Essays Archives


What is the meaning of secularism that it has cultivated such a great antipathy for religion? Is it a godless state? No. Even though the protagonists of secularism may profess that religion has been allowed to flourish in the State independently, without any intervention, religion has been looked upon with a frowning eye. This attitude has resulted in moral recession, which has corroded the society and has posed many problems. The politicians, who became wiser after retirement, began to realise that secularism has not only allowed religion to flourish but has denounced it totally, and the cause of the moral recession has been ascribed to such an attitude.

Secularism is a state of worldly condition. But man, who is by nature worldly, has also an inherent instinct of divine consciousness. Rudolf Otto says, “Man possesses a kind of eerie sense of a Presence which is the basis of the genuinely religious feeling.” The state of mind potential with divine influence, even though externally empiric, desires to be released from its empiric conditions. The divine which is transcendently the Highest, inspires man to crave for higher and higher attainments. The higher the attainment, the more his desire to attain greater heights. Man, therefore, does not desire to be bound by the narrow spheres of his environments, but desires to break them to tread the higher paths of shining glory. This impulse projects only from the Transcendental Highest, who is within him but of whom he is unaware due to the empiric state of his mind.

Every human mind is inherently religious. In the words of D.D. Rumes, "He possesses a native apprehension of the divine.” Still further, Dr. Radhakrishnan says, “There is cordial harmony between God and man in Indian thought.” The condition of the human mind is such that it does not recognise any scepticism. However, according to revealed religion, the condition of the human mind is such that the trace of scepticism does not vanish unless he has a revelation of the Supreme Reality. These two contradictory views have been fused by the evolution of the theory of the Philosophy of Religion, which has a great place in Indian philosophy. Therefore, religion which connotes a search after Reality, has an implacable influence upon the human mind which cannot be suppressed or eradicated.
Hindu religion has given an all-absorbing thought in the tenet ‘all is Brahma’. Since everything has evolved from Brahma, Brahma is reflected everywhere. One who calls himself religious but does not confirm to this highest tenet of Brahma-darshan is a hypocrite. Religiousness demands this ideal to be realised fully as without this pragmatic approach, religion merely decays into rituals and ceremonies, which then reduce it to a dogma. Seers and sages who possessed an intuitional vision gave us such inspiring thoughts out of the realisation which they had of the Ultimate Reality. It is these thoughts which are written as hymns of the Vedas or mantras of the Upanishads. They teach us to seek unity in diversity. The universality of these thoughts is recognised even by Western scholars, one of whom, Victor Cousin, says, “When we read with attention the poetical and philosophical movements of the East, above all those of India, which are beginning to spread in Europe, we discover there so many truths so profound, and which make such a contrast with the meanness of the results at which the European genius has sometime stopped, that we are constrained to bend the knee, before that of the East, and to see in this cradle of the human race the native land of the highest philosophy.” Religion is, therefore, an instinct which cannot be ignored nor suppressed, but which should be allowed to foster for achieving a greater harmony.

In a State advocating secularism, even though no particular religion can be favored, which would thereby mean that no particular mode of worship or rituals or ceremonies many be favored, but religious ideas should be fostered in the greater interest of the nation. Swami Vivekanand says, “And if we read the history of nations, between the lines, we shall always find that the rise of the nation comes with an increase in the number of such men, and the fall begins when this pursuit after the infinite, however vain the utilitarians may call it, has ceased.”

Religious teachings inspire a man to widen his vision and feel the Reality pervaded everywhere. To quote Swami Vivekanand, “Religion is the greatest motive power for realising the infinite energy, which is the birth-right of every man. In building up character, in making for everything that is great, in bringing peace to others, and peace to one’s own self, religion is the highest motive power, and therefore, ought to be studied from that viewpoint.”

India is a land of religion. Religion has given her the spiritual strength to resist the onslaughts of political invaders and has kept, in the words of the late Frank Moraes, “Its socio-religious framework unimpaired.” Secularism will work better in the set-up of religious teachings only, as that will provide both unity and nationalism. The political philosophy of the present day ruling class has created such divisive tendencies to meet their own ends, to cost the nation its unity. They have made us the products of over-regional lingua franca. The inculcation of religious ideals would definitely teach us to realise all humanity as one. All parochial thinking in terms of caste, creed, regionalism, etc. will be entirely shunned.

Hinduism has embraced universality by throwing away the shackles of caste. Roop Goswami and Santa Goswami, the chief disciples of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, came from Muslim families. Miyaji, the chief attendant of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, was also a Muslim. The Fellowship has hundreds of Muslim followers. Vallabhacharya also has Muslim followers. Therefore is religion parochial? Why then is this purely indigenous Indian product – the Indian Philosophy – not made marketable at least in our own country and for our own interest?

Other Articles by H.T. Dave

© 1999-2024 Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha), Swaminarayan Aksharpith | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | Feedback |   RSS