Politics Magazine

The Politically Religious Cocktail

By Jairammohan

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Over the course of all the years that I have tried discussing religion and politics with people that I have studied with, worked with and traveled with in public transport, I noticed a few things, these topics hold a special place in the hearts of almost all Indians. While that by itself is not an issue, the fact remains that for various reasons, most of us are not open enough to accept that people might have contrarian views and leave it at that. They tend to take these discussions personally and it ends up having unintended consequences.

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My personal opinion (and history probably backs this theory up) is that man invented religion to keep his fellow men disciplined and united by giving them something in common to look up to, to be afraid of, to keep his animal instincts in check. Religion also gave him an excuse for all that he didn’t understand back in the day. Unexplained natural phenomena such as the sun rising in the east every day without fail, the changing cycles of the moon, tides, natural disasters such as typhoons, floods, hurricanes, these were conveniently blamed on a higher power, God, who in some cases was given a ‘superhuman form’ and was used to keep humans in check.

And as if this weren’t enough, the smarter rulers in history realized that organized religion could also be used to justify the superiority of their claims to the throne and the kingdom. It is well documented that most of the South American Incan and Mayan kings used religion as a medium by which they controlled the people and stayed in power despite the fact that they didn’t necessarily serve their subjects well. And that probably was when religion and politics began intermingling in a deadly cocktail.

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If one looks at the etymology of the word Politics, it has been derived from the Greek term – of, for or relating to citizens. It is understood as the practice and theory of influencing other people at a civic or individual level. Practically in the modern world it refers to achieving and exercising organized control over large sections of humans, particularly states and countries. It is clear from the definition that politics as a concept and discipline has been devised to exercise and influence control over large groups of humans, and it is quite clear therefore that it is similar to religion in this respect. No two ways about that.

Now that we have established the basic nature of religion and politics, let us move to the Indian context. When we were younger we have been told that only in India can we see and experience unity in diversity. However, as years went by and as life taught us lessons, all of us clearly realize that while there is lot of diversity in our country, rather than promoting unity, people seem to be misusing the diversity to harbor more and more animosity against each other for purely selfish reasons. In my opinion, the primary culprits guilty of this crime are Indian politicians. For purely self serving purposes, the kind of hatred and animosity that they encourage between the various religious group, castes and creeds of people is unbelievable and has had rather serious implications as well.

Given all of the above, my personal opinion is that it is not at all a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people I know, let alone strangers. As it is these topics seem to stir passions in people and I would be better off not rubbing them the wrong way inadvertently.

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This post is written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was ““It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?”


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