(Dr R K Chadha)
Two contrasting incidents happened in the month of August 2020. On August 11 religious violence in the name of God broke out in the city of Bengaluru claiming three innocent lives and heavy damage to the civilian and government properties. The very next day on August 12 the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel two religiously sworn enemies, Jews and Muslims agreed to sign a peace deal and establish full diplomatic ties brokered by the United States. This agreement is officially named as the “Abraham Accord” in honor of Abraham, the patriarch of the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These religions follow three different Gods viz., YHWH, Jesus and Allah.
All religions teach us that people act and behave as per the Will of God. So, in the Bengaluru violence, the all powerful, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient Almighty God either willed the killing of innocent people or he was indifferent because Uski marzi ke bina kuch bhi nahi ho sakta hai! In the second incident the God willed to broker peace between the followers of two rival Gods who were at logger heads since their very existence. Earlier, the God willed the killings of people in Afghanistan and Iraq when he had differences with the other God for which he got a fitting reply on 9/11.
But, the most surprising thing after the peace deal is that the followers of the God revolted and blamed him for his own deed. The leaders of Iran and Turkey lashed out at UAE after the peace deal with Israel. The Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the deal a “dagger that was unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of all Muslims.” Not to be left behind, Turkey lamented that Muslims “will never forget and will never forgive this hypocritical behavior” by the UAE, by default their God.
Interestingly, in the recent years we saw the emergence of a Super Chinese God, the irony is that he is an “atheist”. Sounds absurd? Of course, it is, as we are talking of an absurd phenomenon. When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity, but when many people suffer from a delusion, it is called Religion. This Super Chinese God is so powerful that he is killing the followers of one of the Abrahamic Gods with their collusion. Iran has entered into a pact with China for a 25-year strategic partnership in trade, politics, culture, and security. The Chinese God also threw some crumb generously to Turkey to keep them happy with a $1 Billion foreign cash boost.
A glimpse of the activities of the Chinese provides the power and hold of their God on all the other three Gods that not one single voice is heard from them. Al Jazeera in a report in 2018 described the ethnic cleansing of Uighur Muslims by Chinese a humanitarian disaster and provided sketchy details. The horrendous acts of Chinese are still continuing, but all news is blacked out. It is reported that more than two million Uighur Muslims are forced into internment camps for ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang, China. More than 13 million Muslims live in this region.
The Muslim students, teachers and other civil servants are banned from observing fast during the month of Ramadan. The state’s view on Muslims describes Islam as “an ideological illness” that must be more than just criminally prosecuted but pathologically cured. Muslims mosques are demolished and people are forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, memorize and recite Communist Party songs, forced into grueling work, enrolled in Mandarin language courses and comprehensive trainings devised to extract their religion and culture out of them. Muslim women are forced to marry non-Muslim Han men. The other contents of the report are too traumatic to elaborate. But still the entire Muslim world is silent. The hypocrisy of the Islamic world is thoroughly exposed that not one single voice is heard from them. Pakistan is leading the pack of hypocrites by bending over to please Chinese deity by offering their women and honor to Chinese men (Aljazeera report, December 5, 2019).
In the present world where killing in the name of God and religion has become a norm there is an urgent need to search for a God who believes in spreading peace and love and show the path of enlightenment. Science can fill this void. People unnecessary get into arguments like who created whom and try to find gaps in the scientific knowledge to claim the presence of God. We do not need the God of Gaps. We need the God of logic who allows free thinking to seek truth and understanding the nature of our reality through rational and scientific thinking. Having faith in God is not a bad thing but blind belief without evidence lead to disasters and killings. This violence in the name of God must stop and is not acceptable in this civilized world.
Today, we live in a knowledge society where people are well informed thanks to internet and exposure to technology. The time of enlightenment has already started with the scientific Revolution beginning with Copernicus in the 16th century CE. Since then, the world has witnessed the fundamental transformation in scientific ideas across mathematics, physics, astronomy and biology in institutions supporting scientific investigation and in the more widely held picture of the universe. Scientific reasoning is allowing people to see and understand the world through the prism of logic and rationality rather than blind faith and dogmatic teachings of religion.
