(Image courtesy : godisthere.wordpress.com via Google)
I came across a flyer recently – one that was sent out in the name of a prominent mission among the Hindu community which I, among many others, found outrageous. It was about a workshop for women and was titled “God – She’s beautiful and so are you”. The flyer was accompanied by a picture of a Hindu Goddess in a sleeveless, full length cocktail gown.
The most offending aspect was that religion was being used as a launching pad for a program that is essentially aimed at women’s welfare or enhancement of awareness or life strategy, maybe. While I have no problem with institutions or groups conducting such workshops, my question is very simple “Why use religion as a crutch?”
Having been born and brought up in Bombay, having spent the first 24 years of my life there, I’ve seen firsthand, numerous instances of people using religion for personal gain or for their vote banks or to simply start a feud between people of different religions. Religion has always been used as an unwitting crutch way too many times. It is almost as if religion is a sitting duck, just sitting there within arm’s reach, to be taken or yanked out of the shelf at what one might consider the “right” time and used as one pleases to.
The eminent Indian artist, M.F.Hussain, gave vent to his artistic imagination and he was chastised to the extent that he had to leave the country. He was just an artist and he was in no way promoting or demeaning any religion. Compare this to a Hindu mission letting a leaflet be published in their name with a picture of a Hindu goddess in an attire that the mission itself otherwise doesn't condone !
While attending classes in Hinduism conducted by the respected mission, the dress code for the children is strict. When the respected mission lays so much of emphasis on the dress code of children, why let circulate a picture of a Hindu Goddess wearing a sleeveless, off shoulder cocktail gown ?
Is this not hypocrisy ???
I remember reading a plaque somewhere which said “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience ……. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Spirituality is one of the cornerstones of any religion. But while religion requires one to adhere to certain norms and is quite tradition bound in terms of the acceptance of a particular higher order, spirituality is not necessarily bound to any particular religion or religious practice. Spirituality tries to enable a person to discover the very essence of his or her very being, his or her existence in this life form, on this plane of life. Any religion, without spirituality as one of its paths, would fail to serve a greater purpose.
Religion, by believing in the unknown, was meant to help mankind overcome its fears of the unknown and uncertain. Somewhere along the way, individual thoughts and group thoughts have merged to form “organized religion”. Once the system of “organized religion” takes over, the question that stares at one in the face is simple. How, when and in what way or different ways can one see religion being distorted or being used as a crutch, a prop for furthering other agenda ? The branding of religion to promote personal ambitions and ulterior motives has taken the spiritual dimension away and reduced religious organizations to the level of social clubs and/or lobbyists.
More and more people are taking to religion, not in pursuit of the spiritual dimension but rather as a means to seek forgiveness for their sins and transgressions. Organized religion, nowadays, increasingly caters to and exploits this very tendency in humans, by using religion to cleanse their feeling of guilt or to put it simply “wash away their sins”. In the process, spirituality is almost forgotten, as spirituality, with its tendencies to lead one away from materialism, does not help fill the coffers of the various organized religions.
Edwin Arlington Robinson once said,
“The world is a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell “GOD” with the wrong blocks.”