A great and resilient country like India learn to outlive the nightmare of 1947 and our constitution makers did not leave any thing to chance the preamble of our constitution reads “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into sovereign secularist, socialist and democratic Republic”. In a secular state religion is purely an individual affair with the state neither promoting nor running down any religion. In other words, there is no state religion as in Pakistan or Israel.
Right from the very beginning, the Indian state sought to promote total harmony among people professing different faiths, granting them freedom of worship and extending certain privileges to the members of minority community. Despite the best efforts of farsighted leaders, communalism and occasional communal rights have besmirched the fair name of the country known through ages as an oasis of tolerance and amity. The ugly eruptions have been more of an exception than the rule and they have been the handiwork of disgruntled politicians, anti-social elements and criminals. The people of India stand for a plural and multi-religions society. It would indeed be foolish to judge India’s secular credentials and its innate capacity to tolerance by what happened recently in Gujrat, in Ayodhya and Mumbai ten years ago; and during the anti Sikh riots in Delhi and elsewhere in 1984. These have been aberrations indulged in by petty minded people for immediate gains.
The culpability of certain politicians and other elements including a section of media in stoking the embers of hatred can not be ruled out. But, man to man people have shown they could live as human beings with an inexhaustible fund of love, compassion and concern for one another. This has been proved even by the information collected from the gory interlude in Gujrat, families going out to help others of a different community and even sheltering them. Eternal vigilance is the shield against those who are out to tear apart our secular fabric. It is a happy augury that our media and saner public opinion have stood as a solid rock against those who sought to sow hatred between people in the name of religion. But there is no room for despair for we stand on firm ground, the base built through centuries of understanding, love, compassion and the fundamental realisation that Truth can be reached through different paths. A glimpse into the past would show that communal harmony and tenets of tolerance have been an integral part of the great Indian tradition; an unassailable thought flows through the Rig Veda. “Truth is one, the learned may describe it variously”, says the Atharveda “The earth which accommodates peoples of different persuasions and languages as in a peaceful harmony benefit all of us.
” Echoes the Rig Veda “All human beings are of same race” None could have put the broad vision of India than the great son of India Swami Vivekanand who addressed the world parliament of religions in Chicago, USA on September 11, 1893; addressing his audience as “Sisters and brothers of America” he thundered “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance, we believe not only in universal toleration but accept all religions as true. I am proud to tell you that I belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the pure remnants of Aryans who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny.” Can the people ever forget Ashoka the great the only Monarch who abandoned warfare after victory? This great emperor said in one of his edicts “All sects deserve respect for one reason of another.
By this acting a man exalts his own sect and does service to the sect of other people. And during Mughal period Akbar the Great with his liberal and catholic outlook said, ‘Truth is no monopoly of any religion or sect.” And how on earth can we overlook the contribution of the Bhakti movement in promoting the religious harmony. Kabir, one of the protagonists of Hindu-Muslim unity described himself as the son of Ram and Allah. If you say that I am a Hindu that is not true nor am I a Mussalman.
I am a body made of five elements where the unknown plays.” Guru Nanak Devji went through Hindu places of pilgrimage like Mathura, Banaras, Gaya, and Junagarh. His last long journey was his pilgrimage to Macca and Madina. Guru Nanak is still respected in Punjab-the king of Holy men, the Guru of Hindus and the pir of Mussalman, “Baba Nanak Shah Faquir/Hindu ka Guru Musaiman ka pir” One of the greatest integrating forces of our country has been the world of art and culture and here we can include music, drama, camera, TV and the like. Some our great stars in different realm of entertainment have been Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari, Ajit, Madhubala, Mohammed Rafi, Talat Mahood, Begum Akhtar, Bismillah Khan, Jesudas and these great people have been human beings first, Indians second and then only followers of their respective religions. Rafi, through his inimitable rendering of immortal Hindu songs brings tears to the eyes of ardent devotee.
So is Jesudas, a Christian by birth, has sung more songs for Hindu gods than any Hindu in Kerala or elsewhere. Without being formerly initiated into doctrines, Sri Ramakrishna realised the ideals of religion other than Hindusim. He said “I have practiced all religious Hinduism, Islam, Christianity; I have found that it is the same God towards whom all are directing their steps, though along different paths. But they never reflect that he who is called Krishna is also called Shiva and bears the name of Jesus.
God is Allah and Allah is God. Sri Ramkrishna used a simple example which even a child can follow to drive home the point of fact “A lake has several ghats. At one, the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it ‘jal’. The Muslims take in leather and call it Pani. At the third the Christians call it ‘water’. Can we imagine that it is not jal but only pani or water; how ridicules! The substance is one. All are seeking the same substance. Let each man follow his path.
In brief our life on this planet is short, let us learn to live together because we belong to same family-Man. Harmony is the keynote of the river of life.