Science has already induced cracks in theological arguments by confronting several religious stories with facts. People are already demanding answers and are refusing to believe the outdated doctrines of religious faith. The explanation by theologians about the creation of our Universe in six days by God has become indefensible in the light of Big Bang theory proposed by the scientists. The other religious belief that the age of our universe is 6000 years belies scientific rationale and is being ridiculed. The preaching such as the earth is flat or the Sun revolves round the earth shows the ignorance of people of certain religious faith which science has debunked.
The Darwinian Theory supported by advances in DNA studies has provided strong evidences about the evolution of life on planet earth and have punched holes in the theological view of a ‘Creator’ or a ‘Designer God[, who is essentially a “God of the Gap”. But, the sad thing is that such irrational beliefs are still being discussed and debated in the 21st century. Four hundred years back the life of the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was threatened by the Catholic Church on his heliocentric idea for the solar system as it went against the beliefs of the Church at that time. Science has demonstrated that how much we have been taken for a ride since the last 2500 years in the name of Gods created by men in Asia and it is time that we shun and discard unscientific dead wood.
It is not easy to unshackle the dogmatic and prejudices of long years of darkness as still there is a large section of society, which is vulnerable to exploitation by religious and political zealots because of their lack of exposure to a free thinking world due to sub-standard education during their early years. This section of society needs to be educated about the real meaning of God who never advocates violence. They have to be told how their generations have been misguided in the name of religion stymieing their growth as normal human beings. The role of women has to be especially stressed as educating one woman is like educating four people. History tells us how women have positively contributed towards the peace and well being of a society.
We are living in a world which has more than 20 religions and 100’s of belief systems. More than 6 billion people follow some type of faith in the world. Different religions and faith perceive God in different ways. It is a tussle between faith and logical reasoning. Amongst the religion which treads the path of science is Hinduism as both are seeking truth. Other Indic religions follow closely. Erroneously, Hinduism is described as polytheistic religion by people who are ignorant and not aware of the Hindu philosophy in which every individual is an atman and is a part of Param atman which is universe and that we all are connected. This was the ancient wisdom of Hindu Rishis 5000 years ago, which Charles Darwin found in 1859 when he published his first book on “The origin of species by means of Natural selection” in 1859.
Hinduism does not believe in a single creator God like in Abrahamic religions where the God is exclusive to believers of their faiths only and is not open to others. So, if you wish to go to Heaven you have to follow the path shown by their prophets otherwise you are not entitled. Of course, it is left to you whether you would like to go to Shamayim, Heaven or Jannat, accordingly you have to choose the faith. You also have a Swarg in Hindu religion, but the duration of your stay there depends on your karma and then you have to come back on earth, till you attain Moksha through your good deeds and no more rebirths.
In the early stage of civilization when the man was wondering about his surroundings and trying to understand the nature of reality around him he was struck by the forces of nature like Sun, Moon, Rain, Fire, Storms, Earthquakes, Cyclones, Volcanoes etc. In his initial understanding of the world surrounding him, he thought that it would be safer to be an ally of these forces and thus started the process of pleasing them through hymns in praise for them and sacrificial rituals. These Gods were then personified as it is easier to relate to them. All civilizations, without any exceptions since their first discovery in the 5th century in Asia, India, Americas, Europe, Africa or China have provided archeological evidences of temples dedicated to Sun, Moon, Rain, Fire, Sky, Fertility, Love and other Gods. Vedic literature compiled 3500 BCE provides a glimpse of useful insights about the wisdom of our great Rishis and Munis on various topics of modern science. A quote from Albert Einstein summaries the view of several world’s scientists, it says “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have made”.
