Religion: Ultimate objective of welfare of society is missing

By Dr. Santosh Kumar Mohapatra*

The culmination of meticulous preparations for the long-awaited consecration of Shri Ram, a momentous event eagerly anticipated not just across India but throughout the world, though it is not free from controversy.

The momentous installation of the idol of Ram Lala is slated from 12:29 am to 12:30 am on January 22, 2024. Within a fleeting 84 seconds, the sacred Pran Pratistha ceremony will bestow divinity upon the revered idol, culminating in the fulfilment of centuries-long aspirations for the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The sanctum sanctorum will be sanctified using water from diverse rivers contained in 81 Kalash, accompanied by a Vaastu peace ritual.

It is propagated that the long-awaited consecration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya stands as a timeless symbol of faith, unity, and cultural resurgence. The temple’s construction and inauguration mark the realization of a centuries-old aspiration, uniting devotees and fostering a sense of collective harmony. Beyond religious devotion, it serves as a testament to the nation’s rich cultural tapestry and the enduring legacy of Lord Ram, inspiring millions with its message of righteousness, peace, and communal coexistence.

It is also publicised that the building of the temple will help to explore the journey of elevated spiritual power blending mental, physical, and spiritual well-being which will guide to holistic well-being and trigger cultural renaissance. Three exists intertwining paths of spirituality, mental health, and physical well-being

The spiritual goals and embracing diverse practices can lead to a transformative and fulfilling life marks a pivotal moment for individuals exploring the depths of spiritual growth. This comprehensive feature delves into the multifaceted approach to elevate spiritual power, crucial for enhancing mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. In a world increasingly seeking balance and inner peace, regardless of one’s faith or belief system, the journey towards spiritual elevation is a universal quest for a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

At the heart of spiritual growth is the aspiration to be a kinder, more loving individual, respecting oneself and extending that respect to others. This journey transcends religious and spiritual boundaries, focusing on personal development and a closer relationship with the divine or a higher power.

However, Ultimate objective of welfare of society is missing. liberal and democratic minded people think that it is not a nation’s rich cultural tapestry rather against religious diversity, tolerance and pluralism and our very concept of secularism as envisaged in the constitution. The fact that the temple is being built as part of Hindutva politics of BJP after demolition of Babri mosque with skewed judicial verdict favouring construction. Hinduism is the most ancient religion in India practised by a majority of people in the country, Hindutva is a political philosophy dealing with Hindu majoritarianism.

A Hindu temple or mandir, devasthana, is a structure designed to bring Hindus and Gods together through worship, sacrifice, and devotion, thought of as the house of the god to whom it is dedicated Every religion has religious shrines. While Muslim have mosques, Christian have Churches, Hindus have temples. While other religious people are promoting their religion, there is nothing wrong if a temple is being constructed. But there lie some serious questions? What is the real intention of building a temple?

Why have been politicised so much and the consecration ceremony of temple has become BJP’s own party agenda. Why political parties are denigrated if not attending ceremonies when visiting temples is purely personal choice. Why selective politicians, powerful, and celebrities are invited to ceremonies when everybody is equal in the home of God. Given its potential for communal polarisation, why could it not ever be separated from politics? When God is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent and service to humanity is service to All Mighty, then visiting  religious shrines may  not be necessary to  become a good human being  and build up a better society.

No conscientious citizen can forget the significant outcome of the prolonged legal clash over the structure at Ayodhya and the extent to which it was exploited for nefarious political gains by BJP and had its gruesome after-effects across the country.

Any idiocy, and gruesome act that has ever been recorded in the annals of history re-emerged during communal riots after bloody aftermath of Babri Masjid demolition across India when local administration maintained stoic silence. The religious hatred engulfed the nation and over 2000 people were killed, and huge numbers of people were put into discomfiture revealing the human’s poignant story of   cruelty and unkindness for which Lord Rama would have felt mortified.

Religion must be private because only when encircled and in escape from public intervention are groups able to pursue the purity and limpidness that many of them perceive to be integral to their religion. Our constitution advocates separating religion from politics. Hence the state should not be directly involved in religious functions. But since the 1990s, especially during the past nine years, the public face of religion has morphed into a private affair which undermines the secular character of our constitutions.

