disciples?

Faith vs. Justice

The question is not whether the court’s verdict was true or not. The focus right now is the reaction that millions of faithful have displayed in Panchkula and many other parts of the country. What went on behind closed doors is not something that one needs to delve into. But what is clear is that it was the image of a man so virtuous that he was regarded as God himself that made these people follow him. Which leads me to believe that he preached the ideals of love and compassion which are essential to the existence of mankind. His work also revolved around the upliftment of the downtrodden and the weak. Now that the Indian Judiciary tried to do just the same, what we saw was the complete opposite of these preachings.

I won’t say that this was surprising for it isn’t a problem with only the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda, but every religious sect in our country. Religion has been the cause of war and dispute since time immemorial. While the idea was to bind us all in the common thread of love for one higher being, we have split into segments according to our convenience.

 

The Problem

The problem, I feel, is not with a religion or its ideals. The problem is with man’s inherent nature. We haven’t been able to understand and comprehend the true meaning of believing in God or the existence of religion. Even if we did at one point, over the generations those lessons haven’t been conveyed very well. While life is supposed to be sacred, 30 people have died in less than 24 hours in Panchkula and much more did around the nation. While violence was supposed to be the work of evil, mobs set fire to government buildings and attacked policemen and TV journalists in the town. The result being, that security forces retaliated with tear gas, water cannons, and then bullets.

Empathy has been lost in the humans of today. I understand that faith is a very strong feeling which cannot be shaken off just like that. But even for a moment if these devotees consider the possibility of something so vile happening to their mother, daughters, sisters, or even themselves, may be the outburst would’ve been very different.

Time for Introspection

The time has come that humanity starts questioning its beliefs. As I said earlier, it is our own weaknesses that have led to a culture such as this. The fear of being punished if we aren’t devoted enough. The susceptibility of falling prey to miracles in the time of need. The obsession with self that has led to us integrating religion into ourselves so strongly that any slight to it is considered a slight to self. The inability to reason. You don’t need to be a scientist to critically analyze your religion. For if we don’t then this won’t be the last of such an uncalled-for outburst that this nation has witnessed.

We are lucky enough to be living in India and not China. Our nation has given us proper channels to vent out our displeasure. I’m not saying that the Indian justice system is fool proof, but it isn’t something that cannot be questioned peacefully either. If faith in religion does go hand in hand with making a better human being, then it’s high time we start questioning ourselves and our responses to the crisis, rather than lashing out like an angry bull.

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