True Religion

By Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar
12 August 2014 14:03 IST

Pondering over the history of India's freedom struggle right from the onset of foreign rule to the transition of India (Goa included, obviously) into its current chaotic Nation state, one can identify certain failures of the people of India in general and of the individual Indian in particular.

Would you raise your eyebrows and take a suspicious glance at me if I said that an important reason why India has largely not been able to overcome chaos, violence and lawlessness is the lack of religion ? Indeed the general perception is that it is the excess of religion that is to blame. But I contend here that it is the excess of irreligion that is the prime factor.

Yes. It is the lack of religion that results in conflict and division. In fact lack of religion IS conflict -- inner and outer conflict. Conflict causes division - inner division of the mind and the outer division of the society into communities, groups etc. The inner conflict and division causes the perception or rather the mis perception of duality. This further exacerbates "irreligion". The vicious cycle continues. There is decadence of the individual -- decadence of the society -- decadence of the Nation.


Is religion going regularly to a temple, church or mosque ?

Is religion worship of cow, worship of a stone idol or worship of an idea of God ?

Is religion the unconditional or conditional support for and among st all members of a community or a large group ?

Is religion the incessant fight to save one's belief, one's identity, one's God ?

Is religion the incessant attempt to destroy other beliefs, other faiths, other peoples' Gods ?

Is religion obedience to a set of ideas, a set of ideals, a set of Gurus or a single Guru or Godman ?

Is religion living in the shelter of mythology of yesteryear ?

Is religion Jihaad or Hindutva ?

Is religion a distinct way of life -- like wearing particular clothes, practicing particular rituals, living one's life in a particular, predetermined manner ?

Is religion telling or indoctrinating others to follow a particular way of life -- think in a particular manner -- feel and act in a particular manner ?


Religion, meditation, knowledge, truth, peace, happiness, secular existence,scientific temper, spirit of inquiry, learning, ability to change or mutate -- all go together. They contribute to a holistic existence. i would call such holistic existence INTEGRITY.

As opposed to this holistic existence there is God, faith, belief, dogma, ritual, thought, time, indoctrination or brain washing, slavery to a particular idea or ideal, fascism, racism, religious fundamentalism, caste ism, violence, deception, perversion of history and truth, justification of violence and divisive existence.

So the difference between religion and irreligion is the difference between holistic and divisive or fragmented existence.

But does this statement of mine create duality between holistic and divisive ? And who decides what is holistic and what is divisive ?

So the question of religion is complex if one decides to approach it with one's thought and using the medium of language to communicate.

Now let us use another medium of instruction or rather another medium of expression. This may be a tad difficult if one does not approach it with an open mind -- setting aside for a while all that one has learnt in the past, especially all that one has learnt from the books.

Picture this :

One goes into the city center for work. Parks one's car or bike in a nice place. Begins one's walk to office, school or whatever place of work. One passes a swanky, big showroom. It has large, well lit and decorated glass windows. A nice, branded designer shirt hangs there. One notices the shirt. One has some time before the work begins. So one pauses looking at the shirt.

Now let us see the interaction between oneself and the shirt. After the initial attraction and fascination with the shirt, one goes a step further. One begins imagining how one would look after donning the shirt. One thinks. How would one's office mates react if one came to office with that shirt on ? Would they find you appealing ? Would they think you were cool ? Or perhaps wealthy to afford it ? Or successful, may be ? What would be the reaction of your wife, girl friend or parents ? Would they compliment you on your purchase or would they rebuke you ?

Now you decide to go a little closer to the window pane and the shirt - so you can see not only its details but also its price tag. Price tag reads 4995/- INR. Obviously the details are appealing, but not the price.

One the one hand you picture the doting looks of your wife girlfriend, office mates - on the other hand you are uncomfortable with the possibility of parting with your money.
You enter into a subtle conflict. To wear or not to wear. To buy or not to buy. The conflict is resolved when you either buy the shirt and wear it, or you move away from the window and forget the shirt - if you forget the shirt.
So the conflict, with its accompanying inner turbulence and violence arose when there was a duality between you and the shirt. The moment the duality was gone, so was the conflict or violence.

Now let us consider another scenario.

As one drives the car or the bike, one is constantly aware of what is happening around oneself. One hears all the din of the traffic. As one parks one's vehicle one hears the cry of a kitten sitting helplessly in one corner of the foot path. One also notices the pang of sorrow that arises inside oneself when one realizes that the kitten has probably been left there by some one to fend for itself. One notices the stately Mercedes Benz of a wealthy businessman parked adjacent to one's own parking place. The cloudy, grey sky about to begin a downpour. A young couple getting out of the swanky showroom with a triumphant look on themselves -- satisfied they could afford to shop there. ---- AND one ALSO notices the beautiful, designer shirt with the price tag of INR 4995/-

The shirt, being nice, catches one's attention. One then becomes intensely aware of the changes in one's own brain causes by the siting of the shirt. One actually SEES the element of selfishness, the element of greed, the creeping up of the desire to look good. One becomes aware of the association of wearing the expensive shirt with the power in one's immediate society. One then becomes aware of one's own need for recognition in the society and one's need for attention from the society. The need to be PERCEIVED AS successful, wealthy, handsome - whether one is actually successful, wealthy, handsome or not.
Then there is awareness of the fact that one cannot afford the shirt - and the awareness of the association of this thought with pain and despair. OR there is awareness of the fact that one is rich enough to afford the shirt and the association of that fact with pleasure, security and confidence.

While all this is happening in the inner space one is also studying the design of the shirt, the appealing way it has been displayed in the showroom, the ambiance.

One notices that one's consciousness is like a tide that goes out and fully enjoying one's surroundings; that comes in to become aware of the thoughts running through one's brain and the associated emotional changes inside oneself.
In this latter scenario, whether one buys the shirt or not - whether one can afford the shirt or not - one has learnt a lot.

NOW let us see what is the difference between the former scenario and the latter one.

In the former scenario, the "observer" is distinct from the "observed". The observer with his passions, his desires, his greed, his ambition, his past experiences, is trying to interact with the absolute present- which is the shirt - and is having a skirmish with the present, the shirt.

In the second scenario, there is no "observer" as distinct from the "observed". What is present is the tide of constant awareness of inner and outer changes. The observer and the observed have become one.

This consciousness is true religion. True religion flowers when the observer and the observed have become one.

True religion begins when duality ends. Whether it is duality between actual and ideal, duality between the past and the present, duality between man and God, duality between one God and another, duality between oneself and shirt, or the duality between the thinker and the thought.

All the currently practiced religions -- whether Hinduism as is practiced today, or Islam, Christianity, Buddhism of today or any other -- are only different forms of entertainment for the hapless individual. They are nothing but dramas enacted by colorfully clothed priests or bhatmams and their imaginatively decorated Gods place in swanky showrooms with appealing ambiance called temple, church, mosque, Gurudwara etc. They have nothing whatsoever to do with true religion.

True religion is always deeply individual. Deeply private. It is never collective.

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Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar

Dr Mukul R Pai Raiturkar is a consultant pediatrician & neonatologist practicing in Margao. He is the co-convener of Ami Goenkar, an organisation of secular young Goans working towards a novel approach to religious-political issues of Goa. Son of veteran Goan freedom fighter Mr Ravindranath Pai Raiturkar, he exudes unshakable faith in a liberal, secular and free spirited democracy of India.

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