Religion was invented to serve as a good means to embrace spirituality. But, over time, the pundits, mullahs and other self-styled mandarins of religion, have made it a ritual-ridden mess.
Actor Irrfan Khan’s statements over the last 24 hours have been interpreted, analyzed and politicized way too vulgarly. His simple, yet sensible, perspective is lost amidst all the senseless din. Here’s what he says: 1. Ramadan is a time of self-introspection not mechanical fasting 2. ‘qurbani’ means sacrificing something dear to you – even a desire – and not mindlessly sacrificing animals ‘bought for a price from the market’. I believe the import of what Irrfan is saying is true not just of Islam but of all religions.
I have always found that what religious texts ask of us is to follow a path that leads us within; all of them advise that we go on journey of self-awareness and discovery. But what religious leaders do is to ritualize every action, induce fear in us and force us to follow ‘their’ way so that they can control us. And out of fear everyone toes the line, the leaders’ line, which is manipulated and presented as religious doctrine. I think if each of us sat down and introspected, we will all feel that being non-religious, non-ritualistic yet deeply spiritual is a more intelligent way to live – for it always leads us to inner peace and happiness.
Spirituality does not demand anything of you. You don’t need to fast. You don’t need to abstain. You don’t need to do this or do that. You don’t need to give up anything. You just need to be. Be aware. Be alive. And be in the moment.
I have nothing against Islam. It is a beautiful religion. Nor do I have anything against Hinduism. In fact, if you go back in history, Hindu is not even a religion it was a geography. The land to the east and south of the Indus river became ‘Industan’, then it became ‘Hindustan’ and all the people in this region became Hindus, just as they are called Indians now. I don’t know when exactly Hinduism as a religion came about but if want to still consider it as a religion, then I am of the opinion that it is a badly, irresponsibly, manipulated and championed religion. Not because of the philosophies that it leans on but because of the wily practitioners who claim to lead it today. I can go on and on about every religion this way. But that would mean giving undue importance to something that the world must get rid of.
So, I would say that we must welcome more saner voices like Irrfan’s. Let there be a mutiny of a different kind. Like what is being attempted against terrorism, the people of the world must unite and declare war on religion. Seriously. What we need now among us is global heartwarming. What we need now is good old bhai-chara, humaneness. Think about it: for each Selfie that we take, if we can invest the same amount of time in understanding our true Self, we can make both our inner and outer worlds, happier, peaceful and bountiful. That’s all it takes to be spiritual, that’s what it will take to get rid of religion!!!!