July 30, 2005


On BBC World's Hard Talk Extra, presenter Gavin Eslar introduced pundit Ravi Shankar as the famous living Indian on earth. I was watching the interview with much enthusiasm as I love Ravi's Music (Sitar) and I have a high regard for him for his efforts in organizing 'The concert for Bangladesh'.

Shankar talked about how he was brought to the big scene after George Harrison had become his disciple in 1966. It was hard for him to be associated with fellow musicians and fans who were deep rooted in hippie culture and drugs like ganja, hashish. He anguished that his music is even today tagged with visual representations of that culture which his music has nothing to do about. The tunes of Sitar are about devotion, contemplation and serenity.

Then he talked about his early life and his Guru (teacher) Ustad Alauddin Khan. Khan was a great classical musician and a great teacher. As a pious Muslim, he also knew much about Hindu religion and his attached students of other religions never felt any discrimination on them. Shankar lamented on the peaceful Hindu-Muslim coexistence and tolerance those days.

Actually this tolerance was prevalent is much of India except for some sporadic hatred and violences which were politicized and lead to the the division of India on the basis of religion. Shankar realizes that something has happened to the world recently which disturbed much of the religious tolerance. So what actually has happened to the world?

Arnab links to an interesting article published in the Toronto Star which says:

As the modern medicine and science started to demolish the human barriers, people increasingly started to go away from the fear and the God. However, starting from the 1980s, the religion started to rise again. Iranian leader, Khomeyni started to use religion in every aspect of life. Religious fundamentalism also started rising in the west. A new political wave also became visible. We started calling it Christian right in the west. Religion increasingly became political and people increasingly became "religious."

However, what type of "religious" is this? Our devotion on God has decreased dramatically but we are becoming religious. Our low devotion of God can be shown through the low moral of the society. The porn industry is thriving, the family is breaking down and other things. Basically, now-a-days, when it comes to lying, disturbing the neighbour, watching porn and others, we do all of them. However, when it comes to being religious, we try to show that we are really religious. We never miss any religious occasions.

Today people identify themselves with religions. Therefore, religious identity has become important. As a result, today, religions have become really a sensitive issue. When people talk about religions, the radical things of religions start to come out.

This is true for many of the major religions. The article laments the way out of this situation:

In this destroyed world, I think it is better not to talk about religion with people, who don't follow your belief. The reason is because it will only create hatred and disagreement. Nothing good will come out of this. We need to now look for the grounds, where we agree and religion is something where we cannot agree. Let's keep our religion inside us and continue with life.

Its time we should discover the root of our problems.


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