In fact, the grand inauguration ceremony with Prime Minister Narendra Modi presiding over it himself, is the biggest instance of how the BJP has successfully merged religious matters with State policy by manufacturing a mass frenzy and excitement around the ceremony to navigate the 2024 Lok Sabha election successfully by wooing Hindu majority voters. Had it been not so, the consecration ceremony should not have been made before completion of the temple. Even the all four Shankaracharyas, pontiffs of Hindu religion, have decided to not visit Ayodhya (for ‘Pran Pratishtha’ of Ram Temple)  on the plea that repulsive politics has outweighed religious rituals.

Nation should not be swayed and people ‘s mindset, thinking should not be hijacked even obliterated by such emotional issues and the government should use temple issues to divert the attention of people from rising problems like poverty, hunger, unemployment, price rise and inequality plaguing masses.

The very purpose of any religion is to create good human being and ensure welfare of society. It is believed that religious faith play predominant role in this regard especially regulating human lives. As people reward themselves when they can convince themselves that doing good makes a self-fabricated deity happy, while doing bad makes that same deity punish them. The popular idea is that religion is a system of rewards and consequences.  But it is an idea that works for some people and does not work for others.

Gullible people adhere to this basic philosophy while rich, powerful, corporates, and politicians preach above philosophy but practise just the opposite. That is why a few enjoy unbridled power, wealth and prestige while there is a massive rise of inequality and growing impoverishment, mass immiserization. Religions have failed to prevent greed, rapacity and hedonism of people which pose a threat to survival of human beings on earth. While the rich are voluntarily donating money for building temples or religious shrines, they are reluctant to pay taxes for the development of the nation. They hesitate to contribute to the welfare of the poor.

By several standard measures, Indians are highly religious. Pew Research Centre surveys (June 29, 2021) reveals that for many Indians, the high importance of religion is reflected in religious practices centered at home. Roughly eight-in-ten Indian adults (81 percent) have an altar, shrine or religious symbol in their home for worship, and a similar share (78 percent) say they have invited a religious leader to conduct religious rites at their home.

But in India, as a whole, religious faiths have failed to improve the life of people and create good human beings simply because it is misused and misdirected. India’s abysmal position in world happiness index (126 out of 149 countries), world peace index (126 out of 163 countries), prosperity Index (103rd in 167 countries) corroborates the same.  The criminal activities, atrocity on women, suicide, mental disease, disintegration of family, corruption, loot, and plunder are increasing leaps and bounds each day.

It is not in India alone but in the world, nothing more divides people, society more than religion and caste today because religious faith is exploited by politicians and religious pontiffs for their suzerainty. The existence of so many religions, religious faiths, and religious rituals have caused disintegration, division among people. Various countries are plagued by conflicts, terrorism and violence based on religious faiths. India already has a large number of religious shrines. India needs more educational institutions, hospitals and old age homes.

By contrast what we see is that religious faith has taken the shape of religious fanaticism and bigotry, superstition, obscurantism for certain sections of society. Our culture of steadfast devotion to duty has almost drowned in commercial gimmick. The ugly cult of pornography, nudity has gripped society.  Many so-called babas are sexually exploiting many women and amassing illegal wealth and leading a cosy life with impunity.

When there is talk of Lord Rama, a very few are emulating the enduring legacy of Lord Ram and its ideals. Lord Rama was respecting people’s sentiment but today the ruling class is insensitive. Lord Rama was never worried for power nor indulged in publicity blitzkrieg. The ruling class which is busy with consecration of temple has annihilated scientific temper and trampled temple of democracy, decimated media, divided society, created social upheaval, curbed dissent, criticism and resorted to publicity blitzkrieg which Lord Rama would have hated had he ruled today.. Lord Rama had sacrificed all pleasures of life to uphold promises of father. But now parents are neglected by their children.

When we talk of Lord Rama, society is getting contaminated, and deteriorating at a faster rate because good people are facing more problems than bad people. If someone commits evil deeds, he/she will have supporters and accomplices too. If someone does any noble work, he/ she may have supporters but opponents too in society. Many good people are changing the course of their path after facing multivarious problems while doing noble work. Unless this trend is reversed, society will deteriorate further and posterity will suffer more.