By Sunil Kumar
Religion is the opium of the masses.
– Karl Marx
There is probably no other country in the world as obsessed with religion as India. From the Buddha to Christ, and the Hindu pantheon, we have the Almighty as a 24×7 support system.
The most interesting aspect, however, is the rather earthly scandals that seem to engulf our Godmen. Although rational education has inculcated a degree of scepticism and derision for organized faith, yet the sheer commercial savvy and global reach of our religious purveyors has to be admired.
All of us are intrinsically self-obsessed. For many, it is a struggle for money, prestige or sheer survival. Feeding on insecurity is a marketing gimmick our gurus learnt early. Faith is a personal ideology, something we discover after internal trials, negotiating with God and internal struggle.
The obsession with organized religion stems from our inadequacy to think. Liberal agnosticism can only be inculcated in people whose creative faculties are not impeded by mumbo-jumbo: candles, incense or the muezzin’s call to prayer.
Also, an unshakeable faith in the superiority of one’s own religion is a sure-shot call to conflict. Most ideas are man-made and diligently adopted by the masses. If God truly made us in his own image, then surely he could have given us the ability to constructively sift through ideas.
Money,cellphones, glamour and a need for instant fame drives today’s superficial generation. When inane talk shows, feuding soap operas, and incessant scandals occupy our mindspace, quiet reflection and the ability to connect with a higher power is sorely missing.
All the religious babas feed into the very material anxieties afflicting our tortured psyches. Philosophers often attribute maya(the feminine principle) as the reason for the soul existing in material reality. Most of the followers of spiritual superstars are naive and gullible women(and men).
If the Parish, the Temple, the Mosque, or the Agiary did not give you the right solution, then all our godmen certainly can’t. Religious rituals, round-the-clock adherence to some established community norms cannot salvage our mental peace, only real-time practical thought can.
Although atheism has become fashionable, and some even consider mocking established religion as good, there has to be a healthy balance between organized thought, faith and our own ideas. In the mad rush to be fashionable and cool, most of us do not seriously think about spirituality and the soul.
An old adage said: man is known by the company he keeps. When an incessant rush to ape sportsmen, filmstars, and the neighbors becomes an intrinsic part of our psyche, our true religious heart takes a backseat.
Most of us hanker for the quiet, sylvan surroundings that help us connect with our inner selves.