India gave the world Yoga and Ayurveda. The Rig Veda asserted that gravitation held the universe together, 2500 years before the Apple fell on Newton’s head. The Siddhantas are amongst the world’s earliest texts on astronomy and mathematics; the Surya Siddhanta, describes a method for finding the times of planetary ascensions and eclipses. The notion of gravitation, or gurutvakarshan, is found in these early texts. The Sulba Sutras, composed between 800 and 500 BCE demonstrate that India had Pythagoras’ theorem before the great Greek was born, and a way of getting the square root of 2 correct to five decimal places. Dick Teresi, an American writer mentions in his Lost Discoveries, “Two hundred years before Pythagoras, philosophers in northern India had understood that gravitation held the solar system together, and therefore the sun, the most massive object, had to be at its centre”.
Vedic Indians solved square roots in order to build sacrificial altars of the proper size.
Aryabhatta was first to explain in 499 CE that the daily rotation of the earth on its axis is what accounted for the daily rising and setting of the sun. He conceived of the elliptical orbits of the planets a thousand years before Kepler, in the West, came to the same conclusion in 17th century. Aryabhatta even estimated the value of the year at 365 days, six hours, 12 minutes and 30 seconds which is only a few minutes off than the present estimate.
The Vedic civilization subscribed to the idea of a spherical earth at a time when everyone else, even the Greeks, assumed the earth was flat. By the 5th century CE Indians had calculated that the age of the earth was 4.3 billion years which was close to 4.6 billion years reported by western scientists much later.
Indians invented modern numerals, known to the world as “Arabic” numerals because the West got them from the Arabs, who learned them from us!!. It was an Indian who first conceived of a zero, shunya, the concept of nothingness, shunyata which is integral to Hindu and Buddhist thinking, simply did not exist in the West. Modern mathematics would have impossible without the zero and the decimal system. Try to read the Roman numbers which has no zeros to understand the limitations. Indian mathematicians even invented negative numbers as well. The concept of infinite sets of rational numbers was understood by the Jain thinkers in the 6th century BCE.
These are only a few of the Indian contributions in science to the world at a stage when other civilizations were learning to walk. The advent of the monotheistic religions in the 1st millennium BCE put a break on a free thinking world and science was looked down as a criminal activity. This was the time when the religious violence began. This dark phase of history was characterized by dogmatic thinking and blind faith thrust upon the unsuspecting people by a combination of theological and political war lords whose only interest was power and greed for wealth. In the race to dominate the world one after the other three religions developed in competition with claims of same patriarchy. Initially, the violence was between the people of these three religions in Asia, Africa and European continents for asserting the supremacy of their religions.
The richness and the intellect of the Indians attracted the attention of these tribal war lords. The darkest phase of Indian history started with Muslim invasions since 10th century CE with looting, plundering, killing, desecrating the Hindu Temples and burning libraries. The British Christians joined the party to plunder and loot India till 1947. This traumatic phase broke the back of Indians.
India a country with 80% of Hindu population follows the path of Sanathan Dharma which teaches righteousness, pluralism, tolerance, peace, compassion and love for everybody. The word hatred is alien to Hinduism and that is the reason they coexist peacefully with people of other religions in spite of the plunder they faced from Muslim and British invaders. India is known for the well known Ganga-Yamuni Tehzeeb. The Hindus have always shown great compassion towards Muslim and Christian brethren whose forefathers chose to convert to Islam and Christianity either under duress or extreme pecuniary conditions. The country has not disowned any of them because they know that all these people have the same Indian DNA and not the alien DNA of either an Arab or a Turk.
Hinduism teaches us to forgive and forget. Forgive we may but should not forget the dark past as history never gives another chance. Let the people of our country irrespective of the religion unite and bring back the glorious past of our country.
The time is now. The Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi uttered the prophetic words during his address to the Indian Army soldiers in Ladakh on July 3, 2020. He said “peace can only be achieved from the position of strength”. So let us unite and follow the path of our Prime Minister as time may not bless us again with a stronger leader like him, let us follow him and walk step in step with him.