What is religion? Does mankind need  religion? These questions will come to the fore in the new millennium when mankind advances in the realm of reason and science. 

Religion by definition is that which links man with his creator or God. Who is this creator or God? Is he, as the Semitic religions portray Him, a supernatural being with an insatiable urge to dominate over every creature, pleased when he is worshipped and angry when he is not, and jealous when anything or anybody else is adored? Is there only one God or are there many Gods? Has God enemies among His own creations who work against His will? Does He confer His grace only through some chosen prophets who claim themselves to be His messengers and demand implicit obedience from those who want to be saved? Where does He sit, what does He eat, and how does He breath? These are some of the fundamental questions that the inquisitive, rational and scientific-minded younger generation will ask and the men of religion will have to answer. 

Religions founded on blind and irrational belief and unscientific concepts are bound to find an eternal rest in the dustbin in the coming age. When Karl Marx said, “Religion is opium”, he was perhaps right from his standpoint from where he viewed the religion in the west at that time. Christianity was then an instrument of oppression and suppression in the hands of the feudal lords to exploit mercilessly the poor and downtrodden masses. Western scientists too rejected the Christian religion because they found it diametrically opposed to science and reason. Islam also opposed scientific and secular education because it found them as positive threat to the blind and irrational belief in the prophet and his message. These religions, being rigid and fundamentalist, could not change according to the needs of the times. As Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has rightly put it, they came to serve a particular purpose at a particular period of history, but they would have to vanish in course of time, while Sanatana Dharama, which has come down through ages will live for ever. 

What is Sanatana Dharma? It is not a ‘religion’ founded on fundamentalist faith and beliefs and on the authority of one or the other prophet or religious leader. It is an absolutely scientific and rational way of life. It gives full freedom to man to use his reason, probe into the mystery of creation and find a meaning and purpose for his existence. The great rishis of India did their probe in the intuitive realm and presented their grand scientific and rational discoveries in the Vedas or the books of Wisdom. They never said that those who did not believe in their Gods would go to eternal hell and those who believed will be raised to heaven. They wanted man, who is in the zenith of creation, to realize God or the creative principle identical to the Self within or the Consciousness-Force as the source of all creation and to live in harmony with the entire creation. The absolute freedom that they gave to each individual to pursue his own religious path created the beautiful garden of Hinduism with a hundred thousand flowers of religions blossoming in every age and clime, spreading their eternal fragrance everywhere. Unlike the Semitic religions which spread by sword and gun fire to serve the political interests of their power hungry patrons, Hinduism spread through Dharma Vijaya – conquest of hearts by its rational and scientific ideas. 

Today, the younger generation all over the world are craving for a way of life which will satisfy their growing intellectual urges in an age of reason and science and which will also strive to bring unity and brotherhood among mankind and make the world a better place to live in. Those who have all these ages wielded religion as a powerful weapon for political conquests and oppression are scared to see the appeal of Hinduism to rational minds all over the world. Therefore, they are now in their vain struggle to destroy Hinduism in its own land of origin. While the fundamentalist Islamic forces all over the world are trying to destroy the national integrity of India by intrusions, militancy and power of arms, the Christian nations all over the world are dumping millions of dollars into India to convert the poor and illiterate masses. However, the soul of India has awakened and there is a wave of pride and respect for the age-old cultural and spiritual heritage of the nation even among the poorest of the poor tribals in India. The erstwhile European colonial powers and America try to prop up the bogey of oppression of the so called minorities in India by the emerging Hindu nationalist forces. They will not succeed in this game of ‘giving the dog a bad name and hanging it’. Nor will they ever succeed in their efforts to put on the throne of India a heir of the colonial powers to prevent the growth of Hindu Nation. Hindu India is destined to be the Guru of the entire mankind in the coming millennium and no power on earth can ever stop it.  

Author: Professor Sadhu Rangarajan

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