The world of no good

wanna have a fun life, travel, and see different cultures.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Religion is tradition not doctrine.

Wish i could have written a better one than this. This one seems extremely incoherent. I believe the essence of what i wrote here, but somehow, don't think i packaged it well enough. well, for what it is worth, have fun.

Over the years, I have heard many people have some version of the following conversation:

X: Who says it is right?
Y: Well, according to our religion, it is.
X: And what about our/your religion says this?
Y: Our holy books (Vedas, Gita, Bible, Koran...)
X: So, your religion is defined by the holy books?
Y: Obviously! We follow them and their true interpretations!

The understanding i get from this is that people seriously believe that they follow the holy books.

I am of the opinion that people only believe that they are following them, but in reality they are not even close to following them.

I discuss a few examples below.

Let me start with the religion that i was born into. (sad, nowadays we are born into them, hardly anybody consciously embraces them. I mean, a hindu might say he really believes in his religion, but if he were born in a christian household, he would most probably say the same about christianity! so, it has to be that we are born into our respective religious preferences.).

Ok, let me continue, Hinduism - the religion i was born into has a set of 'holy books' like most other religions. these books are usually what make up the so-called hindu doctrine.

Now, a part of this doctrine is the fact that every(living)thing has god in it. Simple in idea. But, just look at what a common hindu does? he goes to a temple, and prays to god in the shape of an idol. Which i think is ok, he wants to channel his energy, so be it. But, let's take what i wanna call the 'spit-test' (sorry for the grossness, but it is exactly what i need to show the point). Let's say i go and spit on those idols? i have two questions now,

a. will that be sacrilege according to a hindu?
b. will that be sacrilege according to the hindu doctrine?

The answer to (a) as is very reasonable is 'Yes'. Now, the more important answer is the one to (b). If god is there in everything, then spitting on a plant is no more sacrilegious than spitting on an idol, right? so, i take it the hindu doctrine says 'It doesn't make a difference'. So, my question is, are we as hindu's following the hindu doctrine, or the tradition of praying to idols that has developed over time? In my opinion, it is clearly the second.

As usual, my aim is not to mock any one religion. To take another case, the christian doctrine sees idolatry as a sin. Yet, we see people going to churches and praying in front of a crucifix. Now, people may have many interpretations of the crucifix, but the point is simply this. will christians tolerate it if i go spit on the crucifix in the church or the church itself? if not, why? is it because they see god in them both? if so, isn't that idolatrous (which i see as the 'believed' manifestation of divine power in specific material objects)?

Again, the same question arises? does a common christian follow the christian doctrine, or what the christian tradition has bequeathed to him? My answer aligns with the latter.

If a person, claims that his religion is what is in those books, yet does things is a way that is not supported (in cases, opposed) by the holy books, then what right does he have to claim he has embraced that religion?

to end, i ask u, what sense is there anymore is referring anyone to the 'holy books' when asked about a particular religion? And more importantly, what is religion?

My own answer to the second question: religion is a cultural heritage. There is nothing divine about it. More importantly, it morphs with age, in fact a lot like language. What a language is today, is not what it will be in a few centuries.


Blogger twisted_world said...

Religon, my friend depends on the person and how they want to interpret it. Sadly, people these days take the words of what is in the 'books' as final, meaning that instead of using it as a set of guidelines to make you a better person they take the words for granted for what they are. At least where Christianity is concerned, (I'm not including Catholicism) the practices have changed with time but the beliefs have remained the same.e.g sacrifices, sabbath etc.
To clarify, a crucifix in a church is used as a symbol to remind people of how Christ died on the cross. No one prays to a crucifix cos' thats just what it is. Two pieces of wood attached to each other. You spitting on a cruifix or a church will not be considered sacrilegious but as a sign of disrespect to Christianity. A church is just a building, it is considered as the house of God, but according to the bible a God is present when two or three people gather in his name. So a church can be anywhere, it could even be in your own home.
The bible is Word of God, but it was written by people which is a commonly accepted belief and not mine alone. Referring people to it is because that there's so much in it that not one single person knows everything said in it. Religon is not a cultural heritage, at least where Christianity is concerned. It changes, yes but to make it more relevant to the times.

2:49 PM  
Blogger PS said...

Thanks dude, finally got to catch up on some much needed sleep :P

6:15 AM  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

lol. I am forced to take change my view, now. I guess, religion is of some service to humanity.

I dunno what happened to the reply i posted to titiv's comment. It seems to have vanished!

9:13 AM  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

Ok, found the comment in the trash folder of my email account. Go Yahoo!!

First, when i talked about religion, i talked about how people see it, in general. All your points as i understand it are applicable to only a few 'devout' people'.

Second, I have doubts about a few things u said. They sounded grand, but i don't think i understood(or had my reservations about) them:

1. 'but as a sign of disrespect to Christianity'. So, u agree Christianity has its own existence? I mean, isn't religion the path to finding God? If so, then how can there be an insult to one without there being an insult to the other (God). To rephrase, if there is no insult to God, there shouldn't be an insult to the path (in this case, Christianity). If there is, then the path has its own existence. This existence which isn't ordained by the 'divine doctrine', is what i refer to as cultural legacy.

2. 'More relevant to the times?' If by this you mean change in outlook, i guess u are affirming my point of cultural legacy. As culture changes, so does religion (alongwith it). If by it, u mean change in doctrine, even then you would be re-affirming my point that religion sustains a change that is parallel to that of cultural change.

11:43 AM  

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